11 December: An odd place; A nice cartoon; The Balkanese; Putin’s next plan?; & 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

This is a foto of a shop in Rúa Real, the camino route through the old quarter of Pv city that winds down to O Burgo bridge and, beyond, to the barrio of Lérez and the wilds – well, the marshlands.

Around 20 years ago – before it was tarted up – I was taken there by an English friend, who wanted to show me the interior and to introduce me to vino de pasas(raisin wine). This was kept in barrels there and was surprisingly enjoyable – despite being very sweet. And strong, at c.20%. One passed through the shop to a back room, the denizens of which were the city’s low life. Drug addicts and beggars. Because we were one or two cuts above these, we were treated royally, with newspaper sheets being put on the boxes that served as tables. It was quite an experience and I regret never repeating it, though the chance to do so disappeared a few years ago when it was gentrified – as befitted its location next to a very upmarket deli. And now it’s gone for good, very probably because the owners died. The city’s low life are now served by what I call the only spittoon bar in Pontevedra, where – in passing countless times – I’ve never seen a woman. I must go in one day. Perhaps with a courageous woman. Maybe even a blonde. Which should stop whatever passes for conversation there.

A Spanish columnist says the World Cup is going to the line with European, South American, African and Balkan teams. I guess he doesn’t see the last-mentioned as European. Which might just annoy them.

A nice comment on the Spain-Morocco shock:-

The UK 

If you’re desperate for a good insight into the H&M whingefest, there’s one to be found here. A taster which rings true: If you are traumatised, like Harry is, then people like Meghan are the worst possible people to be around. She is a woman with her own issues who creates toxic fantasies about serious threats and imminent danger.

Germany

Why anarchy and terror are never far from the surface in Germany’s model democracy: The far-right Reichsbürger conspiracy to attack the parliament has exposed the bizarre extremism that lurks beneath Germany’s well-ordered society. More here. surface in Germany’s model democracy: The far-right Reichsbürger conspiracy to attack the parliament has exposed the bizarre extremism that lurks beneath Germany’s well-ordered society. More here. Right-wing terror groups .

Russia/Ukraine

Whatever Putin’s original plan was – and who but him really knows? – things don’t seem to be going according to it, as they say. The Times claims this morning: Long-range Ukrainian drone strikes on air bases hundreds of miles inside Russia demonstrate that Kyiv is willing and able to escalate the war on its own terms. These represent a serious military challenge for the Kremlin but are also politically convenient. They reinforce President Putin’s new message: that this is a national, patriotic struggle for the survival of the Motherland in which there can be no bystanders or backsliders. On Wednesday, Putin gave his clearest signal of his latest strategy, both on the battlefield and at home. Admitting that “it could be a lengthy process”, he framed the conflict as a defensive one against a West which for years replied to Russian security concerns “just by spitting in our face”. He said it was necessary to “protect ourselves using all means available”.Not good. Either for Russians at home or for the rest of us. Especially those who die.

The World Cup

Now that the Moroccan Minnows/Moors have again defeated the whole of El Andalús, I’ve decided that there is a god and that Ze is called Allah. So, I’m off to the mosque in nearby Paredes for conversion therapy . . . Especially as England lost last night to France. Who next week will surely put an end to the Moroccan dream. Unless my prayers are answered.

Spanish

Braguetazo: I was given to understand years ago that this meant ‘womaniser’ but its real – more narrow meaning – is ‘a man who marries for money’. It comes from bragueta – fly/zipper – and here’s a few interesting idioms:-

Estar como bragueta de fraile : To be like a friar’s fly/zipper: To be very solemn. [Only South American?]

Oír por la bragueta: To listen through your fly/zipper: To be deaf/stone-deaf

Ser hombre de bragueta: To be a fly/zipper guy: To be a real man. [A tad macho . . .]

Did You Know?

This rather attractive plant grows wild in the cracks of the walls and pavements of my street:-

As you might now, the definition of a ‘weed’ in English is a ‘ A plant growing in the wrong place’. And this one is officially one of these. Indeed, one of its nicknames is ‘Japanese knotweed’, though it’s nothing like the genuine Japanese knotweed, which is a real menace in European gardens. Anyway, Ive planted some shoots in my garden, hoping I don’t come to regret this as much as I do my daughter’s sowing of 4 passionflower seeds years ago. That really is invasive, if very pretty.

For new readers:-

1. 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.

2. Should you want to, the easiest way to to get my post routinely is to sign up for email subscription. As opposed to using a Bookmark or entering the URL in your browser.