20 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

Politics: The PSOE PM and the Constitution. A right-of-centre view.

Life in Spain:-

1. I’ve said that beggars are a blight in Pv city. Old timers know me and pass me by but newcomers don’t yet recognise me and repeatedly ask for cash. Last night, one of these asked me if he could ask me something. Knowing what it would be, I shook my head. Whereupon he loudly accused me of bad manners. Which, by Spanish standards, I guess it was.

2. As it happened, I was on my way to the offices of the company which administers my community, to complain that, after a year, I was still waiting for the restoration of my basement (cork-tiled) floor after it had been ruined by a leak from my neighbours’ septic tank. The lady was polite and assured me she’d talk to the colleague I’d last raised this with 3 or 4 months ago but there was not the slightest hint of an apology for the failure on their part to ensure the repair over 12 months. TBH, I hadn’t expected one.

3. Such is their abhorrence of committing themselves and their preference for spontaneity/ad hoc-ism, getting Spanish friends to agree to a future event can be like herding cats. I was talking to an English friend about this last night and he told he was in the 4th phrase of a friendship with a Spanish woman he’s fond of. They meet occasionally for a drink but he’s had to do what I advise all newcomers to do viz. lower his expectations as regards their proposed-by-her meetings. For they often don’t take place. In Phase 1, he said, he was expectant and then disappointed. In Phase 2, he dialled down to just hope and disappointment. In Phase 3, he went for acceptance and going-with-the flow. And now, in Phase 4. he expects and hopes for nothing and is resigned to small mercies, at best. “She’s more Spanish than I first thought”, he confessed. But at least he’s rarely disappointed these days by the lady in question. Who must be be nice because, despite what might be said to be a run-around, he remains fond of her. I felt a bit sorry for him.

For the surfers among you looking for winter action

The UK

I recently asked what had caused the Labour party to completely change its view of the EU. This question is addressed from minute 34 in this podcast but I’m not sure a clear answer emerges.

Europe/The EU

See here if you want to know more about the EU’s plans to counter the US ‘protectionist’ initiatives around green energy


Under Putin and his cronies, Russia is once again – say some – a feudal state under the control of an absolute ruler. This is in line with the alleged long-and-deeply-held Russian belief that the age-old country/empire needs a strong ruler – a Tsar – if it’s to be saved from Western desires to obliterate it. As with all medieval states, Putin has a willing partner in a church which shares his views and aspirations for a pan-Slavic empire. In this case the Russian Orthodox church, whose leaders regard it, naturally, as the one true church, responsible for protecting all citizens of the country/empire from the heresies of all other churches and from degenerate Western liberal values.

Since 2013, Russia has spent vast sums of black money to increase its ‘soft power’ abroad and to undermine the West, Europe in particular, in whatever ways open to it. This has been done this by courting politicians – particularly in France and Germany – and by financially supporting extreme political groups of both the Left and the Right. Nearer home, it has financed the growth of separatist movements in Ukraine and Moldova and – before invading it last year – by driving the East Ukrainian separatist movement via injections of both cash and personnel, military and non-military.

One advantage of being an absolute ruler is that you can plan on the basis of a long time frame. The invasion of Ukraine was not, by any means, a spur-of-the-moment decision. So . . . What’s next?

Finally . . . A strange coincidence . . . In the podcast I cited on the Byzantine empire, it was said that the Ottoman ruler who took Istanbul in 1453 saw himself as the successor to the last – Greek speaking – Roman emperor based there, and the city itself under him as ‘the ‘3rd Rome’. Last night I read that this is also how Russia’s current leaders – both political and religious – see Moscow. All deluded, of course. But dangerously so.

Quote of the Day

Since January 2020, a worldwide pandemic and a European war have ended globalisation as we knew it and ushered in a new era of complex geopolitics driven by growing competition between China and “the West”, a collective that now has fresh impetus. Particularly against Russia, I guess.


A propos . . . AEP claims here that China’s best days a behind it.


Reader María tells me that un potero chino is a boat dedicated to fishing squid and their cousins, the potas, which are larger and less tasty. Being cheaper, potas have more commercial uses, says María – confirming what a friend in the fish biz here told me a few years ago. ‘Horrible stuff’, he said. Probably best to avoid ‘squid’ in a tin. And unscrupulous restauranteurs.


Allegedly, the hardest words to pronounce for English speakers.

Did you know?

The names Josephine means ‘Jehovah increases’ and the Dutch version is Josefien. Which explains the unusual diminutive name of ‘Fien’ for one of the 2 storms which battered Spain this week. The other one got the commonplace name of ‘Gerard’. But I don’t know which of these has brought us so much rain and snow. Perhaps both.

‘Tsar/Czar’ is the Russian form of the ‘English’ word Caesar. Which itself is related to (comes from?) the Persian word Shah. Or vice versa.

Finally . . .

To amuse . . .

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. Actually, the name Caesar comes from a family name of the Julian family tribe of ancient Rome, and isn’t related to the word “shah”, which comes from old Indo-European. The evolution of the name Caesar into kaiser, czar, etc., comes from the fact that Julius Caesar was the first Roman emperor, and an attempt to cement the leadership of the person who carried the title derived from his name.


  2. Roman naming convention.
    Gaius Julius Caesar. Praenomen, Nomen, Cognomen or Tria Nomina. Sometimes a 4th name.
    Hero of the Punic Wars, Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus, for example.
    After the Fall of Constantinople in 1453 Ottoman sultan, Mehmed II took the title Kayser-i Rûm, claiming succession to the Roman imperium.
    Shahanshah descends from Old Persian, meaning King of Kings.
    Curiously, there does not seem to be a Cognomen for Marcus Antonius.


  3. I live in Southampton and I suppose one could say beggars are a blight here too (there are lots of beggars in the city centre), although I am loath to use that language to describe the plight of people leading a life less privileged than mine. Two days ago while walking through the centre at 6am on my way to the gym I saw a chap sleeping rough on the street and covered just in a thin blanket while outside the temperature was 3 below zero. At least in Pontevedra they are at less risk of freezing to death.


  4. The first Roman emperor was Octavian, the adopted son of Gaius Julius Caesar. After defeating Mark Antony & Cleopatra at the Battle of Actium 31 BC & the Battle of Alexandria in 30 BC, on 16th January 27 BC, partly on his own insistence, the Roman Senate granted him the surname Augustus & he ruled as emperor from then until his death in 14 AD.


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