28 October 2022: A good new law; Integrating here; The Camino x 2; Disappearing street architecture; & 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’

Cosas de España/Galicia    

Good to see that the Ley de Memoria Democrática (Law of Democratic Memory) has come into force. Among its objectives is a search for ‘the disappeared’ of the Civil War and the Franco dictatorship. The appalling Valle de los Caidos has now returned to its original name of Valle de Cuelgamuros and the Fundación Franco has been declared illegal. Which hasn’t pleased the Neo-fascists of course. Most of whom possibly live in Madrid’s barrio of Salamanca.

Lenox Napier of Business Over Tapas brings us this article on integrating into Spanish culture. It might or might not be helpful.

Given today’s huge popularity of the Camino de Santiago – at least 450,000 ‘pilgrims’ this year – it will surprise many that it was dead on its feet as recently as 1983. This is the year a priest from Cebreiro in Galicia set out to revive the ancient route, with obvious success. But there had been earlier efforts in both France and Spain, the latter being by the Estella folk featured here in a newsreel of 1963. I think I can say without fear of contradiction that few modern pilgrims attire themselves as they did. And almost as few take a donkey and cart with them, though I have seen at least 2 over the years.

Still on the camino . . . Thanks to my Pilates teacher I’ve learned that one of the several meanings of botar is ‘to expel’, in this case breath. Hence el botafumeiro – Galician for ‘smoke expeller’ – which is the famous incense-burning thurible of Santiago de Compostela’s cathedral. This huge metal thing is swung back and forth on the main altar above the faithful on both sides. Watching it miss heads by not very much, I’ve wondered about the potential for accidents. Sure enough, these have occurred – in 1499, 1622, 1925 and 1937. In 1499 the botafumeiro flew out of the cathedral through a high window, causing understandable panic among the attendees at Mass. It’s said – very plausibly – that the original purpose of the thurible was to mask the appalling smell of the massed ranks of stinking pilgrims in the nave.

Walking up the main street of the barrio of Lérez – from O Burgo bridge – I clocked these 3 adjacent properties, which might not be there much longer. It’s salutary to note that almost every high street in Spain comprised properties of this kind not so long ago. Not today’s – often ugly – high rise flat-blocks:-


The relatively recently created ‘far-right populist’ political party, Chega continues to ape Spain’s Vox party in creating a far-right trades-union with the same name  – Solidariedade in Portuguese and Solidaridad in Spanish. Chega currently has just one seat in Portugal’s parliament but is expected to get more.

The UK

A turn-up for the books . . . An article claiming/proving that Britain is less unequal than Germany and the world’s other big economies. Says the author: I’m not clear why the notion that Britain is a highly unequal country is so widely accepted. Partly, I suppose, it’s the nature of journalism here. Britain’s newspaper business is unusually competitive, and “Things in Britain slightly better than in other countries” never sold papers. It may also be to do with the increasingly powerful voice of think tanks, whose job is to identify problems and develop policies to ameliorate them.  . . . Class, perpetuated by the division between private and state schools, probably has something to do with it, because it encourages us to see our country through the lens of social and economic hierarchies. And, of course, inequality is a cause about which the Labour Party, divided on so many other issues, can agree.


Parts 2 and 3 of the series I cited yesterday haven’t improved my view of Russian efficiency. Perhaps the next episodes.

Did you know? 

A British bobby’s helmet will tell a Spaniard that the books next to it are crime novels:-

Finally   . . . .    

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.