Monday, 2 January 2017

New Year's Day stuff.

After a soggy start, yesterday improved slightly, getting fine enough for a walkabout. Today though is one of those spectacularly cold, frosty days: blue sky, ice on the mill ponds and the mud puddles along the footpath frozen hard, making my morning run a whole lot less messy.

I spent part of yesterday listening to Jeremy Irons reading T.S. Eliot. Here and here are a couple of links. Well worth listening to.

Some people spent at least part of New Year's Day having a swim in icy water. Here is a link to photos of this event in various parts of the world, mostly northern Europe. Other more southerly nations are too sensible to indulge in such silliness. My father used to take part in a New Year's Day swim in Southport years ago, either in the sea or in the sea bathing lake, when that still existed. It must be a particular northern madness.

One bunch of people, about 200 of them, decided to see in the New Year in an old mine shaft in Newcastle. Their illegal rave did not last long as the police found out what was going on and cut their way in and ousted everyone! I have never quite understood the desire to go to a party where there are so many people that you can only ever know a few of them and, besides, you can't hear yourself think let alone speak. This is nothing to do with growing older and crankier; I have always felt this way! 

There have been the expected protestations about the amount of money spent on fireworks for the New Year celebrations. We saw London's fine show on television but then yesterday I came across people saying the money would have been better spent on helping the homeless. Quite so! However it is also possible that there is a special budget for pyromania from which money cannot be transferred to other worthier causes.

Recently I read about Sephardic Jews applying for citizenship of Spain and Portugal. Both countries expelled Jews centuries ago. Some of the Spanish ones ended up in Turkey, where they continued to speak Spanish. A former colleague of mine, a Spanish speaker, accidentally came across some of them on a visit to Turkey - he was part of a team inspecting prisons in connection with Turkey's application to join the EU - and found that their medieval Spanish is little different from modern Spanish, still understandable at any rate. And so people from those communities can now apply for Spanish citizenship without having any problems meeting Spain's language requirement.

Portugal apparently does not impose a language requirement. Consequently quite a large number of British Sephardic Jews are applying for Portuguese passports. It is quite likely that many of them have no intention of ever going to live there, at least not on a permanent basis, but in the strangely unsettling post-Brexit era they feel reassure to have the right to a passport from an EU country.

The law of unforeseen consequences strikes again!

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