Monday, 31 August 2009


Having just read Reb's latest, rather downbeat, blog, I feel I must reverse roles and be cheerful for once.
Yesterday we took the dogs for a ride in the car to some nearby woods.
Tim was Tim, as ever, but Una was so like her old self when we were back in Pennsylvania - racing around, so full of the joys of Summer it was a treat to watch. Whether or not the surgery will save her, we still can't know. But even if it doesn't, it was worth it for yesterday morning alone.
She is a lesson to all of us, but me in particular.
Reb found a Mark Twain quote - something to the effect that, 'We humans get to Heaven by favor. It it went by merit, dogs would go there and we would not.'
While I am on half-remembered remarks, Montaigne said something like, 'If stupid people really are happier than the rest of us, the sooner the rest of us start taking stupid lessons the better.'

And, on an (almost) entirely different topic, the lauding of Ted Kennedy is getting stupid. Sure, he was a cheerful old pol and a good liberal, but he was also a buffoon with very little credibility after Chappaquiddick. 'Nobody can take his place,' the pundits solemnly intone. No, and thank God for that. John Kerry, for example, is already twice the man Ted ever was.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Maxims Man

Francois De La Rochefoucauld

There are some who never would have loved if they never had heard
it spoken of.

However deceitful hope may be, yet she carries us on pleasantly to
the end of life.

The desire to appear clever often prevents our being so.

When our vices leave us we flatter ourselves with the idea we have
left them.

Just four of the many maxims of La Rochefoucauld. The French have long seemed to have a more sensible - if cynical - view of life than anyone else. It runs from Montaigne up to - and past - Camus.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009


I have been getting into debates about the Camino on a website called Santiagobis (no, I don't know why, either) devoted to that topic recently, so the business of pilgrimage is on my mind.
So far, 2009 has been the year of Italians and cyclists. Last year it was Germans, because a comedian there wrote a best-seller about his journey.
In his book, called in English, 'I'm Off Now' he suggested that people who could afford to stay in hotels should do so and not take up bed spaces in albergues. I'm inclined to agree, and more or less said so.
This sparked a firestorm of response, mostly missing the point and saying how nice albergues were, and what lovely people one meets in them, etc.
The debate is still raging on, but I will cut the Kerkeling (for that is the author's name) now.
Why there are so many Italians this year is mysterious. I have asked several, but none had any real answer. I did think they might be doing penance on behalf of Berlusconi, but it was laughingly denied.
The rise in the number of cyclists is another thing. In general, it is unwelcome to me, because I think they are often bloody pests.
They wear outfits that insult the eye, seldom let walkers know of their approach, and zoom past with nary a warning, let alone a greeting. They seem to take little interest in the countryside they hurtle through and often are wearing headphones, so don't hear anything either. Yesterday I saw one bombing along, oblivious to everything - and shouting into his mobile phone. They are mostly Spanish and young and I also suspect them of doing most of the littering on the trail, though I have no direct evidence for this.
A curious thing is that of the many discarded cigarette packets we pick up, all, without exception, are Lucky Strike or Marlboro. Either nobody now smokes anything else, or smokers of other brands (whatever happened to Ducados and Gaulois?) are less environment-insensitive.


Bachelors know more about women than married men; if they didn't they'd be married too.
H. L. Mencken

Thursday, 13 August 2009

In Praise of Common Sense

This picture has nothing to do with common sense. I think.

Common sense. Great stuff. There's nothing like it, is there? Common sense tells us the world is flat -course it is - particularly if you have ever lived in Toledo, Ohio. Flat as a pancake.
And common sense tells us that the sun travels round the earth. Course it does, it's obvious - especially here in Spain - where you can usually actually SEE the big yellow felow coming up and going down.
I think I have told this story before, but it fits in here. One of Wittgenstein's students once said to him,
'You can see why people used to think that the sun went round the earth.'
'Why?' said Wittgenstein.
'Because it looks that way.' said the student.
'Well, how would it look if the earth went round the sun?' said the great man.
And common sense tells us that life must have had a designer. Course it must. Someone, or something, must have dreamed up giraffes - they can't have just evolved, can they? Poor old Darwin - no common sense.

Friday, 7 August 2009

A Pilgrim's Problems

Whoops, sorry Ali. Trigger seems to have stepped on your head.

It has been a while between entries. Sorry to the fan, but I have been involved in several adventures, none of them all that nice. Also, somehow, I seem have blundered into a website called Santiagobis (no, neither do I). But it seems to feature a lot of rather solemn questions about the Camino - what sort of gourd do you recommend - stuff like that. I tried to help in one case, but only succeeded in ruffling a feather or two.
Anyway,I was going to post the following on Santiagobis, but what the hey? I'd only make it worse.
So it'll make a blog.


Feeling in need of a blinding headache - and to purge my soul of the Grave Sin of Irony - I am thinking of lugging my tired old frame along the Camino Frances to Santiago.


I DON'T WANT to get blisters.
I DON'T WANT it to be too hot.
I DON'T WANT it to be too cold.
I DON'T WANT it to be too wet.
I DON'T WANT to be unsure where I am sleeping tonight.
I DON'T WANT to be unsure where I will be the following night.
I DON'T WANT to be blown up by ETA.
I DON'T WANT to be kidnapped and beheaded by fanatical moslems.
I DON'T WANT representatives of The Quivering Brethren to try to convert me as I walk.
I DON'T WANT someone snoring in the next bed in the albergue.
I DON'T WANT someone farting in the next bed in the albergue.
I DON'T WANT someone sniveling softly to themselves all night in the next bed.
I DON'T WANT someone snoring and farting in the next bed, then getting up at 5.30 a.m. and rustling a lot of plastic bags and chatting to his chums as they leave noisily.
I DON'T WANT to be barked at by fierce dogs.
I DON'T WANT to get into arguments about evolution with creationist crackpots.
I DON'T WANT to get stuck in the middle of a herd of sheep.
I DON'T WANT little midgey things dancing in front of my face and flying into my mouth.
I DON'T WANT hideously Spandex-clad bikey-boys hurtling past me at 40 kilometers an hour without a word of warning and making me jump.
I DON'T WANT to see any more Mel Gibson Movies starring Jesus (What's that got to do with it- Rebekah) (Nothing, I just don't want to.)
I DON'T WANT to hear any more pilgs saying, 'Is this albergue a donativo, or do we have to pay?'
I DON'T WANT any pilgrim meals that include french fries.
I DON'T WANT any hospitaleros who don't understand English.
I DON'T WANT to say 'Buenos dias,' to French pilgs, only be answered with, 'Bonjour.'
I DON'T WANT to have to see elderly, grossly fat Germans swaggering around the refugio wearing only tiny underpants.

In view of all this, I am thinking of fashioning a stout, wooden, soundproof box and having myself Fed-xed to Santiago in it.
What do fellow-pilgrims out there suggest?

If you're going to be that snitty about it, I think I'll just stay home.