Yesterday evening we went hunting for wifi as we have no connection here in the flat. When last we were here we knew a selection of places with free wifi, and free tapas with your beer if your were lucky. One of our favourites, Mid Century, run by the charming and music-obsessed María - a fine selection of 50s and 60s music, hence the name - had its blinds closed but showed no sign of being under new management or being up for rent. We’re hoping María is able to keep going. Down the road from Mid Century is the more traditionally Galician As Cobas, often a good place to go to watch Celta de Vigo play against some other football team. The decor was all changed, the staff were all unfamiliar, there was almost no-one in and certainly no football. But Celta’s flag still adorns the bar and the new-to-us staff were friendly. We got the new password for the wifi, together with a decent serving of free tapas. All good!
Closer to our flat, the general rubbish collection bin has moved a hundred yards further down the road, which is a little annoying. The little cafe run by a Filipina lady, always handy if we needed a wifi connection midmorning, appears to have closed down altogether and is all boarded up. A small fast food outlet of sorts has opened nearby, selling empanadas and bocadillos and canned drinks. What used to be a bread shop has turned into a launderette! And the funny little shop that used to sell hand crafted leather goods such as little purses and bracelets and interesting-looking rucksacks is up for rent.
So many changes since the pandemic turned everyone’s life upside down. And in just over a week, we’ll be gone too. Everything changes!
It’s hard work all this sorting out your belongings to move out of a place you’ve been renting for almost a decade. How did we accumulate so much stuff? Some stuff has to be thrown out altogether. Other stuff can go to a charity clothes collection. We’re being ruthless! Yet more needs to go along with us. There are also a number of chess trophies whose fate is to be decided. I feel quite exhausted! And that’s before I start to carry suitcases!
Now, Marie Antoinette was clearly a much more decisive woman. Realising that her goose was cooked and that she and Louis XVI of France had not got much of a future, she sent away two diamond bracelets for safekeeping. Did she imagine that she might manage to escape from France and be reunited with her sparklies? Or did she just not want them falling into the hands of Messieurs Robespierre and Danton and other such ne’er-do-well revolutionaries? Anyway, the diamond bracelets, each composed apparently of three strings of diamonds and a large barrette clasp, totalling 112 diamonds, including “old cut” stones and silver and gold, have been sold at auction in Geneva for £7.04 million!! Wow!
Marie Antoinette is said to have carefully wrapped her jewels in cotton herself. She certainly knew how to look after stuff! Or maybe she didn’t trust the servants. And she sent them in a wooden box to a former Austrian ambassador who was in Brussels, with a letter instructing him to keep them in a safe place. The head of Christie’s jewellery department said before the sale: “Despite Marie Antoinette’s capture in the French Revolution and her unfortunate death in 1793, the bracelets survived and were passed on to her daughter, Madame Royale, and then the Duchess of Parma.”
I like his choice of words: “after her unfortunate death”! As of her death were some kind of accident. Maybe he saw her as a Lady Diana figure. One way of looking at it! I suppose he’s got used to siding with the rich, selling off their stuff for them. Apparently they were kept “within royal lineage” for a couple of hundred years. That gets us to the 1990s, relatively recent times. It’s funny how the French still like their nobility and the titles and so on, even after chopping off their heads. (I once read that the reason for French restaurants becoming so renowned was because the former chefs from “noble” houses had to do something with their skills. So they opened restaurants where everyone could eat like a nobleman.) And it seems there is a lot of interest in Marie-Antoinette memorabilia.
I could almost feel sorry for Marie-Antoinette. She was only 14 when they married her off to Louis. Just another victim of international politics. She was only 16 when she had the bracelets made. She lived a life of privilege and couldn’t really be expected to understand why the people turned against her. Maybe!
Another woman puzzled by ficklepublic opinion has been Meghan, Duchess of Sussex. Her famous letter to her estranged father has been in the news again. Time to stop washing all that dirty linen in public, I think. It sometimes seems to me that famous people moan a lot about the consequences of being famous. Also they live their lives like a soap opera. And if Harry and Meghan have opted out of the royal family, why do they still have titles? Load of nonsense!
Pictures have been doing the rounds of Boris Johnson touring a hospital. Touring is surely the wrong word. He’s not a hospital tourist; he’s the PM on an official visit. And all the photos show him without a mask!! Accompanied by medical staff wearing masks, he clearly doesn’t feel the need to set anyone else an example.
Here in Spain wearing masks indoors seems to be the norm. Travelling in lifts is a little strange. In the past people drew back to make room for others to squeeze in with them. Now they stand firmly in the middle and sort of indicate that you should wait for the next one. Logical enough in the circumstances.
Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone!