12 March 2022: OTT Froizness, Villages going cheap; Death by oil; A new Cold War?; & Other less serious stuff.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Dawn%2BBox%2BDay%2B2015.JPG
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 

The first 15 – yes, fifteen! – pages of the Diario de Pontevedra yesterday were dedicated not to the war in Ukraine but to the death of the founder of the local Froiz supermarket chain – a man I heartily disliked for preventing – one wonders how – the opening of a Mercadona competitor in my barrio of Poio.

Want an entire village?  . . The Times today: In its heyday, Matandrino, near Madrid, was home to a community of 40 people. . .  This week, the now deserted hamlet was sold for just over €100,000 — far less than the price of a flat in the capital — becoming the latest symbol of the rush to the cities and a resulting “empty Spain”.The property market is booming in Spain’s major cities and along the Med coast, yet its increasingly depopulated rural interior is stagnating as young people abandon the countryside in search of work. Not just young people, obviously. Though most of the older folk just pass away, I guess. According to the Times, the issue of ‘La España vacía’ (empty Spain) is particularly acute in the remotest corners, such as Teruel, Soria and in Galicia. And: The government has launched a programme to extend the internet to rural communities to encourage entrepreneurs who can work from home to lay down roots. 

The worst thing about moribund places on the caminos is that the only bar still operational in them doesn’t open until after the owner has returned, in the evening, from a job in a nearby town/city. 

Should you fry in ‘carcinogenic’ olive oil? The answer is here.


Leaders of the FSB secret service have been arrested for ’embezzlement’, but really for giving erroneous intelligence to Putin. Who’s now doing a good impression of Monty Python’s Black Knight and cutting off his own limbs. Who in his inner circle can now feel secure in their jobs? And will they act against him before he does against them? Who knows?

Putin can’t win a cold war, says one of the British historians I cited yesterday. A must-read article, here

The UK/The Way of the World 

On International Women’s Day, the shadow minister for women, who is a woman, revealed on Woman’s Hour that she doesn’t know what the word “woman” means. She has been widely mocked for this, but personally I feel sorry for her. I’m sure that, in preparation for the interview, she did her best to find out the answer. But, unfortunately, no one else in the Labour Party these days seems to know what the word “woman” means either, so they couldn’t help. So, Labour has a problem. The interview may have shaken voters’ faith in the shadow cabinet as a whole. They will fear that other shadow ministers are as much in the dark about their own brief she is about hers. After all, the shadow minister for women doesn’t know what a woman is. What if the shadow minister for transport doesn’t know what a bus is, or can’t tell the difference between a tricycle and a jumbo jet? What if the shadow minister for Wales thinks it’s her job to protect ocean wildlife? [Wales/whales] What if the shadow home secretary thinks she’s in charge of wallpaper and soft furnishings?

Finally . . .

To amuse . . .

RECOGNISABLE OLD ENGLISH WORDS: PART 4 Pronunciation in brackets

From Hana Videen’s The Wordhord

āc, noun (ahk): Oak, oak tree

bāt-weard, noun (baht-weh-ard): Commander of a ship. (Boatward . .)

bæcestre, noun (back-es-truh): Baker; (specifically, female baker. 

bæftan-sittende, adjective (bav-tahn-sit-ten-duh): Idle (back-sitting). 

be-flēan, verb (beh-flay-ahn): To flay, skin (an animal). 

benc-sittend, noun (bench-sit-tend): ‘Bench-sitter’, someone who sits on a bench (perhaps a guest or retainer). 

blæc, noun (black): Ink (especially black ink). 

blīþe, adjective (blee-thuh): Happy, joyful; gentle, kind, gracious.  (Blithe)

bōc, noun (boak): Book. 

bōc-fell, noun (boak-fell): Parchment, vellum (book-skin). 

brycg-weard, noun (bruedg-weh-ard): Bridge-keeper/ward

ceorl, noun (cheh-orl): Man (general term without reference to a particular social class); peasant; member of the lowest class of free men. Churl.

cild, noun (chilld): Child, infant. 

cnafa, noun (k’nah-va): Boy or youth. Knave.

cnapa, noun (k’nah-pa): Boy or youth, older than a cild but younger than a cniht; servant. Knave

cniht, noun (k’nih’t): Male youth, older than a cnapa; servant.  Knight.

corn, noun (korn): Grain, cereal plants grown as crops; seed, berry or fruit of a plant. 

cræft, noun (kraft): Power, strength; art, skill, craft, trade; cunning, knowledge. 

dūru-weard, noun (doo-ruh-weh-ard): Door-keeper/ward

dysig, adjective (due-zih): Foolish, stupid. (Dizzy)

eorl, noun (eh-orl): Nobleman, warrior. Earl.

feþer, noun (feh-ther): Feather, quill, pen. 

leornung, noun (leh-or-nung): Learning, study, reading, meditation. 

leornung-cild, noun (leh-or-nung-chilld): Child engaged in study, pupil. 

leornung-cniht, noun (leh-or-nung-k’nih’t): Youth engaged in study, scholar, disciple. 

leornung-cræft, noun (leh-or-nung-kraft): Learning, erudition. 

leornung-hūs, noun (leh-or-nung-hoos): School (learning-house). 

leornung-mann, noun (leh-or-nung-mahn): Scholar, student, disciple. 

leðer-wyrhta, noun (leh-ther-wuer-h’ta): Tanner, currier, someone who works in leather. 

meter, noun (meh-ter): Metre, versification. 

meter-cræft, noun (meh-ter-kraft): Art of making poetry or verses. 

munuc, noun (muh-nuck ): Monk. 

nunne, noun (nun-nuh): Nun. 

scippan, verb (ship-pahn): To shape, form, create; to assign as a person’s lot. 

scip-wyrhta, noun (ship-wuer-h’ta): Shipwright, someone who builds ships. 

sealm-wyrhta, noun (seh-alm-wuer-h’ta): Psalmist. Psalm writer.

sēamestre, noun (say-ahm-es-truh ): One who sews, tailor; (specifically) woman who sews, seamstress. 

slītan, verb (slee-tahn): To bite, tear, rend. 

smiþ, noun (smith): Smith, usually someone who works in metals or wood. 

smiþ-cræft, noun (smith-kraft): ‘Smith-craft’, the craft of working in metals or wood. 

stān-wyrhta, noun (stahn-wuer-h’ta): Stonemason. Stone worker.

stig-weard, noun (stih-weh-ard): Steward, superintendent of household affairs (especially in matters to do with the table).  

þēow, noun (thay-oh): Enslaved person, servant. Thane?

þrǣl, noun (thral): Enslaved person, servant. Thrall.

wægn-wyrhta, noun (wayn-wuer-h’ta): Wainwright, someone who makes wagons or carts.  Wagon worker

weard, noun (weh-ard): Guard, watchman; guardian, protector. Ward(en)..

wēod-hōc, noun (way-odd-hoak): Hoe (weed-hook). 

wīs, adjective (wees): Wise. 

wrīting-feþer, noun (wree-ting-feh-ther): Pen (writing-feather). 

wyrhta, noun (wuer-h’ta): Worker, labourer; maker, creator.