12 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’ 

Cosas de España/Galiza

Some say Franco wasn’t antisemitic, being more (nuttily) concerned about freemasons. And communists. But some say he was. One thing seems clear – he drew a distinction between ‘noble’ Sephardic(Spanish) Jews and ‘vile’ Ashkenazi Jews. What this meant in practice, I don’t know. More on this subject here.

Another bit of negative macro data . . . Spain in not, by any means, the low tax place it used to be. And the increasing burden is falling, naturally, on the low and middle income folk. Not on the rich folk, who – up to now – have even been able to avoid all wealth taxes by pretending to be based in Madrid.

These 2 articles took me right back to my only-partly-achieved road trip of last October, now re-scheduled for spring

1. The Canfranc phoenix

2. Wonderful Aragón: Behind the [nil interest] beach resorts of the Spanish North East lies the ancient kingdom of Aragón. This vast region combines the Alpine charm of Switzerland with the enticing desolation of the American South West and the rolling landscapes of Tuscany. Yet it is unmistakably, apologetically Spanish to its sun-scorched core. It’s a landscape of brutal crusader castles, ornate towns of elaborate Islamic-style art and medieval villages that cling to rocky outcrops. The food and wine are exceptional too.

An amusing Galicia map, for which you might need the words I cited yesterday. And this article:-

The UK

I shouldn’t really have complained about my delayed Private Eye mag. Thousands of Brits are still waiting for Xmas gift deliveries from a company called Evri. Which apologised and blamed staff shortages, Royal Mail strikes and bad weather. Oh, and the Boogie.

The EU

Back in the 1970s and 1980s, the British Left was against entry into the EU on the grounds that: The EU was designed to weaken the power of ordinary people. It transfers sovereign powers once held by our parliament to anti-democratic, supranational institutions such as the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the myriad Byzantine bodies that make up the rest of the EU. As the writer of this article puts it:- Back then, the fact that this favoured corporations over workers was clear to many left-wing Brexiteers. How times change. The Labour party is now EU-philic and never supported Brexit, being composed now mainly of Rejoiners. I wonder what the logic for the volte-face was. Surely not just an aversion to long queues at EU Immigration desks or a fondness for Continental holidays they never used to be able to afford. Anyway, here’s the entire article:-


A couple of new usages:-

A lolcow: A derogatory term for someone who gains notoriety via attention-seeking behaviour, combined with imperviousness to criticism and lack of self-awareness.You can probably guess to whom it’s been most recently applied.

A humanitarian: A cynic’s view: This now means “A rich person who says the right things” – one of the “good” rich people granted exemption from fiscal scrutiny, as opposed to a bad rich person whom liberals might seek to overthrow. Guess again as to who sees himself as a humanitarian.

Did you know?

This is a church I risked my life to visit a couple of time when I studied Law at King’s College a few yards away from it. Nice to read of these changes: The church of St Mary le Strand was known by London bus drivers as St Mary in the Way, since it was plonked in the middle of a four-lane highway. Now, thanks to the most intelligent piece of city planning since Trafalgar Square was rejoined, traffic-free, to the National Gallery, you can admire it without getting run over. I was doing just that, in the new public space between Somerset House and Aldwych when I was lured inside for a son et lumière. For £3 you take a pew and the church’s eccentric features are spotlit and explained. The architect was a freemason, so a gold triangle straight out of The Da Vinci Code hangs above the altar, but also a former Catholic, so the church bursts with cherubs and popish bling. The lights then hit the 1950s rear stained-glass windows (the originals were bombed out) which are an intense Matisse blue. Traffic had kept me from this treasure for 20 years. In summer the square outside will be the best outdoor drinking spot in London, a move back to its pre-St Mary’s 17th-century purpose, when it was a notorious pit of vice.

Still in London – An exhibition I’d love to see, having lives in Iran, in quieter times.

Finally . . .

The poor, misunderstood chap. . . .

When will it stop? For all our sakes but especially his.

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. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jul/19/canfranc-europe-unluckiest-train-station-hotel
    I, too, have admired Canfranc station from afar. To my mind, railway stations on borders are so exciting. In late August 1960, at seven in the morning, my parents, brother & I descended from the SNCF train of couchettes that had passed under the Pyrenees from Cebere to Port Bou. We passed through Spanish Customs & thence to breakfast upon the expected bocadillos de jamon sin mantequilla & café con leche. Mother had booked the holiday through the erstwhile “See Spain” & we all had avidly read their booklet about what to expect from cover to cover & we knew NOT to expect butter in our ham rolls. In fact, we were all seasoned travellers as Father was appointed as MD of a Claxo owned business in New Zealand in 1948 & we joined him in 1949. We returned to the UK in 1953 & my younger brother & I went on month long school trips around Europe in 1955 & 1957. Thus, we embraced the differences before mass air travel.
    The Spanish train to take us onward to Barcelona was just wonderful. It was steam hauled & the wooden carriages were accessed by iron platforms with hand rails, just as you would see in a Western. There were antimacassars on all seats, which were cushioned, but unsprung. The window were unglazed, but fitted with drop down wood shutters. The journey time to Barcelona was over four hours & we arrived by electric train in Sitges at 3 p.m.
    Another station that I would have like to visit is Latour-de-Carol-Enveitg, which has three track gauges & voltage supplies. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Latour-de-Carol-Enveitg_station. Last, but not least, the bridge between Hendaye & Irun carries tracks of both countries’ gauges, with the requisite voltage supplies. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irun_railway_station
    Now of academic interest only, there is a break of gauge at Brest in Belarus from Standard to Russian gauge. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GHWox2ilvmI


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