28 April 2023

Yesterday was a long and tough 10 hours for my daughter and her partner’s parents and siblings yesterday in the tanatorio. Many tears but much Spanish affection, with possibly 200 people or more coming to pay their respects. Cremation early today.

As I woke very early, some amalgamated blog notes of 10-15 November 2015

Cosas de España/Galiza

It was another gloriously sunny day here in Pontevedra yesterday. And the dawn I’m looking at this morning is magnificent. Oh, and I’ll be enjoying a lunch of wild boar today. Hey ho.

Three youths have been given prison sentences, plus fines, for something that happened during a visit of the President of Galicia to their university. The verb ‘boicotear’ is clearly a ‘false friend’, meaning rather more than its English oppo.

Cataluña: HT to Lenox of Business Over Tapas for his overview at the end of this post. As he says, it’s a soap opera. But a very serious one. Ironically, it seems to be increasing the support for the ‘Spanish nationalist’ PP party. Which may now get get an absolute majority in December. Possibly the last thing the Catalan nationalists would want. But who really knows, in this ludicrous game of chicken? I doubt it makes sense to anyone.

I’ve begun to read a book on the perennial theme of corruption. Entitled ‘Fango'(Mud), its author is Spain’s most prominent judge, Báltazar Garzón. More on this in due course but, meanwhile, here’s Lenox of Business Over Tapas on one of the worst aspects of this scourge – the political pressure on judges:- “Judge Mercedes Alaya, the lady who was investigating the massive ERE fraud in Andalucía (before being put aside), has broken her silence on the issue in a speech delivered after winning the ‘Premio Jurista del Año 2015’. She said that she was ‘put under enormous pressure during her investigations’ and that the Junta de Andalucía ‘put all the obstacles they could think of’ against her. She also told listeners at the Complutense University in Madrid that ‘Politics has invaded Justice to ensure that Justice does not meddle in the affairs of Politics’”.

At the domestic level . . . Multiple Morning Maither*:-

It was another day of poor service yesterday:-

  • Picking up my digibox, I told the young woman I was very disappointed no one has informed me when It’d brought it in that they couldn’t repair Humax machines. The response was not an apology for wasting my time but an assertion that the box hadn’t been bought in Spain and that a technician had been on holiday.
  • Picking up a pullover from a seamstress shop, I was told it was, literally, too moth-eaten for them to repair. No matter, I thought, I’ll try another shop near my regular bar. Naturally, it’d been a victim of La Crisis.
  • Responding to an email prompt, the Apple shop in Vigo told me my laptop was ready and the cost was their minimum of €70. Reformatting the hard disk must have taken them all of 5 minutes, plus more than 2 weeks before they got round to it. No one, of course, had warned me of the backlog. Now for another trip to Vigo.
  • Worst of all . . . Having got a recorded message from Telefónica that I had to return their equipment because I’d ended my contract a month or so ago, I took the modem into one of their shops. They told me they couldn’t do anything because I didn’t have the reference number. I told them they surely could, using contract and ID details. And, lo and behold, they could. When I asked them to tell me the exact date of the termination about 5 weeks ago, they told me it was the date of the return of the equipment. Which, somehow, Telefónica had neglected to tell me back then. It’s tricks like this which makes them the most detested company in Spain. As if they care. Their de facto monopoly is protected by powerful friends. So no one does anything about it. Or even tries to.

*Maither’ This may turn out to be a northern word. It means ‘bother’ and was much used by by mother – as in “Don’t maither me with that!” Possibly of Gaelic origin. See here:

Finally . . .

[Someone’s tale that I can’t recall quoting:-]

In 1950 when I was 12, there was a World Peace Congress outside Sheffield that attracted 360,000 people including singer Paul Robeson and American and British generals. Picasso was there, painting, and I raced ahead of everybody and stood before him. I asked, “Are you Picasso?” and he replied, “Yes, I am.” I told him, “You sound more like Carmen Miranda, so if you’re really Picasso, draw me something.” He said, “I will draw you a dove of peace,” which he did and handed it to me. “I said, ‘That shows you’re not Picasso, that’s not a dove!’ ” Picasso replied: “For the first time I have a critic, the child does not believe this is a dove.” I threw his drawing on the floor and in doing so, threw away about £50m. It was picked up, presented to the assembly as a symbol of the peace congress of 1948 and now hangs in Sheffield Gallery.

[And a bit of Chaucer which must have tickled me 7 years ago:-]

A lecherous thing is wine, and drunkenness

Is full of striving and wretchedness.

O, drunk man, disfigured is your face

Sour is your breath, foul are you to embrace.

And through it your drunk nose resembles the sun

As if you say, aye, ‘Samson, Samson!’

And yet, God knows, Samson drank no wine.

You fall over like a stuck swine;

Your tongue is lost and all your honest cure

For drunkenness is like a true sepulchre

Of man’s wit and his discretion

He can no counsel keep; there is no doubt

And namely from the white wine of Leep

That’s sold In Fishgate Street and in Cheap

This Spanish wine creeps insidiously

Into other wines, growing quickly thereby

So there rises such fumosity

That when a man has drunk draughts but three,

When he is at home in Cheap,

He is in Spain, right in the town of Leep, –

Not in La Rochelle nor in Bordeaux town;

And then he will say ‘Samson, Samson?!

Cataluña: Lenox’s overview

The Catalonian Parliament in its opening session on Monday voted to follow the path of independence (to be completed within the next eighteen months). The new Government is made up with a hodgepodge of politicians – the conservative Convergencia (Pujol’s party), having dropped its long-term partner Unió (which promptly disappeared), as led by Artur Mas joined with its long-time rival, the hard left ERC, to frame a pro-independence group called Junts Pel Sí (Together For Yes), but with another independent, Raül Romeva – from a small group called the ICV – as a straw candidate. They won the recent autonomous election but were a fraction short of a majority. So, enter Stage Left, a lunatic fringe anarchist group called CUP, which is also in favour of Independence, but doesn’t want Artur Mas as the next president. (On Tuesday morning, they suggested Raül Romeva).

On Monday, the two Catalan groups voted to declare Independence (as El País huffily reports) or rather, to initiate the route to independence from Spain. Another group in opposition, the Podemos-led Si Que Es Pot (Yes We Can) is in favour of Spain staying whole, but also in the democratic right of the Catalonians to secede. However, the SQEP were instructed to vote ‘no’ rather than – as at least one of them wanted – to abstain. Result – 72 ‘yes’ and 63 ‘no’. On Tuesday afternoon, Artur Mas lost the vote for president, needing an absolute majority, but comes a second round on Thursday which will only need a simple majority. Madrid is not happy about this and will bring, says President Rajoy, ‘strong action’. The BBC takes up the story: ‘Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said his government would file an appeal with the constitutional court to try to stop the move. He told reporters that, after an emergency cabinet meeting on Wednesday, he would “sign a recourse [to the Constitutional Court] of unconstitutionality and will ask for… the immediate suspension of this initiative and all its possible effects”…’. Will this go down well in Barcelona? No. On Tuesday, the High Court had asked all the Catalonian-based police to act ‘against any crimes of sedition’. Some of them will not enjoy this instruction from Madrid. On Wednesday evening, the Constitutional Court suspended the Catalonian Parliament’s resolution saying that ‘it breaks up to 8 articles in the Constitution’ and at the same time warned 21 senior politicians of possible arrest. The Govern quickly replied that it would continue with its independence plans.