14 December 2021: The lucky ex-king; As rapas das bestas; Unlucky narcos; Cheese problems; & Funny stuff.

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’

Cosas de España/Galiza 

Swiss prosecutors have closed an investigation into claims that Spain’s disgraced ex- king received €89m euros in kickbacks during negotiations for a rail contract in Saudi Arabia. This is said to have ‘removed another obstacle to his return from exile’. Not enough evidence, apparently, that the huge sums of money he definitely did receive were illegal ‘commissions’. Lucky chap. Though he still has problems with the case in London brought by his ex-squeeze. Or one of them, to be more accurate.

Up in Galicia very summer we have several rapas das bestas – roundups of wild horses. These always culminate with  the the mares separated out and corralled so that brave/foolhardy men on foot can take them down prior to their manes and tails being cut. But we have other wild animals in our hills and they’re partial to a bit of foal. As if the wolves weren’t enough of a problem for the horses, the spread of eucalyptus plantations – a profitable cash crop – is said to be threatening the horses’ natural heathland habitat. BTW, I once read that eucalyptus trees are called ‘Tasmanian oaks’ down in Oz. But this might have been in jest.

If you’re coming to Galicia to see a rapa, this is the biggest and the most celebrated. In other words, the most touristy. I was lucky enough to see it 20 years ago before it got to this state.

In Vigo, the trial has begun of the men who were caught in a mini-sub, trying to land cocaine in the nearby bay of Aldán, a few metres away from a house I nearly nought back in 2000. Said one of them: “I was offered €15-20,000 to unload drugs on a beach 25 minutes from Vigo”. After, that is, a horrendous trip across The Atlantic from, of course, Colombia.

My 2 lovely neighbours are expecting me to bring them back some smoked Cheddar cheese. But I read yesterday that now the UK is outside the EU – ‘but not Europe’  – I’m not allowed to take back either meat or milk products. Nor even a box of chocolate, fudge, custard or sweets, as these all contain gelatine. So, unless I go in for a bit of smuggling, they’ll have to be content with a jar of Vegemite or, at best, smoked salmon. Probably not the latter as we can get in our local supermarkets. Fortunately, we can’t get either Marmite or Vegemite.

Meanwhile, it’s good to read that, back in Galicia, the world has turned on its axis and that this week the temperatures will be in the 20s. Thanks to un super-mega-anticiclón. Not only that . . . The clear skies will allow folk there to see the comet Leonard. Very unlikely here in South Manchester, where the sky is a relentless grey.

The UK  

Boris Johnson had announced a huge campaign to get every adult booster-jabbed by the end of this month, with walk-in centres working 24/, even over Xmas. Given Johnson’s relationship with the truth, It comes as no surprise to read that NHS leaders have said this goal is ‘unlikely to be met’. But it’s at least distracted some folk from the prime minister’s problems – such the imminent rebellion of his parliamentary troops and a possible disastrous bye-election result later this week.

The USA 

I mentioned yesterday the Theramon blood-testing scandal. The trial of the leading protagonist is nearing its end. Whereas that of Ghislaine Maxwell is only just beginning. A podcast on the latter – Chasing Ghislaine – can be found at your favourite source.

Finally  . . . 

A couple of nice posts:-

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