16 November 2022: The Basque tongue; A special place; Northern Spain; Strange Brits; Mars Bars; & Other stuff

Night’s candles are burnt out, and jocund day stands tiptoe on the misty mountain tops

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable

Christopher Howse: ‘A Pilgrim in Spain’ 

Cosas de España/Galiza

Archaeologists have found something written in the language of the Vascones, a late iron age tribe who inhabited parts of northern Spain before the arrival of the Romans, and whose language is thought to have been an ancestor of modern-day Basque, or euskera. I wonder if it will help to solve the riddle of the origins of the later. Currently thought, I believe, to be the steppes of Tartary.

The BBC has a video about an island that switches nationality – between French and Spanish – every six months. You should be able to get it here, if you’re in the UK or have a VPN and have deleted all previous BBC cookies. The BBC note says: The border around Pheasant Island is the only border in the world affected by time. Adding that: France and Spain are two historically powerful nations and have spent a lot of time in conflict. Pheasant Island is a symbol of peace though. It was designated neutral territory and was where the 2 kingdoms signed peace treaties.

This is a paean of praise to the North of Spain. Over the years, I’ve become very suspicious that this sort of article can be – often is – written by someone sitting in, say, Doncaster surrounded by stuff written by people who’ve actually been to the place featured. Anyway, the Galician bit begins with the insult that the Camino de Santiago is only one of the most famous hikes in the world.

Will Spain follow Italy and Sweden and take a turn to the Right, asks this Spanish political columnist, in English.

The UK

The estimable Carole Midgley: Are you guilty of “worthsplaining”? Coined by a life coach, it means constantly feeling the need to justify yourself because you don’t feel “worth it”. If someone admires your new jumper you shriek: “It was in the sale!” When a hell colleague invites you to their party, instead of saying, “I’d rather put a body part through a mincer”, you say, “Great! See you Saturday”, then wonder if amputating a leg is a passable excuse. But, hold on. Isn’t this just called “being British”? Everyone knows that the British self-deprecate and tell fibs as instinctively as they breathe and can’t take a compliment to save their lives. “You’re looking well” is met with: “So you’re saying my face is fat?” If you tell an American “I love your hair” they’ll say: “That’s so kind! I think the colour suits me.” Say the same to a Brit and they’ll snap: “Are you mad? It makes me look like an orangutan. Don’t even look at me.” I’m reminded of the joke about the woman who begged her husband while staring in a mirror. “I look old, fat, my breasts are sagging and I’m full of wrinkles. Please, I need a compliment.” “Well,” he said. “Your eyesight is flawless.”


To absolutely no one’s great surprise Donald Trump launched his third campaign for the presidency of the
United States last night “to save our country” and “build the greatest economy ever”. In what might have been a joke, Trump launched his third campaign for the presidency “to save our country” and “build the greatest
economy ever”.


Says this Times columnist: Sergey Lavrov was once a swaggering figure on the diplomatic stage. The late Richard Holbrooke, once hailed as America’s choleric diplomatic genius, recognised in Lavrov a fellow spirit, praising his “intelligence, energy and considerable arrogance”. Moscow’s golden boy, his master’s sardonic voice, Lavrov has been Vladimir Putin’s foreign minister for 18 years and those able to study his crumpled face at the G20 summit this week would have seen in its hollows and crannies the portrait of an exhausted reg

Did You Know?

Ethiopia became a member of the League of Nations before WW2, there were at least 2 million slaves in the country. I must have missed their descendants calling for an apology and reparations.


A reverse ferret: In British media, this 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.

Finally . . . 

I mentioned both the price and the reducing size of a Mars bar yesterday. By pure coincidence, I’ve just seen this.

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.