22 December 2021: Back to masks; Tourist taxes; Books set in Spain; Yorkshire BS; Witty put-downs: & Other 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

So, compulsory mask-wearing outdoors is to return. Which won’t mean much change, as at least 80% of folk in Spain still wear them, even if it’s not compulsory. Just more opportunities for mask zealots to tell me mine has slipped to the end of my nose. The good news is that the prime minister has ruled out other restrictions like reduced hospitality hours and capacity, not to mention curfews.

The Valencian government – a coalition of left-of-centre parties – plans to introduce a tourist tax, starting in 2023. That’s despite the battering suffered by the tourist sector in areas like the Costa Blanca during the coronavirus pandemic. 

The Olive Press offers thumbnail descriptions here of these 12 books set in Spain. As I rarely do novels, I’ve only read 2 of them. And ‘Galician Songs’ isn’t one of them, to my shame:-

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho 

Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes

The Ornament of the World: How Muslims, Jews, and Christians Created a Culture Of Tolerance in Medieval Spain by María Rosa Menocal 

The Orange Grove by Rosana Ley

Madrid Again by Soledad Maura

For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway:

The International Brigades by Giles Tremlett: 

Working Class Heroes: The Story of Rayo Vallecano, Madrid’s Forgotten Team by Robby Dunne  

Spanish Vignettes by Norman Berdichevsky

Driving Over Lemons by Chris Stewart

Galician Songs by Rosalia de Castro

Garden by the Sea by Merce Rodoreda  

My good Galician nationalist friend, Fran, has sent this foto of a Galician brekkie. Or his, at least.

The UK  

Richard North share AEP’s view on the threat to energy supplies this winter . . . What is remarkable about the situation is the limited coverage in the British media, given that we are on the brink of prolonged outages. It is, of course, entirely understandable that the media should be devoting most of its resources to covering Covid developments and the political ramifications, but there is nevertheless a feeling that the media are underestimating the seriousness of the energy situation. . .  We should recognise that, that of all the threats confronting us, Covid is but one. Power outages can be a serious challenge and, with every day that passes, the risk becomes more acute. . .  Preparedness which is dangerously low. More here. Buy those candles. And gas stoves. Or even a generator,

Robin Hood is associated with Nottingham but a teacher claims he’s found proof he was born Loxley, near Sheffield, South Yorkshire, after discovering a stone marker and carved cross behind the playground of his primary school. Typical Yorkshire claptrap, in my view.

My daughter has sent me advice from Ryanair that, though fully vaccinated, she must have proof of PCR tests booked both for day 2 and day 8 of her (6 day) trip. Neither she nor I can find anything that endorses this, either in England or Spain. Anyone got experience of this?


The worst thing about being in England – ignoring the miserable weather – is having to listen to everyone under 40 on the TV say ‘hospiTUL’ instead of HOSpital. A legacy of Estuary English, I suspect.

Finally  . . .

As I know full well . . . In the 1960s, we had well written, wonderfully witty reports that were posted to our parents and exist for posterity. Some marvellous examples:-

1. My report for art, when I was seven years old, simply reads: ‘Catherine has no aptitude for this subject’.”

2. My art report was succinct and entirely accurate, ‘Started abysmally and rose to a very low standard’.”’ 

3. Geography. ‘Does well to find her way home.” 

4. Wendy is a nice girl who means well.” 

5. On the subject of spelling, the report simply said “Original”.

6. “During the last year, Susan has grown older.” When the headmistress returned it for a softening revision, the teacher added: “And has learnt nothing.”

7. History: “The prospects are bleak, Work is regarded as nothing more than idle chimera.”

8. English teacher: “Ghandi, in his heyday of passive resistance, would have admired his tactics. Everything is done slowly; he is always last to find his books, and the last to begin work; his pen either does not work, or needs refilling; he refuses to present his work in the way that I ask, he ‘forgets’ to do his corrections; he is unhappy if I point out his shortcomings, but makes no efforts to improve.”

9. Sports:  “At rugby, he has a long stride and can move quickly but, as he never passes, his value to the side is small.”

10. English:  “There is some talent here. I feel that in time (and he has plenty) he will find his own direction quite satisfactorily’.

11. One of Stephen Fry’s reports noted he “has glaring faults and they have certainly glared at us this term.

12. Novelist Jilly Cooper’s teacher: “She set herself an extremely low standard, which she has failed to maintain.”

13. Sir Richard Branson’s headteacher  concluded: “He will either go to prison or become a millionaire.” 

14. Even Sir Winston Churchill’s report decried his lack of “ambition” and declared him “a constant trouble to everybody.”

15. “Excellent potential but far too disruptive with all that giggling and gossiping.”

16. “Could talk under wet cement’

17. “A promising student if only she would stop chattering.”  [My younger (AHDD) daughter]   

18. “Unfortunately Kathy could talk under wet cement with a mouth full of marbles.”   [Ditto]

19. English teacher: “He sometimes has a misplaced sense of humour”.  [Me]

20. English: “He has a a vibrant imagination”.

21: “He is very opinionated and thinks he knows better than anyone else”  

24: “She scored 24% in chemistry, which – given that she attended a quarter of lessons – makes her a genius.” 

25: RE teacher. “She shows a certain hostility towards this subject”. Faye.

 Nowadays,  it’s said, The reports are put online with access via an app, with no prospect of them being mailed out

This blog can be seen on Twitter and on the Facebook group page – Thoughts from Galicia.  

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