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Swilling about in my head

Today, as we walked past a church in Cartagena, La iglesia de Santa María de Gracia, Maggie commented on the number of people coming out of the building. "Very religious.... in Cartagena," she said. I wondered if there was so much toing and froing because of the Pope's retirement.

As we passed the door there was a notice "Entrada Besapie" - foot kissing entrance. Neither of us had the faintest idea why. We were on our way to lunch. As we ate, on the telly in the corner, the Queen was kissing the feet of a statue which, with a bit of Googling, I found was the Cristo de Medinaceli. The Medinaceli Christ is a carved wooden figure which was crafted in Seville sometime before 1650. It fell into the hands of the Muslims some thirty years later when a Spanish garrison in Morocco was overrun. The Spanish got it back about a year later. It is now in a church in Madrid. On the first Friday of March people queue up to kiss the feet of the statue in the hope of having three wishes fulfilled. Some camp out for days beforehand to be first in the queue. I presume that there is a similar wooden carving in Cartagena with miraculous powers.

Now yesterday one of my students brought a blog piece to read. It was intended to be a light hearted article about what the author considered to be some differences between British and Spanish eating habits. Some of it I thought was accurate and some less so. It was neither particularly well written (look who's talking) nor particularly controversial. Nonetheless it was picked up, a few months after publication, by a couple of the national digital newspapers and suddenly the comments were flying. Lots of the comments were generally supportive of the piece but lots weren't. We Brits were getting it in the neck for all our falings - not washing ourselves, not washing up properly, having stinking carpets in the bathroom, eating fish and chips with our hands. Even the properties of gravy were questioned. Our sins were legion.

The author of the blog piece started by fighting back in the comments section of the various publications that picked up the story though he finally gave up the unequal struggle. I think if I'd been him I'd have been happy to have thousands of people reading my blog and just accepted that you can't please all of the people all of the time. But he's much smarter than me. He's going to write a book based on all the feedback.

But it just goes to show. You think you know your way around, you think you know what's going on and, suddenly, you don't.


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