6 May 2022: Sweden’s Covid; Solar energy; A frugal queen; Killer Putin; Not being Lolita; & 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’


For a long time, I’ve suspected that Sweden got things righter than anywhere else. Certainly in Europe, at least. And I’ve also felt it’ll be some time before we get a full reckoning of the far-ranging collateral damage of lockdowns. Hopefully in time to make sure better-informed decisions are taken when the next plague hits us. Below is a comment on recent WHO developments, under the heading: Sweden’s Covid strategy appears to have been vindicated.

The UK: Not as bad as France, Germany and Spain, it now seems.

Cosas de España/Galiza 

Spain has big investment plans for research into and manufacture of batteries and, likewise, for solar energy. All very logical you might say, given the amount of sun the country gets. As it was almost 20 years ago, when the then government announced very attractive incentives for individual and corporate investment in solar energy. This produced the sight – as one drove to Madrid – of huge fields of large solar panels beside the A6 autovia. But the subsequent – right wing  – PP government, allegedly under pressure from the ‘legacy’ energy companies – reversed tack and left many people and companies seriously out of pocket, if not actually bankrupt. One wouldn’t be surprised to hear companies are reluctant to be burned again. Unless the gas and electricity companies now have a finger in the solar energy pie.

Taking of the sun . . . It’s been hot for a few days here and it’s about to get hotter. Up to 30 degrees in Pontevedra later today and for the next few days. We Galicians are like Brits as regards hot weather. We want it but don’t like it at all when it gets over, say, 27. And we’re always grateful when the rain comes back for a short while, to ensure our countryside stays as green as Ireland’s. And replenishes the reservoirs.

This week the Spanish queen laughed off the fact she was wearing the same dress as a woman she was presenting an award to – a creation on sale in Mátalan:-

Three observations:-

  1. The dress costs €50 here but 70 quid in the UK
  2. The last time I read about something Letizia was wearing it was a tiara valued at many, many thousands of euros. But probably bought before her time and kept in the stock cupboard.
  3. The king is trying to convince us that his royal family – unlike his father’s- is parsimonious. So, well done, Letizia.

Yesterday in  town, I asked a  clearly bewildered couple if I could help them find whatever it was they were looking for. They said it was building number 6 in the street we were in, where the bars and houses don’t display numbers. I didn’t know and suggested they asked the nearby bar staff. But none of these had any idea. It reminded me of when I was looking for a street in the nearby town of Porriño and and asked 2 ladies if they knew of it. As they were telling me that – despite being residents – they had no idea, I looked up and saw from a nameplate that it was the street we were in. How we laughed.

Similar things have happened when I’ve been on a camino. An example, in a bar in a town on the Via Augusta down South: “You mean there’s a camino which goes through this town?”. The lesson? Don’t ask the locals; ask Mr Google, if you can.  


Surveying the impact of the invasion of Ukraine on global food supplies, AEP comments that: Putin has much to answer for. He may not match the 20th century famine tallies of Stalin and Mao but his imperial misadventure has probably left several hundred million people facing chronic malnutrition. Some will starve to death.

But at least Putin has apologised for something. Though not for any action he’s responsible for, such as the slaughter of thousands and the destruction of cities. Rather he’s said Sorry to Israel for remarks made by his foreign minister about Adolf Hitler having “Jewish blood”. Mere words.

The Russians are still having problems with the concept of Nazism . . . In Moscow, bizarre adverts have been appearing on bus stops portraying Swedes as Nazi sympathisers. 

The USA 

Those careless bloody Yanks . . .Jamestown: America’s first English settlement is now endangered.

The Way of the World 

When asked if he’d ever regretted writing Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov replied ‘None whatsoever’. But, then, he didn’t live to see the totally mis-pitched 1997 film. Or, ever worse, what the internet did with his novel on Tumblr and other social media sites in the 2000s. Nor, worst of all, what the singer Lana de Rey has done to generate and promote ‘nymphette’ sites and culture because of her obsession with a book she clearly doesn’t understand. And perhaps has never even read.

When asked if she knew about her songs influenced very young girls, Ms de Rey replied; “Yes. But so what?”. Nice.


Three more unusual words:-

Allonym: The name of a real person borrowed by an author

Ephelides: freckles

Feuterer: someone who keeps a dog

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.    


Sweden’s Covid strategy appears to have been vindicated. We in Britain should ask whether more lives might have been saved in the round had the Government not enforced a compulsory lockdown

In the early days of the pandemic, the likes of Germany were held up as shining examples of how to deal with Covid. Commentators glibly praised the then-chancellor Angela Merkel’s scientific background, as well as the relatively advanced German testing architecture. Sweden, by contrast, was deemed almost to be a rogue state. Its public health officials had decided not to recommend a full lockdown, relying instead on voluntary changes to behaviour. They argued that it would take years to see which approach to Covid was the correct one, so it would be better to avoid untested measures. The other consideration was the collateral damage of lockdown: the missed cancer diagnoses, the cancelled hospital appointments, and the lost education.

They appear to have been vindicated. The World Health Organisation released figures yesterday estimating that the true death toll from the pandemic was in fact nearly 15 million, with some countries’ official figures an underestimate. The measure used by the WHO was excess deaths – how many extra people died than would ordinarily have been expected to die, so it includes fatalities caused by, for example, an inability to access healthcare for other conditions. In 2020 and 2021, the global average was 96 per 100,000 people. The UK’s figure was 109, Spain’s was 111 – and Germany’s was 116.

Sweden had just 56 excess deaths per 100,000. Will those who accused its leaders of reckless irresponsibility apologise? At the very least, the research demands that the Covid inquiry in the UK ask whether more lives might have been saved in the round had the Government chosen not to enforce a compulsory lockdown.


  1. Interesting WHO stats. Why does Norway never make it into the head lines? The excess deaths for Norway (from the WHO report) during the pandemic was -1 (minus one). That must be the lowest figure in Europe. Kind of questions Sweden’s approach.


  2. I have seen Finland and Norway’s stats contrasted with Sweden’s several times, usually with list of factors that might be relevant. and Sweden certainly made some mistakes that they might not have done.


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