21 November 2022: Faulty cement; Death calls again; The troublesome ‘woke ‘ word; Qatar madness; FB dishonesty; A ‘snug’ I have known; & Other stuff

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/Galiza

Mark Stücklin tells us that: Foreign demand for property in Spain hit an all-time high in the third quarter of the year. Details here.

Recent – and scandalous – collapses of viaducts on the A6 highway in Galicia’s Lugo province have been attributed to poor quality cement. Probably below spec. As with a new road closer to home which collapsed a few years ago, producing a large hole into which, first, a car drove and fell, followed by a police car which landed on top of it.

Did I already write that it’s reported there’ll again be London-Vigo flights next spring, with Ryanair expected to get the concession?

Talking of travelling . . . After being nearly hit yet again last night walking across the (badly illuminated) crossing at the Lérez end of the O Burgo bridge, it’s clear that that my fluorescent armbands aren’t enough to ensure my survival. So, for the rest of this winter, I’ll be resorting to the fluorescent jacket which the law obliges me to keep in the car. And which, up to now, hasn’t given me any return on the investment in it.

BTW . . . Last night’s driver did give me the raised palm of apology but his female passenger chose to ignore my (instinctive) gesture by studiously looking out of the side window. Maybe she remonstrated with him later . . .

A later – and lighter – experience was being asked by a chap at the next table whether I was reading The Bible. This, he explained, was because I was alone and reading a thick book and he’d taken to wondering if I were a priest. How we laughed when I showed him the front cover of a book of jokes a friend had recently given me. My new acquaintance(UK)/friend(Spain) turned out to be a – rather ‘merry’ – professor of English philology at the School of Languages in Pv. Which explained – in part – his gratifyingly high level of English. The other part being that he’d lectured in both England and Scotland. Anyway, I was able to tell him I’d never heard the word ‘philology’* before I came to Spain. Nor, for that matter, the term ‘phrasal verbs’.

*The study of language in oral and writtenhistorical sources – the intersection of textual criticism, literary criticism, history, and linguistics (with especially strong ties to etymology). Also defined as the study of literary texts as well as oral and written records, the establishment of their authenticity and their original form, and the determination of their meaning. 

The UK & the EU

If you’re one of the few folk interested in what is known as ‘the Swiss option’ – now being resurrected by some – this is the article for you.

USA

Troublemaker Trump doesn’t care about a second term – or America. He says he’s in it to win it in 2024. But that’s not the whole story. What the ultimate narcissist wants most of all is attention, preferably the uncritical, fawning variety. All he offers is disruption and division in the service of his ego, not his country. Sounds about right.

The Way of the World

There’s nice riposte to Meghan Markle’s gentle definition of ‘woke’ here. Taster: It’s a word that captures the constellation of bad ideas that has spread from the fixation with identity politics, and which has unleashed even worse terms, such as intersectionality, social justice and critical race theory.

The World Cup

Headline: The Qatar World Cup begins amid an atmosphere of snarling, angry defiance. Fifa and Qatar have clearly decided to go full barrels on the offensive in unison on the eve of this surreal World Cup. 

Last night Qatar became the first host nation in the 92-year history of the World Cup to lose the opening match. Which, more than anything else (of quite a lot), proves that the tournament shouldn’t be taking place there.

Just read: Shortly after the performers [of the opening ceremony] had left the pitch, an empty section of hundreds of seats behind one goal was filled by choreographed Qatar supporters who sang, bounced and waved throughout the match. Their red football shirts were a stark contrast to the white robes and headdresses of surrounding spectators, who sat in respectful silence. Strangely, I didn’t hear this mentioned by the BBC commentators. But, then, I only watched the first half.

David Beckham, the former captain of the England football team is reported to have been paid £150m[sic] to act as ‘tourism ambassador’ for Qatar. It’s seems that not speaking English well is a prime criterion for this lucrative job. I imagine his Arabic is even worse. I guess the money helps to subsidise his wife’s money-losing frock biz.

Social Media

I recently advised on how you could stop FB getting and selling your contact details even after you’d told them not to keep these. Today I read that Meta is being sued in the UK over personal details of a user who’s been denied-opt outs from the profiling Meta uses to sell adverts. It’s claimed that the company even illegally sold ‘protected’ characteristics. Who’d be surprised? Its days are numbered. But is TikTok any better?

Finally . . . 

This is the intro to a podcast I enjoy. The speaker is in his 80s: My very first job was in a small branch library just off Scottie Road in Liverpool. The boredom of my tasks was only relieved at lunchtime when I went across the road and joined a noisy gang of dockers for a pint of mixed ale. Although there were no women in the bar, there were always women in the pub, bunched together in a tiny adjacent room called ‘The Snug’, where they were sheltered from male view by panes of frosted glass. This took me way back to the Sunday visits to my grandparents’ large pub near the Birkenhead entrance to the Mersey Tunnel. This had not one but 4 bars, one of which was just for ladies. With its own dartboard, the oche of which was nearer the board than with the one in the public bar. Wouldn’t happen now. Even if there were still ladies-only bars.

The pub, by the way, was an ex-hotel, The Wellington. It had its own off-licence, though I never saw this open. For the record, this is its facade. Before it was demolished to make way for the Land Registry offices. The public bar is the LH window and the Ladies’ bar is the RH one:-

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.

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