19 January 2022: Covid cases; Dashed hopes: Otopuses or octopi?, BoJo woes; & 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’


Quite a range . . .

In the UK and Spain, cases are currently around 94k a day but falling. In Germany they’re at the same level but rising. But the really outlier is France, where the most recent number is 465k cases in one day. I have no idea why.

Cosas de España/Galiza

The Spanish and German left-of-centre leaders met early this week but things didn’t go as hoped for Spain’s president. The Germans are still banging the drum for fiscal discipline and might well slow down subventions/loans/credit from Brussels to Madrid. See here and here on this.

I find this a tad hard to believe but it’s reported that the gap between rich and poor has widened more in Spain than in any other EU member in the last 10 years. Of course, bad as it is, Spanish poverty is far removed these days from the truly appalling conditions – North and South, urban and rural, respectively – of the late 19th century and early 20th century, as described in Paul Preston’s latest book – A People Betrayed. Sombre reading.

Not everyone is thrilled by the prospect of farmed octopus, and this writer is outraged by it. The solution to a shortage of octopuses, she says, is simple: Stop eating them. Easy for me as I’m not partial to them.   

Those soaring electricity prices . . Whose fault? It’s not that of the markets, it says here but, rather, it’s political decisions and a lack of skill in playing the game of market diplomacy that are behind the sharp rise in prices in Spain. . . . Neither EU institutions nor European governments, including Spain’s, have found the right formula to improve the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions without endangering the welfare of several hundred million citizens.

We’re going to hear a lot more of this point of view as we do or don’t progress towards Net Zero. But especially if we do.

The EU

From that article. Most member states are highly energy dependent and the EU should be much more cautious both in setting emission reduction targets for the coming years and in deploying its ineffective and incongruous diplomacy in dealing with geopolitical conflicts.

The UK

Boris Johnson . . .

John Crace of the Guardian is always good value on the man: A beaten man who is no longer in control of his own destiny and who is waiting on a miracle to save him. 

Richard North: Unlike his earlier TV appearances, yesterday saw a man buckling under pressure. There is definitely a feeling that we are coming to the crunch. This is a terminally wounded prime minister and, if he has lost the will to fight, the end can’t be far away.

 Finally . . .

I went to a new Pilates class today. Only 8 participants, against 12 previously. Me and 7 Galician women, all of them rather overweight. Galician women tend to end up looking like pocket battleships – almost as wide as they’re tall. In the mirror, surrounded by them, I looked rather like a stick insect.

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  1. I’ll try, Ian, but I believe it would be illegal in Spain, unless each of them gave me (written??) permission.


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