Tuesday, January 30, 2007


The problem with being able to enjoy such nice heavy clouds and low-slung light is that eventually the threats have to be backed up with action. Today, there is no longer any beach visible from my window, as the rainwater runs from the top of the town down to the beach and meets the sea coming up. Impossible to photograph without getting too wet to make the experience enjoyable. I'm not that dedicated to my small but loyal public.

In other news, the Times Literary Supplement has finally started being delivered. And I have found some nice (probably fake) etymologies. The Gaditanos claim that lunch is derived from 'l'once' - 'food eaten at eleven am'. It might really have something to do with the Spanish for 'slice', 'lonja'. The online etymology dictionary backs me up on this: 'luncheon: 1580, nonechenche "light mid-day meal," from none "noon" + schench "drink," from O.E. scenc, from scencan "pour out." Altered by northern Eng. dial. lunch "hunk of bread or cheese" (1590), which probably is from Sp. lonja "a slice," lit. "loin." When it first appeared, luncheon meant "thick piece, hunk;" sense of "light repast between mealtimes" is from 1652, esp. in ref. to an early afternoon meal eaten by those who have a noontime dinner. Type of restaurant called a luncheonette is attested from 1924, Amer.Eng. Slang phrase out to lunch "insane, stupid, clueless" first recorded 1955, on notion of being "not there."'

The more interesting one is 'rasher', which the etymology dictionary has no idea about. The Spanish for 'slice of meat' is 'raja' - maybe the slices of meat came over at the same time as sherry. Tapas imported to English as an integrated unit?

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Current Favourite Sentence

'We need them [American players] playing in more intense games to help develop them mentally, as well as soccerwise.'

Saturday, January 27, 2007


This was washed up on the beach today. Marian wanted to take it home and cook it, but we decided it was fairly clearly the property of the Moroccan fishermen spread along the beach. They were fishing as follows: a long length of line with hooks at two-metre intervals. on each hook a piece of squid. One end of the line tied to a metal post hammered into the sand below the tideline. The tide, when it came in, would cover the post and the line (and the hooks and the squid), and then when it went out again would leave the fish caught and stranded and ready to be picked up. At least this was the theory - we didn't see any of this actually happening. It was a lovely day, beautifully overcast and threatening.

Whatever you do, don't call them wizards...

Seville has a strong tradition of resolute (fanatical?) Catholicism. So you can buy little pottery penitents at various points around the city. The pointed hood that covers the head is so that you can perform your public penitence without anyone actually knowing who you are. What the purpose of a public penitence then is, I'm not sure.

In other news, it's very cold here. People say it might actually snow. Which is unheard-of: apparently it snowed once about one hundred years back, certainly before my grandmother-in-law (who has claimed to be eighty-four for at least the last five years) was born.

Monday, January 22, 2007

From Sevilla his mantilla'd bride...

We have nice friends. A couple of them, Charo and Fran, gave us for a wedding present tickets to see Dido and Aeneas at the Teatro de la Maestranza in Seville. They also allowed us to stay in Charo's flat for the weekend. She has great lampshades.

I suppose, strictly speaking, this is only one great lampshade, but you'll have to take the other ones, in particular the folding one in the bedroom, on trust.

Seville has: giant bronze heads and inquisitive children;

creepy dolls imported from Germany;

interesting effects of light and shade, and walls tall enough to show these to their best advantage;

plaques commemorating intriguingly tedious events.

The opera was great, and I bought some books in the many good bookshops of Seville. This is a quotation from one of them, Jorge Luis Borges's and Adolfo Bioy Casares's Crónicas de Bustos Domecq. César Paladión has just published his first book, Los parques abandonados (1909):

'En el otoño de 1910, un crítico de considerable fuste cotejó Los parques abandonados con la obra de igual título de Julio Herrera y Reissig, para llegar a la conclusión de que Paladión cometiera - risum teneatis - un plagio. Largos extractos de ambas obras, publicados en columnas paralelas, justificaban, según él, la insólita acusación. La misma, por lo demás, cayó en el vacío; ni los lectores la tomaron en cuenta ni Paladión se dignó contestar. El panfletario, de cuyo nombre no quiero acordarme, no tardó en comprender su error y se llamó a perpetuo silencio. ¡Su pasmosa ceguera crítica había quedado en evidencia!

El periodo 1911-1919 corresponde, ya, a una fecundidad casi sobrehumana: en rauda sucesión aparecen: El libro extraño, la novela pedagógica Emilio, Egmont, Thebussianas (segunda serie), El sabueso de las Baskerville, De los Apeninos a los Andes, La cabaña de tío Tom, La provincia de Buenos Aires hasta la definición de la cuestión Capital de la República, Fabiola, Las geórgicas (traddución de Ochoa), y el De divinatione (en latín). La muerte lo sorprende en plena labor; según el testimonio de sus íntimos, tenía en avanzada preparación el Evangelio según San Lucas, obra de corte bíblico, de la que no ha quedado borrador y cuya lectura hubiera sido interesantísima.'

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Found Object

Odd how Catholicism is so deep-seated here.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Current Favourite Exchange

'So, you promise you'll marry me?'
"Yes, yes, I'll marry you! Just stop pulling my ears!'

Thursday, January 11, 2007


It isn't just me who is slightly worried to see here, in close proximity, a pair of knickers, some boiled sweets, and what appear to be a pair of man's tracksuit trousers?


Because it was traditionally impressive. And I like the slightly darker cloud in the middle of the picture. Almost as if - ha ha ha - we might be going to have rain.

At the Year's Turn

They're taking down the Christmas lights. They are also digging up the town square, but whether these two events are connected is not for me to say. The same people are carrying out both tasks, that's as far as I'll go.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Scenes from Bohemian Life

Number 3: make sure you're always surrounded by beautiful things and people

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Scenes from Bohemian Life

Number 2: removing the nest from our chimney

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Scenes From Bohemian Life

Number 1: defrosting lunch


Sugarbeet, slightly nibbled by what were most likely deer.

The Northern Lights - On Film!

Sorry I've been away for a bit. But we now have the internet in our house in Spain. Twenty-first century inside, about 1835 outside. Here is a last photo from Iceland - the splodge of green in the sky to the right is, I think, the Northern Lights.