22 January 2022: Post-peak Covid: A useful passport; Okupas; A day in El Oasys; Spanish proverbs; & Other stuff.

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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’


An approach gaining favour? Europe considers a new COVID-19 strategy – Accepting the virus : The idea is to move from crisis mode to control mode, approaching the virus in much the same way countries deal with flu or measles. That means accepting that infections will occur and providing extra care for at-risk people and patients with complications. 

In other words, the policy recommended in 2020 by the Barrington Group. 

As for the relentless provision of statistics, see the first article below on the opposition to the continuation of this.

Cosas de España/Galiza 

A Spanish passport is very versatile, one reason being – I guess – the number of ex colonies in South America and elsewhere.

This article warns that: Contrary to popular belief, there are no laws in Spain the grant squatters rights to illegally occupy a house. But stresses that: This doesn’t mean Spain effectively manages its problems with ‘okupas’. In fact, every year the issue of squatters is getting worse. Things you need to know therein.

Lenox Napier pays a visit to the El Oasys ‘thematic park’, near Tabernas in Almería.

The UK

RN at his pungently cynical best: There is no record of whether she has been asked but it’s self-evident that the Queen has declined any request to die suddenly in order to get Johnson off the hook. Therefore, it seems that the prime minister has had to rely on Plan B (Mk II), which has his friends and allies ramping up the tension on Ukraine. 

The EU

The electricity sector is in real trouble, it says here.


Nine quintessential Spanish proverbs:

A buenas horas, mangas verdes: ‘Good timing, green sleeves’. Sarcastically said to someone that fails to do something in time or arrives too late. Probably best translated as ‘You’ve missed the boat’.

Quien se fue a Sevilla perdio su silla: ‘Whoever goes to Sevilla loses his chair’. Used to imply the loss of privileges or possessions for having momentarily abandoned them. A similar expression in English would be you, you ‘snooze you lose’, or ‘finders-keepers’.

Como Pedro por su casa: ‘Like Pedro in his house’. Used in a generally derogatory manner to describe a person who seems comfortable in an environment that is not his own.  

La mancha de una mora, con otra mora se quita: ‘A blackberry stain is removed with another blackberry’. While it may sound like an old wive’s tale and laundry tip, it’s actually used in an entirely different context – to explain that a broken heart is best mended with a new love affair.

Aunque la mona se vista de seda, mona se queda: ‘A monkey dressed in silk is still a monkey’. This reminds us to accept what we are and that faults cannot be hidden by mere cosmetic improvements. The equivalent phrase in English would be You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear

Visteme despacio que tengo prisa: ‘Dress me slowly as I’m in a hurry’.   

En boca cerrada no entran moscas: ‘No flies can enter a closed mouth’. This advises one to keep quiet on certain subjects to certain people or face the consequences. SSomething like ‘Silence is golden’ or ‘Think before you speak’.  

El perro del hortelano, ni come ni deja comer al amo: ‘The gardener’s dog neither eats nor lets his master eat’. Used to describe a person who not only doesn’t enjoy something but also prevents others from enjoying it. Often only the first part (El perro del hortelano) is said and the second part is taken for granted, or vice versa.  [Dog in a manger?]

A caballo regalado, no le mires el diente: Basically the same in English: ‘Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth’. Used as a reminder to be grateful for a gift and not find fault in it. 

For the origin of (most of) these, see the 2nd article below.

Finally . . .

This is a headline which I don’t really want to see duplicated in respect of any of the 3 caminos de Santiago passing through Pontevedra: California’s naked hikers cast off their stress and get back to nature.


1. Scrap the unreliable daily Covid data updates before people become addicted to them, say experts. Call to phase out statistics comes as it emerges that up to 70% of virus patients in hospital being primarily treated for other problems: By Sarah Knapton, The Telegraph

Covid data updates on the Government’s online dashboard are becoming increasingly unreliable, experts have warned, as it emerged up to 70% of coronavirus patients in hospital were primarily being treated for other problems. Some also believe daily coronavirus statistics should be phased out in the coming months, amid fears people are becoming “addicted” to the figures.

Latest statistics from NHS England showed that in the East Midlands, just 533 (29%) of the 1,817 people included in coronavirus hospital data were being treated primarily for the virus. For England as a whole, nearly half (47.9%) of Covid patients were admitted to hospital for other conditions, but also tested positive.  This week, it also emerged that the number of daily reported deaths is starting to diverge significantly from registered Covid deaths recorded by the Office for National Statistics. Sajid Javid has now admitted the dashboard figures are too high. Deaths are reported as Covid on the dashboard if they occur within 28 days of a positive test. But so many people are now being diagnosed with omicron that a large proportion of natural deaths are now also ending up in the figures.

Francois Balloux, professor of computational systems biology at University College London, said: “Until recently, monitoring deaths within 28 days of testing positive was a good proxy – it mirrored the real world. Now that is obviously not the case. At the moment, the numbers look horrible and worse than they should. The upside is they will soon look fantastic. I think we’re in a better situation than we have ever been since March 2020, and especially in the UK, I am pretty optimistic that we can soon call a day and then we’re finished.”

For the week ending January 7, the Government reported 1,282 deaths. However, the Office for National Statistics registered only 992, of which just 712 had Covid as the primary cause of death. Usually, Office of National Statistics data is higher because it also includes care home deaths. Now the trend has changed, with dashboard figures much higher than those published by the ONS.

Jonathan Ball, professor of molecular virology at the University of Nottingham, said: “It’s always been the case that the data was unable to discriminate between people in hospital, or people who died, because of Covid-19 rather than with Covid-19. It will be important to understand the future impacts of Covid-19 and the only way you can do that is to record numbers, just the same way we do with other important infections. But the assumptions and potential errors inherent in those figures do need to be acknowledged more.”

Experts are also growing concerned that Britain is becoming “addicted” to the figures. They believe they should be phased out in the coming months.

Prof Balloux added: “Part of the transition out of the pandemic is stopping people feeling so obsessed by case numbers and hospitalisations, because it’s not entirely healthy. We’re all a bit addicted to it. I’m not in favour of scrapping the dashboard right now because cases are pretty high and it might spark panic, with people feeling the numbers are being hidden from them. But maybe soon we could start doing it every other day, then weekly. To some extent, the ideal situation is that people lose interest.”

Covid data dashboard ‘remains a valuable source’

Documents released on Thursday also show that the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) is concerned that the data is becoming difficult to interpret in real-time, because of the high community prevalence of omicron and changes in behaviour and testing. “There is uncertainty about current trends in the number of new infections, particularly as a result of changes to testing policy and behaviours,” the Sage minutes stated. “An increasing proportion of these reported admissions are positive tests amongst people admitted primarily for reasons other than Covid-19, reflecting the very high community prevalence.” 

Other scientists said it was important to keep publishing the daily Covid figures to help keep track of the epidemic. However, they said more should be done to highlight the problems with the data. Nigel Marriott, an independent statistician, said: “The dashboard is an excellent tool so I think we should still use it, but people do need to understand what the data says and what it doesn’t say.”  Paul Hunter, professor in medicine at the University of East Anglia, added: “It does look like we are starting to see people dying with Covid but not because of Covid in the data, though the majority 75 per cent of deaths are still because of Covid. “This is not a reason for stopping publication of the daily data on the DHSC dashboard, which remains a valuable source for tracking the current epidemic in the UK.”

2. Nine quintessential Spanish proverbs with ancient origins to use to impress your friends

A buenas horas, mangas verdes: This puzzling refrain has its origins during the time of the Catholic Monarchs when a particular Brotherhood, the Santa Hermandad, was charged with capturing bandits and wrongdoers. They chased bandits from town to town but according to legend, the early police force were called up by church bells, providing ample time for a getaway. Hence these men, who dressed in a uniform with green sleeves, had a reputation for arriving too late to make an arrest.

Probably best translated as ‘you’ve missed the boat’.

Quien se fue a Sevilla perdio su silla: Its origins reportedly lie back in the reign of Henry IV, King of Castile, and a battle between 2 priests over the archbishopric of Sevilla, Alonso de Fonseca the Elder and Alonso de Fonseca the Younger, uncle and nephew.

Como Pedro por su casa: It refers apparently to the Aragon king, Pedro I and his easy victory at the battle of Alcoraz in 1096 against the Muslim caliphate which in turn led to the conquering of Huesca. The phrase is likely to originally have been ‘Like Pedro through Huesca’ but became casa over time.

La mancha de una mora, con otra mora se quita: This  proverb is used to explain that a broken heart is best mended with a new love affair or as the American philosopher Henry David Thoreau said: “There is no remedy for love but to love more.”

Aunque la mona se vista de seda, mona se queda: Tomas de Iriarte, a Spanish neoclassical poet, wrote the fable ‘La Mona’ inspired by this saying in 1782, but the exact origin is unknown.

Visteme despacio que tengo prisa: Attributed to Fernando VII, who reportedly used this phrase with an attendant because he had an important appointment to which he wanted to arrive as well dressed as on time.

En boca cerrada no entran moscas: It is believed to have originated in the 16th century, during the reign of Charles I who was famous for his Hapsburg chin, a congenital condition that caused a distinctive protruding jaw and left him frequently open-mouthed. The expression comes from an occlusion during a visit to Calatayud (Zaragoza), when a local man commented: ‘Close your mouth, Your Majesty, the flies of this kingdom are mischievous’’

El perro del hortelano, ni come ni deja comer al amo: Its origin may be Arabic-Andalucian, as it is first documented in literature at the beginning of the 11th century.  This proverb is famously the title of a play from the Golden Age, a comedy written between 1613 and 1615 by Spain’s great playwright Lope De Vega.

A caballo regalado, no le mires el diente:  It refers to the ancient practice of determining a horse’s age by looking at the state of their teeth.

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