A postcard from warmer climes.
As I write this, I’m in the middle of a brief holiday in southern Spain, in Seville to be exact. It is warmth, sunshine, the unlikely smell of Orange trees in the air, Spain at its over easy best and a complete break from the snow and bitter cold us hardy souls in the northern hemisphere enjoy. We’re in the midst of what was predicted to be yet another extraordinarily mild winter, our fifth such one in succession, if memory serves. Lord preserve us from mild weather like this – the man on the radio tells me the average temperature across Germany during March was below zero. Frozen Fritz anyone?
I’d considered very briefly a white water rafting type of break but when sanity prevailed and my woman, who I think should take me a little bit more seriously, had stopped slapping her sides at what I didn’t consider to be such an enormously big joke, my natural inclination towards indolence when relaxing won out in the end. Sitting out in the open air, putting in those hard final yards of drinking a few leisurely glasses of chilled wine, waving off the occasional beggar, or giving them a cigarette if they looked especially beaten down by life, is an equitable way to spend a few hours out in the square, with the sunshine whacking down from the heavens and splitting the trees asunder.
It’s bastard work, but someone’s got to do it.
Unlike a lot of people who work hard at things, I actually do know how to relax and have no guilty feelings about doing absolutely nothing for a few days. I enjoy doing bugger all and although I say it myself, I do it rather well as it happens. There’s even a touch of decadent but tattered elegance about the way I can slob around. We all have our little hidden talents.
Faint memories of my long dead Spanish are floating upward from the grave and in an attempt to get back into a Spanish mood, I’ve reread Hemingway’s Old Man and the Sea, after too long a passage of years. I tend to confuse Spanish with Catalan, Texmex, Franglais and Italian, any one of which could probably land me in some serious hot water around here at this time in my life, but for a host of different reasons. After all these years, the book reads a bit silly stilted English, which sounds these days so phony, to use his own ultimately condemnatory term, but it was as good and as sad as I remembered. It’s a fine old wine best drunk in your youth.
Hemingway comes with all the writer’s dreadful sins but he’s the sort of one you have to be fearful of and ration yourself to if you write yourself. He’d all too easily steamroller your own style if you weren’t careful. The bugger is that good when he’s on his game. I’ve moved on to John Coffey and his progress down the Green Mile. John could also break your heart if you weren’t careful. My wife has already fallen in love with the fable. Stephen King can write wonderfully well any time he chooses and he does have more hopeful stories than Hemingway, who it must be said wouldn’t recognise an upbeat ending if it wandered up and bit him on the arse in passing.
King can write the socks off pretty much all of his contemporaries but it plays to mediocre literary sensitivities to write him off as America’s latest but gross version of Edgar Alan. It doesn’t help his case that ordinary people don’t know any better and just buy his books by the cart load anyway. The no hopers and never wozzers of the literary world feel they have to sneer at good writers who can also make a handsome living at it – go figure. His own personal disaster is that he writes for the average reader, not the Literati, but then again, he’ll still be read when they’re long forgotten. You don’t need to have done the Lit Crit course to enjoy his work, which the average punter surely does. Anyway, back to Spain.
This is very much old Spain in terms of attitude, as my woman reminds me, and she can be a bit school marmy at times, probably because she is and I’m getting used to her reddening my wrists when I get out of line. Not sure I like it. I’m as usual a very norty boy and working my way up towards being a real badass. She’s right though, Spain is relaxed and easy. She’s the Spana veteran who’s actually lived and worked here and for a change, I’m just the dumb tourist blundering through the joint with eyes working away at twenty-four frames a second. The food is good, honest, fresh and unprocessed, which accounts for all these skinny Spaniards – the obesity epidemic that everyone else in Europe is supposed to be worried about would starve to death in Spain, if the people in Andalusia are anything to go by.
I’m an eat to live type, rather than some sort of live to eat foodie, and when push comes to shove, I can usually get by on the occasional bit of roadkill if I have to, but even I have to admit I like the grub around here. Apart from the tapas from hell, they do the best Texmex outside the lone star state. It’s the one damn type of food I’m really partial to, which nobody born outside of Beaumont Texas can even cook properly anyway. That’s my own particular washed ashore geographic tragedy.
Some of the menus start with a section entitled, while you’re waiting, which is the hint hammer to visitors like myself – the service, like the food, isn’t fast and you soon get used to a more measured pace to life. There’s not much you can do in the way of hurrying things up, so you’ve just got to park your Anglo-Saxon, Teutonic or whatever frenzied work ethic you’re cursed with. Once you start to factor in more of a lead time for most, if not all activities, you’re getting into the swing of things.
The only other downside about the place is that everything here’s either broke or never quite worked properly in the first place. You name it, it’s either kaput or walking wounded. Pavements, cars, showers, anything electronic or anything silly enough to rely on a steady flow of electrons, people, most signposts with letters which could conceivably fall off, buildings, gravitrons, absolutely anything with marble cladding and even the trees. Strangely enough, some of them look like all scarred up heavyweight bruisers more than ready to finish the bout and you wouldn’t fancy getting in the ring with them either. They’re the sort of gnarly trees I respect.
It’s been here a long time, an old city, founded if rumour is to be believed by Hercules himself, well before that fricking new guy Jesus Christ appeared on the block. I’m writing this in a large, old, rectangular and uneven cobbled square delineated by four massive Doric columns, two of which are at each end, and all of which were old when my people weren’t even a tribe, never mind a nation. With the complete blissful disrespect of youth, the children know they make great goal posts for the eight or ten football games that are always going on with gangs of assorted nine-year olds – it’s no wonder they’re handy at soccer. The city’s been occupied for century after century by successive waves of conquerors, Roman, Moorish, Christian and more recently Borussia-Dortmund, Real-Madrid, ManU and pretty much every animal in between, so you’d naturally expect some degree of wear and tear. It’s a helluva city.
I’m going to genuinely miss the place when we leave.
I’m a lean burn sort of person. Once in a blue moon, I treat myself to some sort of folly and the most recent one is a pad computer. It’s about the size and weight of a paperback, fits into the back pocket of my knapsack and I’m pecking this piece out on it. There’s the usual old dogs and new tricks hurdle to get over with the thing but by this stage of my life I’m positively feeling like a magician. Once I turn off the useless predictive text, it’s actually quite easy to use.
Apart from loading it with free books courtesy of the Project Gutenberg site, music and a few movies courtesy of a few legally ambivalent sites, it’s been really useful turning around a few emails and doing some surfing. Having some leisure time, I’ve managed to read a lot more of both the sceptic and alarmist sites than I normally would. When you’re in a timeout zone from the routine of life, it gives you a chance to look at things afresh and some new thoughts occur about both of them. I’ll do the alarmists first.
Leaving aside the true believer alarmist sites for a moment, who are anyway incapable of evolving to address changing circumstances, the mainstream media alarmists in Europe are definitely repositioning themselves towards the middle ground. Even dear old Private Godfrey aka Geoffrey Lean at the London Daily Telegraph, is carefully airing his new-found doubts. I’ve never agreed with a single word he’s ever written, but I do get the distinct impression he’s got a kind if albeit silly heart.
As the illusory scientific consensus has crumbled, so has their second-hand authority to not only magnify the predicted Armageddons but also the ease with which they could dismiss any dissent from the one true path to Gaia’s salvation. It’s perhaps uncharitable of me, but I think those rumblings from the circulation bean counters are starting to get to them – Joe Punter is bored with climate scares, change the record or run the risk of getting zapped.
Instead of being committed eco journalists, they’re turning out to be fast five dollar floozies of negotiable virtue and climate alarmism, having just about used up its five spot with them, is by now well into its last ten cents. It’s a case of cheerio and thanks for all the fish, time to move on to the next little earner. That looks to be commenting with suitable gravitas on absolutely crucial but currently trending things like food shows or C list celebs betting their stalled careers on their ability to learn the pasa dobles.
It all sells I suppose but when it comes to that sort of inanity, I’m inescapably reminded of Oscar Wilde’s acidic comment about the sight of a dog walking on its hind legs, which while being interesting in itself, as he remarked, was hardly what one could term tasteful. It’s probably just me being snippy about celebrity culture, which if I’m to believe the mainstream media, the whole world appears to be crazy about, but thankfully, I’m not a part of their whole world. You’re the usual bad boy Pointy.
As for the extremist propaganda outlets, they’re exploding in the other direction at an increasing rate of knots. It’s all red shift. They’re ramping up the alarmism to unheard of heights and it’s very much the anger phase in the death of their belief system. They’re so busy shooting themselves in the foot, I think we can leave them to it for a spell and take what used to be called a Spanish pause. Relax, have a beer, smoke them if you’ve got them. They’re shouting evermore louder to get people’s attention back again but all that’s happening is they’re looking more and more extreme, which brings me round quite nicely to what I think is the change in tenor of the skeptic blogs.
Mostly, they’re laughing at the alarmists, or to put it more bluntly, taking the piss out of them. Sure, the usual bedrock stream of articles debunking the Manny Mouse science is there but increasingly there’s a feeling of flogging a dead horse – the science is so laughably crap, what the hell, you might as well have a lark and poke some fun at it. It’s not exactly us occupying the higher moral high ground but then they’re in such a shambolic situation, it’s in some ways a little bit more humane. However, finish up that beer, stub out that smoke, and let’s get back to work. We will have to harden our hearts and finish them off in the end.
At some point, that magic sea change in perception has come about, and increasingly they’re the ones not being taken seriously, rather than us skeptics. This new world is going to take a bit of getting used to, I can tell you.
In a deeper sense, the science isn’t just bad, it’s predictably and venially bad. It’s the sort of aberration one wouldn’t have thought could have occurred post the enlightenment centuries, but there you go. We’ve already had Eugenics and Lysenkoism, global warming wasn’t actually much different from them and was just a continuation of that same ignoble tradition. It’s just science prostituting itself for politics yet again.
Things like the hockey stick are thoroughly broken but they’re in a sad obsessive compulsive loop to get them reinstated, as if that’ll somehow magically bring back the good old pre-Copenhagen glory days. Patently, it can never do that, but you can see that’s exactly what’s in their head. They don’t seem to realise Elvis has left the building. He’s gone. He’s already back in Graceland and chawing on a burger.
As each successive and desperate Marcott or Gergis paper comes out, it’s just a matter of spotting which they’ve mugged; the data, the methods or both. To adapt a phrase from that baldy kid in the Matrix, there is no hockey stick. Once you know it’s all hokum, it’s just a matter of keeping your eye on the pea. They don’t appear to realise that, so they quite obligingly keep on rolling out papers we can shoot down in flames, to our own propaganda advantage. If they were actually as smart as they think they are, our task as skeptics would be a lot harder.
Humour is the weapon of choice every time when confronting fanatics, which is why the sceptics do it so well and the alarmists don’t even have the first clue about it. They’ve got a better chance of finding their butt blindfolded with both hands. The nearest they can get to it tends to be inadvertently saying funny things like global warming is actually manifesting itself as global freezing. Cold is the new hot, hot is the new cold, the sky is green and the grass is blue and so on. We’re deep, deep, into ye olde all of the people all of the time disaster.
I’ve just looked up the weather report for home, because we’re supposed to be heading back today. It says rain but the good news according to them is that temperatures should stay above zero for the next week. Jesus H bloody Christ on a chariot. It was April that Eliot called the cruelest month, wasn’t it? If I can’t get political asylum, I might try flinging a piece of the dropped off cladding through the front window of the Policia Local’s HQ.
There’s lots of it to hand and I can probably swing a repair deal about the window. I’ve this strange mutant talent of being able to hammer a nail in straight without losing a finger or an eye, which I figure could earn me a handsome living around here. At a push, I can even repair things.
I’ll just have to be careful not to hit any cops with my masonic green card though.
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