If she were dead, my mother would be turning in her grave. She lives on the Wirral peninsula, which used to be in Cheshire and is definitely not Liverpool. Despite this being the case, the Voz de Galicia recently reported a gas explosion in a Wirral village as being in Liverpool. Susto en Liverpool, to be exact. I haven't told my mother in case she wants to come and 'have words' with the editor. I would fear for his/her life.
Talking of explosions . . . The other day, as I descended the hill in my car, I came upon a 5-car Guardia Civil roadblock, at the entrance to one of our permanent gypsy encampments. They didn't stop me but I took the opportunity to ask them if there really had been an explosion at 4.30am a few nights previously. They were very polite - calling me usted, of course - but said they knew nothing of such an event. And then saluted me as I drove off. You don't get that in the UK these days!
Galician Cuisine: As befits what was until recently one of the most backward and poor regions of Spain, this majors on offal. The shellfish, of course, is fantastic - except for bloody percebes - but I can take or leave tongue, heart, tripe and pigs' ears, for example. So, I wasn't impressed to read that over a thousand raciones of the latter had been served at a recent fiesta gastronómica here in Poio.
People in Galicia are getting really upset about our pesky Portuguese neighbours getting too entrepreneurial. The latest beef is that they're pursuing business opportunities here in our region. Welcome to the EU, folks. Things work both ways. By the way, you have to bear in mind that Galicians regard all investors from Spain's other 16 regions as predatory 'foreigners', come to denude Galicia of its natural resources.
I wasn't terribly surprised to read that Pontevedra province is the 3rd most prolific in Spain when it comes to fines for speeding. Maybe this contributes to our exceptionally high insurance premiums. Along with the winding roads and the hundred of bastards without a licence and insurance. Whom the police don't seem to be terribly interested in catching. Even with today's IT technology. Fixed radar traps are much less work. And more profitable.
A public service from me: "Well", you're asking, "would you recommend Christopher Howse's book A Pilgrim in Spain". Yes, absolutely. Provided only that:- 1. You're a pious Catholic with an abiding interest in the minutiae of the lives and relics of Spanish saints; 2. You have an equally deep interest not only in the architecture but also in the entire history of Spain's cathedrals and churches; and 3. You know absolutely nothing about Spain and the towns and cities Howse passed through on his pilgrimage. It would also help if you have total sympathy for those 'Blessed' individuals on the Right killed by the Republicans and no sympathy at all for those of the Left slaughtered by the Nationalists. So, both of you should really love this book. For completeness, I've added reviews at the end of this post. I really should have read between the lines of the non-Catholic ones.
Finally . . .
Talking of reviews . . . . A Pilgrim in Spain: Christopher Howse.
The Bookseller [Interested in selling books]
- The author's subtle wit make this very readable.
- A wonderful book
The Daily Telegraph [where he is a columnist]
Howse, an elegant if fastidious writer, displays a fogeyish dislike throughout of discos, McDonald’s and motor cars (trains are preferable). His prose is at times pernickety (“Stale urine plays an heroic part in urban smellscapes”), But, in the end, I warmed to the sheer Edward Lear-like strangeness of this book. [Decodify that!]
- Blending humour[?] and faith[certainly], this book offers a marvellous look at the way landscape is shaped by belief and history.
- If you want a witty[?] and erudite cicerone round the heart of Old Spain, read Christopher Howse's 'A Pilgrim in Spain' ... His curiosity and descriptive powers do it ample justice.
- A captivating book... Howse roams freely between description, history, theology, custom, cookery, architecture, anecdote and devotion. In a conversational style which almost belies this breadth of knowledge, he allows us to feel that we are being let into a series of delightful and interwoven secrets
- Howse not only knows his Spain well but he has done a lot of careful research into the background of Spanish history... the reading of [this] book was a sheer pleasure.
A book whose myriad eccentricities mirror those of the Spain it celebrates
'A Pilgrim in Spain' can be employed as a useful guide to areas of Spain still undisturbed by mass tourism. [Not!] Howse is informative about cathedrals, churches, monasteries, and convents, but his eyes and ears take in every aspect of the cities, towns and villages he visits. The sights and smells of this uniquely beautiful and ragged county are conveyed throughout.
The text, dense with historical facts and minute observation, demands careful reading... Savoured slowly, the book is richly rewarding for those who enjoy poking around in the past. [Another decodification challenge]
- Howse does not come across as a natural communer with people; his preference is for ecclesiastical treasuries and devotional imagery. [You can say that again!]
- He has an eye for the humorous and strange. [Hmm. The strange, maybe]