2 September 2021

Cosas de España/Galiza  

YCMIU: Who would have guessed this would happen?: Without vaccination certificates or antigen tests it’s not possible to travel, but having these documents in Galician is also causing confusion and stress at airports: the UK is keeping back passengers who present tests in Galician.

But very good to know that Pontevedra is one of the top 3 cities where you’re least likely to suffer theft in a home, a shop or a vehicle. 

Something on the word carajal and its relevance to electricity prices.

I see that Santiago de Compostela’s airport – like Madrid’s Chamartin station – has had a confusing name change – from Lavacolla to Rosalia de Castro. Doesn’t help with Google searches when you don’t know this. But it makes no difference to the Renfe web page, which couldn’t possibly be worse. 

Here’s a nice article on one neighbouring Green Spain neighbour, Asturias


All towns and cities are keen to promote tourism and seek to find a USP. Across the border in Portugal, Vila Nova de Cerveira has hit on the ancient drink of mead (or hydromel) as a tourist attraction. There’s a shop there full of the stuff, and variants of it.

The UK 

Talking of mead . . . A A Gill, an alcoholic, answers the oft-asked question ‘Why do Brits drink so much?’: The nations of Britain were collated by drink long before they were collected under one crown or Church. The brown-baritone Welsh drunks, the lyrical Irish drunks, the morose Scots and the tedious English. Boorish, finger-jabby, jut-chinned drunks all of them, nations that are heavy and mild, light and bitter, gin-soaked, whisky-steeped, cider-soused. Every so often some ‘Why oh why?’ politician will ask, ‘Why oh why can’t the British drink like the Continentals . . . like the southern Europeans?’ The question is rhetorical, inspired by the memory of agreeable afternoons spent in the staccatoed buzz of Tuscan villas or provincial village squares listening to the plink-plink of pétanque and the drone of fat Englishmen in straw hats. No one ever asks drunks in the dank corners of urban pubs why they drink like dank drunks in dark corners instead of like happy Spaniards in the sunshine. So we never hear the rhetorical answer, fruity with phlegm and sprayed crisp crumbs – ‘We drink like this because we can, because it’s our birthright, it’s our heritage, our history, our myth and legend. Why would you drink like a prissy prancing mellifluous child of Dionysus in the vineyards of antiquity when you could bellow obscene songs in the mead halls of Asgard? We are the chilly, sweaty drunks of the north, of the long nights. We drink in the dark in the flickering shadows, not in the sunny, blue-hued shade of the south. We drink like this because we fucking can.’”

So, there you have it. Anyone got a better explanation? Our at least a more plausible one?  BTW: Binge drinking is not something I’ve ever done, helped by the fact I can’t stand British bitter beer. I exited drinking games at university as rapidly as I could by making deliberate mistakes.   

The EU

The EU is signalling a hard line policy on illegal immigration, being “determined to effectively protect the EU’s external borders and prevent unauthorised entries, and assist the most affected Member States”. There is ‘tacit’ support for Poland, Lithuania and Latvia, into which the tyrannical president of Belarus is trying to shove Iranian and Afghan refugees. The EU says it will respond to attempts “to instrumentalise illegal migration for political purposes and other hybrid threats”, a guarded but nonetheless clear response to Lukashenko. 

What could possibly go wrong’

The Way of the World

Matthew Parris: Between the rest of us and “the young people” lies a great rift valley, but where you position that valley in the social media landscape varies with age. At 72 I think the Facebook generation are the younger generation, but my assistant told me that “the young people” don’t use Facebook as much as “the older generation”. And whom, I asked, did he see as “the young people”? “The TikTok generation,” he said. “I’m the Instagram generation.” 

Personally, I’d pleased to be a member of a gerontocracy. But, then, perhaps we all are, at least as far as the Tik-Tok, Instagram and Facebook generations are concerned.

Quotes of the Day 

A A Gill, of his first wife: Romantically, we peaked too soon. Don’t we all? It’s called ‘infatuation’.

Matthew Parris again: Pasta is basically flour and water, and a crafty way of delivering cheap starch with a lick of sauce and calling it a meal. The whole thing is an Italian confidence trick played upon English class-anxiety, and the reason you can’t dislike pasta is the reason you can’t really like it either: it’s the culinary equivalent of a blank page. Some Times readers took exception to this.

Finally  . . .

Listening to the Taliban head honcho on TV, I realised he wasn’t speaking in the Afghan version of Persian, called Dari. I guessed it was Pushtu. Checking on this, I came across this video on Farsi(Persian) which I had the fortune to learn in my 20s. And mostly forgot since. It’s a good look at a great language, which hasn’t changed much since the 9th century, meaning that poets and writers (such as Ferdowsi) of many centuries ago can be easily read by modern Iranians. Unlike, say, Chaucer of the 14th century or Shakespeare of the 15th/16th centuries.

I last mentioned Persian back in June 2009: All this media attention to events in Iran has prompted me to re-think my plans to re-visit the country sometime soon. Preferably after realising a lifetime ambition of going to Samarkand first. But it’s also given me a good excuse to further postpone polishing up my Farsi. At least until MI6 get in touch with me. . . . ‘sometime soon’ now looks more than a little ambitious. But I retain the plan and have amassed a good deal of literature. And some friends who say they’ll come with me. We’ll see.

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