9 October 2021: Covid stats; Help for the young; Roundabouts!; Brits in Spain; Poland; Italian booze; etc.

Night’s candles are burnt out, and jocund day stands tiptoe on the misty mountain tops Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable
– Christopher Howse: ‘A Pilgrim in Spain’


A question which has been relevant since Day 1: Are the stats accurate? The new dataset [on excess deaths] shows countries that attracted international headlines for having severe outbreaks, such as Italy, Spain and the UK, have not actually been the worst affected. The worst include Mexico and Bolivia – but also some countries in eastern Europe, which have experienced more than a 50% increase in mortality. The worst affected, Peru, has recorded a 150% increase.

As for Spain, the risk of a rebound is now said to be ‘at a very low level’. So, is it too much to hope we’ll soon be able to travel for hours on a train without wearing an irritating mask – and not being reprimanded for letting it slip down one’s nose.

Cosas de España/Galiza 

This is how countries rank on innovation. Switzerland is the surprising global front-runner. Sadly, Spain does badly, bringing up European the rear. Not encouraging

These are articles on how the (socialist) government is trying to help young spaniards. And God knows they need it.

But the (right-of centre) Corner cites the usual objections to property price controls. Extract: It’s clear that regulating behind the market’s back can only lead to misalignments which ultimately undermine the intended purpose. In the short term, it’s possible some benefits can be seen, such as the forced moderation of rents. But, in the long run, any attempt to freeze the price of a scarce good can only lead to exacerbating its scarcity. With the foreseeable result that rents become even more expensive, leaving many of those looking for a flat on the street.  The only sensible proposal is to introduce incentives to stimulate supply and gradually create the social housing stock that our country so badly needs. I suspect they’re right.

Lenox Napier has kindly sent me this article on how Spanish drivers risk being fined in Portugal, if they take roundabouts there in the crazy way they do here. Truth to tell, you can change ‘Portugal’ to ‘the rest of the world’ wherever it appears in the text.

I continue to hear reports of Brits who – post Brexit – have left Spain, after living for years here below the wire. These, of course, don’t number among those of us who’ve registered and pay taxes. So, I’m left wondering how much the gap between the official and unofficial numbers will now close. Traditionally, these have been c. 300,000 and ‘more than a million’. Conceivably – depending on how officious the Spanish authorities are – the gap could disappear entirely.

As I hoped, María has advised that St Petroni is called that because it’s made in Padrón (Big Rock) and one Latin(and Greek) word for ‘rock’ is petra. You’ll doubtless all recall the Biblical word play: Thou art Peter and upon this rock I shall build my church. How we laughed back in primary school.

The UK

As suspected, it was a phoney petrol shortage, manufactured – it’s claimed – by BP to pressurise the government in the company’s favour. So, nowt to do with Brexit . . .  In fact: Throughout the petrol supply crisis, deliveries to filling stations barely fell. Massive levels of panic buying were the leading cause of shortages. In the run-up to these, deliveries did fall in England but only marginally:-

The EU

Poland’s future in the EU was thrown into doubt after judges ruled that Polish law superseded EU law. The ruling that the Polish constitution carried more weight than the EU treaties drew a furious reaction from politicians in Brussels. The European Commission said it “will not hesitate to make use of its powers” to protect the primacy of EU law. This includes delaying funds destined for Poland, which has replaced Spain as the largest beneficiary of the generosity of North European taxpayers. That’s gratitude for you!

The Way of the World

By way of odd experiences that happen so often . . .

I wrote yesterday I’d read that mini-skirts were back in fashion. Last night, I read this in the Intro to a book published back in 2012: Everything old is new again. Take fashion, for example: bell-bottoms, culottes, miniskirts, wedge heels, thin ties and fancy lingerie are back. 

I also wrote that I’d recently noted the rise of ‘Italian’ vermouths. It seems I was way behind the times, as the above-cited paragraph continues: Speciality cocktails are making a comeback: martinis are the rage, and now there are 80 varieties. In my defence, perhaps Spain was some years behind the UK on this. Info from a young(ish) friend there certainly endorses this. Italian drinks he says – starting with Prosecco? – have been surfing a wave of fashion for some time there.


I didn’t get to try speciality coffee in La Coruña yesterday but I did discover that, as with my ex-stepsons, up there they pronounce the LL as a J, not as a Y. So, calle is caje, mascarilla is mascarija and carallo is carajo. This was a pleasant surprise, as my Spanish friends in Pontevedra had laughed at me as being delusional on this issue.

Finally  . . .

Yesterday, I cited this blog in a comment to the Times article on the Padrón peppers spat. Sadly, it did absolutely zilch for my readership. 

Theodore Dalrymple – actually Anthony Malcolm Daniels – is a marvellous writer and social commentator whom I first came across when was relating in a British magazine his experiences with the UK’s low life as a prison doctor. I’ve just enjoyed reading The Pleasure of Thinking. As the write-up says: At once light-hearted and enlightening, it is an amusing flight of the imagination in which we discover the happy accidents that befall those who remain endlessly curious. BTW: Cheap in Kindle form but not in hardback.

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