Saturday, 6 June 2015

Thoughts on this and that.

You can travel to Baiona from Vigo by bus for the grand total of €2.20. We did this yesterday to go and have lunch with our son and his little family. I remain amazed at the good value of public transport in this part of Spain, far more economical than in our bit of Greater Manchester. Is the rest of Spain as reasonable, I wonder. The only problem was some uncertainty about where to get off the bus in Baiona, and later where to catch the bus for home. You need to be aware of the location of the stops along the way or you can be carried beyond the place where you want to be, in our case the port. There seems to be a stop a good distance before and another a good distance beyond the port but, at least as far as we could see, no stop at the port itself. Maybe we just failed to ring the bell in time. Minor travel trials! 

We chose the right day to go and visit Baiona. Brilliant sunshine all day. Had we not had tickets for the concert on Thursday evening we might have gone on Thursday instead. That would have been a mistake as the mist that filled the Vigo ría had also come down on Baiona. The little family had to abandon sandcastle building apparently because it became so damp and chilly. This did not go down well with the smallest member of their party who, I am told, protested loud and long! This despite the fact that she will not set foot on the sand but insists on sitting on a blanket and digging from that point. Such are the ways of small children. 

Anyway, yesterday was fine. A bit of a stroll. A tasty lunch. Even a dip in the pool. 

I seem to have been reading a certain amount of factual stuff lately, social commentary on the world and that sort of thing. First there was Christopher Hitchens writing about the persecution that thinkers went through in the past and his opinion that it is largely a thing of the past. He commented, "not for me (except when the telephone sometimes rings and I hear hoarse voices condemning me to death, or hell, or both) the persistent fear that something I write will lead to the extinction of my work, the exile or worse of my family, the eternal blackening of my name by religious frauds and liars, and the painful choice between recantation or death by torture." 

Of course, by the time he wrote this Salman Rushdie had already had to spend time in hiding from the fatwa. So even then his words were not totally true. But now, not perhaps on the same scale, what someone writes can be subjected to all sorts of negative feedback from tweeters and twitterers who feel free to make all sorts of nasty comments, including threats, about everyone. It may not mean that you are physically tortured or imprisoned for what you write but some people feel so harassed by it that they have stopped writing and have moved house to avoid it! 

Then there is this statement from Richard Hoggart, writing in "The Uses of Literacy": "There is little violent drunkenness nowadays, and much less drinking of all kinds". Hmmm! An awful lot of what he wrote in his book, written in the 1950s, still reads well today but I wonder what he would say about the binge drinking that goes on and the police presence needed in most city centres on weekends in most UK cities. 

Reading something upsetting about the success of the Northern League in elections in Italy recently, I was nonetheless amused by the following wording: "Salvini’s Lega Nord, as it is known in Italy, even managed to win 20% of the vote in Tuscany", making it sound somehow strange that the party should have a name in its own language and not be known universally by its English translation. 

I am surprisingly pleased to read that they are removing the "love locks" from the Pont des Arts in Paris. Surprisingly because it is so long since I have been to Paris that it really has nothing to do with me that so many people have been daft enough to attach padlocks to the bridge that it was in danger of structural damage. But, even if I wait another goodness knows how many years to go there again, it's still good to know that something is being done to preserve ancient monuments. 

How did it all begin? Well, it seems that an Italian writer, Federico Moccia, wrote a book called "Ho voglia di te" (I want you). The protagonists padlock a symbol of their love to a lamppost on the ancient Roman Milvian Bridge. Roman teenagers followed their example and then tourists joined in. They must have made a film of the book because I can't see so much of what seems to be almost a worldwide trend starting otherwise. Or possibly someone made a documentary about the padlocks on the Roman bridge. (Do I really have so little faith in the power of reading alone? Apparently, yes!) Anyway, all over the place, on bridges with romantic river views, on the barriers at viewing points over romantic valleys, in fact just about anywhere with something to fasten a padlock to, couples who are probably not going to be couples for very much longer are sticking symbols of their undying love and throwing away the key! It's the modern equivalent of carving "Fred loves Mabel" on the trunk of a tree and just as vandalising an activity! 

That's all for now.

No comments:

Post a Comment