13 April 2022: The Covid reckoning; Bizarre Spanish festivals; A rogue PM; A mad Putin; & 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’


I’ve followed the Swedish experience over the last 2 years, so wasn’t surprised to read that: By the end of 2021, 56 countries had registered more deaths per capita from Covid-19 than Sweden. With regard to the restrictions that the rest of the world had put so much faith in — school closures, lockdowns, face masks, mass testing — Sweden had more or less gone in the opposite direction. Yet its results were not noticeably different from those of other countries. It was beginning to become increasingly clear that the political measures that had been deployed against the virus were of limited value. But no one spoke about this. From a human perspective, it was easy to understand why so many were reluctant to face the numbers from Sweden. For the inevitable conclusion must be that millions of people had been denied their freedom, and millions of children had had their education disrupted, all for nothing. More here. Will politicians’ heads roll? Probably not.

Cosas de España/Galiza 

I doubt that, however long I live here, I’ll ever know about all the odd festivals that take place in Spain. From Fascinating Spain, here’s the gen on several that take place this (Holy) week. That they began and still remain surely reflects both Spain’s colourful history and the lack of an anti-Catholic Reformation which would – as in the UK – have ended them.

Una hermanadad is a ‘brotherhood’ and there are many of these in Spain. This article – with some interesting facts on Spain’s long involvement in slavery – is on a new one for me – Los Negritos.

Spain’s judicial system  is famously slow. Later this year the trial will begin of those allegedly responsible for the fatal train crash near Santiago that occurred almost 9 years ago. And it’s scheduled to take 9 months.

So, I guess it could be quite a while before the incidents/scandals cited in this article are investigated. Possibly never, given the political sensitivity. As in the UK again.

This is a foto of some US visitors to Pontevedra in 1966, snapping our Praza da Leña. They must have been among the first tourists after the economic illiterate Franco was persuaded to allow foreigners to visit Spain.

In my barrio of Poio we’ve long had a Michelin-starred restaurant, Solla. This is the pleasant house – in Portuguese style – of the founder of the business, Pepe Solla:-

It didn’t take him long to get to work, as it’s directly across the road from the restaurant.

The UK 

Boris Johnson is the first British Prime Minister to be convicted of a crime when in office – breaking his own lockdown rules – but he’s not going to resign. So, he’s a dishonourable rogue. As if we didn’t know that before he became leader of the Conservative party and then Prime Minister. I suspect he’s pretty grateful for the invasion of Ukraine for giving him the opportunity to continue with his (poor) imitation of Winston Churchill. Richard North goes to town on him – again – here. NB: 1. In the first sentence ‘reign’ should be ‘resign’. 2. For non-Brits:-

1. Plod: The police. From ‘To plod’ – to walk/do something slowly

2. To dob in: To inform on


Can Putin really believe what he’s saying when he avers that the slaughter he’s responsible for is in pursuit of ‘clear and noble’ aims. I guess it’s possible. Especially if he really is insane and not just evil. And stupid.

The Way of the World

When will it stop? A BBC guide tells parents that, if their toddler only has white friends, they should examine their biases. And then what? Dictate their kids’ friendships?


Here’s another fashionable phrase that grates – No problem. I seem to recall citing someone who detested it. Anyway, it means nothing more than ‘OK’, but with 50% more syllables.

Umber: This is a colour – unknown to me – that George Orwell was clearly very fond of.  Wiki says it’s a natural brown or reddish-brown earth pigment that contains iron oxide and manganese oxide. You can see it here.

Finally . . . 

Back in 2019, I cited a great experience with Miele’s Customer Service people over a vacuum cleaner which had ceased working after only a few weeks. But things changed when I could get to the UK in 2021 and ask them to both repair the cleaner during the 6 weeks I was there and to get it back to me before I left. They not only failed to do this – ‘Covid’ of course – but then sent me a bill for repairing it – thrice – despite having told me in 2019 they’d repair it under their 2 year guarantee. I refused to pay this and thought this sad saga had ended weeks ago. But, yesterday, I got a credit note to the value of their (unpaid) invoice. Fine but I still don’t have the cleaner I paid for. It’d be nice if they also credit me for its price, so I could buy one here in Spain but I guess this isn’t going to happen.

P. S. I sent that comment to Miele’s Customer Service folk, and thanked them for attaching to their message to me an internal Accounts Dept email. Back came the reply. ‘No problem, Mr Davies’, from someone who clearly hadn’t appreciated my comment was sarcastic.

For new reader(s): If you’ve landed here looking for info on Galicia or Pontevedra, try here. If you’re passing through Pontevedra on the Camino, you’ll find a guide to the city there.