Monday, 31 December 2012

Review of the Year (YAWN)

This episode is headed by the incredibly dreary label above, because I've written on Facebook how glad I am not to have to put together a twelve-page section  summing up the past year for any newspaper, any more.

It's never much fun, and this past year would be a particular pain to have to go back through because, for a lot of people, it's been fairly bloody.
What with the crisis and all.
Going to the dentist to have all one's teeth pulled out  is far more appealing.

But, Reb and I, and our families and assorted animals, have suffered mercifully little or nothing the last twelvemonth.
Nobody has been hospitalised except her Mother, who seems much better now. I think a chicken died, but they do that, and are buried like Christians, with due ceremony, as is their right.

In fact, for us, and Moratinos, it's been a year of growth and tranquillity.

The village now has its own restaurant and bar, grandly-named "El Castillo," and built into the bodegas, while we at The Peaceable have a new dog, Bella and a new cat, Moses, commonly known as Moe.

I seem to have spent the entire year arguing with Catholics about Gay Marriage, a subject with seemed trivial enough to me at first - why not, was my thought - but is, or so it would seem, the most momentous and potentially civilisation-threaterning event since The Russian Revolution.
Yes, I know I should know better, but, as Reb says, it keeps me off the streets and that is important as Moratinos only has two.

Anyway, here's a bit I was going to put on the catholic blog to which I contribute frequently. Far too frequently for some..
I really think Old Ben is simply mistaken in this case.
We all know about Alan Turing, because he's famous, but millions of people lived and died in fear, as a result of being born “gay.” We all know that. And they still do in, Nigeria, Uganda,  and suchlike moral swamps.
I have personally known men friends whose lives were made miserable from trying to avoid following their sexual “inclination,” because it was “sinful” and who have told me they wished they were not born so afflicted.
Because a lot of folk are simply born “gay.” God knows why. Possibly. 

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Too late for Turing

It is Alan Turing Year, I discover. Just in time, too, with mere days of it left. Turing was a mathematical genius who did vital code-breaking  work during the war. He was also "gay," and committed suicide as a result of this failing on his part.

Ironic, I think, that it is also Gay Marriage Year, in no uncertain terms, albeit unofficial.

On CP&S, (q.v.) some will know, I'm involved in endless bickering about the rights and wrongs of this subject, but you'd have to go and look it up on there to get the whole rather dreary  picture.

Up until 1967, homosexual acts between men were illegal in England. Turing would have been 55 in 1967. Not too old to still be using his extraordinary brain for this sorry planet's benefit. But he'd been unable to curb that side of his nature, and had to pay for his "crime" thirteen years before.

It was his "cross," and he couldn't bear it.

I don't know what makes gays the way they are.
My suspicion is that they're born that way, and can do little about it.
They can follow their inclinations, or they can try not to, if they feel they morally shouldn't.
Much like the rest of us; like me, at least.

Those that do lead "gay" lives, do so still in the face of a good deal of often malicious prejudice. It's inevitable, and most of them can laugh at it.
What's more, several of them do so publicly, amusingly, and are well paid for it.
And why not? At least the fear of jail and blackmail has been largely removed.

Anyway, if Alan Turing had been born in 1982, instead of 1912, he might just be considering getting married right now.

And I, for one, would see no logical, moral, or practical reason for trying to prevent him.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Mile Stones

The story on the link above caught my eye. In 1963, Pat Doncaster , the Daily Mirror's "disc" columnist, handed me a picture of the Stones posed outside a line of telephone booths.
I've seen it since but can't find it right now. But it was likely taken during the same session as the one above.

I looked at the snap, and asked Pat, "What's the point of them all being so ugly?" Pat didn't know, but assured me the lads were, "..going to be very big." It was one of the few things Pat got right.
One of his miscalulations was that smoking was, as he put it, "...good for the lungs. Toughens 'em up. Look at me. Smoked all my life and I'm trained like an astronaught."

Unsurprisingly, Pat went to his reward a good many years ago.

What is very surprising, however, is that Mick, Keith and Bill are still above ground. Alive! And even kicking a bit.
A glowing tribute to the healing and sustaining powers of debauchery,
I suggest.

And I myself am still alive, albeit a bit doddery. 

Which is -  I suppose - also mildly surprising, although I have led a life of almost monkish and scholarly rectitude and have very often been sober for several hours at a time.

Cause for a certain satisfaction, innit? Yeah!

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

The Earnest Importance of Being Gay

By some curious, yet not onerous, irony - Toad seems to have become, ipso facto, (whatever that means) spokesman for "The Gays" in certain quarters.

For he is not gay himself. However, as was at one time said about Jews, many of his friends are "Gay."

The word itself is tiresome, as we all agree - but what's the alternative? Queer? Not unfashionable among homosexuals themselves these days. But no, not for Toad at least. Gay it will be.

The gays are in the news all right. It seems they are all clamouring to get married. The "straights" on the other hand, appaear to have rather lost interest in what "Eton Dave" Cameron describes as "The Great Institution." (...and I won't make the old joke yet again)

More irony here with on one side people screaming, "Gays can't get married  - it's against the natural law!" and on the other people screaming "Gays are the only people who want to get married! It's natural to want to be married!"

Is it?
On the whole, the answer must be yes. People persist in doing it, often rashly, so it must be natural. But then,  people persist in being "Gay" often stubbornly, which is not natural, we are sternly informed. Hmmm.

So, the question for today is "Is being Gay "natural?"
If not, why did God (Yes, we're finally round to Him!) create, if that is the mot juste, so many of them?
Around 8% in the U.K. Toad has read; no way of confirming this figure, still, it'll do. One in twelve of us. Long odds but not astronomical. Enough to be the cause of trouble a good deal anyway.
Like with the Jews. (Among whom, Toad also has many friends.)

Second question for today: What is The Natural Law? Is flying in Boeing 792s natural? If God had wanted us to fly, wouldn't he have given us air miles? Does the fact that He doesn't (at least not to everyone) prove that He doesn't exist? No: Probably not.

Third question: If there is a Natural Law (which Jeremy Bentham highly doubted) is it wrong to break it?

Fourth question: Do miracles break The Natural Law? If they do, then why should not Gays?

I'm afraid there may be more questions to come on this highly overrated topic - maybe tomorrow.
The sun is finally up, and Reb is up and the dogs are up and baying in chorus like the wolves they once all were.
Times change, and today, I doubt if more than one dog is twelve is a wolf, and I've only got five, so I'm probably safe.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Going to Hell

Toad in dog Heaven. An "old" pic, as Bella (white) is now bigger than Harry (brown)

People must be wondering why Toad, (me) on CP&S, (Catholicism, Pure & Simple - it's neither, of course) keeps harping on about Eternal Damnation.

But maybe not – it's a concept of some significance if it happens to be true, and a shockingly revolting one if it isn't.

In fact, it's a shockingly revolting concept either way, when you think about it. Enough to give any child the heebie-jeebies! Did the Toadpole, at least! 

Lewis Carroll, a great genius and saintly man, whom Toad hugely admires, and who was an Anglican minister of sorts, said he could accept the whole of Christianity, apart from that one hideous aspect.
He probably had a few reservations about wicked old popes as well, but that's another topic altogether.

One of the CP&S team says that very likely only people who “Hate God” go to Hell.
Toad has great difficulty in understanding how anyone could hate God, but let's put that on one side, for now.
(Except what they might be hating is the idea of God. Which is clearly not the same thing. And anyway, their idea of God might be wrong. Probably is. What then?)

The real point of this laborious rumination, however, is that apparently attitudes are now considerably, relatively, different in the Catholic Church then they were some 55 years ago - when Toad was still in his teens.
Back then it wasn't necessary to “hate” God in order to be eternally damned – all that was required was to be in a state of mortal sin.

Which could be achieved, briskly and easily, by playing truant from Mass on Sundays, for no “good” reason.

How masturbation, and looking at a bikini-clad Brigitte Bardot in "Tit Bits Magazine," rated on the Mortal sin-scale chart is now vague to Toad.

It would be nice to be told if the Mass-missing bit is still relevant.

Oh, and this nightmarish scenario of devils endlessly poking you with toasting forks in an inferno could happen to anyone over seven, "The age of reason," an age, it would seem, that's still beyond Toad. To fill a small child's head with such pernicious nonsense , as the good nuns did to little Toadito was, in retrospect, a sin.
But it would be erroneous to imagine they saw it that way..

In Toad's youth, practically everything interesting was a sin.
Girls (in his case, not boys) were paramount. Just sexually lucky, apparently. As was dancing too close to girls. As was reading "The Three Musketeers," both activities which nowadays Toad does not have the slightest inclination to do. Tempi cambi.

More importantly, he was taught as a matter of absolute fact – not whimsical speculation – that no Non-Catholics were going to Heaven, and very likely not a great many Catholics either, particularly if they persisted in doing paper rounds on Sunday mornings.
Damned by association with the Press way back then!
Irony and prophecy seamlessly combined!

Someone else on CP&S suggested the idea of going to Hell for all eternity was “scary.”
Yes, the idea certainly is. The reality, if such it is is somewhat beyond scary. Way beyond. Insane, I think.

And the idea that a being of total goodness and all perfections could even consider not stopping someone, anyone, of manifestly inferior moral material to themselves, being sent there - is even scarier.
Because, if the sinner involved insists on going there - then he, or she, simply don't know what's good for them.
And should be pitied. And quickly put straight. Not infinitely casigated.
If my dogs insist on trying to run into the traffic, I prevent them. I want them to enjoythemselves and not feel constrained by the leads, but Free Will can go too far for their own good. And the idea that I treat them better than God treats humans is inescapable.

For what would God have to gain (or lose) from damning people?
Nothing. He does it for nothing, then?

So the hell with Hell.

But we shall see. Maybe. Quite soon. Possibly.

Friday, 30 November 2012

It's only natural...

The following is a recent post of mine on CP&S, to a friend on there called Kathleen. Self-explanatory, I hope.

“He (God) destined all material creatures for the good of the human race. “… says the Catechism.

As you know Kathleen, I’m normally and aimiably tolerant of the vagaries of religious thinking (What! You cry!!!) but in this case, after more reflection, I must hark back to your comment where you said:

“I must say that, believe it or not, every living creature has its place in nature, even mosquitoes! And certainly tigers do; grazing animals would increase too much and end up starving to death if there were no natural predators to keep their numbers down and eliminate the weak and sickly ones.
According to the Bible this beautiful and magnificent world was created by God and given into man’s hands to look after and care for.”

The Catechism quote above says nothing about man’s place in nature, as yours rightly and properly does.
The Catechism says “nature,” if you like, is there solely for our “good,” for our benefit.
That strikes me as disgusting and absurd, but we will let that go.

(I still can’t see what “good” dinosaurs ever did for the human race. Can we even assert that without dinosaurs there would have been no humans?
Not with any confidence, I suggest – but we will let that go, as well.)

The real question here is how, given that life has teemed on this planet for around two billion years, and human life as we know it for maybe 150,000 years – a minute scintilla of the timescale – how can anyone seriously assert that man’s function is, “…to look after and care for,” the other living creatures?
Living creatures were doing perfectly well before man finally got here.
On a time scale It’s like saying God put man in charge of the pet shop, which had been open since 9 am, one and a half seconds before the doors shut at 7 pm.

(How would you “look after” a cockroach, anyway? We’ll let that go, too.)

It’s also worth considering that tigers would go on happily culling grazing species regardless of whether man existed or not, as they did for countless aeons before “Homo Sapiens,” who is, we are told, “made in God’s image” evolved sufficiently to start polluting and fouling up the place.

It’s fair to say that without mankind, life on Earth would have been a whole lot less unpleasant.
In short, humanity has been a total disaster for this planet in many ways.

...Christ and St. Francis of Assisi and Rin Tin Tin (that's him) notwithstanding.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Camino Unreality

As most readers know, Reb and I live on the Camino Frances.
Have done for seven years now.
No need to explain what it is on here, I'm sure.

Lately, there have been some rumblings about happenings on The Camino and discussions on linked forums. The tone is often querelous, and generally involves - or relates to - money.
For several centuries, until maybe only five or six years ago, money was a secondary consideration to pilgrims and the people who provided them with beds and food - the albergues, in short.
In fact, the albergues were generally in monasteries, and underwritten by the charity of the wealthy ruling class.
As recently as 2006, when we arrived on the scene, to see a bowl with money in it at the albergue door with a message saying, "Take whatever you need, leave whatever you can," was not uncommon.
The bulk of albergues (also known as refugios) worked on a "donativo" basis - that is pilgrims would leave whatever contribution they could, or wanted to.
Which might be nothing.

But The Camino is becoming a victim of its own success. The number of participants (those who earn a "Compostela" at least ) has risen from 100,377 in 2006, to 183,877 in 2011.
The number of albergues and hostels catering to them has also zoomed up. Competition is sometimes fierce and occasionally vicious.

And the donativo ideal, overwhelmed by freeloaders and rising overhead costs, is a dead duck.

Spain is in crisis. The Camino is in crisis.

And possibly the reasons are not dissimilar. When we arrived in Spain, the European Union-driven economy was going gangbusters. Vast blocks of apartments and endless rows of terraced houses appeared apparently overnight, like the mushrooms in the few still-adjoining meadows.
This, even in places where the local population was already dwindling fast. Everyone thought the progress would never end, the money would always flow free. But wages were low, no one could afford the high-priced houses. Banks reined in the free funding, the developers went bust, then the banks went bust, too. Those new buildings stand empty now, their prices still well out of reach of the Spanish populace. One-fourth of the workers are unemployed. They´re saddled now with the debts of the banks that started the whole mess.

A different scenario, certainly, from the rapidly rising numbers on The Camino. But the reality in both cases was the unreality.

Yes, The Camino is not -  or is supposed not to be - about money.

Very few people open albergues with the intention of becoming rich.
But an extraordinarily large percentage of them seem to believe The Camino operates on much kinder and more forgiving standards than those of the rest of Planet Earth -- or Spain, for that matter.

And this is patently not so. A mortgage is a mortgage is a mortgage. Still, starry-eyed former pilgrims optimistically open albergues and guest houses and hostels, believing that God, or divine providence, or St. James will continue providing ever-growing numbers of well-off pilgrims to offset the cost of the regulation fire alarms, expensive emergency staircases, and stainless-steel kitchens.

Do any of them do any math before embarking on quixotic ventures involving "pilgrims"? Any more than they would buying a shiny new suburban villa?

The Camino, is for us, at least, a fine place to live: peaceful, endlessly interesting and often downright inspiring. And we have never regretted our own move here.
We were lucky, or smart. We paid cash for a beat-up mud farm in a dying town, instead of an overpriced suburban crackerbox with an expensive mortgage.
We don't rely on The Camino for a living.
And we never will. Please God. Or providence. Or St. James.


Friday, 23 November 2012

Prudence rules, or should do

As you can see, this was written and posted yesterday, after a Thanksgiving lunch for  seven people: an Italian, a German lady, a Frenchwoman, a Spaniard, a Brit (me) and two Americans, Reb being one.
Spanish the lingua franca.
Goodness! What a trying day Thanksgiving is turning out to be! First a lot of hoo-ha about trolls, then the above – and then yet another story from Pope Benedict claiming that Jesus wasn’t born on his birthday after all:

… All this on top of revelations that accounts of his (Jesus's) minute Mother-to-be wowing the assembled slippered pantaloons in the Temple with her reasoned argument for advocating skepticism regarding the metaphysical content of Logical Positivism, or whatever – were probably all made up by journalists.
What is the world coming to? is fast becoming Toad’s mantra.
And a lot of it is Pope Benedict’s doing.
The bit about the animals in the manger was particularly upsetting, as that seemed the most believable part of the story. If it was a manger, it was bound to have animals in it. Surely?

To be sure, none of thes above notions is essential belief for a Catholic. But they tend to come mixed in with other ideas that are considered essential.
To me, the idea that there were animals present at the birth of Christ is no more fanciful than, say, that God consists of three persons in one.
One what?
Simple Prudence suggests a certain amount of reserve concerning it all. (But then, she would.)

One of these days I'll get back to A Day In The Life Of Me. As soon as I can. Bit busy living, just now.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

A Question of Upbringing?

Found this very interesting:

1; Because it seems, in some respects at least, to relate to what we might call the "ethos" of Catholicism Pure & Simple (see right) notably a yearning for the Nostalgia of Things Effectively Past.

2; Because it also, almost paradoxically, reflects some of Toad's (that's me) admittedly ambivalent attitudes to Catholicism, which have clung to his hide like barnacles to a sperm whale.

One Day in the Life of...

I was unsure what to write about today, but my good cyber friend Kathleen, on CP&S, (see right) has bailed me out again.

She mildly complains - it is, I think, fair to describe it - about the excessive extent that I, and at least one other contributor on there, (Pastorious by name) "contribute."
She is a busy woman, she points out and finds it hard to keep up with the blizzard of often contentious, sometimes downright pernickety, posts we  "post," practically hourly, it seems at times.

And she's right. And has my sympathies.

Have we nothing better to do? Probably not.
I can only speak for myself, but certainly I don't have a very demanding schedule since recusing myself from the humbug mills.
I rise early, around six, generally.
In the chilly months I clean out the wood stove, and get it going. I feed Bob the Canary. I switch on The Mighty Wurlitzer, as the computer is known.
I reply instantly to any personal emails. Thankfully these are very few.
I make the coffee.
I wash up last night's dishes.
I go out and feed and water the hens.
I may then eat an egg or two of theirs.
I feed and water the cats and dogs and administer pills to the ailing ones, which are Mo, Murph and Tim these days.No easy task, involving rolling them up in slices of the finest ham, before trying to stuff them down their gobs.
I look to see if anyone has commented on this blog. Hardly ever. Hmmm.
I then look at the other blogs mentioned here, mainly CP&S, and reply or not, as I think fit.
All this, and dawn has still not broken.

All very boring, as you see, and yet essential.

I then read The Guardian and Telegraph on line, and am appalled by the trivial imbecility of many Telegraph stories, often involving deeply stupid "reality" television programmes featuring female M.P.s, and and resolve, if they ever start charging for it, that will be the same instant I'm out of there.

This post is already so long and dull that I will stop here and continue tomorrow with the main and essential business of the day: The Dog Walk; El Paseo de los Perros.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Interesting Times

When in doubt about as to what to call the latest blog episode - consider the above.
Usually works.

I'm writing this at home, when normally, I'd be at Mass.
But Don Santiago (who is a saint!) is off burying yet another old neighbour in Ledigos, or, Legartos, or Terradillos de los Templarios, or wherever.

As a result, no Mass in Moratinos.
No back-up priest..
Yes, we could drive to Sahagun, or somewhere.
But we didn't.
And we won't, if this kind of thing goes on.
At least, I won't. I'll just quit.
Reb might not.
Up to her. She's accused of being "Protestant" anyway, so what the heck?

So, instead of, as normal -  singing a hymn with the same melody as, "Blowin' In The Wind," I'm at home in The Peaceable contemplating what a friend of mine on Fleet Street - (of all places) - was wont to call, "The Eternal Verities." That is to say, stuff.

And I'm doing it sitting out on the newly-built terrace... (sounds poncey, for sure, but that's just what it is)... naked to the waist ! - that's how sunny it is!

Which nudity is no sin, as nobody, except the dogs and cats and canary and wife, can be appalled by the hideous sight.
(Otherwise, it would be a very grave one, indeed.)

So, what deep thoughts do I have to share with my reader? One.
For some time now, I have been debating with myself why on earth I even bother beating my head endlessly against the wall of CP&S.

But then, "Out of the blue" (like 9/11/2001) a post, or polemic, or whatever we might care to call it - arrives, stating in no uncertain terms - that the Catholic martyrs of the "Reformation" were without exception - fantastically noble, brave, and superb.

And, as well as I know, they might have been.

But then, the story goes on to emphasise, in no uncertain terms - that the Protestant martyrs were a bunch of craven, snivelling, cursing, cringing  cowards.

And, as well as I know, they also might have been.

Who really knows?

And, critically, what's the point in making the distinction?
Whatever, as a result, for me,  the crucial point here was - that as long as such utterly scurrilous bits of nonsensensical gibberish like this -  are being  run on CP&S, I feel I have a moral obligation to comment on them.

And that not to do so would be a sin on my part.

So, for all those who find me, (as I do myself ) a tedious old windbagging bore - my apologies.

But, nevertheless,  I will hang in there until the "Management"
says "Enough, Toad. You have gone too far this time."

Because "Too far," is where I have decided to hang my hat.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Bad News for News

El Pais, which I regard as the world's best newspaper, has just laid off 106 of its staff.
This is a devastating blow for the journalists involved, and gloomy news for me.
I had somehow thoughtlessly imagined that Pais was doing OK.
What I like about Pais is not only its appearance and content, but the fact that, if - for example - Neitzsche is mentioned in an article, it is assumed that the reader knows who he is, and doesn't need an explanation.

It seems the days of newspapers, that is news on paper, really are numbered. 
Information comes quicker, easier, and - above all - cheaper off the web.

Of course newspapers have no more right to survive indefinitely than did steam trains or typewriters.

But it is sad.

And how fortunate I was during my time.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Swings, Roundabouts

Well, some things are looking up. And the weather is nice. Swept the front yard today, 12th November, stripped to the waist, in the sunshine.
An obscene sight, but witnessed by nobody, thanks to the comforting and protecting eight-foot wall round The Peacable.

Anyway, Murph got out of Tim's bed yesterday, walked upstairs and climbed onto a chair in Reb's office.
Single-handed. (well, single-pawed, well, four-pawed.)
So that's promising.

Mo, apart from his hacking cough, seems fine. He's a good and interesting cat, and  will come when he's called, just like a dog.
I once had a cat that used to come on walks with me and our dog. Maybe Mo might join El Equipo A. We shall see.
Mo comes on command like some dogs, anyway.
But not all.
Two of mine are apt to behave differently; Lulu and Harry.

When all six of us set out for our morning walkies, for about the first half-hour everything is hunky-dory. L. and H., when released from their leads, straightaway do their morning business, then proceed to trot obediently just behind me, side -by-side as though they were on an obedience test  -  as if butter woudn't melt in their arses.
They then have a terrific, full speed race in circles around me, shouting and laughing and showing off like crazy.
But after that, I have to watch their body language minutely.
This is the tricky bit. Because they stare off at the horizon, then, as if at an unheard command, trot briskly away out of sight together.
And can stay out of sight for several hours. The current record is five.

No point calling them back when they do this. They just blow.

The solution, so far, is to judge when they are still thinking about it, then put one of them on the lead.
The other will zoom off, even vanish, from time to time, but won't go far, and will often return when called.

So, it's not so bad. Much pleasanter than being held upside down by one's heels, and having lighted matches dropped down one's nose. Much.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Chaos and Night

The headline's nothing much to do with this blog, but it's the title of a book of which I'm fond.

Although it's vaguely appropriate here as things, while not actually chaotic, are currently a bit difficult.

Both cats are not well, Murph still hardly moving after his accident, and Mo, since having his balls cut off, has developed a king of choking cough, as if he had something stuck in his throat.
A vet friend says this is not uncommon, and he'll be all right if we can get his pills down his throat.
Then Tim seems tired and short of energy, and as if his back legs are bothering him, which they probably are as he's ben diagnosed with arthritis. He can't jump up into the car any more. Needs a lift.

Just the normal tribulations of a family, I suppose.
And Reb off in Leon talking to nuns about holiness and pilgrims and such.

Meanwhile, the gloom is encricling, and the rain falls sporadically.
And the floor is covered with paw and foot prints.

And the barn floor is covered with dog poo, though I suppose it's unlikely to be covering the ceiling.

Things could be worse. Mitt might have won.
Plus Bob and the chucks, and Lulu, Harry and  Bella are in rude good health.
Bit too rude, at times.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Small Mercies

Obama's somewhat shakey win was, if nothing else, the least worst result to be contemplated.

In fact, "nothing else," is probably exactly what sums it up. Still.

Goodness, didn't it get nasty on FaceBook these last few weeks!

It was so vicious that Toad, (that's me) at times, imagined he was back in Fleet Street, listening to people accusing one another of  modifing their (generally Northern) accents  in hope of advancement. Although the language on FB was consoderably more moderate.

It has to be admitted though, that Toad himself was one of the culprits.
He shamefully and mercilessly persecuted a relatively  innocent young lady on the slender grounds that she was (he suspected) racially antagonistic to Mr. President.

Still, the die is cast, the jig is up, the bitter harvest has been reeped.(Reeped Wrept? Wreaped? Can any of those be right?) the cup has been drained to the dregs, Democracy has been run up the flagpole and duly saluted. Not least the cliches have all been exhausted. We hope. Anyway...

As a tonic counterblast to the general mindless cheerfulness, here is the blessed George, above. Telling it like it is.

Like it really is.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

A Day at the Doc

The rest of this is very boring and personal. So...

Yesterday, Monday, was  spent almost exclusively on medical premises.

At 9 a.m. the missus and I presented ourselves at Villada Health Centre for blood tests, EKG's, Flu shots, and dispute about our current medical status in Spain. All went reasonably reasonably.

Back home then, with just time for a quick dogwalk, then at 11 a.m. me off to see Dr. Tomas in town about my hacking cough.
Apparently, it's my own fault for being a hack for 40 years. (Not!)  And my new health card might be wrong, being it seems, for one of the remaoining handful of Spain's gainfully employed, rather than for a crumbly jubilado.

Back home then, for lunch of left-overs, and a siesta.

Then, at 3.30 p.m. in the car with Reb and 28% of our cats and dogs - Mo to have his balls cut off, and Bella to have her stitches taken out - at the University of Leon Medical Faculty.

Cheque book at the ready as always.
"Don't look at the money as expense," I told her, (Reb, that is, not Bella) "Look at it this way: We give the department generous donations every month or so, and then they treat all the Furry Fools for free."

While all this "ambulancing" is going on, Murphy is very slowly recovering from his latest attempt at Trying Conclusions With The Maelstrom, which is a poncey way of saying being run over by a car for a second time.

Progresss is not as quick as we would like. He's sitting up but not moving around hardly at all. We are worried about his legs. So, off with him to the Vet in Sahagun again tomorrow.
Cheque book at the ready.
And, possibly later, back the 50-odd miles to Leon, where they do X-Rays.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Murph: Progress report

As of 6 a.m. Moratinos time, Murphy is still alive, conscious and showing small but encouraging, signs of recovery.
He has started eating small ammounts again, and has "been to the bathroom" in a modest way during the night.

Thought you should know that.

Better still, he has started to complain loudly - as is his custon - from time to time.
A plausible cause for guarded optimism.
And he is moving around a bit, not much, but some.

There may be further bulletins later. Stand by!

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Something Nasty In The Woodshed

Murphy takes over Tim´s favourite place in the world

Yesterday, having drawn water for various mundane purposes, like washing the crap off dogs, I went up the yard to hew wood.

We do that kind of rurally whimsical stuff at The Peacable.

Murphy was curled up in the woodshed, just where any falling log I was sawing would bean him, so I suggested he move. He didn't, he couldn't, and he gave an agonised yowl when I tried to pick him up.

Yes, he'd managed to get himself run over again, making twice.

The first time was about two years back, resulting in three broken legs, extensive surgery by The Veterinary School of  Leon University, and ultimately a starring role in a movie entitled, "How To Mend A Cat's Three Broken Legs When No Expense Is Spared,"  produced and directed by Dr. Mateo, and financed by the Scott-O'Gara Non-Profit Foundation, and which, it seems, did boffo biz, playing to packed houses of student vets in Italy.

Murph has, of yet, received no residuals.

This time round, although expecting the worst - it seemed to us his back was broken - things are not quite so bad.
Murph's back is inded very badly knocked about, but our local vet thinks that he (Murph, that is, not the Vet)  might be back on his already battered feet within a week.
Not doing triple saltos, with tuck and twist, but at least tottering about and bullying the dogs.

He has already comandeered Tim's dog bed to recuperate in, beside the stove.

Tim made no complaint, just patiently shifted over onto the carpet to sleep.
He is an amazing, saintly dog, because he loves his bed second only to sausage.

It's high time Murphy considered giving up being run over by cars.

It's not doing him any good.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Inconsequential balderdash

Below is an entire answer to a comment on a blog called "joyfulpapist"
I run it here because - I dunno, it might throw some light on something.
But then, it might not.
The topic on Joyful's blog is, (sigh) gay marriage - the most sinister and civilisation-threatening setback to decency and morality to blight the planet in the last thousand years. Or, some seem to think.
Another contributor (Srdc by avatar) as you see, accused, (if that is le mot juste,) me (AKA Toad) of being: old, cynical and in despair.

“Old cynical and in despair eh?”

I assume you mean Toad, here, Srdc.
Well, let’s see. “Old,” certainly, “Cynical,” most probably, (though I’d say “skeptical” is nearer the mark) but “in despair”?
I had to think about that one.
If I can be content, cheerful, amused, absorbed, and keenly interested by life, and yet still “despair” of the perennial imbecility and folly of the human race, then, yes I’m in despair.
I think maybe “resigned,” is nearer the mark.

But you are young, at least I get that impression.
Some unasked for geezer advice: Try to hang on to your optimism, but be aware that it will gradually fade away over the years of its own account. And you won’t miss it. In fact, you’ll be glad to see the back of it.
People are very predicatable. You can always count on them to act in their own interests, as they see them, no matter what noble noises issue from their mouths.
It is well to be aware of this. By all means keep on trying to improve the human condition, but be aware that you won’t, and neither will you be thanked. Not that that matters.

(What a lot of pompous tripe, Toad. Shut up!) 
That bit is unanswerable.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Apres Sandy, le Deluge et le Moslim?

Something of unusual interest to report today.

Namely that a major hurricane named Sandy is headed for New Jersey, where  it threatens to make several million dollars worth of improvements.

Not only that, but its side effects may well wreak havoc in neighbouring states, such as Pennsylvania and Ohio, both of which are crucial to the outcome  of the upcoming presidential fiasco.

In fact, I suspect this is why The Lord is apparently chosing to wield His terrible swift sword Over There at this time.
He is clearly distressed at the less than dim prospect of a full-blooded Mormon seizing  the reins of power in The Land of the Free, even more so than by the prospect of another four tiresome years of The Nigerian Muslim.

It is salutary that He is energetic enough to go to these rather extreme lengths to avoid it, but He's a little too late for some voters, I fear.

I read an American on Facebook bemoaning that, in his own words, the only choice was between "A Morman and a Moslim," which was, he opined, no choice at all.
Voting for a decent, God fearing "Christion" was not even a option. Pretty shabby, it seemed to him. What is the world coming to, and all that.
He had a point.

Strange though, that the Avenging Metrological Angel, should rejoice in the rather anodyne name of "Sandy." I have known a few Sandys in my time, and not one of them would ever dream of trashing a trailer park in New Jersey.
Not even during an Election year.

Friday, 26 October 2012


Now I remember why I quit blogging for over a year. Because apparently nobody was reading DOWNHILL.
Or, at least, was interested enough to comment on it.
Which also seems to be the case now I've started up again.
Can't say I blame people, either.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012


Interesting little exchanges on Catholicism Pure & Simple, regarding DEATH.
A subject seldom far from my mind these days. And then a copy of "Mirror Pensioner," the world's finest newspaper - being the only one with its priorities right - arrived  yesterday chock full of obits of old friends and colleagues.
This following on the recent news of a close friend's demise. (Whisky and cigarettes, said the Doc. Very old fashioned. Fleet Street to the end, in fact.)

Still what is to be done about it?  Death, that is. Best turn to Michel de Montaigne, as usual:

“If you don’t know how to die, don’t worry; Nature will tell you what to do on the spot, fully and adequately. She will do this job perfectly for you; don’t bother your head about it.”

And then, also on CP&S, someone called Metropolitan Anthony is quoted as saying:  “All life is at every moment an ultimate act.” Can’t argue with that.

And strikes me it could equally well be Sartre speaking, as a man oddly named after a Tube line.
We must wonder what Bakerloo Fred would think.

Someone once said to Montaigne:
"I’ve done nothing all day.”
“What! Did you not live?”
said M.

Don't know what's that's got to do with anything. But I like it.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012


Missed a day already! Doh!

However, Reb is back from her errand of mercy, and I hope we can get some sense into the layout of the blog now, and proper spacing.
I have been banging heads on Facebook over Obama. I'm not violently Pro-Obama, (he has disappointed me too often), just anti the pathological Anti-Obamas. One "Facebook friend" in question has been relentless in her attacks, accusing him of everything bar child molesting. That will be next, no doubt. True, I've been a bit hard on her, too hard, no doubt - but she is bullying the man, and I can't stand bullying.

Unless I'm the one doing it, of course.

Sunday, 21 October 2012


Well, Frankel The Wonder Horse got it done at Ascot, didnee? Workmanlike rather than imperious, most spectators agreed. Fourteen straight victories, no defeats. A great horse, for sure. But the greatest ever? Not for me. The greatest horses win the greatest races - in Europe the Derby and the Arc de Triomphe, in the U.S. the Triple Crown, and nowadays The Breeders Cup Classic.. Frankel didn't. So he's only potentially the greatest. Sea Bird was the greatest European, Secretariat America's greatest - whose 1973 Belmont Stakes win must be the the most amazing performance by any horse, any time, anywhere. Ever. (You can see it on Youtube, anyway, if this doesn't work.)

Saturday, 20 October 2012


"After the Pontiff spoke these words there appeared above Hadrian’s Mausoleum an angel, believed to be St. Michael, who replaced in his scabbard the sword of vengeance which he had held over the city." This is from a post on CP&S, two days ago. Apparently God had smitten Rome about the year 600, with a "vicious" plague. A few prayers later, and Bob's your uncle. Plague over. The point is, do we really need a god who viciously visits people with the plague? I think not. This "God's Vengeance," stuff is at best gibberish, and at worst pernicious nonsense. There. I can say that on my own blog and not upset anyone! More importantly, Frankel runs his supposed last race today at Ascot. He's supposed to win, of course. never lost yet.

Friday, 19 October 2012

Bear with me...

(Don't you just hate that expression?) Until I can get my proper computer back, I'm struggling here. can't get any spacing in. But am determined to struggle on daily. Things will improve. And the prognostico says it will stop raining at lunch time. Found a very interesting old movie in YouTube yesterday: "Pygmalion" starring Leslie Howard. Fascinating for film buffs for two reasons: It was clearly used almost word for word, and scene for scene as the screenplay for "My Fair Lady," and is beautifully directed. Howard gets the credit as Director, but I suspect the key to the film's excellent quality lies hidden among the secondary credits: Film Editor: David Lean.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Proustian frustration

After months of near drought, the rain is here in Moratinos. Lots of it. And Toad and the Toadhounds are stuck on the gravelled Camino, rather than the unmade farm tracks, which are seas of mud. As for the stubble fields - forget them. Swamps. And attractive dog and boot prints on the floor tiles. Mop time. Something is wrong with the edit workings of this blog. I can't put in any spacing between sentences and paragraphs. So each episode comes out looking like a page from Proust. Merde. Very short items til it gets fixed. There's a blessing.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

As I was saying...

It is a year since I last blogged. Forgive me all, for I have sinned by omission. Although, to be sure,it might well seem more like an absolution to some. Anyroadup, for various reasons I am determined to open for business again on "Downhill." The main topics will be those shunned by all decent people, religion and politics, most likely. Among the reasons, one of the main ones in fact, is that I have recused myself from a blog called Catholicism Pure & Simple, where I was wont to bloviate at length on Miracles, The Veneration of The Sacred Nose of Saint Atheniastyasius, Transubstiation, The Seven Swords of Sin, Original Sin, Cardinal Sin, The Spanish Inquisition, Papal Infallibility, and the Corrosive Effects of Holy Water on The Forehead. Stuff like that. Nothing fancy. That was until a post on there about Fatima convinced me that the whole boiling of CP&S, very much including Toad*, might be better employed farting The Star Spangled Banner down the well in our front yard for all the good it was doing any of us. However I will provide a link to said blog ASAP, and expect to refer to it frequently. My comments on CP&S will appear here however. This is in order that I don't need to be over-polite as previously, and more that I don't hog the thing as I have done up til now. *For reasons too boring and arcane to go into here, (unless specifically requested,) I was known on there as "Toadspittle" although my CP&S friends familiarly called me "Toad." And despite these spendidly-stated intentions, I may just quickly relapse into my normalstate, commonly referred to in the medical profession as "torpidity." Still, today it rains, and a steady stream of hideously-poncho clad, hooded pilgs, looking like giant hunchback gnomes, limp dismally past me and the doggy brigade. The effect in the gloaming and drizzle is oddly and appropriately 14th Century somehow. Moreover, Reb is off for a few days on a work of great mercy. Your prayers are asked. And my big computer has got all its little cogs and wheels jammed up with cake crumbs and bits of Morcilla de Burgos and orange peel grape seeds and has quit on me. So I have to use Reb's for the time being, which is about the size of a biggish postcard. And which, with my poor old minces, is hard going. But still, we are off and running again. Pictures will soon be added. (I can't remember how to, so must wait for Reb) Mostly of dogs and cats. And maybe Frankel.If he wins.