24 August 2022: Energy woes; Cultural norms; The Portillo connection; Life in Pv and Poio; Breasts again; & 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’


Oh, dear. A huge bucket of iced water is chucked here on ‘misplaced’ optimism around the proposal for a natural gas pipeline or two from Iberia to Central Europe. 

Life in Spain  

Imagine you’re in a (long) queue for a fairground ride that snakes across a pavement providing the only route for the many folk coming from the left and right of you. Question: When you finally got to said pavement, would you leave a space for people to cross in front of you? I would. And did last night. But I was the only person who did so. But, that said, there wasn’t the slightest bit of irritation directed towards the many who didn’t. Taking care of yourself is the norm here.

Cosas de Spain/Galiza 

Ex British MP – and PM contender – Michael Portillo has a program on British TV, tracing the steps his father took when exiling himself from Franco’s Spain. I was reminded of my first trip to the magnificent city of Salamanca, when I asked a man the way to the Plaza Mayor. ‘Do you know my uncle in England?, he asked me. This turned out to said Michael Portillo. The man was the latter’s cousin, the son of Portillo’s (fascist)uncle. He told me that the siblings had never spoken to each other after Portillo senior had quit Spain.

An enterprising crook here in Poio this week.

And I thought we had interesting GPS incidents on the steps of Pv city!

This is/was a sign at a roundabout at the bottom of my hill. It looks to have been hit by someone coming from Pv city and turning left rather too fast:-

But this foto suggests that another sign was flattened by a car coming from the other direction. Possibly by a local gypsy, as these tend to drive fast and ignore the give-way rules. 


A perennial question, at least  in this part of the world.

And if you’re really interested, this is for you.

The Way of the World 

Back to breasts . . . I read recently that – in the UK at least – more women than men disfavour topless bathing. If, like me, you’re surprised by this, the article below might provide a credible rationale.

Quotes of the Day

The last line from the Times columnist who has to review Meghan Markle’s new podcasts: Her [first]podcast is pure, narcissistic gibberish and next week she’s “in conversation” with Mariah Carey. Shoot me now.

And from another columnist:  If the rest of the season is anything like the premiere, what we’re really going to be listening into week after week is Meghan interviewing herself. Every woman has had a girlfriend like Meghan: the one who turns every confidence back to them and hijacks every distressing anecdote with one of their own – only theirs is longer drawn-out, more distressing. . . . Next week, she’s back with Mariah Carey – and much, much more Meghan.


Dimensionality: No idea. A word that seems to have been invented by Duchess Markle.


El hashtag


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.


Women don’t want to sunbathe topless any more – and this is why. How we feel about our breasts and everyone else’s tells us a lot the contorted female state of mind and feminism today.

Where do you stand on breasts? Bosoms, knockers, bazookas, melons, orbs, globes or baps? And I don’t mean from an aesthetic perspective. As any “old master”, man or woman will agree, they can be nice to look at. Also, unarguably useful, what with their ability to feed miniature humans, to develop their immunity and central nervous systems. No, I’m talking about where you might stand from ethical and political perspectives. Because we seem to have got ourselves into quite the tangle about these apparently innocuous female body parts.

By “we”, I mean women. According to a new study, published in Sexuality and Culture journal, when more than 300 men and women were shown images of topless women in different scenarios and locations and asked to rate them on levels of appropriateness, women were far more likely to be offended by the sight of bare breasts in public than men. And while it’s hardly surprising that men are more amenable to chance sightings of boobies, the notion that women are “on average two points” less favourable is both paradoxical and telling. About the contorted female state of mind, about first, second, third and fourth-wave feminism – or wherever the hell we are with the waves today. About how we want to be perceived, what we should be, and how much dissonance there is among women on both counts.

This time last year I was taken aback by the sight of two teenage girls sunbathing topless in Holland Park. Then I was taken aback by the fact that I was taken aback. Until a few years ago, I’d always sunbathed topless on European holidays: for tan-line reasons but also because I enjoyed the feeling of freedom. That freedom (and so many others) was killed off by the iPhone (and others of their ilk), which I suspect is the real reason behind the annual headline: “Is Topless Sunbathing Dead?”

Those two girls were proof that it isn’t – quite. I wasn’t offended by their bare breasts, but as a mother I found myself worrying about who might be lurking nearby, ready to zoom in with the sophisticated technology we all have at our fingertips, and for some reason the context didn’t seem right. Which makes no sense when you consider that we were still in a pandemic credited with “liberating the breast” from the “curse” of the bra – an echo of the famous bra-burning movement of the late 60s and early 70s. 

Fast forward to 2022 and bra firms are in danger of going bust, as many still refuse to go back to the “breast corsets” they gleefully dispensed with, alongside heels, during lockdown. Gen-Zers are particularly vocal on this. They’ll tell you that going braless is both an unashamed affirmation of femininity and the ultimate expression of equality, as epitomised by the 26-year-old actress Florence Pugh, who faced an absurd online backlash from the smelling-salt brigade when she wore a sheer pink tulle Valentino gown to the designer’s haute couture show last month.

Just last week hundreds of people marched in Brighton as part of the “Free the Nipple” campaign to challenge “the double standard of nipple censorship, body shame and unwanted sexualisation.” Yet according to the Sexuality and Culture findings, women are more guilty of those double standards than men.  

“There’s kind of a paradoxical pattern,” agrees one of the study’s authors, Professor Colin Harbke of Western Illinois University, “where the data suggests that women police other women’s behaviour…and they do so by ascribing a notion of morality.” That’s science-speak for: “Women are judgy.” Which we are. And while social media is admittedly a misogynistic universe and it’s always tempting to blame the patriarchy for creating intrasexual competition between females, I’m not sure that’s true here.

I don’t dress up for a date with a girlfriend because we’ll both be show-ponying around the pub, rivalling one another for male attention. I do it because I want to look good to her and for her, and I know that female approval is harder to get than male – as confirmed by this study.

It doesn’t take a team of scientists to tell us why the body parts my trainer once referred to as “largely excess body fat” are so powerful in their symbolism (and yes, I did urge him never to use that phrase in his dating life). They represent sexual power and, of course, maternal power, and even if the patriarchy were to be erased overnight, I’m pretty sure those things would still cause friction – or what the study calls “offence” – amongst women. Which is no bad thing. We can all survive a little offence.

Men are OK. Women are OK. It’s the breasts I pity. All they ever asked for was to exist, peacefully, healthily and comfortably within or without a bra. But now they must be angry, militant: rebels without any clear, cohesive cause. 

One comment

  1. The Iberia gas pipeline?

    What puzzles me is the inability of EU politicians to understand there’s a tremendous abundance of both natural gas, anthracite coal & oil in the east of Ukraine. Those resources are one of the reasons why Putin supported the DPR & LPR in 2014. For want of a few heavy weapons, Ukrainian forces are unable to recover their territory & those resources.

    At Enerhodar, there are two power stations. Standing adjacent to the Zaporizhia NPP is a coal fired power station that ran out of fuel in May 2022. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zaporizhzhia_thermal_power_station

    Russia is so desperate for cannon fodder they are grabbing coal miners.

    Ukraine already exports electricity to the EU.

    The solution is obvious. Stop Russia.


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