10 July 2022: Lunch lessons: The Bulls no. 4; Gardening, North & South; The UK PM election; & Other stuff.

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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’

Life in Spain 

I had a lunch for c. 20 folk in my garden yesterday. It was traditionally Spanish – started at 13.15 and finished at 23.00. It had originally been planned as a joint lunch for both my friends and those of my lovely Spanish neighbour. But we made the mistake of giving everyone 2 dates. Naturally, all the Spanish – who hate to plan ahead for more than 1 or 2 days – chose the 1st date and all my foreign friends chose the 2nd. So, we ended up with 2 lunches and this was mine. Apart from the mistake of complicating thing by offering 2 date options, these were some of the lessons learned in respect of a ‘pot lunch’ event where everyone brings some booze and some finger food:-

– If you want to avoid having a mountain of empanadas* left over, try to ensure that not everyone brings this item.

– Similarly, if  at the last minute you ask 3 or 4 guests if they have 1 or 2 lemons to bring, expect to have 20 by the end of the day. Spanish guests don’t do ‘1 or 2’.

– To avoid tears, don’t let your 3 year old play with a Lego toy which has tiny green pieces that can both fall off and hide themselves in the grass. 

As regards the lemons, these were for G&Ts but, in the end, no one had one. Possibly because in the early evening my next door neighbour, Toni, went home and came back with 4 bottles of decent Cava.

* This is how Wiki describes these but they can also be bought as large rectangles, weighing up to 2 kilos, like the one now in my fridge. With other, smaller, ones.

Cosas de España/Galiza 

There were only 4 contusions and – again – no gorings in today’s bull-run in Pamplona. As one of my guests said yesterday, it’s odd – and very Spanish – to hear the Red Cross doctor matter-of-factly citing the injuries only a few minutes after the end of the event. 

For those who want to know the course, here’s a map from El País:-

The dangerous place I cited yesterday is La Curva de Estafeta. Perhaps not surprisingly, there was no one standing there today. But there were plenty of incidents for RTVE to hone in on immediately after the run and even magnify the individuals being hit in the back or on the head. Videos to treasure when they get out of hospital.

En  passant, listening to the post-run commentary on RTVE, I could swear I heard one chap say that injuries would’ve been much worse but the intervention of the patron saint of the event – San Fermín . . . 

Lenox Napier of Business Over Tapas tells us here about his gardening prowess. Or lack  of it.

Up here in Galicia, where the climate is much more temperate, we have less of a problem with watering but it’s not unknown for me to fail to turn off the (newly installed) tap at the top of the (frequently breaking) pipe which leads to the leaky, drippy tap in my rear garden. And, as Lenox implies, water loss rapidly builds up even from a small leak. Needless to say, the heat of the last few days has led to significant growth in the ivy of my fences and the creeper on my rear wall. And then there are the ferocious suckers on my wonderful bougainvillea, which I’ve cultivated now for 20 years. And here it is in its full July glory:-

What you can’t see is that its roots are on the other side of the fence, in my neighbours’ garden. Just as well, we’re on good terms. And we were even before he brought 4 bottles of Cava last evening

The UK 

Richard  North is one of thousands – quite possibly millions – who are singularly unimpressed by the numerous candidates vying viciously to take over from The Oaf, some of whom I’ve never even heard of. And one of whom – the Attorney General, Suella Braverman, is a member of a controversial Buddhist sect, which some say is a cult. Need one say that, as ever, the charismatic founder of this has been ‘reliably’ accused of sexual misconduct, abuse and inappropriate behaviour.

RN sees the unseemly scramble for power by numerous nonentities as evidence of a general degeneracy within our political and media elite. In his view, there’s a culture of backstabbing, betrayal and vicious in-fighting which is characterising this leadership contest. Adding that: So odious and foul has the politico-media class now become that one would be more at ease writing in detail of the contents of the average sewer. Whatever their ethnicity or background of the contenders, they are all as bad as each other – each equally worthless.

RN is notoriously hard to please but, in truth, it’s very difficult to disagree with him.

The USA 

Trump wasn’t, of course, the first President to dispute the results of an election. This happened as far back as 1867 but the really interesting thing about back then was that the Democratic Party represented the Southern (ex)slaveowners, while the Republicans represented the Northern Yankees. Both parties, though, promoted segregation, supported by a Supreme Court ruling that the Constitution endorsed it. Given that this (legal) segregation lasted another hundred years, is it any wonder that the USA has its current tensions? Or that María despairs of the country of her birth.


‘To hone in on’ is widely regarded as a mistake for ‘to home in on’. But mistakes over time cease to be mistakes in English. Witness the now virtually universal ‘amount of’ instead of ‘number of‘.

With his comment yesterday’s post, reader Perry has taken us further down the rabbit-hole of English dialects. A large and complicated field, it seems.

Finally  . . .

To amuse: A couple of odd signs:-

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.


  1. Hone means to sharpen or perfect an edge, so its use does make sense.

    A collection or mass, especially of something that cannot be counted:
    They didn’t deliver the right amount of sand.
    Small amounts of land were used for keeping animals.
    He paid regular amounts of money to a charity.
    I didn’t expect the bill to come to this amount (= of money).
    The new tax caused a huge amount of public anger.
    I had a certain amount of (= some) difficulty finding the house.
    You wouldn’t believe the amount of trouble (= what a lot of trouble) I’ve had with this car.

    Then there is:
    Using financial vernacular, banks, etc., sometimes write, “We acknowledge your transfer in the amount of £5000”. Others write: “to the amount of £5000” and some of us lesser mortals sometimes write “for the amount of £5000”.

    The first two don’t sound right to me, grammatically, so I’d be interested to hear some justification for these expressions.

    I don’t understand why they simply write “We acknowledge your transfer of £5000”. Perhaps it just doesn’t sound fancy enough…


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