Tuesday, March 27, 2007


Scenes from Bohemian Life

It rained heavily and by surprise last night, so we had to bring in the beach umbrella.


These photos don't show it too well, but it was the big spring tide last week. At two in the afternoon, the tide was very high, and at eight in the evening it was very low. But it was dark by eight pm, so the photo here for contrast was taken at the next low tide, eight am the next morning.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Current Favourite Use of the Word 'Disingenuous'

His subsequent claim that he had been misquoted and that he had simply admitted it would be an "honour" to coach Madrid, "as it would be for any coach", was disingenuous given that he had neither used the word "honour" nor mentioned "any coach".

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Current Favourite Sentences

"Electricity began to diminish the candle market, and since the product looked like lard, they began selling it as a food."

"The alligator has its origins in the region to the west of the lower reaches of the Yangtze River. It is dragonlike in appearance, but shorter than a true dragon, and only able to fly sideways."

Saturday, March 17, 2007


Flag Design

The flag of the Spanish Republic, Red, Gold and Purple, must be up there with my favourites, alongside the amazing Angolan design.

Tonight he sleeps with the fishes

Two superbly sinister members of the congregation.

The Third Man

We went up the tower of Cádiz Cathedral.

Being above things always makes me remember Harry Lime: 'Victims? Don't be melodramatic. Tell me, would you really feel any pity if one of those dots stopped moving forever? If I offered you twenty thousand pounds for every dot that stopped, would you really, old man, tell me to keep my money. Or would you calculate how many dots you could afford to spare? Free of income tax, old man. Free of income tax - the only way you can save money nowadays.'

Friday, March 16, 2007

Speaks for itself, really


We walked the eleven-point-one or eleven-point-three kilometres (there is a little, tedious debate on this matter) from our hometown to the Cabo de Trafalgar. It was a lovely day, and we left early enough to ensure that we weren't completely sunburnt. The first point of interest was this tower. It is the only standing part of a ruined complex of buildings - the rest of which were destroyed by the 1755 Lisbon earthquake and subsequent tsunami.

The path at El Palmar has been reclaimed by the Junta de Vejer in order for them to do something silly like make sure the beach doesn't fall to pieces, and so we were forced to walk a long way by the sea. However, had the detour not been forced upon us, we would not have seen this terrapin. She was particularly cute, but we decided with heavy hearts not to take her with us as a pet. I use the female personal pronoun out of a lingering sense of anthropomorphism, not because I am expert at sexing terrapins.

This is the Cabo de Trafalgar, with weary terrapin-less pilgrim in the foreground.

And here is a fisherman at the Cabo. All the fish were behind him.

We got a taxi home, and then ate baby squid and octopus in a beachfront restaurant.


This plant is trying to protect itself.


We took Tom to Vejer on Thursday. It was more feline than on previous trips.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

My Brother and Wells

My older brother is out here visiting us for a day or so. He has so far completely solved all the problems we were having with our computers, been introduced to manteca colorá (a treat so secret that I only reveal it to guests when they get here), and pretended to fall down two wells. Here are photos of some of this.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Slavoj Žižek

'When, at a conference, a speaker asks me: "Did you like my talk?", how do I politely imply that it was boring and stupid? By saying: "It was interesting..." The paradox is that, if I say this [that the talk was boring and stupid] directly, I say more: my message will be perceived as a personal attack on the very heart of the speaker's being, as an act of hatred towards him, not simply as a dismissal of his talk - in this case, the speaker will have the right to protest: "If you really just wanted to say that my talk was boring and stupid, why didn't you simply say that it was interesting?"...'

Francoist Patronage

Franco created a number of life and hereditary peers while he was in control of Spain. My favourite is the Count of Fenosa. 'Fenosa' stands for 'Fuerzas Eléctricas del Noroeste Sociedad Anónima' - the Galician electric company. The count had built a lot of hydroelectric dams.

Current Favourite Sentences

"My little girl is singing: Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! I do not understand the meaning of this, but I feel its meaning. She wants to say that everything Ah! Ah! is not horror but joy."

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Ancestral Halls

We went and had tea in the Palace of the Dukes of Medina Sidonia. Bits of it looked a bit like this.

Hands Across the Straits

Shahmat Chess Club

Because of illness, the teacher will not do chess until next Monday, day 12-III-07. Apologies for the inconvenience, Dani Escobar.

(The same building) La Jaima, Association of Friends of the Saharan Peoples.


This is Bitterness Street, with a particularly tragic Virgin to tell non-readers the name of the street.

This is the door of the Nuestra Señora de la O church. The illegible sign at the bottom says that as of March 5th, the way is clear for you to organise your 2008 wedding there.
I was intrigued by Nuestra Señora de la O - it appears (seriously) that one of the proposed etymologies for this name is that it derives from the cry of joy the Virgin gave when she realised she was going to give birth to the Redeemer. Another possibility is that it is a folk etymology deriving from the 'O' at the beginning of the Magnificat. Her feast day is 18 December.

It has nothing to do with The Story of O (and therefore is not a companion piece to Bernini's Ecstasy of Saint Teresa, known to the Italians as Santa Teresa in Orgasmo).
Charles de Brosses, about whom I know no more than the contents of this article (and the following anecdote), said, upon seeing Bernini's statue, 'If this be divine love, I know it well.' As the man said, they order these things better...


Sanlúcar is, as mentioned below, famous for its bodegas. They produce what we call sherry, which is a catch-all term we've inherited from Jerez. What the Sanluqueños call dry sherry is manzanilla, which is produced only in Sanlúcar, and distinguishes it from the very similar fino, produced all over Andalucía. Sanlúcar produces manzanilla because of its unique microclimate, which encourages the growth of a unique type of fungus which helps with the fermentation. But even in Sanlúcar alone, the choice of winery is large.

We took a tour of the Barbadillo bodega, which was large and cheery and ever-so-slightly worried about global warming. Drink now (especially Solear-brand manzanilla) while stocks last. Solear manzanilla was named (branded?) in 1934 by Manuel Machado, the unpleasant marginally-fascist brother of the much nicer Antonio Machado.


Sanlúcar de Barrameda is a town at the mouth of the Guadalquivir River (I suppose the town at the mouth of the Guadalquivir River) which has, as locals never tired of telling us, a unique microclimate. It also has: eccentric museums (unfortunately shut for the nonce because of an ongoing legal dispute);

bodegas, which make the excellent Sanluqueño sherry (more above);

enthusiastic children who run around the main town square (maybe not so enthusiastic in this photo, but he certainly put the effort in);

and a café mocked up to look like a carriage on the Orient Express. Here we are in what looks like Virginia.

Here's another photo of the weird café, because I don't think I'll go back there for a while.

The town, as a whole, was great.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

It's almost a garden

The top photo is of our big yellow daisies. The bottom photo is an azalea (we think). We water them with our undrinkable tapwater. We drink beer. It's almost like being a medieval monk, except without the terrible obligation of being nice to strangers.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Déjeuner sur l'herbe

We found a wood on the top of a hill. It was very Manet-esque, but we refrained from stripping (still quite chilly) or picnicking (no food). But Marian picked flowers and we heard what was probably a crossbill busting open some pinecones.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Books Read in February

1. Alistair Horne, A Savage War of Peace: Algeria 1954-1962 (2006)
2. J.G. Ballard, Empire of the Sun (1984)
3. Mark Haddon, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time (2003)
4. Allen Tate, The Fathers (1938)
5. Donna Tartt, The Secret History (1992)
6. Angus Fraser, The Gypsies (1995)
7. Adolfo Bioy Casares, The Invention of Morel (1940, trans. Ruth L.C. Simms 1964)
8. Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows (1908)
9. Hector Berlioz, Memoirs (1870, trans. David Cairns 1969)
10. Charles Boyle, The Age of Cardboard and String (2001)
11. Beatrix Potter, Appley Dapply's Nursery Rhymes (1917)
12. Beatrix Potter, Cecily Parsley's Nursery Rhymes (1922)
13. Beatrix Potter, The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies (1909)
14. Beatrix Potter, The Tale of Timmy Tiptoes (1911)
15. Beatrix Potter, The Tale of Tom Kitten (1907)
16. Beatrix Potter, The Tale of Peter Rabbit (1902)
17. Beatrix Potter, The Tailor of Gloucester (1903)
18. Beatrix Potter, The Tale of Johnny Town-Mouse (1918)
19. Beatrix Potter, The Tale of Mr. Jeremy Fisher (1906)
20. Beatrix Potter, The Tale of Ginger and Pickles (1909)
21. Beatrix Potter, The Tale of Mr. Tod (1912)
22. Beatrix Potter, The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck (1908)
23. Beatrix Potter, The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle (1905)
24. Beatrix Potter, The Tale of Samuel Whiskers or, The Roly-Poly Pudding (1908)
25. Jill Paton Walsh, The Bad Quarto (2007)
26. T.S. Eliot, Selected Poems (1954)
27. B.C. Southam, A Student's Guide to the Selected Poems of T.S. Eliot (1994)
28. John Ashbery, Selected Prose (2004)
29. Laurie Lee, As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning (1969)
30. Laurie Lee, A Moment of War (1991)
31. T.S. Eliot, Dante (1929)
32. Alice Brant, The Diary of "Helena Morley" (1942, trans. Elizabeth Bishop 1957)
33. Kathleen Woodward, Jipping Street (1928)
34. Alberto Sánchez Piñol, Cold Skin (2004, trans. Cheryl Baker Morgan 2005)
35. The Book of Dede Korkut (c. 700, trans. Geoffrey Lewis 1974)
36. Rex Warner, Men and Gods (1950)
37. John Haynes, Letter to Patience (2006)

This looks a lot more work than last month, although items 11-24 skew it a little. The Tale of Samuel Whiskers is still by some way her best book.