Thoughts from Pontevedra, Galicia, Spain: 24.8.21

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

– Christopher Howse: ‘A Pilgrim in Spain’

Cosas de España/Galiza  

Spain – Very good at fibre optic-ing

More here on traditional Galician sayings.

And an interesting use of arrancandeira here – ‘Shall we have a last drink before we go’. But literally “Shall we have a starter’. Galician humour – Retranca.

Despite having at least 3 masks and despite trying to have spares in a back pocket and in my car, I regularly find myself without one, needing to buy yet another. So it was last night that I found myself in a pharmacy, reading the notice about different masks and discovering why I’m sometimes charged 20 cents and sometimes 70:-

Basic (surgical) mask €0.20/30

Better mask €0.70/80

Best (N95?) mask €1.50

Roll on the end of this minor irritation.

The UK

Below,  the latest thoughts on how to be British.


What we’ve seen in the last 2 weeks are the consequences of the Democratic Party’s cynical bargain in 2020. In a desperate bid to beat Trump, they nominated the least offensive candidate possible – either because they have no faith in the appeal of their own ideology or the alternatives were so unlikeable – and though the strategy paid off in the short term, it meant that when they needed transformative generational leadership, they merely added one more placeholder to the gerontocratic pantheon.

Social Media 

Twitter reported a surge in profits. Advertising increased by 74%, driven by ‘updated ad formats, improved measurement and better prediction.’ What that means is it knows more about its users than ever and can thus sell that data to advertisers. From Twitters’s point of view, it doesn’t matter what people are saying, just that they’re saying it. And the more stridently the better. Nothing will change until governments introduce meaningful regulation.

The Way of the World

Mass tourism changes places. Rarely for the better. In the last 20 years, I’ve seen this happen to Santiago de Compostela, Sevilla, Lisbon, and – above all – to Oporto. So I wan’t terribly surprised to see that: In order to tackle overcrowding in the city’s narrow alleys and scenic squares, Venice has taken a step towards becoming the world’s first city to levy an entrance charge for visitors. They will have to book in advance and pay a fee at electronic turnstiles.

Quote of the Day

Too pessimistic? Andrew Orlowski: When the obituary is finally written for the autonomous car, we should ask not why it failed, but why people ever thought it would succeed. Interviewed 7 years ago, I mused that this it might be an elaborate joke by Silicon Valley to bankrupt the established auto industry, wasting its resources in pursuit of an unachievable dream. But now the joke’s on Silicon Valley. 


Señorio: Given by one dictionary as ‘dominion’ but rendered as ‘Lordship’ on the site of a local bodega. As in: The only Lordship in Galicia which gave name to our Vilagarcia. Whatever that means. Yet another profitable enterprise which couldn’t afford to employ a native speaker to check the English.

Finally  . . .

The BBC commentator Clare Blading, talking to a cricketer: Your third leg was just phenomenal! Ironically, it would have been wasted on her, as she’s a lesbian.

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


The new rules for what it means to be British. 

What it means to be ‘one of us’ keeps changing.  here’s how to keep up: Shane Watson 

We’ve been looking for an excuse – post Olympics and a rare spate of guilt-free Union Jack flaunting – to ruminate on what being British means in 2021. So here goes:

New chart entry: showing emotion. It’s not so long since people were debating whether Matthew Pinsent’s sobbing after he won gold in Athens was seemly in a male athlete, but this year’s Olympics was wall-to-wall tears and we all agree it was the best and most uplifting ever. What we now have in Britain is a stiff upper lip plus well exercised tear ducts (see Tom Daley on the podium).

Up two places: Minding disproportionately about our gardens and pets. In what other country would the garden centres have opened before the book shops and the plight of Geronimo the alpaca have been front page news all summer? We were mad about dogs and gardening before the lockdowns, now we’re madder.

Up one place: Loving the unflash. Peter Kay is beloved because he’s funny, came out of retirement to raise money for a good cause and he’s worth an estimated £43 million but, so far as we can tell, still buys his clothes in Asda and gets his hair cut by his sister.

Up two: Also loving a certain sort of showpony. Jack Grealish, Harry Styles, Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen. Did we invent the hair conscious fop? Feels like we did and they’re going nowhere.

Up one place: Bubble bursting. For example Kaleb in ‘Clarkson’s Farm’ became the star of the show because he was the round the clock bullshit detector who showed up Clarkson in every scene. That’s top scores for Kaleb and Clarkson on our respectometer.

Up three places: Zero patience for entitlement. You know how the Queen always looks taken aback and then touched when a surprise special flypast is arranged for some anniversary? This is in a nutshell what we love about HM; she has never once been impressed by herself and we can’t say that of everyone with a title and a Netflix deal. We also like a rock star’s wife who moonlights as a policewoman. Take a bow, Penny Lancaster.

Same position: Being silly. Other men aim to be cool, suave, desirable but British men would still rather play the fool to make us laugh, and it seems to work as a general ruse. (It has crossed our mind that the image of Boris dangling from the zip wire in that truss waving his plastic union jack flags is the main reason he made it to Number 10). Incredible, but this is Britain.

Down four: Respecting bonkers behaviour providing it harms no-one. The England fan who put a firework up his bum was a public nuisance; it wasn’t funny, it was revolting but, if you’re British, you sort of reluctantly knew where he was coming from.

Still holding its position: The weather. Specifically refusing to be defeated by it, buying a waterproof poncho, setting our jaws and ploughing on with the sunny day staycation plans while insisting our politicians do the same, even when they have offers of yachts and villas in the Med coming out of their ears.

Down three: Hangovers. Still the country where you can be a serious person in your sixtieth decade and not hesitate to ring up your host of the previous night and tell him you had to pull over the car to be sick on the way to work. Ha ha ha. (Note: this one may not make the list of being British traits for much longer. The younger ones are not so drinky.)