2 January 2023

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’ 


This is something on the UK which might have wider relevance: We’re now at the end of the “Great Moderation” – the near four-decade period of mostly stable growth and relatively contained inflation. This is, to my mind, largely a cost-of-lockdown crisis. Anti-Covid measures have caused far more economic damage than the global financial meltdown. Then, as demand soared post-lockdown, lingering production and supply-chain issues meant countless businesses struggled to respond. That was the main cause of inflation: a wall of demand hitting a sustained inability to supply. 

Cosas de España/Galiza

HT to Lenox Napier of Business Over Tapas for this slightly cynical comment on articles such as this one, which has arrived right on cue

Astorga is the one place I’ve yet to visit.

Here’s a big Renfe billboard US ‘marquee’?) outside Chamartín etc. train station in North Madrid.

It reflects new competition from low-cost French and Italian operators. Generally speaking, I’m an admirer of Renfe’s service and its employees, though not its awful web page. But I’ve begun to wonder whether it’s not slowly turning into the UK’s BR of the 1970s and 80s. Both my Saturday trains were late in departing and arriving and there was no water for either the WC or the sink in a toilet on the train from Madrid to Santiago de C. Despite, as I’ve said, the ticket costing way above that of the trip to Madrid 10 days earlier.

While the Galicians might pride themselves on their Celtic connections, their language – Gallego/Galego – contains few words of Celtic origin. English has a few more, though the Celts had more influence on English than they did on the Spanish descendants of Latin. See from minute 7.50 here. Note how widely spread the Celts were in Iberia. Not confined to the NW corner, as many Galicians seem to believe.

Little stirs in Pv city on a normal public holiday. But yesterday its old quarter was like a ghost town. I went there looking to have lunch somewhere but found only one café and one bar open in the entire place. And the former only because it belongs to a hotel. Depressing. Especially as it’d rained ever since I’d got back the previous evening. But the sun is out now . . .

The UK

I see the Kiwi shoe polish company is quitting the UK because of a “rise in casual shoes that don’t require formal polishing”. This partly reflects the WFH development. It reminded me that I was wondering last week if anyone polished even their go-to-work shoes these days. Certainly, all my recently purchased (black) shoes have had a matt finish, meaning that polishing them achieves little.


My old friend in Hamburg confirms that Dinner for One was shown on a reel all day NY Eve on TV there. Who says the Germans don’t have a sense of humour.

The Way of the World

I’d never heard of this scumbag until yesterday morning, when I saw 2 articles on him. Of which, that’s one. He’s empowered and enriched by the internet, which we once believed was a force only for good.

For all women; The Year the West Erased Women.


Mear fuera del tiesto – To piss outside the pot.  Salirse de la cuestión, decir algo que no viene al caso.. To be irrelevant/annoying?. . . La raíz de esta expresión está en el origen de otras similares como la genérica ‘Hacer algo fuera de lugar’. Hay cosas que tienen su lugar y no otro, y hacerlas fuera de ese lugar es inapropiado. Según lvarias fuentes, ninguna de las cuales es necesariamente confiable, en Castilla se solía llamar tiesto al orinal (recipiente portátil para orinar y defecar). Esto hace que la expresión tenga un poco más de sentido que si tiesto significara sólo “maceta” o “vasija” en general, pero no  es  necesario para crear la imagen figurativa deseada.


Meme stocks/shares: Those that rise in value simply because an army of retail investors decided they should. Think Tesla, which was once – insanely – valued at more than all the other car companies in the world put together. Social media again. Herd mentality. The madness of crowds. Something else made possible by the internet. And gullibility. That said. as with pyramid schemes, those that get in and out before the crash can make a lot of money. It’s the logic of There’s always someone greedier . . Until there isn’t. Think also the art world. NFTs in particular.

Finally . . .

I see that an old university friend of mine – Lord Carlile of Berriew – is in the news again. Back then, he was just Alex Falik. But, after getting engaged to a lady called Frances/Fanny, he changed his surname to Carlile – as she wasn’t keen on being known, after the marriage, as Fanny Falik. And who could blame her? The change was clearly propitious, as Alex went on to (much) better things than the rest of us – first in the law and then in politics – meaning a lot of media coverage over the years. I just saw that his Wiki entry makes no reference to this bit of his life. Which doesn’t altogether surprise me.

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.


  1. No way Renfe will ever be like trains in Britain past or present. You do not board on trains in Britain lately do you? I grant you that getting a ticket on a Web page is a swift and efficient experience. But that is the part that always works in the UK, the money grabbing profiteering bit. The rest is as awful as ever. And I don’t recall BR actualy being any worse.


  2. Yes, well, I haven’t been on a British train for some time but I’m more than willing to believe it’s a lot less pleasant than taking a Renfe train in 2023.
    And I’ve just read that: “When the rail strikes first took effect, my initial thought was “who can tell?” The service was appalling to begin with. In 2019, the World Economic Forum ranked the quality of the UK’s railways as 29th out of 101 countries, far behind those of Indonesia and Panama.”
    Of course, the real scandal is that a very botched privatisation of the railways led to price gauging and a service which, though inferior, is very much more expensive than in other European countries. A double whammy.
    As to the future of Renfe, I hope you are right that it’ll never be as bad as BR pre-privatisation.


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