26 May 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

Sundays’s elections in Madrid: Vote for me; I’m pretty. And tough on Lefties who want Spain to be a Communist country . . .

Having seen it compared with the UK, Germany and France, I was surprised to read here that the Spanish economy has stagnated – especially in Cataluña – relative to the EU as a whole

The President of La Liga – possibly made aware of the potential pecuniary prejudice threatened by by his stupid victim-blaming – has done what Private Eye calls a ‘reverse ferret’. He’s apologised for his comments, saying – of course – that they’d been misinterpreted. The FT has an article here, and The Guardian here – both on the price Spain is paying for recent regrettable events.

It’s all something of a replay of what happened way back in 2004, when both monkey chants and bananas were hurled at the black players in the English football team.

Ignoring the issue of how things have progressed in 19 years, there are some obvious questions:-

Q: Is there racism in Spain?

A: Of course there is. As in every country under the sun.

Q: How racist is Spain?

A: Against gypsies, pretty universally, I’d say. Against people of colour, probably more widespread than in some other European countries.

Q: Do the Spaniards regard themselves as racist?

A: Mostly, No. It’s not uncommon to hear the defence you used to hear about Irish jokes in the UK 30 years ago: How can they be upset when I didn’t intend to upset them? It was just a joke.

Q: Do Spaniards regard themselves as racist if they hate gypsies but have nothing against los negros.

A: No.

The letter H in Spanish is unvoiced. This leads many folk to, for example, write ‘as’ for ‘has’ and ‘abía’ for ‘había’. I mention this because the Chinese shop opposite my daughter’s flat block is called Bazar Andy. Which I’ve concluded might well be Bazar Handy. Which it certainly is for us.

Things change. Sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. For 15 years, my daughter and I have patronised for 15 years a small Asian restaurant in Malasaña, called Xin. Not huge quantities but very decent quality, at a reasonable price. Arriving there a day or so ago, I found it was closed. Possibly even as closed down as it looked. Which would be a shame.

Another of those Mudéjar style buildings happened upon in Madrid, last week. I don’t recall where exactly:-

Going to the Voz de Galicia daily summary in my email this morning, I was suprised to see that Google had chucked it into the Bin, warning that it had suspicions links and that I shouldn’t click on anything. So I didn’t.


My Ferrol friend, Richard, tells me of reports that (North) Americans are flooding into Portugal, raising prices there. Especially of property. He wonders if this will happen in Galicia. Separately, a reader has said that folk from New Jersey of Galician origin – especially women – are increasingly looking to move to Galicia. And possibly North Portugal, I guess.


Someone asks . . . DeSantis: What is the appeal of a candidate with the same message as Trump who has never been tested on the national stage, let alone won a national election? The answer is obvious but still, for now, apparently unsayable: Trump’s character, a man whose language and behaviour, especially his denial of the 2020 election result and his role in the violent assault on the Capitol on January 6, 2021, represents a continuing challenge to the stability of political institutions and constitutional norms. For now, though, his hold on Republican primary voters is so strong that his challengers, including DeSantis, recoil from making the case and instead revert to euphemisms about the former president now being “unelectable”. At some point, the Florida governor is going to have to launch a more direct assault on Trump the man. If he can pull that off, this week’s little Twitter fiasco will be a historical footnote.

Quote of The Day

A common mistake the politically obsessed make is to think Twitter is real life. Because they spend 8 hours a day scrolling through the latest meditations from [a famous footballer] or searching for clever affirmations of their views on the budget deficit, they assume everyone does.

The Way of the World

Two bits of good news re the potentially terrifying AI:-

  • It’s being used in Israel to revolutionise patient care-

See also An AI revolution can put patients at the centre of the NHS.


Some early readers of yesterday’s post won’t know that Ni racismo, ni gaitas! translates as Racismo, my arse/ass!

I came across the phrase estar en el ajo this morning, in the context of election fraud around Spain. A search revealed: Significa que alguien está relacionado, o participa, en algún asunto ilegal o poco ético. La expresión se utiliza cuando nadie sabía que esa persona participaba en ese asunto o actividad y, de repente, es descubierta. A veces, no hay pruebas claras, no se puede demostrar, pero algunas personas sospechan o piensan que alguien participa en esa actividad ilegal.


Anyone interested in US-UK differences, will find this useful.

Did you know?

I’m off now to visit the Catedral de Santa María la Real de la Almudena, better known as the Almudena Cathedral. More relevantly . . .The tower to the right of the main façade is known as Mariana or “de los Gallegos”, because its bells were donated by Gallegos. All their names are related to the Virgin Mary: Santa María la Real de la Almudena, Santa María de la Paloma, Santa María de Atocha and Santa María de la Flor de Lis.

In a stroke of luck, my favourite tapas bar is opposite the cathedral.

Finally . . .

Three odd conversations this morning:-

  • My daughter advised me not to walk on a bike path. To which, I replied: I do 1 or 2 caminos a year. All of these are permanent bloody bike paths . .
  • In the taxi into the centre, my daughter initiated a chat with the driver on how to negotiate roundabouts in Spain . . . I won’t bore you with the details. Suffice to say he agreed with me.
  • As I was walking along Calle Sagasta, I overheard a woman saying on her phone . .”pero tu no has tenido cojones”. Which left me wondering whom she was talking to.

To amuse . . .

For new readers:– 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.


  1. “…..Almudena….”. was built, as you already know, from around 1950 till 1990 (give or take).
    Only a few hundred metres to the south is San Francisco El Grande, built in the XVIII century.
    The dome is the third largest (circular) in the world after the Pantheon and the Vatican (or so they say).


  2. Sorry again….not built from 1950 but left almost untouched for much of the second half of the XX century. Construction was resumed in the 1980s. But it is mainly, in any case, a 20th century construct.


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