18 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’

Energy

Interesting . . . Saudi Arabia is investing in a ground-breaking British plan to beam solar power generated in space to Earth for a round-the-clock supply of renewable energy.

Cosas de España/Galiza

A reader surprised me yesterday with the statement that productivity is higher in Spain than in the UK. This article suggests it isn’t – unless, I suspect, the financial sector is stripped out. I also guess this is the factor which gives Ireland the top spot. What really is surprising is the ranking of Germany but at least it’s improving there, while it isn’t in the UK. And hasn’t done so for years. I believe. The Russian number is astonishingly low.

I first heard of Soria many years ago, when I was told that there was an educational ‘village’ there where only English is spoken but I can’t find evidence that it’s still operating. Anyway, it’s now become prominent because of a ‘rural influencer’ based there – one David Ortega, a 26-year-old from Soria in Spain’s Castile and Leon region, who has been documenting scenes of local rural life and their associated stories.

Talking of regeneration . . . The bottom end of Pv city’s old quarter – thorough which I pass 4 times a day en route to and from O Burgo bridge – has been gentrifying over 2 decades. But far slower than I expected. So, I was pleased to see, this morning, that a building in Bridge Street is getting the treatment. For this is the street George Borrow stayed in when he was here in the 1830s But no one knows where his posada was. Only recently I had decided to search in the city archives for a map of that time which might help on this question. If I succeed, this will bring happiness to the George Borrow Society, I guess. Thought not to my close Dutch friend, Peter Missler – an expert on Borrow – who was taken from us – very prematurely – in early 2020. Just before Covid would surely have killed him in the Pulmonary Ward of Santiago hospital. I feel I owe to him to find the answer, though I suspect – given what he said about Pv city’s archives – that he’d tried and failed to do this.

There’s certainly been a lot of rain here recently and this, near my house, is one result.

I saw this morning that the river had overflowed its banks in Caldas de Réis, 25km from here. But this happened 13 times in 2000, my first winter here. Which rather endorses my claim that the winter this year isn’t as bad as people are saying it is. Just worse than average.

The UK

From a Brexiteer . . . Brexit’s only major achievement to date is that it has scathingly exposed the ineptitude of this country’s political class. Amen to that.

Yesterday I filled in an on-line form to thank the Merseyside police for helping my younger daughter in a crisis. To get it sent, I had to answer ‘obligatory’ questions about myself. There were at least 10 of these and one was Do you identity as transgender? But I wasn’t asked if I were homosexual. Which truck me as odd. But perhaps they’re not careful with pronouns in the latter case. To avoid being vilified.

Russia

The 2nd time Putin used his gas weapon was against Ukraine. This was in late December 2004, a cold time of the year there. Moscow had demanded a huge in hike in price but, when this was rejected by the Ukrainian energy minister, Moscow cut off the gas and proposed a compromise which involved lower prices and a kickback of 1bn dollars a year to Ukrainian ministers, plus the same to Kremlin ministers. The energy minister rejected this too but was overruled by the Ukrainian PM. Thus – as per Putin’s plan – the entire Kyev government was compromised. Perhaps no one understands greed as well as Putin does, after years of feeding it in various Russian cities. And as regards himself.

Way of the World

If you needed to know that modern Western society values ‘celebrity’ above all else, then you might reach this conclusion after hearing that Boris Johnson will receive a ‘10 figure sum’ for his memoirs But can this really be right, as it would mean at least a billion pounds/dollars/euros? In a column I read this morning, I liked the comment that: Boris made his way through the party by promising every faction he was, deep down, one of them. He was like the errant husband who tells his wife he is staying and his mistress he is divorcing for her with both believing the other is the fool. So, hardy a principled chappie. Or a good example of anything much. P. S. Just read he’s to get 1.2m dollars. So, 7 figures

China

China changes. Again.

English

‘Byzantine’: Used by many to mean very complicated, serpentine, Machiavellian, even. See definitions 7 and 8 of the 9 here. But click here for a podcast on the important Byzantine empire, which lasted a thousand years. More or less.

Finally . . .

Well, Shakira has caused a massive demand for Casio watches, at least in Pv city. So, it’s a good job I bought mine 2 years ago, as the price has probably rocketed up from 15 to 20 euros . . .

A wonderful foto of the bird that gives Liverpool its name:-

The building top left is the Anglican cathedral. Built of red sandstone, it took a hundred years to finish. Quite glorious. The top of the dreadful modernistic Catholic cathedral – ‘Paddy’s Wigwam’ – can’t be seen, Unless it’s just behind the right-hand wires. They are close to each other, at either end, of course, of Hope Street.

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