25 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

There are far worse things, I know, but the end of ‘cheap’ saffron would not be a good development.

Talking of far worse things . . .Here’s The Guardian on one of the most important things for the Spanish media – violencia de género. A very bad start to the year.

When I first came to Galicia, I was staggered to hear that the best teachers were believed to be those who had the most pupils fail their exams. I’ve just been reminded of this by the headline: Madrid y Galicia son las regiones en donde será mas difícil pasar o curso con suspensos. But perhaps there’s no real connection. Though the sentence Las dos consellerías han endurecido el model de Secundaria suggests there is.

A couple of interesting videos:

1. 20th century Spain in colour. Terrific.

2. Galicia -1920 v 2020: Then and now in fotos

I might have mentioned both of these before but no matter.

Talking of videos . . . Here’s one on the challenge of getting into Spain. It’s quite scurrilous and unfair and I didn’t laugh once. Honest.

The UK

Here’s the estimable John Crace on Boris Johnson: He continues to take the Tory party into the sewer even from the backbenches. You can tell he knows he’s busted. Where was he at the weekend? Visiting President Zelenskiy in Ukraine. Where he always goes when he’s bang to rights. It’s his subconscious crying out for absolution. His way of acting out his guilt. His crime this time? Same as it ever was. Sleaze and incontinence. A basic refusal to engage with the normal rules of behaviour. When most people are hard up, they cut back their lifestyle. Johnson, not so much. He is the exception. The man to whom the usual rules don’t apply. His needs must be satisfied. So, a huge loan from a chap who was then appointed head of the BBC,

My daughter has just come out of an NHS hospital, where – as ever – the treatment varied between excellent and inadequate. The more acute, the better as a rule. I know from my own experience and that of several friends and relatives over the years that the NHS is extremely inefficient. Simply throwing money at it until some national/international per capita spend is reached isn’t going to solve this fundamental problem. But I confess I don’t know what will. There can never be a tabula rasa. A relevant article.


The Germans have had enough of Mrs Merkel’s bland and indecisive successor, claims this writer. Olaf Scholz, it’s claimed, is too steeped in the old aloof political style and too weak, risk-averse and technocratic. I guess some folk will find it a tad worrying that the Germans now want a(nother) strong leader to stand up to a murderous Russian autocrat

This is the article cited therein on the shattered German illusions.


It’s only January 25 but there’ve been 39 ‘mass shootings’ already this year. Comment is superfluous.

The Way of the World

The WEF is a menace to democracy, says this columnist. It certainly seems so. The solution?

In Scotland, a trans woman has been found guilty of raping 2 women when she was a man. Prosecutors said she “preyed” on the vulnerable and the judge told her that she had been convicted of “2 incredibly serious charges”. Which some, I suspect, would see as the murdering of the English language.


Correction: I mis-recalled a headline: It’s not Echar las tejas a but Tirarle los tejos a . . . As in said headline: La firma Petroprix sigue peleando por instalarse en Pontevedra y también le tira los tejos a Poio.

One of those phrases I knew but had forgotten the (idiomatic) meaning of: Volver a las andadas: To go back to one’s (bad) old ways; To be up to one’s old tricks. 

Did you know?

I like to listen to classical music when I’m reading and writing but I’m turned off BBC’s Radio 3 as, for me, there’s too much of the human voice. I used to listen to a Dutch channel but a friend has recently converted me to this Swiss option. The occasional comments are in German but there are no ads and, more importantly, there’s a bias towards instrumental stuff. Ironically, it’s the German Lieder songs I dislike most on R3, Philistine that I must be.

Finally . . .

I try to keep my wordprocessing language as English but it often switches to Spanish as and when I type a word in that. Turning it back to English this morning, I noted that one of the options given was Haitian. I have no idea why. Didn’t even know it existed, except perhaps as a creole derivative of French..

It’s still only January – and bloody cold this week – but there are yellow flowers (ie weeds) at the bottom of my garden and yellow blossom on the mimosa trees. Best of all, there are signs that the jasmine in my hedge is springing into bloom, as it were:-

A seasonal change can’t be too far away but the first daffs will clinch it.

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. Iornically, (sic) I watched two hours of Al Murray’s German Adventure from more than twelve years ago. Extremely entertaining & highly recommended.

    Comparisons with killings in USA.
    MOSCOW, November 20. /TASS/. Almost 20,000 people in Russia were killed as a result of various crimes in January-October 2021, according to the Russian Interior Ministry’s statistics obtained by TASS. “As a result of criminal acts, 19,800 people were killed, and 27,500 people sustained grievous bodily harm. Rural areas account for 37.5% of all deaths (7,400). Cities and urban-type settlements account for 67.8% of individuals who sustained grievous bodily harm,” the document says. https://tass.com/russia/1364083

    Extrajudicial killings and death squads are common in Venezuela. According to Human Rights Watch almost 18,000 people have been killed by security forces in Venezuela since 2016 for “resistance to authority”. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extrajudicial_killing

    List of political violence, bandit attacks & herder-farmer conflicts etc.


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