When Philip IV (III of Aragon and Portugal) came to Barcelona for the first time, he paused at the Valdoncellas/Valldonzellas convent, which was then outside the city. There they dressed him up in rosa seca (surely more than dry rose), hat (Iberian, not Mexican), feathers and diamonds (from the finest of which hung a pearl called “orphan” because it was so singular), and then the nuns waved goodbye and on the city walls the artillery started saluting and the minstrels started strumming, and, as he approached, an angel descended from a cloud and presented him with the keys to the gate. (I know gods and angels regularly descend on magnificent mechanical clouds in Renaissance dramas, but this is what the woggly refer to as “so Barcelona”. Maybe taxi-drivers should try it.)
By happy chance, one of the couple of other mentions of nuues in Gonzalo de CeÌspedes y Meneses’ Primera parte de la historia de D. Felippe el IIII., Rey de las Españas (1631) is of the clouds of terrifying butterflies which chilled Poitou (France) a while later, covering the sun, as a particularly dry summer ended in storms and terror. There is more, none of which, however, has anything to do with Barcelona: in various parts of Europe it rained blood, so much that fields and tools were left red and springs bled violently; swarms of locusts had to be burnt on huge fires to prevent them invading houses; hailstones fell which turned into technicolor thready worms with Gollum grins; anthropomorphic flying toads were also observed; the only news of humans was of a girl born in Nijmegen with two bodies, one head, and two tongues (someone probably found this amusing); finally, there was also a monstrous fish on the Vistula, but then there usually was, until the US got rid of the communists and the EU financed a clean-up.
(Unfortunately el Gonz doesn’t seem to have done indexes, and without wasting lots of time I’m not going to be able to figure out from the text which years he is referring to. Sorry!)
- els nens, el menjar i la violència
Peter Preston, antic director de The Guardian, escriu qu’els nens britànics estiguin massa grossos perquè li costa al govern només 0,45 EUR al dia per a alimentar cadascun. Segons ell, Espanya, i sobretot Barcelona, sigui millor.
Jo no tinc fills, doncs no sé la veritat, però una cosa que encara no he observat entre els …
- Why Eduardo Chillida and Barcelona council should be exchanging lawsuits
Brief for Barcelona council
Eduardo Chillida sold us a “sculpture” called In praise of water/Elogi de l’aigua/Elogio del agua. In fact it is clearly nothing of the kind. It is a poorly-built orange-peel hydraulic grab, of the type used in quarrying. That explains why he had it put in the old quarry at Creueta del Coll. …
- Mosque in Siurana
Apparently they’ve found the remains of a mosque down in Siurana de Prades, which was the last Muslim stronghold in these parts and which fell to Ramon Berenguer IV in 1153. The following anecdote was included in the C13th/14th author Al-Ḥimyarī‘s geo-historical encyclopaedia Kitāb al-rawḍ al-miʻṭār fī ḫabar al-aqṭār and is quoted in one of my favourite Catalan anthologies, Dolors Bramon’s De quan érem o no musulmans:
- Destruction of old Peking
Ah, but how long before it is rebuilt as a theme park? Plaza de San Felipe Neri is one of the most interesting examples of the latter in Barcelona. Only in the demolition of marginal and shanty towns have Spanish planners approached the rigour of the Chinese authorities. Half of the valley of Torre del …