3 July 2022: Stuff and nonsense.

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Awake! For, Morning, in the Bowl of Night, has flung the Stone that puts the Stars to Flight
And, Lo, has caught the Sultan’s Turret in a Noose of Light

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable
Christopher Howse: ‘A Pilgrim in Spain’

Cosas de España/Galiza


Fair comment?: One by one the myths we bought into about Covid, back in 2020, are dissolving before our eyes – Lockdowns, hand sanitisers, masks, Sage … 

Mark Stücklin writes again here on the squatting problem faced by property owners here.

An interesting camino tale from an Australian journalisms.

Spanish life. . . My lovely neighbour had a lunch for 10+ folk yesterday. At the time she suggested we go over:-

– None of the friends she said would have arrived by then were there.

– She herself wasn’t at home. Out shopping perhaps.

– There were 2 men assembling a sofa bed in her front garden, next to the BBQ

The (eventual) lunch was a lovely event and about as Spanish as a lunch here can get. Super food, lots of wine and plenty of conversation. For 8 hours in the case of me and my daughter and 7 hours for the other (all Spanish) guests, who arrived rather later than predicted.

My 3 year old grandson said he wanted to play chess yesterday. What he really meant was that he wanted the pieces to fight and kill each other. To which end he introduced a new piece, capable of slaughter on a grand scale – a techno racer driven by, I think, a chap called Spidey.

The USA 

The United States is in the throes of one of its more extreme nervous breakdowns: See the article below by a UK-based an American columnist whom I’ve long admired

The Way of the World 

A year or two ago I listened to a BBC podcast on the outrageous fraud perpetrated by Ruja Ignatova: the cryptoqueen who vanished with $500m of investors’ cash. The last I heard was that she was holed up in Frankfurt but somehow safe from arrest – while One Coin was still being heavily promoted in the 3rd world. Anyway, she’s now become the only woman on the FBI’s top ten most-wanted fugitive list. 

Rod Liddle today: Out walking with the dog on Friday I met a charming but apparently diplopic young woman. Stroking the dog’s head, she asked: “What are they called?” Slightly perturbed, I paused for a moment and then replied: “They’re, er, both called Jessie.” It was only later, when she had gone, that I realised she hadn’t been seeing two of everything, the consequence of some terrible cerebral malfunction. She had simply not wished to misgender my dog.

Toronto police haveput out a notice describing a “missing woman” as having “a thin build, shaggy blonde hair, and a full goatee”.

Finally  . . .

An example of rugby at its best. A game for ruffians played by gentlemen.

And an amusing anecdote . .

For new readers: 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.


America may not survive this debilitating nervous breakdown: Both the overturning of Roe vs Wade and the January 6th revelations are extreme manifestations of the USA’s unique history: Janet Daley. The Telegraph

The United States is in the throes of one of its more extreme nervous breakdowns. In what may seem like an extraordinary coincidence, two explosive manifestations of this pathology have occurred within days of one another. The congressional hearings on the events of 6 January in which a rampaging Trump army attempted to seize the presidency by storming the Capitol, and the Supreme Court decision which reversed the right to abortion, have merged into something that goes way beyond the familiar norms of culture war. 

The terms in which these confrontations are being conducted go to the heart of what America understands itself to be and the legal agreement by which its disparate, displaced people live alongside one another. It is precisely that understanding and that legal agreement which the rest of the world – particularly the British who believe quite wrongly that they share America’s political culture – must understand if they are not to be drawn into this farrago.

The starting point for any explanation of why what is happening over there, will not (cannot) happen here is something so unprecedented in human history that the force of it is almost incomprehensible to most Europeans. Unlike almost any other advanced society that has ever existed – including other revolutionary republics whose philosophical roots it may seem to share – the United States was a conscious invention based on a drafted contract with the people who chose to inhabit it. The Constitution – which American school children are taught explicitly to regard as “a contract between the government and the citizen” – was not something added on to an existing historic national entity, or a modern departure for a country that had thrown off outdated conventions and repudiated its hereditary ruling class. 

The United States as an idea – as a country – does not pre-date the Constitution. Its people have no shared collective memory, no rooted sense of an identity that precedes its institutions, no mythic belief in some Before Time that unites them in a way that makes all political arrangements transitory. This is why that sacred document – with all its litigious, anachronistic flaws – is at the centre of every debate worth having in American discourse. It is both the great strength and the great weakness of that democratic tradition which is so peculiar to the United States.

It is this reverence for the institutions created by the Constitution, this belief that they are the embodiment of national identity which made the incidents of 6 January and last week’s testimony before Congress about Trump’s eagerness to join the rioters – even if they were armed – seem not just shocking but positively blasphemous. He is claimed to have demanded that his security guards take him to the Capitol to lead the insurrection (which they refused to do) with the words, “I’m the f—ing president. Take me to the Capitol.” 

To all those peoples of the world who have lived through civil wars in which governments have been toppled, monarchies overthrown, and coups defeated by counter coups, this incident may seem rather tame. For Americans, who regard their institutions as the bond which makes them one people, it is staggering. Or, at least, it should be. The fact that there remains a Trump constituency in spite of it (which will remain solid I am sure even if this testimony proves to be verifiably accurate) is an indication of just how far the divisions in the US have gone and how irremediable they might be. That’s the bad news.

The good news is that on that fateful day, thanks in no small part to the personal courage and principle of Trump’s vice president Mike Pence, the Constitution held. The institutions in which so much is invested withstood the demented assault of a mob. 

This is the critical lesson here: under the American interpretation of democracy, institutions take precedence over any cohort of elected politicians. No piece of legislation passed by Congress, no decision by a state governor – not even the orders of the “f—ing president” – can defy the legitimate checks and balances instituted by those men whom Americans call the Founding Fathers. This is what you learn at school: the government consists of three branches – the legislature which makes the law, the executive which enforces the law and the judiciary which interprets the law. 

The legislature (Congress) can refuse to pass laws which the executive (the president) proposes. The judiciary (Supreme Court) can declare laws that are passed by the legislature and approved by the executive to be unconstitutional. The individual states have considerable scope to create laws within their own borders but these must not be in contravention of rights which the federal government (as adjudicated by the Supreme Court) has accepted as guaranteed. 

Which brings us to the reversal of Roe v Wade and the prospect of a good many states proposing to re-criminalise terminations of pregnancy even for those who are victims of rape and incest, which will most dramatically affect the destitute and the socially deprived – and this may apply not only within their own borders but to those who might travel across state lines to seek safe abortion or even try to procure medication by post. The sheer inhumanity of this is staggering and quite inconceivable in Britain. But it must not obscure the larger political comparison. 

When there is a general public consensus that a thing should be done – the legalising of abortion or of homosexuality are good examples – then a sovereign Parliament, has the power to act on this, and the thing is done. There is an overarching bond of common values (and common sense) which allows governing to be, to a larger extent than Britons often appreciate, consensual and responsive to changes in public mood. In the US it takes iron-clad institutions to hold the line. It’s an open question how much longer they will be able to keep their grip.


  1. Actually, no. It’s a Henry VIII English set, which I think was given to me as a present on my 40th birthday by my then wife.


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