19 April 2022: Don Q again, Learning Spanish; Holy cities; Putin’s lies; Speaking Spanish; & 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’

Cosas de España/Galiza 

Back to Quijote/Quixote and the question of a ‘Moorish perspective’ . . . Cervantes wrote that the first chapters were taken from “the archives of La Mancha”, and the rest were translated from an Arabic text by a fictional Moorish author, Cide Hamete Benengeli. This metafictional trick is to give greater credibility to the text, implying that Don Quixote is a real character and that the events related truly occurred several decades prior to the recording of this account. This is a skillful metafictional literary pirouette, making the reader believe Don Quixote was a real person and the story is decades old. However, it is obvious to the reader that such a thing is impossible, and that the pretense of Cide Hamete’s work is meant as a joke. 

BTW . . . I missed a citation on Moorish influences on Spanish culture from the very first post yesterday morning. So, for those who got that by email, here it is.

Lenox Napier of Business Over Tapas writes here on the challenge of learning Spanish. First textbook stuff and then street Spanish. I’m good at the former but not at the latter. Don’t get enough practice. My lovely neighbour prefers to improve her English and I’m happy with that. Lenox is very right on one point – When you look foreign, as I certainly do, the instinct of many Spaniards is to immediately assume they won’t understand you. So, they say either ¡Que? or ¡Como?. Then, when you repeat exactly what you’ve said, they respond accordingly. It used to (slightly) irritate me that, whenever I ordered a clara, I’d get the response ¿Una clarita?? Until a friend told me this is their way of ensuring themselves they’d got the order right. So, not just with me.

There are apparently 5 cities in the world holy to Catholics. And in one case to Jews and Muslims. Three of these are in Spain, it says here.

This is an article in the Diario de Pontevedra on an English family which has moved to the city. I wish them well, of course, but I’ve been writing daily on Pontevedra for 20 years and no one has written about me. Not that I really care; I’d reject any request for an article. Perhaps they all hate me in the Town Hall, which seems to dictate what goes in the DdP. Presumably because of all the ‘ghost’ subscriptions paid by taxpayers.


Here’s the Wall Street Journal on a nice place in southern Portugal which will probably now have its peace roundly disturbed – the curse of international media ‘revelation’.


Vladimir Putin has bestowed military honours on soldiers accused of the Bucha massacre, where hundreds of civilians were killed and women ‘systematically raped’. The brigade has been commended for ‘mass heroism and valour, tenacity and courage in military action to defend the Motherland and the interests of the state in an armed conflict”. I guess that, in his position as an insane but worried dictator, Putin more or less has to do things like this, for public consumption. Orwell would have understood it very well. ‘to defend the Motherland’. . . Boy, can he lie!

The Way of the World

“Go with the money” is an injunction long proffered to job seekers. But, in the world of ridiculous prices, it’s also valid for brazen fraudsters. So, it is that 2 Brits are accused of obtaining £76m(sic) in a Ponzi scheme centred on ludicrously priced wines said to be stored in their cellars in London and Paris. Hard to feel sorry to greedy rich fools.


We all know that the slightest differences will tell us if someone is a non-native speaker of English or, if they are, whether they’re British, American, Australian, etc. I try hard to follow the rules of Spanish pronunciation but, when I heard the bus driver yesterday morning say thee-bale-ess (Cibeles), I realised that I’ve been wont to say thi-bel-es. With short vowel sounds and an un-sibilant S. Must try harder. 


New to me: Misogynoir: Misogyny directed towards black women, where race and gender both play roles in bias.

Finally . . . 

To amuse . . . 

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.