17 May 2022: Valencian graves; Pegasus again; Pro-Russian Frogs; Astonishing footwear; & 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

Good news re Iberian energy prices.

A grisly report from Valencia on mass graves from the Franco era

And something from the Guardian on Spain’s ‘crisis of democracy’ resulting from the Pegasus scandal.

Cosas de Galiza 

Today is the Day of Galician Literature(Letras Galegas). I think the print edition of the Voz de Galicia is entirely in Galego, sold locally I guess. But the on-line edition certainly isn’t.

Down at the bottom of my hill, there’s a plaque commemorating a Galician ‘martyr’ shot by the Francoists. Yesterday I checked on a similar plaque down on the main road below the gypsy settlements, almost hidden by long grass. But it only celebrates the joining of 2 roads 15 years ago. Ironically, the junction is now 100m metres away. But it must have made sense at the time

Maria’s Beginning Over 16:  Non-Politics, Non-Song, Nonsense. 

The UK

Effie Deans points up here the unique and bizarre way that the UK/Britain treats its internal borders, unlike any other nation on earth. It can only end in tears.


Why Russia still has friends in France despite the Ukraine invasion. See the article below


An attempt by pro-Russian hackers to stop Ukraine winning the Eurovision song contest was foiled, Italian police said yesterday. The hacking group Killnet tried to crash the live streaming of Saturday’s final and disrupt the voting by the public using an army of bots. Ukraine’s victory was brushed off as the inevitable result of what Moscow sees as anti-Russian “cancel culture” in the West. “Why didn’t the other performers take a knee? Ukraine’s the new Black Lives Matter,” a Russian MP, wrote in a Telegram post. A  Foreign Ministry spokeswoman took an equally sardonic tone, saying that Kalush Orchestra’s performance reflected what Ukraine had become — a nationalist caricature — as it drifted away from Russia and towards liberal Europe. Russia routinely denies that it carries out offensive cyber-operations. And we all believe them, don’t we.

The Way of the World

I came across the job title ‘Chief People Officer’ this morning. I guessed it use to be Personnel manager and then Human Resources Manager. One wonders why they need to keep changing the label. He or she: Oversees all aspects of human resource management and industrial relations policies, practices and operations for an organization -optimizing people-centered activities such as hiring, training, professional development, and performance management to ensure these efforts support the company’s growth and bottom line. Sound like the same job as 30 years ago to me.

These trainers sell for €1,450.  And there are people stupid enough to pay that for them:- 

Social Media

I don’t much use Facebook but, when I do, there’s always a lot of beautiful women – some more dressed than others – suggested to me as People You May Know. And there’s always one mutual friend. So, I checked and, yes, it’s the same guy I vaguely knew here years ago. He must belong to a group called something like ‘Beautiful Women’. As I recall, he was getting a divorce.


Recent new words:-

Choricete: From chorizo. Little ‘chorizo’: Petty thief, pickpocket. See also ladronzuelo

Desnortado: Disoriented (lost the north)

Córcholis: Caramba: Gee; Crikey; Wow; etc.

De cuajo: Entirely; By the roots


‘People you may know’. As all pedants know, this should be ‘People you might know’. We don’t need permission to know them,.

Finally . . .

I first tested a mango when in hospital in the Seychelles recovering from a motorbike accident some decades ago. It had been offered to me as ‘the king of fruits’ by an Indian chap in the next room, as we sat on the balcony. These days I make smoothies from them, using kafir rather than yoghurt. Is there anything tastier in the entire world?

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.


Why Russia still has friends in France despite Ukraine invasion: Figures from the left and right blame Nato for provoking Putin into starting what some now call ‘the American war’. Charles Bremner, The Times

When Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra won the Eurovision Song Contest on Saturday, French social media filled with scorn. The public vote was obviously truqué (faked), according to a deluge of posts. This was done to serve the interests of America and its European followers, they implied or said outright. The view fits with the cynicism and conspiracy talk found everywhere on social media, but in France it reflects an attitude to the war in Ukraine that differs from that of northern and eastern Europe and the English-speaking world. You hear it in café chatter and from the neighbours. “Of course it’s the Americans who’re running this war,” my Paris barber told me last week. It comes on talk shows, from academics and, in milder form, from President Macron himself. The argument holds, in varying degrees, that Russia’s invasion is wrong and barbaric but President Putin was provoked by the American-led Atlantic alliance and its “humiliation” of Moscow since the 1990s.

Take, for example, the words of Hélène Carrère d’Encausse. She is no fringe tweeter, but head of the Académie Française, the guardian of the French language. The Russian invasion did not come out of the blue, the 92-year-old historian said, adding: “It came from the humiliation of the Russians. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, no one helped their country out of its disaster.” Hubert Védrine, a former foreign minister, also blames the war on the “high-handed arrogance” of the western allies.

Most French people are appalled by the suffering in Ukraine. They deplore Putin’s invasion and, collectively, have taken in 70,000 refugees, but the view remains nuanced. State radio and television use milder language on Russia than heard on English-speaking outlets. Since Ukraine has held off the Russians, a consensus, promoted by Macron, holds that Putin must be offered a face-saving exit involving concessions by Kyiv. Washington, aided by its British sidekick, is pushing Europe into dangerous confrontation with Moscow, many in France believe. Finland’s and Sweden’s embrace of Nato represents American victory at the expense of Europe and risks goading Putin towards a nuclear strike, the argument goes. Luc Ferry, a philosopher and former education minister, voiced that view on LCI television yesterday. Daniel Cohn-Bendit, the veteran Franco-German Greens politician, told him: “You sound like Putin’s spokesman.”

As Finland and Sweden have sought Nato’s protection, French commentators have started talking about “the American war”. André Kaspi, emeritus professor of American history at the Sorbonne, said Nato had been strengthened at the cost of the EU and American industry was happy making money from the billions spent on US supplies. “For the United States, this war in Europe is excellent business,” he said. Kaspi was writing in Marianne, a left-wing news weekly, which holds the same anti-American, Russo-friendly views as the radical wings of the political world. These do not represent a small minority. Sixty per cent of voters in the first round of last month’s presidential election backed anti-Nato, Russophile candidates, led by Jean-Luc Mélenchon on the left, and Marine Le Pen and Éric Zemmour on the right.

Macron’s advocacy of dialogue and kid gloves with Putin is mainstream and popular in France, although it is increasingly earning him charges of appeasement from Poland and Baltic leaders. While Macron is also talking to President Zelensky, neither he nor any French minister has travelled to Kyiv since the invasion. French military aid to Ukraine is about half that of Britain’s, though it does include long-range artillery. Paris has been largely aligned with Berlin’s prudence over Ukraine but, with visits by German officials starting, France is beginning to look isolated.

Zelensky complained for the first time about Macron at the weekend, telling Italian television that the president had asked him to help Putin save face. “We want the Russian army to leave our land — we aren’t on Russian soil,” Zelensky said. “We won’t help Putin save face by paying with our territory. That would be unjust.” The Élysée Palace denied Zelensky’s claim. “The president has never discussed anything with Vladimir Putin without the agreement of President Zelensky and has never asked President Zelensky for any concession,” it said.

Nevertheless, Macron did tell the European parliament this month that the war must end with negotiation and not “humiliation”. Unlike Boris Johnson and President Biden, who have written Putin off as a genocidal war criminal, Macron eschews such language and wants to continue doing business with Russia’s president in the name of his project for a “new European security architecture”. He told the Strasbourg parliament: “When peace returns to European soil, we will need to build new security balances.” Edgars Rinkevics, Latvia’s foreign minister, attacked Macron in a tweet on Sunday: “In 1939 it was called appeasement, in 2022 it is called face saving, let us not make the same mistakes again.”

The French foreign policy establishment is defending Macron’s stance as statesmanlike in contrast to inflammatory talk about punishing Russia in Washington and London. Gérard Araud, the French ambassador to Washington until 2019, tweeted the French logic. “What is more moral: punishing the bully even if it prolongs the sufferings of his victims, or putting an end to these sufferings as soon as possible even if he escapes any punishment?” Araud said the Americans were making the most of the revival of Nato to squash Macron’s plans for the EU to conduct its own defence. “The US wants to have the cake and eat it. Although they pay lip service to it, they have in fact fiercely opposed any European move towards strategic autonomy,” he said.

France’s ambivalence towards Russia and suspicion of the “Anglo-Saxons”, springs from a thousand years of ancestral rivalry. It dates more recently from the late Charles de Gaulle withdrawing France from the Nato command in 1966 and his cultivation of a special relationship with Moscow to balance the power of Washington.

France’s return to the Nato fold under President Sarkozy in 2009 is unpopular with sections of the left and right and much of the intellectual world. Many cherish a belief in a supposed affinity between French and Russian peoples going back to Tsarist times and reflected in the 21st century by the Russian rush to buy homes in Paris, the Alps and seaside resorts — the finance ministry is busy seizing many of those properties.

Macron has paid tribute to this “historic friendship” on the three occasions that he has hosted Putin in France. France has been rewarded by access to Russian markets. A few big investors, notably Renault, have withdrawn since the invasion but many big brands remain active there with Macron’s blessing, including Auchan hypermarkets, Lacoste fashion, Leroy Merlin DIY, Vinci motorway construction and the hotel giant Accor.

Russia has worked hard since Putin became president in 2000 to exploit the Gaullist legacy to extend its influence in France. It has cultivated close ties with conservative parliamentarians and politicians such as Marine Le Pen, leader of the National Rally, and turned the French-language version of Russia Today, the Kremlin’s foreign media arm, into a local force. By casting Russia as “anti-system”, RT became a favourite with the gilets jaunes (yellow vest) anti-Macron protests of 2018-19 and the antivax movement in the epidemic. Before Macron shut RT down in February, it was busy converting its French following to the Kremlin’s Ukraine propaganda. Nicolas Hénin, a journalist specialising in media, said Russia Today reinforced the French “reflex of viscerally suspecting institutions and the media and seeking alternative truth everywhere with the logic of conspiracy theories”.

Russian troll farms are also suspected of boosting the French online frenzy against Ukraine’s Eurovision triumph.


  1. The gas cap is good news, but in typical EU amd Spanish fashion by the time it takes effect, nearly 5 weeks will have passed since it was announced.

    Today I am frustrated to see the media lauding the visit of the emir of Qatar to Spain. His entourage consists of 300 people. That must be a fair amount of petrol to move them all around. The story is that Qatar will likely sell more gas to Spain. Reducing gas from the former CCCP …. which accounts for 6% of purchases. No mention of the 6500 dead (mostly Nepalese) building World Cup stadiums then.


  2. Would be interested to know the source of the article ‘Why Russia still has friends in France despite the Ukraine invasion’


    • I wrote The Telegraph, from memory, but it was actually Charles Bremner in The Times
      I usually check but didn’t this time . . .


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