Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable.
– Christopher Howse: ‘A Pilgrim in Spain
Cosas de España/Galiza
The scurrilous activities of ex king, Juan Carlos . . . Below are further comments/accusations from his ex lover, ‘Princess’ Corinna, in an interview with OK Diario.
More parochially . . . I’ve mentioned encroaching wild boars; hunters say they’re now more numerous here on the edge of cultivated areas than they are up in the mountains. But who can blame them for being partial to an easy meal? Our wolves are too.
One almost gets inured to reports of corruption in Spain. Here’s one of the latest in our neck of the woods: The president of the Pontevedra school of Nursing, his wife and daughter are being investigated for money laundering and other crimes. They’re accused of setting up a network of companies that provided services to the school they were in charge of. Keeping it in the shared-morality family is pretty common in Spain.
There’s a lot more ‘pilgrims’ in Pontevedra’s tapas quarter than in July and August. And they’re far more visible, not being lost among a throng of Spanish tourists. As ever in September, better-off foreign walkers who can afford to eat a good meal every night are a higher percentage of the total. Or seem to be, anyway.
Checking on the world Fenese – logically enough, someone from the Galician town of Fene – I discovered that the place has a Museum of Humour. Largely of the graphic variety, it seems.
Talking about local towns . . . A reader has asked me – I guess seriously – to write about Vilagarcia, the capital of drug-smuggling along our coast. I’ll do this ‘soon’ but for now here’s something from yesterday’s Diario de Pontevedra: A Pontevedra court has sentenced a Vilagarcia resident to two and a half years in prison for selling drugs in a public park. Acorns don’t fall far from an oak tree.
The power of this blog never ceases to amaze me. No sooner do I call out Boris Johnson for his ludicrous haircut than he appears in parliament with his unruly mop trimmed and looking reasonably well groomed. He must have decided the debate was serious. Hardly surprising if he did, as he was facing a revolt from his own MPs over massive tax increases aimed at funding higher government expenditure on healthcare and social care for the aged.
More seriously . . . Richard North on BJ today: In his address to the Commons, the fool Johnson conveyed a belief that the Taliban are now “different”, with his strategy now being “to put maximum pressure on them not to allow the more retrograde elements to have the upper hand”. It only took until the following day for the Taliban to appoint a hard-line caretaker government which includes a man who is a designated “global terrorist” and who’s on the FBI’s Most Wanted list. Considered armed and dangerous*, the US is offering a reward of up to $10m or information leading directly to his arrest.
* The Afghani, not the USA. Of course. . .
Perfidious France? The British Home Secretary has said she’s ready to withhold millions of pounds promised to the French to block migrant crossings after a record number of people were estimated to have landed yesterday. The lady is said to be furious at the low numbers of migrants being intercepted before they reach British waters since she agreed to pay France £54 million to double its patrols. Her problem is that annoying the Brits is a trump card for M Macron as he heads for presidential elections. The French are reported to be stopping only 25% of the crossings from their shores, against the 75% ‘expected’. Do they really care?
You almost have to laugh: French police have also been unable to deploy drones provided by Britain because of French[EU?] privacy laws.
The Way of the World
I believe this is not a spoof article,
From A A Gill’s “Pour Me: A Life”: Everybody I’ve met who’s been doing excessive, obsessive things to ingredients, making restaurants, working in kitchens, writing books – they’re not happy. They weren’t happy children. One of the great misconceptions about dinner is that nice people make good food. That there is a soul in honest, loving dishes which are passed from the hand of the chef to the mouth of a grateful diner, that you could trust a good cook. But it’s almost exactly the opposite. Great food is cooked by twisted, miserable, depressive, cruel, abused and abusive, needy, compromised and shamed people. Making food out of earth and water and sunlight is a salutary blessing for those who have had their narrow lives made bitter and inedible, and the spell, the concoction, the offering of food is a wholly good thing from compromised hands. I’ve no idea whether he’s right or not but it’s plausible, I guess.
A study into extremism on TikTok by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue makes sobering reading. It found the platform is widely used to “promote white supremacist conspiracy theories, produce weapons manufacturing advice, glorify extremists, terrorists, fascists and dictators, direct targeted harassment against minorities and produce content that denies violent events like genocides ever happened”. Of more than 1,000 videos analysed in July, researchers found 30% featured white supremacist content, 24% indicated “support for an extremist or terrorist individual or organisation” and a significant number featured footage of the 2019 Christchurch massacre in New Zealand, promoting “incel” ideology.
Mark Zuckerberg is keen to extend Facebook’s tentacles into the next iteration or our online lives: the “metaverse”, a digitally augmented future in which we exist as avatars in a shared virtual world. The announcement of Horizon Workrooms, in which users will collaborate in virtual workrooms using three-dimensional avatars, is part of Zuckerberg’s 5 year plan, described to journalist Casey Newton as a “transition from people seeing us as primarily being a social media company to being a metaverse company . . . This isn’t just a product that we’re building. It needs to be an ecosystem.” Why the interest? Data! The kind of avatar you choose and how you behave once you slide on that helmet will give Facebook all the data about you it can possibly want – and more!
Quote of the Day
The distinction between a cook and a chef is that a chef does it for money, the cook does it for love. A A Gill again but probably right this time.
Modern English??: Labour will work collaboratively in multi-disciplinary teams, which will adopt a product-mindset using agile ceremonies, be empowered to make decisions and encouraged to focus on rapid prototyping, deployment and iteration. From a paper providing the vision of the future of the General Secretary of the UK Labour Party.
Finally . . .
The things that amuse we of adolescent humour . . . A comment on the captain of the English cricket team: Root was still smiling despite loss of Wood leaving him low on firepower.
Over the years, I’ve written various things never published. I’ve started to add these to my WordPress site. The first – Sic transit . . – was written after my first trip to Spain and can be seen here. I hope
Note: If you’ve landed here looking for info on Galicia or Pontevedra, try here.
-Manuel Cerdán: In the intimate conversations between you and Juan Carlos, did you ever talk at any point about… – I don’t know if it would coincide, I think it did – his son’s engagement to a journalist he wanted to marry?
-Corinna Sayn Wittgenstein: Yes, of course.
-M. Cerdán: How did he see it?
-Corinna: Letizia came up quite a lot and I think it’s also well known that he was quite against it initially. And I think the first few years must have been very difficult for her. I had the opportunity to meet her and I found her extremely polite, very professional, very kind and I think she is in fact a great asset to Felipe and the Spanish Monarchy.
Juan Carlos de Borbón had vetoed previous romances of the then Prince Felipe, such as the one with Norwegian model Eva Sannun (whom he had met in Oslo in 1997), whom the Royal House considered an unsuitable bride for the heir.
However, when Felipe met Letizia Ortiz, he warned that he was not going to accept a new veto and was even prepared to renounce the Crown for love. Juan Carlos I had to reluctantly accept his son’s relationship with the television journalist. Today few doubt that Felipe’s decision was the right one.
In her exclusive interview with OKDIARIO, Corinna Sayn Wittgenstein confirms that, during her first years at the Zarzuela Palace, Doña Letizia had to face a completely hostile environment. Corinna was a privileged witness to the cold war that had broken out in the Royal Family.
But Princess Corinna also puts the spotlight on the responsibility that successive governments have had, since the Transition, in the impunity that Juan Carlos had come to enjoy for doing business in the shadow of the Crown and hiding a multi-million fortune in tax havens through front men: “No prime minister until now has really questioned this modus operandi,” she says.
In the opinion of the German princess, the hardships that the Bourbon family experienced in exile, provoked by the Republic and prolonged by Franco’s dictatorship, are at the root of Juan Carlos’s eagerness to guarantee himself a golden retirement.
-Eduardo Inda: Do you think that poverty was the reason why he put so much money offshore these 40 years?
-Corinna: I’m not a psychologist, but I imagine that if you experience deprivation, you don’t want to repeat it. I also think that he carried a huge responsibility. He had a big family to take care of, including his sisters and nieces and nephews… Everybody. When you have a huge responsibility to provide for everybody, and obviously he was able to do that and it was legal under the constitution. And no prime minister so far really questioned that modus operandi.