13 August 2022: EU energy; Smoking in Spain; Squatters; Dirty politics; The end of empire(s); & 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’


Spain says a gas link to other EU states could be ready within 9 months, as part of the effort to wean Europe off Russian gas. The new link could increase Spain’s capacity to export gas by 20-30%. Much of Europe’s LNG import capacity lies on the Iberian peninsula, which is viewed in the industry as a gas “island” as, at the moment, there is limited pipeline capacity connecting it to northern Europe.  Also planned are “other connections from north Africa and Europe that will help to diversify Europe’s energy supply. Until the new pipeline is completed, the Portuguese government has confirmed that the port of Sines could be used as a logistics hub to ship LNG into the rest of Europe.

But . . .  There are still question marks over rules and agreements governing how to distribute resources if there are widespread shortages.

Life in Spain  

A sad snap of modern Spain? At the table next to mine last night there were 4 twenty-somethings. Neither of the men were smoking but both of the women were, using the fashionable DIY variety of cancer-stick. The good news was that, looking around the entire terrace, there weren’t many others dragging on these. Actually, I’m not sure it isn’t still illegal to smoke at terrace tables.

Cosas de Spain/Galiza

The opposition PP party has plans to do something about the squatter ‘plague’. Or at least ‘a problem of dramatic proportions’. But Mark Stücklin is sceptical.

Spanish politics are tribal and pretty dirty. This is an article from Private Eye, purporting to be from someone resident in Madrid:- One expression you’ll often find in parts of the Spanish media is ‘cloacas del estado’: the sewers of the state. It refers to the effluvium hurled by the establishment at those it considers its enemies. The tactic came into its own during the premiership of conservative Mariano Rajoy in 2011-18. The enemies in question were those considered a threat to the nation’s survival: the Catalan ‘independentistas’ and the “communists” of Podemos, a new party that had been created by the leaders of the ‘lndignados’ anti-austerity movement. But in recent days we’ve learnt that the same progressive media who denounce the use of these sewers has hardly covered itself in journalistic glory.  Rajoy’s Partido Popular created the ‘Patriotic Brigade’, a police unit in charge of digging up dirt that would make Podemos seem toxic to undecided voters. Their main target was Pablo Iglesias, Podemos’s pony-tailed. leader. Podemos and its allies had secured 20% of the vote in the 2015 election, the first the party had contested, and looked set to break the domination of Spain’s 2 mainstream parties when new elections loomed the following year. A key tactic of the sewer system was to pump its fecal matter to the general public via the press. One loyal servant was hack journalist Eduardo Inda. In late 2015, guaranteed a drip-feed of exclusives from the ‘Patriotic Brigade’. lnda founded ‘OK Diario’,  an online tabloid. One of his major “scoops” was a story about how Iglesias, according to what seemed to be official police papers papers, had used his mother to open a bank account in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, where Nicolas Maduro Venezuela ‘s president, had apparently deposited €272,000.  ‘OK Diario’ was still a minor affair but Inda was given airtime on La Sexta a surprising choice, given that it’s the channel that hosts one of the most left-leaning current affairs programs on Spanish TV. Outraged at what he considered to be out-and-out fake news, Iglesas protested to Antonio Garcia Ferreras. the director of the programme. Iglesias also filed a lawsuit against ‘OK Diario’. He eventually lost, with the judge considering that ‘OK Diario’ had acted in good faith. But by then Iglesias had suffered a much more momentous loss: Podemos came third in the 2016 elections, dropping its share of the vote. It’s only now, thanks to the recordings of José Manuel Villarejo – a ‘patriotic policeman’ who has fallen foul of his previous masters – that we have learnt that Ferreras knew all along that he was delivering fake news to his audience. In a recording, Ferreras is heard saying the fabricated story is ‘too crude’ but that he will broadcast it anyway. Iglesias has now repeatedly called for Ferreras’s resignation. Elsewhere, the progressive press has shown remarkably little energy when covering these revelations. As perhaps the Patriotic Brigade understood all along, we have an expression that seems to sum up the affair: ‘Es lo que hay’. Roughly translated: ‘Shit happens’.

I’m not aware that any heads have rolled. Some readers will recall the book by the (very frustrated and critical) Dutch author, Vernon Werner, the title of which plays on the statement/sigh of resignation Es lo que hay. It’s called: It Is Not What It Is: THE REAL (s)PAIN OF EUROPE.

Santiago de Compostela has so far this year issued 242,000 compostelas, confirming you’ve walked the requisite number of kilometres – possibly recently increased from 100 to 120. Of course, this doesn’t include ‘pilgrims’ like me who don’t bother to get this piece of paper. But I guess most do.

As for walking options . . . Another day, another camino I’ve never heard of – El Camino Baztanés.

Your complete guide to the knotty subject of driving in Spain as a Brit, or any other non-EU resident. Be warned.

Needless to say, after I’d written that Pv city’s beggars don’t bother to drag a dog round with them, the first to irritate me yesterday midday was doing so.

The UK 

Guess who:-

He is at once villainous and amenable. As people say colloquially, a moron. He is never truthful with anyone but always guileful in what he sys and does, yet easily hoodwinked by any who wants to deceive him. His nature is an unnatural mixture of folly and wickedness. Opposite qualities combine in him as in the mixing of colours. He is deceitful, devious, false, hypocritical, two-faced, cruel, skilled in dissembling his thoughts, never moved to tears by either joy or pain, though he can summon them artfully at will when the occasion demands, a liar always, not only offhand, but in writing. When he makes promises to his subjects even in their hearing, he will then immediately break these pledges. A faithless friend, he is a treacherous enemy, quarrelsome and revolutionary, easily led to anything, but never willing to listen to good counsel, quick to plan mischief and carry it out, but finding even the hearing of anything good distasteful. And besides this, he is too prone to listen to accusations and too quick to punish. For he decides such cases without full examination, naming the punishment when he had heard only the accuser’s side of the matter.

Someone talking about Boris Johnson? No, the Roman historian Procopius doing a fine hatchet job on Justinian, emperor of the eastern Roman Empire, Byzantium/Constantinople. 


In the late 6th century AD, the (pagan/Zaroastrian)Persians occupied the (Christian)Roman territories of Syria, Palestine, and Egypt. In Jerusalem, after slaughtering thousands, they disinterred the ‘true cross’ and took it to their capital. During the next few decades, the Roman and Persian empires exhausted themselves fighting each other, leaving the Arab Muslims free to walk West and occupy all their lands except for Constantinople itself. And that, in effect, was the end of both empires. And the rise of a new one. Which, naturally, also believed it had a single deity on its side. As the Spanish, Dutch and British empires later did. Though not quite the same chap.


To amuse . . .

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. Having been in Sines several times in a previous life, it definitely makes sense to create a hub, there is a large infrastructure. Coruñas Puerto exterior could be of interest, but Repsol will have a large say in that, not helped by local/national leaders who lack vision or political willpower. Ferrol exterior port has left Coruña in the shade, and diversification in to exports of solids, liquids, wood, grain and entering the container market has made it Galicias number one export port. Size may be a limit, but they seem to be more on the ball.

    I started reading Vernons book a few months ago. I related to a lot of what he was saying, especially doing business, dealing with any public entity. I did fnd some of his complaints somewhat silly. I had to stop reading halfway through, as it was depressing me slightly. I will eventually go back to it.
    Sometimes people ask me which is better, the UK or Spain. I hate the question, and often reply Morocco. Country comparisons are irritating, and often lead to childish arguements, especially on expat blogs. I am not as well travelled as many people, but have lived in 6 countries, and visited around 30. They all have their pros and cons.

    P.s Looks like Pv beggars took your blog to heart. 😉


  2. Yes, the book is quite a mixture but it certainly confirmed in my view I never would have enjoyed working here,. As does the stream of stories rom friends about the lack of a meritocracy. And about enchufismo.

    We seem to have live in and visited the same number of countries.

    You’ll know, I have no doubt that Spain was/is right to me in my circumstances. My daughter feels the same, but she has the plus of working (flexibly) – in a great city – for a large US consultancy, with international personnel policies. Virtually every other Anglo I know is teaching English for peanuts. Or retired.



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