A Moment of War

Quote of the Week:

Laurie Lee (1914-1997)

We gathered in the square, blowing in the ice-sharp wind, and were given long sticks for guns. We were going to attack a ‘strong point’ up the hill, an enemy machine-gun position; a frontal and flanking assault on bare rising ground. “The attack will be pushed home with surprise and determination,” said the Commandant. “It happens all the time.”

…Near the top of the hill, with the banging of the oil-drums much closer, our leaders cried, “Forward! Adelante! Charge!” We leapt to our feet and galloped the last few yards, shouting as horribly as we could, and cast ourselves on the men who had been beating the oil-drums, who then threw up their arms and surrendered, sniggering.
Twenty minutes’ crawling and sauntering up that bare open hill, and we had captured a machine-gun post, without loss. Our shouting died; it had been a famous victory. Real guns would have done for the lot of us.

We finished the day’s training with an elaborate anti-tank exercise. A man covered a pram with an oil-cloth and pushed it round and round the square, while we stood in doorways and threw bottles and bricks at it. The man pushing the pram was Danny, from London. He was cross when a bottle hit him.

(Laurie Lee: A Moment of War)


Lockdown Diaries: Day 65 (The Cíes Islands)

Locked Down in London, Day 65:

I just remembered: yesterday, if it wasn’t for the coronavirus, we’d have flown out to Galicia.

This would have been the holiday that would have replaced the one that was cancelled in April. Is this depressing or what? At least now we finally grasped that there was no point in rescheduling; instead we’ve joined the ranks of those hopefuls who are expecting their money back from the airline…

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The Partiality of the Eye-Witness (La parcialidad del testigo)

Quote of the Week / La cita de la semana

Today’s quote is a piece of advice from George Orwell regarding reading about the Spanish civil war. But the advice applies to reading all historical sources and eye-witness accounts – history students take note. 🙂

La cita de hoy es un consejo de George Orwell para quienes leen sobre la guerra civil española. Pero es un consejo que tenemos que seguir siempre cuando leemos obras históricas y informes de testigos – estudiantes de historia, toma nota. 🙂

George Orwell (1903-1950)

And I hope that the account I have given is not too misleading. I believe that on such an issue as this no one is or can be completely truthful. It is difficult to be certain about anything except what you have seen with your own eyes, and consciously or unconsciously everyone writes as a partisan.

In case I have not said this somewhere earlier in the book I will say it now: beware of my partisanship, my mistakes of fact and the distortion inevitably caused by my having seen only one corner of events. And beware of exactly the same things when you read any other book on this period of the Spanish civil war.

(George Orwell: Homage to Catalonia)

Y espero que mi relato no haya sido demasiado confuso. Creo que, con respecto a un acontecimiento como éste, nadie es o puede ser completamente veraz. Sólo se puede estar seguro de lo que se ha visto con los propios ojos y, consciente o inconscientemente, todos escribimos con parcialidad.

Si no lo he dicho en alguna otra parte de este libro, lo diré ahora: cuidado con mi parcialidad, mis errores factuales y la deformación que inevitablemente produce el que yo sólo haya podido ver una parte de los hechos. Pero cuidado también con lo mismo al leer cualquier otro libro acerca de este período de la guerra española.

(George Orwell: Homage to Catalonia / Homenaje a Cataluña)


Lockdown Diaries: Day 46 (Hiking in the Picos de Europa)

Locked Down in London, Day 46: Beer Delivery Dogs

According to yesterday’s Daily Telegraph, somewhere in America a couple of handsome golden retrievers were enrolled by a brewery to deliver beer to their customers…

I quite fancy the sight of a couple of handsome golden retrievers delivering my shopping too.

Except… I guess I would only get the vegetables!

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Gredos lo eterno (The Eternal Gredos)

La cita de la semana / Quote of the Week:

Miguel de Unamuno (1864-1936)

Porque Gredos es lo eterno; Gredos vio a los iberos llegar a España, y vio a los romanos, y a los godos, y a los árabes, y verá acaso pasar a otros bárbaros; Gredos vio morir, en uno de sus repliegues, al emperador Carlos V.

Because the Gredos is eternal; the Gredos saw the Iberians arrive to Spain and saw the Romans, and the Goths, and the Arabs, and perhaps will also see other Barbarians pass; the Gredos saw the Emperor Charles V die in one of its hollows.

(Miguel de Unamuno: ¡Montaña, desierto, mar!)

Lockdown Diaries: Day 21 (Hiking La Palma II)

Locked Down in Lancashire, Day 21: The Palm Trees of Lancashire

Went out on another local hike and noticed that every second garden boasts a palm tree! I mean this is Lancashire in the Northwest of England – wet, cloudy and miserable. Supposedly…

In point of fact, it’s 22 degrees and sunny today! 🙂

On our local hike, I paddled in a freezing cold local stream and pretended that I was paddling in the stream of the Barranco de las Angustias on our hike in La Palma…

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Lockdown Diaries: Day 19 (Hiking La Palma)

Locked Down in Lancashire, Day 19:

Glorious weather today in Lancashire (I got sunburnt).

Being in lockdown is definitely more bearable when

a) the weather is sunny

b) you’re somewhere where you can make use of it!

My late father-in-law lived in an old farm house. The farmland that went with the house was sold ages ago, but there is a lovely large garden around the house – with the occasional strutting pheasant, rabbits gambolling on the lawn and some stunning views.

So we went for a 10 km local hike and then sat in the garden, drinking wine…

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Lockdown Diaries: Day 18 (Stardust)

Locked Down in Lancashire, Day 18: A Socially Distanced Funeral

We had the funeral service for my father-in-law today – one of the most lovable men on earth you would have ever had the good fortune to meet.

There is no such thing as a cheerful funeral; but today’s funeral service was made all the more heartbreaking because of the restrictions introduced by the government:

  • no more than ten people and those to be of immediate family
  • no over 65s, that’s to say none of his friends
  • no-one with symptoms (at least this is an understandable precaution)
  • no flowers
  • not the minister he asked for (the minister is over 65)
  • no get-together for the mourners afterwards in his memory as he asked

We talked with the rest of the family in the car park at the distance of two metres; in the service we were sat two metres apart, so that we couldn’t even comfort each other in the immediate family; there was no eulogy because who to deliver it to? Some of his friends came, nevertheless, and attended the funeral service by standing in the car park…

At least, we will do the get-together, when the coronavirus madness is over, the way he wanted to, in his favourite pub, for fish-and-chips and a free bar for all. Hopefully on his birthday in four months’ time…?

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Lockdown Diaries: Day 17 (A Day on the Beach)

Locked Down in Lancashire, Day 17: Essential Travel Only

essential travel only IMG_1682
Essential travel only

Abandoned the lockdown in London to drive up the M6 to Lancashire – we’re burying my father-in-law tomorrow. He was a dear man and although I’m supposed to be hiding in my bedroom as ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’, there was no way I was not going to attend his funeral.

On the way up, most of the traffic on the motorway was lorries. It made me feel good to see all those lorries heading for London – I imagined them all crammed full with foodstuff.

The house and the garden of my husband’s deceased parents is as lovely as it ever was but it’s sadly empty. The mice had found the food in one of the cupboards and I don’t wish on anybody the task of having to sort through of loved family members possessions…

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Lockdown Diaries: Day 16 (Santa Cruz de la Palma)

Locked Down in London, Day 16: The Sun Is Out

And the communal football fields behind our house look like Hyde Park as a consequence. Where do all these people come from? There’s normally nobody out there, apart from a couple of dog walkers!

Since the sun is out and I’m pretending to be on holiday in the Canary Islands, Mr Anglo-Saxonist made us a jug of sangria, while I put my swimsuit on and posed for ‘holiday’ photo for my family back in Hungary…

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Lockdown Diaries: Day 15 (La Isla Bonita)

Locked Down in London, Day 15: The Holiday We Could Have Had

Today is the first day of the Easter holidays; today is the day when I would have jetted off on our family holiday. I know this claims to be a book blog; but today I’m taking you on a virtual holiday; the holiday that I would have had, but for the coronavirus…

To the Canary Islands. My first time out of Europe!

All my bags are packed
I’m ready to go…

(John Denver: Leaving on a Jet Plane)

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Corpses & Titles (Cadáveres y títulos)

Quote of the Week / La cita de la semana:

Cees Nooteboom (1933-)

In 1453, Don Álvaro de Luna, grandmaster of the Military Order of Santiago and prime minister under King Juan II of Castile, received the title of Count of San Esteban de Gormaz. That title still exists – Spaniards don’t like throwing things away, not corpses and not titles either…

En 1453, se le otorgó a don Álvaro de Luna – gran maestre de Santiago y primer ministro de Juan II de Castilla – el título de San Esteban de Gormaz. El título existe todavía – los españoles no tiran las cosas tan fácilmente, ni cadáveres ni títulos…

(Cees Nooteboom: Roads to Santiago / El desvío a Santiago)

Lockdown Diaries: Day 6 (Gone Swimmin’)

Locked Down in London, Day 6: The Hunter-Gatherer

Mr Anglo-Saxonist now spends an inordinate amount of time hunting the woolly mammoth… er, I mean trying to book the next food delivery online!

Screenshot from yesterday… since then the queue got over a 100 thousand!

(As you can conclude from the above, the handsome para hasn’t arrived with the shopping yet!)

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God’s Siesta (La siesta de Dios)

Quote of the Week / La cita de la semana

Cees Nooteboom (1933-)

I want to enter the cathedral, but even God sleeps after his midday meal in Spain, so I linger in the cool forecourt, face to face with allegorical statues unwondering at my presence.

(Cees Nooteboom: Roads to Santiago)

Quiero entrar en la catedral, pero incluso Dios duerme la siesta en España, así que me quedo durmiendo en el fresco antepatio, cara a cara con las imágenes alegóricas que no me ven.

(Cees Nooteboom: Desvío a Santiago)