Friday, 27 February 2009


The pilgrims are beginning to return, like the Swallows, but sooner. We saw ten in an hour yesterday morning. The villagers and us agree that, what with the financial woes and unemployment, there may well be an explosion in numbers along the Camino this year. There was anyway last year, before all this started.
Hard to know what it will mean to us. We suspect that a great many pilgrims will not have any money. Reb heard one last year, a Canadian, clad in top of the range walking gear, say, "Is this place donativo, or do we have to pay?"
(Donativo, of course, means making a donation.)
We shall see.

Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats.
H. L. Mencken

Bear the above thought in mind after reading the story below, from today´s Guardian:

An embarrassing public row broke out last night between City minister Lord Myners and Sir Fred Goodwin over the former Royal Bank of Scotland chief executive's refusal to give up his £693,000 a year pension.
Just hours later Myners issued a letter telling Goodwin his refusal to reconsider was "unfortunate and unacceptable". He hoped "on reflection you will now share my clear view that the losses reported by the bank which you ran until October cannot justify such a huge reward".
RBS had earlier admitted it had made a record-breaking £24bn loss in 2008 and that the taxpayers' stake could rise to 95% after a further injection of up to £25.5bn of government funds.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009


This is Kayo - at least that´s maybe how he spells his name, or maybe not. I covet him. Reb, I think, does not.

Below, the start of a story from today´s Guardian

Facebook and Bebo risk 'infantilising' the human mind

Social networking sites, such as Facebook, are putting attention span in jeopardy, says Baroness Greenfield.
Social network sites risk infantilising the mid-21st century mind, leaving it characterised by short attention spans, sensationalism, inability to empathise and a shaky sense of identity, according to a leading neuroscientist.
The startling warning from Lady Greenfield, professor of synaptic pharmacology at Lincoln college, Oxford, and director of the Royal Institution, has led members of the government to admit their work on internet regulation has not extended to broader issues, such as the psychological impact on children.
Greenfield believes ministers have not yet looked at the broad cultural and psychological effect of on-screen friendships via Facebook, Bebo and Twitter.
She told the House of Lords that children's experiences on social networking sites "are devoid of cohesive narrative and long-term significance. As a consequence, the mid-21st century mind might almost be infantilised, characterised by short attention spans, sensationalism, inability to empathise and a shaky sense of identity".

In other words, a pretty accurate description of me. Well done, Lady G. And doubtless the Baroness knows whereof she speaks. You don´t get a Chair in Synaptic Pharmacology loafing around on a chaise-lounge watching daytime TV and scoffing Doritos.
The article potters on in similar fashion for several miles but, with my short attention span, I pulled up long before the final furlong.

Sunday, 22 February 2009


Three paragraphs from a story about Guantamano in Sunday´s Guardian/Observer.

The most criticized detention facilities at Guantánamo are Camps 5 and 6. Camp 5 was built on the design of a maximum security prison. The $16 million two-story concrete structure can house up to 100 prisoners. Each detainee lives alone in a 12- by 8-foot cell. The cell features a narrow window in the outer wall and another slit window in the door. The thick metal door also has an opening with its own door to allow guards to pass food trays into the cell.
Military officials say the maximum security features are necessary to safely handle what they call "very noncompliant detainees."
A Camp 5 officer noted: "These are your feces throwers, the guys who are going to assault you with saliva."

It puts me in mind of the notice at a Zoo in the old, politically incorrect days:


Saturday, 21 February 2009


A figure of speech by which a locution produces an incongruous, seemingly self-contradictory effect, as in “cruel kindness” or “to make haste slowly or "jumbo shrimp" or "pretty ugly".”

Rebekah got a CD in the post entitled "Essential Bluegrass." Seemed to me one of the best examples of an Oxymoron I have ever heard.
George Wills - generally a right-wing dolt - did however get it right when he pointed out that "domestic cat" was spot on as an oxymoron.

Thursday, 19 February 2009


Now Reb is back on the farm - dazzled but not seduced by Ghent´s Earthly Delights - I may safely leave the minutia of life hereabouts to her blog and revert to more gravid topics in mine.
Read Ms Robert´s closing comments carefully. Couldn´t have put it more clearly myself.

Moreover: ¿What right has she to twice as many teeth as the rest of us? ¿Where did she get them? I think we should be told.

Julia Roberts "sounds off on men, money, and being over being America's Sweetheart" in Allure's March 2009 issue.

Julia Roberts has kept a relatively low profile since she married cameraman Danny Moder in 2002. Instead of making movies, the popular actress put her career on the back burner to focus on being a mom to her three children: 4-year-old twins Hazel and Finn, and Henry, who is almost 2. In Allure magazine's March 2009 issue, Roberts talks openly(!) about motherhood, men, money, and the fact that she's over being called "America's Sweetheart." That doesn't mean she doesn't like being a star. In fact, she kind of enjoys it ... until her kids become a target.

"I think it should be against the law to take a picture of a celebritys(sic) child," notes Julia. "And all the, like, 'Who's got the cutest baby?' I had to restore my faith in people when, one night, I was on the computer, and I ended up stumbling upon some pictures I had never seen of my children playing at a park. What upset me was all these comments like, 'One is cute; that other one sure is ugly.'" People can be so mean!"

Despite this downside of celebrity
, the 41-year-old actress, who says she is "very fulfilled" in her home life, is ready to return to the spotlight. "A lot of the mom struggle in life is that everything happens within the four walls of the home, and it can lose its luster a little bit, maybe," she admits. "You just have to bring it in from the outside sometimes."

I'll dispose of my teeth as I see fit, and after they've gone, I'll get along. I started off living on gruel, and by God, I can always go back to it again.
S. J. Perelman

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Seeking Sculptures and Submarines

Reb is in Belgium or Holland looking for stuff by Muñoz. In case she can´t find any, here are a couple. Interesting.

Something fishy in the Atlantic Ocean

The story below broke yesterday, Monday 16th Feb. I have cut out a lot of the background detail as usual. It strikes me as worth considering for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, the comments therein.
The man Willet describes it as "a one in a million chance" that the subs should collide. I am no mathematician, but I would put it more in the one in ten billion range. You only have to think about it a bit.
Then, I was entranced by the superbly fatuous comment of Commodore Saunders, "This really shouldn't have happened at all." No shit.

But there is a whole lot more to this story than we know so far, or maybe will ever be told, or I will eat my sailor hat.

That two nuclear submarines just happened to be in exactly the same bit of ocean, at the same depth, at the same hour and second of the same day - by chance - is simply not credible. So what were they each doing? I suspect it was the same sneaky thing. But what was that?
We should be told. But I doubt if we will.

British, French nuclear subs collide in Atlantic

LONDON – Nuclear submarines from Britain and France collided deep in the Atlantic Ocean this month, authorities said Monday in the first acknowledgment of a highly unusual accident that one expert called the gravest in nearly a decade.
Officials said the low-speed crash did not damage the vessels' nuclear reactors or missiles or cause radiation to leak. But anti-nuclear groups said it was still a frightening reminder of the risks posed by submarines prowling the oceans powered by radioactive material and bristling with nuclear weapons.
France's defense ministry said Monday that the sub Le Triomphant and the HMS Vanguard, the oldest vessel in Britain's nuclear-armed submarine fleet, were on routine patrol when they collided in the Atlantic this month. It did not say exactly when, where or how the accident occurred.
"It's an absolute one in a million chance that the two submarines were in the same place at the same time," said Lee Willett, head of the maritime studies program at the Royal United Services Institute, a London-based military think tank.
Stephen Saunders, a retired British Royal Navy commodore and the editor of Jane's Fighting Ships, said that while NATO countries let each other know what general area of the Atlantic they are operating in, neither submarine would have had a precise position for the other.
"This really shouldn't have happened at all," Saunders said. "It's a very serious incident, and I find it quite extraordinary."


Monday, 16 February 2009


This self-portrait by Bacon looks much the way I feel. Things will no doubt improve as the day goes on.

I shouldn´t really write this until I get in a better humor. But I feel like ranting.
I started this morning, however, in a good mood.
It was a warm, cloudless, Spring-like day and we three set off in high spirits. In the Plaza we were joined by Luna, Pym´s black bitch. She is a beautiful dog, half Greyhound, half hunting Spaniel, Pym agrees. She was alone and we went looking for mushrooms which, as I was aware, we would not find. Una and Luna, though began a frantic dig for a mouse, which they did not find. Still much running around at high speed, prompted by Luna, gave the dogs a good workout. Bertha the gray parrot, was out in her cage in the Plaza, whistling greetings. I met Pym at the post lady, where they were amused that I still don´t know my identification number, which she is always asking me for. All this fuss over another electricity bill for Marrianne.

When we got home, My hopes were much elevated to see two packets from Amazon. But, when I opened them, the results were disappointing. A couple of books, some CD´s - Oh, I won´t go into details here, no good will come of it. I will just forget it. Think beautiful thoughts.

To put me in a better humor, I am going to clean out about 40 pounds of chicken shit from the girls´ run. Never fails.

How much more grievous are the consequences of anger than the causes of it.
Marcus Aurelius

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Glorious day

Picture, of local castle, heavily doctored by me, from our files. To provide illustration.

Nothing doing in Moratinos today, folks. That´s good. No more bad news needed. My wife is in Belgium and Holland with her friends.

She is missing a glorious day here. So warm in mid Feb that I have been "painting" in the front yard stripped to the waist - something I now only assay in isolation from humans (the beasts don´t care).
Painting no good, I fear. But not quite ruined yet.

But Facebook and Blog are re-connecting me with several old friends, which is very nice. I am beginning to understand the point of them - the blog and the facebook, that is, not the friends. I already understand that.


I know that if I stopped drinking whiskey and smoking cigars I probably could add another year or so onto my life. The trouble is, it would be on the wrong end.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Normal Service Will Be Resumed as Soon as Possible

Reb emerges from the now legendary hole, to the relief of Tim, who worries a lot about the crazy stuff humans do.

Science tells us there are thousands of readers worldwide agog daily for my wife Rebekah´s blog. Well, she is away for a few days, so I must step in and keep the Moratinos Soap Opera going until La Maestra returns.

So: Friday the thirteenth lived down to expectations.

I went to get my anti-death pills refill in the Plaza Mayor during the Medico´s weekly visit and found Pin (or it might be Pim, or Pyn or Pym or God knows what) waiting for the Doc like me.
He told me that Esteban´s brother, who had moved to Germany years ago, died last week, and that Esteban, his son Esteban, Raimunda (whose house we bought) and Tomas, her son, (who did the haggling) went over there. They are all now back. The defunct brother and his family were known as The Germans, and have a house here in town.

Then he, Pin, told me he lost his job as a driver a month ago, and there is little hope of getting another one right now. Moratinos has its first casualty of The Crisis. No one is safe.

Then he told me that everyone was going to get together and trim the trees and do the annual cleanup in the Plaza Mayor tomorrow (which is now today).

But I met Estebanito fresh from Germany today, and he said we aren´t going to do the Plaza bit today. But we will soon. Shame, as today the weather was beautiful - Springlike, cloudless, warm. Ideal for civic labour.

Friday, 13 February 2009

Big Numbers and a Small Boy

Completely pointless picture...

...and two completely unrelated topics.
First, an interesting insight into the world of money. When we hear figures containing billions and trillions chucked around casually - never mind the poor old miserable millions - consider the following.

One million seconds adds up to 12 days.

One billion seconds adds up to 31 years and change.

One trillion seconds adds up to about 32,000 years, give or take the odd thousand.

There - doesn´t that make you feel better about the amount we are in debt, and the sums the Bush administration, Madoff, and the rest of the bastards in Wall Street have pissed away?
I thought not.

Second, a story about a small boy. I have cut it back (maybe too much) to the bits that I believe are relevant. The italics are mine.

Arizona boy, 9, offered plea deal in dad's killing

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – A 9-year-old charged with killing his father and another man has been offered a plea deal that would spare him any jail time, his attorney said.

"We believe this agreement addresses any potential needs out there as well as secures he does not get messed up going to juvenile corrections, or adult prison for that manner," Brewer (his attorney) said.

If Apache County Superior Court Judge Michael Roca granted the prosecution's request, it would have allowed prosecutors to refile the charge when the boy is older and try him as an adult.

Do I really need to comment on this?
I get the feeling that the prosecutors in this case, if they can´t get the boy sent to The Big House or the Chair or preferably hanged immediately, are prepared to be patient and wait until the lad is big enough.
Well, patience is a virtue, is it not?

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Darwin Day

Two hundred today. And about as immortal as any human can be. Rather than write some biographical balderdash, here are some of his own words. Much more eloquent.

I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created parasitic wasps with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of Caterpillars.

I love fools' experiments. I am always making them.

If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.

Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, and not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.

Man is descended from a hairy, tailed quadruped, probably arboreal in its habits.

On the ordinary view of each species having been independently created, we gain no scientific explanation.

The highest possible stage in moral culture is when we recognize that we ought to control our thoughts.

The mystery of the beginning of all things is insoluble by us; and I for one must be content to remain an agnostic.

The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.

To kill an error is as good a service as, and sometimes even better than, the establishing of a new truth or fact.
(Vide: Popper: We cannot always verify, but we can falsify)

We can allow satellites, planets, suns, universe, nay whole systems of universes, to be governed by laws, but the smallest insect, we wish to be created at once by special act.

We must, however, acknowledge, as it seems to me, that man with all his noble qualities... still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin.

What a book a devil's chaplain might write on the clumsy, wasteful, blundering, low, and horribly cruel work of nature!

An American monkey, after getting drunk on brandy, would never touch it again, and thus is much wiser than most men.
(Why does he specify AMERICAN monkeys? P.)

We must, however, acknowledge, as it seems to me, that man with all his noble qualities... still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin.

Animals, whom we have made our slaves, we do not like to consider our equal.

Stump Up!

"What´s the good of this stupid tin old bowl? There isn´t even any food in it. I am the Dog of Dogs. Bring me a sausage!"

So says Stump, an old dog - ten! - seventy in human years, who seems to have learned at least one new trick - how to carry off the big prize at Westminster. He is an inspiration to the rest of us "seniors." But, I wonder what has he been doing for the last nine years´shows? No matter.

Dogs and philosophers do the greatest good and get the fewest rewards.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Call of the Wild

Tim at work hunting critturs in the Camino´s version of the Grand Canyon.

That´s it for today. Maybe a thought...

To be successful, stupidity alone is not enough. One must also be well-dressed.

Monday, 9 February 2009

Monks, Mysteries and Mountains of Instead

Considering that I seldom get any response from this blog, it seems to pick up some interesting readers.
Today I had an email from an old colleague at The Blade who is now a monk. Oddly, I don´t find his new job particularly odd. I suppose it is because it now seems to me that life on this planet is so absurd, one might as well avoid as much of it as humanly possible. Brother Francis (his new name) may not quite see things that way, but I certainly do.
It is clearly absurd, for example, that I entertain a positive affection for several people in holy orders, including our local parish priest, when the idea of a benevolent and/or interested God is - as far as I can see - based on no perceptible and objective reality whatever. Some believers - very thoughtful and brave ones, I believe - will actually admit it. "We just have to accept life, with all its horrors and injustice, as a mystery," they say.
Well, of course, we don´t. Russell had it right. Someone asked him, "What, if when you die, there turns out to be a God who then asks you why you didn´t believe in him?" "I would tell him, You didn´t give me enough evidence," said Russell.
I have written before that the most convincing indication that God might exist would be the fact that life can scarcely be expected to be this hideous by accident. A malign force usually seems to be operating in about 90 per cent of the world.
However, Darwin has come up with the answer to that, gloomy though it may be.
More about him on the 12th, his birthday.

This blog is becoming fearfully didactic. Precise use of the word, at least.

One of my favorites. Especially the last verse. I chose it to brighten things up a bit, but it is, I now see, even more suffused with regret and remorse than the rest of the blog. Oh, well..

Autumn Song

Now the leaves are falling fast,
Nurse's flowers will not last,
Nurses to their graves are gone,
But the prams go rolling on.

Whispering neighbors left and right
Daunt us from our true delight,
Able hands are forced to freeze
Derelict on lonely knees.

Close behind us on our track,
Dead in hundreds cry Alack,
Arms raised stiffly to reprove
In false attitudes of love.

Scrawny through a plundered wood,
Trolls run scolding for their food,
Owl and nightingale are dumb,
And the angel will not come.

Clear, unscalable, ahead
Rise the Mountains of Instead,
From whose cold, cascading streams
None may drink except in dreams.

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Meet the Smallweeds

It being the anniversary of the birth, in 1812, of England´s greatest novelist - the Potter woman notwithstanding - I have patched together a little tribute in the form of an extract from Bleak House - one of his finest. Featured are two lesser-known creations, the Smallweed twins. If you have not heard of them, do not berate yourselves - they are really nothing to do with any of the book´s several plot lines in any meaningful way. Bart and Judy are simply there to amuse us, it seems.
Following, are four short extracts.
The bold headings are mine.

The Smallweed family
During the whole time consumed in the slow growth of this family tree, the house of Smallweed, always early to go out and late to marry, has strengthened itself in its practical character, has discarded all amusements, discountenanced all story–books, fairy–tales, fictions, and fables, and banished all levities whatsoever. Hence the gratifying fact that it has had no child born to it and that the complete little men and women whom it has produced have been observed to bear a likeness to old monkeys with something depressing on their minds.

Introducing Bart
Whether Young Smallweed (metaphorically called Small and eke Chick Weed, as it were jocularly to express a fledgling) was ever a boy is much doubted in Lincoln’s Inn. He is now something under fifteen and an old limb of the law. He is facetiously understood to entertain a passion for a lady at a cigar–shop in the neighbourhood of Chancery Lane and for her sake to have broken off a contract with another lady, to whom he had been engaged some years. He is a town–made article, of small stature and weazen features, but may be perceived from a considerable distance by means of his very tall hat.

Bart and two co-workers go to lunch

Accordingly they betake themselves to a neighbouring dining–house, of the class known among its frequenters by the denomination slap–bang, where the waitress, a bouncing young female of forty, is supposed to have made some impression on the susceptible Smallweed, of whom it may be remarked that he is a weird changeling to whom years are nothing. He stands precociously possessed of centuries of owlish wisdom. If he ever lay in a cradle, it seems as if he must have lain there in a tail–coat. He has an old, old eye, has Smallweed; and he drinks and smokes in a monkeyish way; and his neck is stiff in his collar; and he is never to be taken in; and he knows all about it, whatever it is.

After the meal, Bart reckons up
“Then I’ll pay,” says Mr. Guppy, “Small, what will it be?”
Mr. Smallweed, compelling the attendance of the waitress with one hitch of his eyelash, instantly replies as follows: “Four veals and hams is three, and four potatoes is three and four, and one summer cabbage is three and six, and three marrows is four and six, and six breads is five, and three Cheshires is five and three, and four half–pints of half–and–half is six and three, and four small rums is eight and three, and three Pollys is eight and six. Eight and six in half a sovereign, Polly, and eighteenpence out!”
Not at all excited by these stupendous calculations, Smallweed dismisses his friends with a cool nod and remains behind to take a little admiring notice of Polly, as opportunity may serve, and to read the daily papers, which are so very large in proportion to himself, shorn of his hat, that when he holds up the Times to run his eye over the columns, he seems to have retired for the night and to have disappeared under the bedclothes.

Judy Smallweed
Judy the twin is worthy company for these associates. She is so indubitably sister to Mr. Smallweed the younger that the two kneaded into one would hardly make a young person of average proportions, while she so happily exemplifies the before–mentioned family likeness to the monkey tribe that attired in a spangled robe and cap she might walk about the table–land on the top of a barrel–organ without exciting much remark as an unusual specimen.

Written before Darwin´s bombshell, there are already instances of simianism in Bleak House. Interesting, but probably means nothing. Mankind has been aware of a certain uncomfortable kinship since, no doubt, before The Flood.

Thursday, 5 February 2009


Obama to create faith-based office
WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama said Thursday he will establish a White House office of faith-based initiatives that will show no favoritism to any religious group and adhere to the strict separation of church and state.
Addressing the National Prayer Breakfast, Obama spoke of how faith has often been a divisive tool, responsible for war and prejudice. But, he said, "there is no religion whose central tenet is hate. There is no God who condones taking the life of an innocent human being," and all religions teach people to love and care for one another.

On first glance, the story above is straightforward enough, but look out for two important qualifying words. They are "central" and "innocent".
But let´s not be too hard on God. He´s only human.

Una doggin´it on three legs. What a player. World´s greatest pooch.


Sairy Gamp makes sense of The Good Book...

Rich folks may ride on camels, but it ain't so easy for 'em to see out of a needle's eye.

FINALLY, Here´s one thing The Great Man and I have in common.. our idea of a birthday bash..

Bring in the bottled lightning, a clean tumbler, and a corkscrew.

Bacon and Bama

"Artists will beg, borrow or steal anything that may be of use to them." said Francis Bacon. (see below)

Re: the pix of Obama. The lawyers from AP are jumping in delightedly, smelling money. What a crock of shit. See the story following.

NEW YORK – On buttons, posters and Web sites, the image was everywhere during last year's presidential campaign: Barack Obama looking upward, as if to the future, splashed in a Warholesque red, white and blue and underlined with the caption HOPE.
Designed by Shepard Fairey, a Los-Angeles based street artist, the image has led to sales of hundreds of thousands of posters and stickers, has become so much in demand that copies signed by Fairey have been purchased for thousands of dollars on eBay.
The image, Fairey has acknowledged, is based on an Associated Press photograph.
AP says it owns the copyright, and wants credit and compensation.(my italics, P.)
"AP safeguards its assets and looks at these events on a case-by-case basis. We have reached out to Mr. Fairey's attorney and are in discussions. We hope for an amicable solution."
Blah-di, blah di, bleeding blah.

I was going to make some pithy comment on this story, but what the hell. The glad tidings is it prompted me to go and search for some stuff on Francis, who was always using bits of other people´s work, and found the following web site which I think is rather good.
Still, I doubt Velasquez would have sued.
He just would have had Francis burned at the stake.

LAURA, you say you would like to be my Facebook "Friend" (I agree about the quotes) Fine, but I don´t know how to make it so.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

The Day of the Dickens

The pic below has nothing to do with Dickens or Darwin, but is here to lend a bit of cheer to what would otherwise be nothing but the boring rantings of an old fart. It is Reb, for those who don´t know.

Birthday time for the Charles boys (and me).
Saturday is the anniversary of the birth of Charles Dickens (and me).
You can see I am proud to share the day.
Charles Darwin - the big one - 200 years - is next week, so we will put him on ice until then.
I have got so much Dickens stuff that I will split it into more than one helping, so sit back down, Twist!

More people should read more Dickens. Not because he was a great social crusader - most of the things he railed against have been eliminated - in Britain at least - but because he is funny.

For a for instance, here is the beginning and end of the first chapter of Martin Chuzzlewit. If it does not make you laugh, you needn´t bother reading my blog any more, because it doesn´t any better than this.
Just one bit of pedantry: The references to people being descended from monkeys pre-dates Darwin by 16 years. Interesting, eh?

Chapter 1
Introductory, concerning the pedigree of the Chuzzlewit family

AS NO LADY OR GENTLEMAN, with any claims to polite breeding, can possibly sympathise with the Chuzzlewit Family without being first assured of the extreme antiquity of the race, it is a great satisfaction to know that it undoubtedly descended in a direct line from Adam and Eve; and was, in the very earliest times, closely connected with the agricultural interest. If it should ever be urged by grudging and malicious persons, that a Chuzzlewit, in any period of the family history, displayed an overweening amount of family pride, surely the weakness will be considered not only pardonable but laudable, when the immense superiority of the house to the rest of mankind, in respect of this its ancient origin, is taken into account.
It is remarkable that as there was, in the oldest family of which we have any record, a murderer and a vagabond, so we never fail to meet, in the records of all old families, with innumerable repetitions of the same phase of character. Indeed, it may be laid down as a general principle, that the more extended the ancestry, the greater the amount of violence and vagabondism; for in ancient days those two amusements, combining a wholesome excitement with a promising means of repairing shattered fortunes, were at once the ennobling pursuit and the healthful recreation of the Quality of this land.
Consequently, it is a source of inexpressible comfort and happiness to find, that in various periods of our history, the Chuzzlewits were actively connected with divers slaughterous conspiracies and bloody frays. It is further recorded of them, that being clad from head to heel in steel of proof, they did on many occasions lead their leather-jerkined soldiers to the death with invincible courage, and afterwards return home gracefully to their relations and friends.

Last paragraph of Chapter One
This history having, to its own perfect satisfaction, (and, consequently, to the full contentment of all its readers,) proved the Chuzzlewits to have had an origin, and to have been at one time or other of an importance which cannot fail to render them highly improving and acceptable acquaintance to all right- minded individuals, may now proceed in earnest with its task. And having shown that they must have had, by reason of their ancient birth, a pretty large share in the foundation and increase of the human family, it will one day become its province to submit, that such of its members as shall be introduced in these pages, have still many counterparts and prototypes in the Great World about us. At present it contents itself with remarking, in a general way, on this head: Firstly, that it may be safely asserted, and yet without implying any direct participation in the Manboddo doctrine touching the probability of the human race having once been monkeys, that men do play very strange and extraordinary tricks. Secondly, and yet without trenching on the Blumenbach theory as to the descendants of Adam having a vast number of qualities which belong more particularly to swine than to any other class of animals in the creation, that some men certainly are remarkable for taking uncommon good care of themselves.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Super time and Una, the three-legged wonder

Big fun yesterday.
We took off for Leon during a fair to middling snowstorm in the afternoon, headed for the Hotel San Marcos, a very smart Parador. It was with the excuse that we needed a tele with a special sports channel in order to watch the Steelers win the Superbowl. This, as we now know, was duly achieved, not without satisfying moments of drama. The hotel dates from 1532 and is large, cavernous and echoing, full of pictures and statues and tapestries and chandeliers and crummy old junk like that. Very nice really, and we got a killer deal on the room, only 74 euros. The asking price is at least twice that. Times are getting hard in the service sector already, it seems. Being cheap ourselves, we toted our own Champagne (Spanish, natch, and properly called Cava).
When we set off this morning for home the sky was cloudless and it was almost warm. Leon is always good for a wide variety of weather. The dogs greeted us as if we had been gone for years, going into paroxysms of ecstasy.

We are growing used to the fact that Una will probably spend the rest of her life mostly on three legs. Tim fell heavily on her over three months ago, and recently the vet told us that there is nothing to be done. He pointed out that she is unfazed by the injury, "She still has more legs than we do." She just carries on as ever, still dashing up and down steep, rough, hills and valleys, still game to dig out a mouse or a rabbit when she gets the scent. A lesson to us all, to me at least.
Then yesterday Estebanito saw me hobbling along on a stick and her limping around and asked if it was contagious.