Thoughts from Pontevedra, Galicia, Spain: 23.7.21

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable. 

– Christopher Howse: ‘A Pilgrim in Spain’     

Cosas de España/Galiza 

In both depth and breadth, there are just too many politicians in Spain. Lenox Napier of Business Over Tapas gives us this translation from a Spanish article in the NY Times, headed ‘Too Many Politicians and Not Enough Managers: “Spain’s Unsustainable Bureaucratic Machine’. Perhaps there is an explanation why Spain needs 22 ministries when France has 16 and Germany, with almost twice the population, manages with 14. But the Spanish government does not offer an answer to this conundrum and citizens have good reason to believe that this mammoth administration, with its army of advisers, is part of what Spaniards know as the ‘chiringuito nacional'” – the bureaucratic and institutional paradise created by a political class determined that taxpayers pay the bill for their excesses. Says Lenox.

While Black Lives Matter and other movements have focused on which statues to pull down, Spain says the BBC is immersed in a battle over which figures to erect and what parts of its past to commemorate – or to consign to history’s dustbin.

Personally, I find the legionnaires a tad camp and vainglorious and am no admirer of their dirge, The Bridegroom of Death. The hair-raising lyrics of this can be found below and you see it sung here and, with lyrics, here. The legion was the idea the brutally insane – Long live Death! – general José Millán Astray and I venture to say its time has passed. 

Staying in critical mode . . . The wheels of the train went too fast at Angrois, near Santiago 8 years ago but the wheels of justice are rather slower . . . On the 8th anniversary of the accident – 70 dead – the judge has convened an oral trial against the only 2 people in the dock – the driver of train and the ADIF director responsible for safety. The Public Prosecutor is asking for 4 years in prison for each of them for 80 crimes of reckless homicide. Superficially, if the company was guilty of negligence  – because it ignored warnings and didn’t install an appropriate safety system – can the driver really be guilty too? 

There’s an article on the Spanish judiciary here.

HT to Lenox Napier of Business Over Tapas for these 3 times:-

1. It’s no secret that the RENFE online booking system is beyond hopeless. The company now suggests that buyers from abroad use a VPN to get past the first level of online negatory bureaucracy. 

2. The traffic police now have 39 drones flying around to catch us while speeding.  See here for a map of locations, plus a list of the 50 radars with the highest revenues.

3. There’s a stethoscope in my soup.

The UK 

The government says it’ll be slashing by 50% the funding for “high-cost” degrees such as those for footwear production, media studies, floristry, design studies, clothing production, gardening, cinematics[?] and drama and art. One wonders why some of these were financed in the first place. Other than to achieve Tony Blair’s objective of having 505 of kids go on to university.

Finally  . . . 

 As I look out on The Atlantic Blanket normally associated with winter, I’m delighted to read that the UK’s heatwave will continue throughout August. Albeit only by the Daily Express, famous for its claims about the death/’murder’ of Princess Diana.

Note: If you’ve landed here looking for info on Galicia or Pontevedra, try here

The Bridegroom of Death

No one in the tercio knew

who that legionary was

so bold and reckless

who joined the legion

No one knew his story

but the legion supposed

that a great pain was biting him

Like a wolf in his heart

But if anyone asked him who he was

With pain and rudeness he would reply

I am a man whom fate

has wounded with the paw of a wild beast

I am a bridegroom of death

who will be united in a strong bond

with such a loyal companion

The harder the fire was

and the fiercer the fight

defending his Flag

the legionary advanced

And fearless of the thrust

of the exalted enemy

he knew how to die like a brave man

and rescued the ensign

And by watering the burning earth with his blood

murmured the legionary in a mournful voice

I am a man whom fate

has wounded with the paw of a fierce beast

I am a bridegroom of death

who is going to unite in a strong bond

With so loyal a companion

When at last they picked him up

between his breast they found

a letter and a portrait

of a divine woman

And that letter said

“… if one day God should call you

a place for me

that I will soon come to look for you!

And in the last kiss he sent her

his last farewell he consecrated to her

To go to your side to see you

my most loyal companion

I became death’s bridegroom

I embraced her with a strong bond

and her love was my banner