Cosas de España/Galiza
Hmm. The credit rating agency Moody’s claims that – due to their greater ability to raise prices – Spanish companies are the most profitable among the main European countries of the UK, France, Italy and Germany. No wonder, then, that our inflation rate is now 11%
On the theme of prices . . . We all in Spain know that the cheapest time to switch on electrical appliances is after midnight or at the weekend. Except it isn’t. In fact, earlier this week the nighttime price was the highest of the day, way above those of midday. This seems to be because all depends on the source of the electricity. So, the world of energy prices is even crazier than I feared it was. Will sanity ever prevail?
I went to Pv’s Alameda last night to see the FERVE set-up, including a temporary stage for the musical elements. As ever, I was very impressed by the energy and creativity which has gone into a ‘fun’ event. Rather different form the customer service levels of the IT company I used recently .
Galician fishermen suddenly have a reason not to be so fond of the EU: Europa prohibe la pesca de fondo en grandes caladeros del Atlantico. The Xunta isn’t very happy either. Says it will ignore the veto . . .
Warning: Road story . . . I followed a learner motor-cyclist onto a roundabout yesterday. He was doing a U-turn, so did what he was told and stayed in the outside lane all the way round. As I expected this, I managed to avoid killing him as I left the roundabout at the 3rd exit. What he did is contrary to regular advice from El Tráfico and, indeed, will get you fined down in Portugal – assuming you’re still alive. Yet the local autoescuelas – now up to more than 20 in total – still teach this madness.
As I move through the rollicking good read ‘Conquerors: How Portugal seized the Indian Ocean and forged the First Global Empire’ by Roger Crowley, the accounts of atrocities get more and more bloody. This is a repulsive letter sent in 1510 to the king by the chap charged with conquering India, whose name [Albuquerque] should be at least as infamous as that of any of the Spanish conquistadores. But isn’t. It relates to the taking, raping, pillaging and then total destruction of a city on the west coast:-
Our Lord has done great things for us, because he wanted us to accomplish a deed so magnificent that it surpasses even what we have prayed for … I have burned the town and killed everyone. For four days, without any pause, our men have slaughtered wherever we could and we haven’t spared the life of a single Muslim. We have herded them into the mosques and set them on fire. We have estimated the number of dead Muslim men and women [and children] at six thousand. It was, sire, a very fine deed.
As he boasts, it was all done in God’s name. But at least they saved the pretty women and took them to be converted to Christianity and married to some of the sailors. Which must have pleased their god. Who’d already enjoyed many examples of this over decades in North Africa, just across the Med from Portugal.
A couple of internet comments on that quoffin queue:-
– The queue now stretches so far that the people at the end will get to see Charles’ coffin instead of the queen’s.
– Why don’t they just drive a hearse down the line so that everyone gets to see it? Job done and they can all go home.
– ‘Queue’ is such a great word. The actual important letter Q, and then four more – silently waiting behind it in a line.
Below is something on this theme by the estimable Caitlin Moran. With a nice conclusion.
And a Spanish comment:-
New word for me: Blandengue: Softoe; weakling; squishy; wet/‘wet’.
New phrase: . . de pico y pala. Tirelessly. Lit. ‘With pick and spade’.
Finally . . . .
My jaundiced view of (most) cyclists both in Pv city and on the camino . . .
Which reminds me . . . Last night, cars from both the national and local police passed the terrace I was sitting on. Twice. Resources seem to be enough for this joy-riding but not for doing anything about the cyclists and e-scooterists breaking the law in pedestrianised areas. Pretty choosy, our police.
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.
Britain in mourning
In the higher circles of Britain’s machinery the fear is always that, in the event of a disruptive event — say, the death of a much-loved queen — the public will lose their minds, riot, and start throwing chairs through the window of Greggs. That’s very much exactly what they don’t want to happen.
And, as we have been able to observe over the past week, that’s very much what hasn’t happened. The British public — while mourning on a spectrum from absolute devastation to “oh well” — have, so far, remained resolutely non-riotous, and wholly of sane mind.
Unfortunately, and massively unexpectedly, the people who have lost their minds are, well, the higher machinery. In a mad plot twist no one saw coming, charities, councils, businesses, the police — pretty much any organisation with a logo and a reasonable-sized tier of middle-management — seems to have talked themselves into a heightened state of the dangerously malleable concept of “Showing Respect”, and has subsequently gone bananas.
It’s easy to see how. While government, the royal family and the state all have guidelines in place for the death of a monarch, that’s not the case for, say, Center Parcs. They’re just busking it. And so we had the absurd spectacle, on Tuesday morning, of Center Parcs announcing that it would close for 24 hours on the day of the Queen’s funeral, and that guests “should stay somewhere else” for the night. Presumably the initial decision was made because someone at Center Parcs feared a social media backlash if people were photographed enjoying the Subtropical Swimming Paradise at the moment of the Queen’s interment. In the wake of the actual backlash at the closure announcement, however, it was clear to see they had picked the much greater of the two shit-storms, and a full “reverse ferret”* had taken place by Tuesday evening.
But by Wednesday morning, Center Parcs had become a mere bagatelle — as a Three Mile Island-level meltdown of common sense was fully underway across Britain. Guinea Pig Awareness Week had been called off “as a mark of respect”; British Cycling suggested not riding on Monday “as a mark of respect” (it has since U-turned); Morrisons had reduced the volume of its checkout beeps “as a mark of respect” — and, more dangerously, thousands of NHS appointments and operations had been cancelled.
Most worryingly of all, a series of protesters had been arrested — a PR disaster for a country keen to emphasise its reputation for both freedom of speech and a monarchy ruling by public consent. Also, it didn’t make sense? The two protestors arrested for shouting abuse at Prince Andrew were scarcely out of step with the royal family’s own views: they believe him so associated with wrongdoing that they have rescinded all his military titles, and retired him from all public duties.
Amazingly — despite a pretty solid 20 years of campaigning on various cushions, buntings and mugs — right now, middle-management Britain is not keeping calm and carrying on. And, at this rate of ridiculousness, it feels like the Queen’s funeral could be cancelled — as a mark of respect for the Queen’s funeral.
* In British media, a reverse ferret is a sudden reversal in an organisation’s editorial or political line on a certain issue. Generally, this will involve no acknowledgement of the previous position.