20 February 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’


For those interested in knowing how the UK energy market works. Or doesn’t.

Cosas de España/Galicia

It’s no great surprise to read here that, post Brexit, Brits in Spain are being forced to ‘jump through hoops of fire’ to access healthcare treatment they’re entitled to. Spanish bureaucrats are renowned for finding reasons not to apply EU rules in respect of non-Spanish residents. Homologation of foreign qualifications is perhaps the best-known example. But long before Brexit – and before I got my S2 certificate – it was impossible in Pv city to make the practice fit the law/theory in respect of healthcare in the public sector, at least in my case. One reason was/is that many/most Spaniards are unaware that the UK pays an annual per capita sum for every Brit ‘entitled’ to free public healthcare in Spain.

Lenox Napier writes on media manipulation in Spain.

Isabel Díaz Ayuso is the president of the Madrid region and a possible future head of the right-of-centre PP party, and even Prime Minister. This article asks whether she’s a saint or Spanish Trumpista. Love her or hate her, says the writer, she is at the heart of the nation’s polarised politics.

Reading the article, I was reminded that ‘fascist’ in Spain always means ‘Someone who disagrees with me’.

Ms Ayuso is quoted as saying: We are open to all comers from those who seek luxury to those young people with less money to spend. Yes, well, they’ll need a good salary to pay €3.85 for a glass of Godello white wine, as I did yesterday. Compared with €2.50 in Galicia.

This was after I’d paid a very disappointing visit to Madrid’s famous street market – el rastro. I’d been expecting a much larger version of Pv city’s quirky flea-market – el rastrillo – but it was a very long – and very crowded – street of stalls selling everyday things at, no doubt, much lower prices than elsewhere.

A compensation for this disappointment was to come across, as one does in Madrid, a couple of fine buildings set among nondescript flat blocks:-

Social Media

Here’s a surprise . . .ChatGPT is “politically biased, offensive, or otherwise objectionable”. Its inventors – Open AI – want to give it a better worldview but . . Unlike ordinary software, our models are massive neural networks. Their behaviours are learnt from a broad range of data, not programmed explicitly. Though not a perfect analogy, the process is more similar to training a dog than to ordinary programming. Meanwhile, a US Republican politician had revealed that the bot was happy write a song celebrating the life of Fidel Castro but not his, as he was considered divisive. I wonder if it’d do one on Franco’s life.

The Way of the World/Quotes of The Day

1. An established author: After reading a few AI stories, I’ve concluded that the technology writes badly incredibly well.

2. A UK columnist: The butchering of Roald Dahl is an assault on liberty by a neurotic elite. The wokesters censor words in the name of wellbeing, but our culture and children are less well now than before. The publisher has carried out a sensitivity audit of Dahl’s books, to make them more palatable, I guess, to snobs, bores and maiden aunts. It is a crime against good taste – by which I mean bad taste, which is infinitely more fun. So clodding, so graceless are the edits that it conjures an image of a Victorian prude wandering through the Uffizi, drawing bras on all the nudes. This sensitivity guff isn’t about the children; it’s about adults and their politics.

Did you know?

‘Nominal determinism’ is defined as: The hypothesis that people tend to gravitate towards areas of work that fit their names. I wonder if there’s an opposite hypothesis for people like Pope Innocent III, who demanded – and got – a Holy Crusade against harmless ‘heretics’ in Southern France who preferred to follow the simple-life example of the Apostles and who directly or indirectly criticised the massive wealth and corruption of the 12th. century Catholic Church. And who were slaughtered in their many thousands. Men, women and children.

Finally . . .

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. And there’s the Thoughts from Galicia FB group.


  1. When my daughter and I visited the Rastro pre-pandemic, I also thought it was just like any other mercadillo. Until we turned into a small square towards the top of the street.

    Vendors with old things, looking more like second hand stores. We followed a side street down, and discovered a street with store fronts that had their wares on the narrow sidewalks. There were stores that specialized only in furniture, others that were filled with toys and doll parts of every kind. Another was dedicated to cardboard suitcases and steamer trunks my parents and grandparents would have recognized. It was a glorious Brueghel painting.

    The pandemic did hurt, but, while some stores probably did close forever, I’m sure some marvelous treasures must have remained.


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