Tuesday, June 30, 2009

William Venencianovich

Our friends Willy and Miguel came to stay. Willy is a barman; Miguel is a musician, which should help with their identification in the photos above. They had a good time.


It is difficult to take photos of small irregularly moving things.

As well as these, while we were in Conil I saw: an owl (barn owl?) flying straight and aggressive like a guided parsnip; a couple of large birds of prey, eagles of some kind; storks; an oystercatcher, and - hallelujah! - a spoonbill.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Bite me, Lautréamont!

Isidore Ducasse gave us the ultimate surrealist simile: 'beau [...] comme la rencontre fortuite sur une table de dissection d'une machine à coudre et d'un parapluie!' This morning I saw an itinerant meringue seller entering a lathe shop: all I need now is some adjective to attach it to.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Insects and Nuns

I woke disgustingly early this morning, and went for a walk before it got too hot to move or breathe. The fishermen were out unwinding the almadraba, an activity which looks good both in panorama or bookmark form.

I walked a bit along the dried-up riverbed, and looked at the black sand blown into shapes with the white sand.

The abandoned boat of two years back was still there, still abandoned.

But this was something I hadn't seen before. Nuns are not normally allowed to enjoy themselves. Though I did catch a pair of the dun-coloured ones looking into the window of a lingerie shop in Cádiz last week, but they turned my camera into a toad as I tried to take a picture of them.

And then, insects: snails and thistles; ants; a vasty beetle.

And this is the latest example of civic renovation in Conil: the fountain is beautifully cool, and the sign is pleasantly out-of-date. Crib below.

"Public Fountain. The use of this water for purposes other than drinking is forbidden, neither may you throw filth into these surroundings, on pain of a fine of between 5 and 25 pesetas. This fountain restored in 1919, A. Ureba being mayor."

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

You'll Never Walk Alone

Our friends Rafa and Sonia were down from Madrid for a bit. I went for a walk this morning and saw a pair of larks: over breakfast, I was wondering what the Spanish for 'lark' was. Rafa, immediately: 'alondra'. This, he smiled, is entirely due to his lifelong love of Liverpool FC. All together now:

When you walk through the storm
Hold your head up high
And don't be afraid of the dark
At the end of the storm
Is a golden sky
And the sweet silver song of a lark

Walk on through the wind
Walk on through the rain
Tho' your dreams be tossed and blown
Walk on, walk on
With hope in your heart
And you'll never walk alone
You'll never walk alone.

Striking the Rock; the Striking Rock

Someone has been getting busy with the first headland along (if you turn left as you hit the beach...)

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Grube Messel

There's a nice article about it here, and another more descriptive one here. Pregnant tapirs! Das Urpferd! Iridescent beetles! Ants as big as my hand! A python named after Joschka Fischer!

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Derek Walcott: A Cockup: An Addendum

Poetry, evidently, touches every reader (mostly critics) differently. Oxford nominally accepts la différence; however, the latest edition of Oxford Poetry, edited by Hamid Khanbhai and Tom Richards, contains as an addendum an anonymous poem by a 'high-profile poet' about the campaign which led Walcott to resign. The full text is here: I think it's quite good. We're off to Conil on Friday; guessing at who wrote it will be an amusing game by the beach.

The Wise Virgins; The Foolish Virgins

Marian's first translation has come out. It looks swell, reads gracefully, and Marian has been paid. Success!
Less swell, less graceful, and less successful is what happened this morning. As a result of being a published translator, Marian can now join ACEtt (the translators' section of the Asociación Colegial de Escritores). This costs 75 euros a year, and they ask you to set up a direct debit for this.
Spain has no concept of the direct debit. Instead you have two options:
1) You pass your bank details to the organisation you wish to pay, and they are free to take as much of your money as they want whenever they want. If they cheat you, you have 25 days to rescind the payment.
2) You set up a 'block all payments' option on your account, and no one apart from the account holder can take money out without your setting up a permission on your account. Even with the permission in place, we have to provide our OK every time ACEtt asks for money.
Neither of these is a direct debit, which is a set sum of money paid at set intervals to an organisation of your choice, without you having to worry your head about it. The man in the bank seemed surprised when I used the adjective 'bizantino' to describe the situation.


They are still installing a lift in our block of flats. But, if you squint closely at this photo, you will see that they are not installing it between two and three in the afternoon.

Fish, Fish, Fish...

We went for a walk in the Retiro, partly because we thought it would be nice, and partly because the Madrid Book Fair has started, and is based there. But photos of books en masse are perhaps dull. On the way back, we went past the Pavilion and its Lagoon. A large dead ornamental carp being alternately savaged from beneath by a vigorous terrapin, and from above by an aloof black swan.

In happier news, the Pavilion itself is exhibiting a panda suit and a rat suit and videos of exciting adventures the man-dressed-as-panda and man-dressed-as-rat had all over Spain.

In less pretentious news, the sparrows in Atocha station were using the terrapins' sunbed as a dustbath. Which takes us full circle.