14 August 2020: The day my parents got married, back in the Dark Ages. When marriage wasn’t just fashionable but sort of obligatory. . .

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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 Spain/Galiza

It says here that 16-year-olds here will soon be able to change their gender without their parents’ consent. Sometime you feel that Spain -when it has a left-wing government- strives too hard to be in the socio-cultural van.

There were fireworks in Pv city again last night, and there’ll be more in a week or 2, as it’s now our big Fiesta Fortnight. They’ve moved the site of these midnight shows to the 2 public parking lots directly below my house, alongside the river.  Very good for my guests but very bad for tourists who want to park before the site is cleared and re-opened in 3 or 4 days.

While the kids enjoyed the fairground attractions last evening, I pursued the many, many stalls on and alongside the Alameda. Observations:-

– Lots of vinyl disks on sale

– No book stalls this year

– There’s a sort of segregation operating, with the stalls of Africans all in the adjacent garden and the stalls of South Americans all on or alongside the Alameda .

– The people who man the former are a lot taller than those who man the latter

– There are a lot more (genuine) luxury brand products on sale on the African stalls

– A fair number of pot-bellied Spanish men like to dress as teenagers.

– There’s a lot of beautiful women in Pv city this time of year.

– One or 2 of these are with badly-dressed, big-bellied men. Which doesn’t seem right . . .

Talking of observations . . . No one who’s seen mine over the years will be surprised at this headline to an article on cancer: Among males, the incidence of mortality has reduced but among females it has increased .

This is a Pv character I’ve mentioned a few times over the years. 

He’s said to be a good cove, popular with some men. And possibly some transwomen. His hair-sytle and dress have become increasingly bizarre in recent years 


Despite their name of killer whales, Orcas aren’t known to attack humans. And they aren’t whales, of course, but the largest type of (cannibal) dolphin. There’ve been reports of attacks on small boats along our coast this year and now comes this from Portugal:- Orcas sink a sailboat and ram another on the same morning: Scientists are looking for answers. A pod of orcas attacked a sailboat off the coast on July 31 and, just hours later, targeted another vessel in the same area. The first incident – “very much worse than usual” – saw orcas ramming a small sailboat carrying 5 people c. 7 miles off the coast of Sines. In this instance, it caused so much damage the vessel started to sink. Global warming??


Here’s Orwell again, writing in 1945: I have repeatedly said that, if one criticises this or that Russian action, one is not obliged to put on an air of moral superiority. Their behaviour is not worse than that of capitalist governments and its actual results may often be better. Nor is it likely that we shall alter the behaviour of the rulers of the USSR by telling them that we disapprove of them. The whole point is the effect of the Russian mythos on the Socialist movement here. At present we are all but openly applying the double standard of morality. With one side of our mouths, we cry out that the mass deportations, concentration camps, forced labour and oppression of freedom of speech are appalling crimes while, with the other  we proclaim that these things are perfectly alright if done by the USSR, and, where necessary, we make this plausible by doctoring the news and cutting out unpalatable facts. One cannot possibly build up a healthy Socialist movement if one is obliged to condone no matter what crime when the USSR commits it.


Only 16% of Republicans think it’s a “very big problem” that Trump might have stolen classified documents.


Just in case you think I am rosey-eyed about modern Persia . . . See the first article below.

The Way of the World 

1. The ayatollahs have found their accomplices in western liberals, says the author of the second article below. We like to think we in the West have free speech, he adds, but we lack even its pale imitation. He has a point. 

2. Academics working for Shakespeare’s Globe theatre have concluded that Elizabeth I , sorry “they”, might not have been female after all. “Elizabeth I,” – claims a transgender awareness trainer and ‘heritage practitioner’ – “described themself regularly in speeches as ‘king’. They also referred to themself as “prince” and “queen”, which means she must have been be a “they”. Also a “themself”: Aethelflaed of Mercia, who was seen “conducting armies . . . as if she had changed her sex”. You couldn’t make it up.

Quote of the Day

From Caitlin Moran on the current British government: To call this a ‘zombie government’ is harsh on zombies — because zombies have a plan! To eat the brains! And they’re carrying it out! By eating the brains! Zombies do actually get shit done. 


Numantino: Heroic. As in ‘Numantian resistance’. Used in Spanish to imply a strident, single-minded resistance to authority. Many Spanish authors, including Cervantes, find meaning in Numantia(Numancia) similar to that of the Masada for Israelis.


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. Naive Westerners still refuse to accept the truth about Iran’s evil regime. Tehran never rescinded the fatwa against Sir Salman Rushdie. It’s incapable of change: Stephen Pollard, The Telegraph

On Monday, the EU put forward what it described as the “final” proposed text of a revived nuclear deal with Iran, a deal which has been under negotiation in Vienna since the arrival of Joe Biden in the Oval Office. On Friday morning, the Iranian state news agency reported that the EU’s proposed text “can be acceptable if it provides assurances” to Tehran over its key demands, quoting a senior Iranian diplomat.

The timing could hardly have been more instructive. Within hours of that report, Sir Salman Rushdie had been brutally attacked by a knife-wielding assailant.

As I write, the motive for the attack has not been confirmed. What needs no confirming, however – because it has been the reality with which Sir Salman has lived since 1989 – is that the former supreme leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, issued a fatwa stating that Rushdie and his publishers “are condemned to death. I call on all valiant Muslims wherever they may be in the world to kill them without delay, so that no one will dare insult the sacred beliefs of Muslims henceforth. And whoever is killed in this cause will be a martyr.”

This is the Iran with which the US, France, Germany, the UK, Russia and China signed a nuclear deal in 2015, and with which they are attempting to revive that deal now in Vienna.

Much nonsense has been written in recent years about the fatwa. After having lived in hiding for nine years, more recently Sir Salman has been open about his whereabouts. An assumption has been made by some that the threat had gone away. It had not. The BBC was reporting yesterday that the Iranian government had “distanced itself” from the fatwa. This is a grotesque distortion. It is true that Iranian diplomats have not opened meetings renegotiating the nuclear deal by demanding Sir Salman’s murder, but that is about as far as the distancing goes.

Ali Khamenei, who succeeded Khomeini as supreme leader in 1989, has repeatedly reaffirmed the fatwa. In 2017, for example, he was asked: “Is the fatwa on the apostasy of the cursed liar Salman Rushdie still in effect?” His response: “The decree is as Imam Khomeini issued.” In 2012, the “15 Khordad Foundation” – in effect a religious branch of the Iranian state – increased its reward for Sir Salman’s death to $3.3 million. That reward remains in place.

Despite unrelenting attempts by those who should know better to portray Iran as on the cusp of reform, it remains a rogue state with a criminal regime which needs defeating, not schmoozing. Literally criminal. On Wednesday, a member of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) was charged in the US with plotting the murder of John Bolton, the former US National Security Adviser. Both on its own and using its terrorist proxies such as Hezbollah, Iran has a long history of attempted and successful murders.

The first Iran deal, signed in 2015, was a disaster. As Iran carried on working towards a nuclear weapon, we pretended everything was fine, handing over huge amounts of foreign currency that allowed Iran to entrench its behaviour. President Trump sensibly abandoned the deal in 2018 and, under his “maximum sanctions” policy, Iran was being brought to its knees economically, which acted as a brake on its global terror activities.

Now we are back where we were before the 2015 deal, with many of the same people behind that fiasco returning under President Biden to pursue the same deluded idea that Iran needs embracing with a deal rather than destroying with sanctions.

Astonishingly, one of the proposals for the new deal is that Iran can put its advanced centrifuges into storage rather than destroying them. And which country has been charged under the deal being negotiated in Vienna with ensuring that Iran does not behave as it did before under the new deal? I promise I am not joking: Russia.

The fatwa on Sir Salman Rushdie is not an aberration. It is how this monstrous, criminal regime operates.

2. The ayatollahs have found their accomplices in western liberals: Matthew Syed, The Telegraph  

A fatwa was imposed on Rushdie after the publication of The Satanic Verses, a beautifully written novel that was, in my view, tame in its supposed mockery of Islam. To Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran, however, the book was blasphemous. After a bounty was put on his head, Rushdie lived under British protection while his book was burnt on the streets and craven politicians such as the former Labour MP Keith Vaz spoke out in protest. Cat Stevens — the singer now known as Yusuf — said in a speech to students in London that said “he must be killed”, although he later claimed he had not called for Rushdie’s death.

Yet while Rushdie survived this hostility, others did not. Hitoshi Igarashi, his Japanese translator, was stabbed to death. Ettore Capriolo, his Italian translator, was also stabbed, and William Nygaard, his Norwegian publisher, was shot and critically injured. Mustafa Mahmoud Mazeh perished while preparing explosives designed to kill the British novelist. A shrine in Tehran for Mazeh says: “The first martyr to die on a mission to kill Salman Rushdie.”

But while we look at all this with anger, while we condemn the religious fundamentalists, while we pray for Rushdie himself, let us also acknowledge something closer to home. Many of the comments on the Rushdie affair over the past 24 hours have pointed out that for many years he has been living quite freely, that the fatwa had been revoked by Iran (although the bounty remains) and that society has moved on from the dark days of book-burning, even if lone attackers remain a threat.

I would suggest that this is delusional, a fantasy conjured up by western liberals to distract from a more sinister truth: over 30 years they have worked as the de facto accomplices of the ayatollah, assisting in the task of dismantling free speech, sending fear through those who dare to criticise or ridicule religion or anything else. Rushdie, in this sense, is not — and never was — a historical affair but a live scandal running through the veins of British life, not to mention other western societies.

As I read about the attack on Rushdie, my mind turned to Louis Smith, another high-profile Briton from an ethnic minority; a gymnast who won three Olympic medals before going on to a TV career. A few years ago, he and his friend Luke Carson, a fellow gymnast, were frolicking around, singing (as they often did together) when Carson lay down on a mat and shouted “Allahu akbar” while Smith laughed. It was a bit of a giggle, nothing nasty, scarcely satirical. But the video, as you have probably guessed, leaked.

In the following days, liberal commentators were united in outrage. None saw this as two kids harmlessly mocking religion. None saw it as a trivial episode of ridicule of the kind that has always existed in liberal societies. None stated that no citizen, religious or otherwise, has a right or even a reasonable expectation to not be offended. Instead, they called for Smith to be banned — and he was, for two months, by British Gymnastics. He was accused of Islamophobia, racism, you name it. He appeared to have broken a chilling clause in UK Sport’s athlete’s contract: “Athletes may be ineligible for funding if they are derogatory about a person’s disability, gender, pregnancy or maternity, race, sexuality, marital status, beliefs or age.” I was astonished when I read this clause for it didn’t just prohibit mockery of protected characteristics, but all beliefs, of whatever kind. It meant that British athletes were prohibited from criticising Scientology, astrology or even Nazism. Under such a decree, Billie Jean King would have been banned in five minutes flat and Muhammad Ali even quicker. This wasn’t a contract; it was a gagging order. And yet this was the clause that UK Sport deemed necessary to “protect” its reputation

But this isn’t the half of it. I interviewed Smith a few months later, and he still looked shell-shocked. Death threats had started almost immediately: “We are going to find you, and kill you.” “You are going to get it.” One posted a video on social media: “I am going to splash acid in your face.” Scarcely any of this was reported in the media. In the week of our interview, he had received the message: “We are going to cave your face in.” Smith was forced to take out 24-hour protection, a hired heavy at his side at all times, even while he slept.

Yet the truly chilling aspect of this affair — which also went largely unreported — is that Smith couldn’t earn a living after his “crime”. Sponsors and broadcasters turned their backs on him. Progressives didn’t want to know. His income vanished and he struggled to pay his mortgage. To be clear: this punishment beating was perpetrated on Smith not by fanatics, not by knife-wielding fundamentalists, but +the monolithic liberal ideology that will not tolerate opinions (or even jokes) that breach their antiliberal creed.*

It was the same creed that defended those who hounded into hiding a teacher at a school in Batley, West Yorkshire, last year for showing his class a religious cartoon. It is the same creed that equates criticism of the myriad excesses of the Muslim Brotherhood with Islamophobia. And it is the same creed, to broaden the perspective, that connives in the cancellation and intimidation of anyone who engages in wrongthink on trans rights, climate change or the demolition of statues.

I pray — metaphorically — for Rushdie. He is a great and courageous Briton. But I also pray for the West. We like to think we have free speech but we lack even its pale imitation. Smith found work again only by issuing abject, almost pitiful apologies, bending the knee to liberal dogma, just as Galileo once prostrated himself before the Inquisition. Is it any wonder that myriad surveys reveal that people throughout the West desist from speaking out on sensitive issues, out of fear of the consequences?

This is the destination at which the liberal world has arrived — through stealth and increment, through a million little retreats, through the acquiescence of those who should know better. For initially noble motives related to the fear of giving offence to minority groups, we have committed the most grievous offence on our way of life. “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” was the view attributed to Voltaire by his most famous biographer. We must resurrect its spirit, reclaim its beauty. For today, with Rushdie hooked up to a ventilator, we continue to sleepwalk towards disaster.


  1. Ref 2nd article: On those occasions when I have considered returning to the UK, I soon realise I wouldn’t last 5 minutes. I would soon be cancelled or deported or whatever for using pronouns in their grammatically correct form.


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