Thursday, 30 August 2012

St James´Rooster crows this morning...

Click image to enlarge 
It is ridiculously late (or early depending on your perspective) and I have finally gotten around to posting the announcement of my new book entitled St James´Rooster. I am a night owl. It's when I write. Who, what, where, when and why? Without Archbishop Diego Gelmirez de Compostela your Camino most likely would have not taken place, neither would you be planning it: Rome, maybe. Jerusalem, perhaps. Or maybe you would be headed out to hike in the foothills of the Himalayas or the Appalacian Way, or the Bruce Trail, or ... well the world is a big one. But this curious, almost "secular" "pilgrimage" we call El Camino de Santiago? No, without Diego Gelmirez, that would have been lost in the mists of antiquity and obscurity for want of "proof". You would never have heard of it. There isn't any, proof that is, you see. Between the time of James´execution in Jerusalem and the so-called "discovery" of "his tomb" (the Spanish word is "inventio") not one single historian or churchman spoke of any possibility of his having been buried in Spain and a few not un-notables said he had never preached here at all! And when you think about it, why would the body of a saint who - if indeed he was ever here (and formerly in the Greek it was thought to be St Paul who might have visited Spain) - made at most nine converts then went back to Jerusalem where he met his ultimate fate. Stone boat etc.? Why bring his body back to a Pagan land? The burials around the tomb are 4th century - the time of Priscillian - not first! Anyway to the 12th century: Diego and his "spin doctors", the authors of the Historia Compostelana gave us that proof. And fascinating reading it is too. But not a word is true. Much has been made of the theft last year of the Codex Calixtinus and its recovery (thank Heaven and the Guardia Civil) this year. What is little known though is that this also was written at the behest of Diego Gelmirez and was (falsely) called after Pope Calixtinus who would never have set eyes on it as he died well before it was begun. Likewise, the Historia Compostelana was written to secure a name in history for St James, Compostela and perhaps not least for Diego himself who brought this little known town into international fame as the "final resting place of the remains of St. James". The rest of it - lacking written evidence - he had made up! It took more than 20 years of persuasion to get the Pope to admit that an apostle of Jesus may have been buried there (to gain what was termed Apostolic Status, something no Pope in more than 200 year had been prepared to do) and even then (in 1122) needed a Pope who was kin to the king's son-in-law who just happened to have been Diego´s benefactor but hey: this was the Middle Ages! And the Matamoros story? Historians doubt that this battle ever too place but if it did it was King Ordoño and not Ramiro who fought it and that several years later. The spin doctors got this one quite wrong, but I am sure it served well enough when the Moors were at the gate, and they were not far off. St James´Rooster is the story of this man: Bishop, then with much persuasion, Archbishop Diego Gelmirez, a monster, a genius, a misunderstood reformer but one who always turned up on the winning side, somehow. And perhaps the self-intended architect of an obvious fraud. We don´t know. Does it matter? Maybe not... But his story has been all but lost in English and it deserves to be retold. I started researching him with the idea that I woud dislike him intensely and I ended up with a sincere respect for the man. What remains a puzzle is what happened to him after he died? What happened to the last two years of the Historia Compostelana? This is MUCH more interesting that the Codex Calixtinus...lost or found! How come, ater 40 years as bishop and even more as the most powerful man in the kingdom, could he have just...disappeared...PPFFFF! Like Kaiser Sjose? (You HAVE seen The Usual Suspects???) Where is he buried? Nobody knows... If you are a fan of Pilgrimage to Heresy (or if you have yet to discover the real person whose remains lie in the cathedral in Compostela) you will welcome the return of Felix and his lady, Laura in this mew book.Laura returns to do her doctorate at the University of Santiago but all is not well. Felix finds himself on the Camino again - this time the Portuguese. Armchair pilgrim or planning, about to walk or walking, or an "alumnus"of the Camino: Believe me... this is not like your Brierly, but it is a story you won´t forget. PS: Just for you...first few chapters will be serialised starting September 1st. .

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Mea Culpa...

My most sincere apologies, and most especially to those of you who are followers: I have been neglectful in my blogging duties. Por mi gran culpa...It has been four months since my last, blogpost! But if you had been around here at The Little Fox House in Carantoña you would surely offer me your full forgiveness. Yesterday was the first day since early May that I have not been sharing my life and home with pilgrims from the Camino de Santiago post Fisterra or Muxia (and occasionally straight from Sangtiago de Compostela itself). My what a lot of fun this has been...and not over yet by any means. I have hosted pilgrims from countries as far apart as Columbia and India, Croatia and Canada and all have enriched my life immeasurably in their own individual ways. We have had yoga sessions at the church, sound healing, many discussions and gardening sessions (we are restoring the church gardens which were even more negected than my blog!), some hypnosis where needed, and some great History and Mystery Tours to castles and castros, churches and lighthouses, and some wonderful trips to the most beautiful beaches imaginable. For myself, I have been working hard to establish my language school in Vimianzo: Headstart Centro de Idiomas. And in the last week I can finally announce the publication of both of my new books: the long awaited St James´Rooster (about more tomorrow) and my long out-of-print autobiographical The Indalo Quest which tells the story of how this writer left the jungles of Costa Rica and set up a new life in Granada, Spain. About this too, much later. September approaches. In the eight and a half months since I left Marbella to move here to Galicia so much has happened: I am meeting new people, all fired with the same enthusiasm for the Camino as I am. I am just beginning to pick up a bit of Gallego and am even thinking about learning to play the gaita (Galician bagpipes) in the fall if I have an evening spare! ("Can you play the flute" said the man in the music shop when I bought my guitar. "Yes", I said, meaning the recorder, as he was. "Then you can play the gaita", he replied.) Such a good life... More very soon... Promise. PS: The photo is taken from one of the highlights of my summer so far: Xose Manuel Budiño and Kepa Junquera ("Jai Galai") concert at the Plaza Quintana beside the cathedral in S de C in July: that's me, the token blonde, front row just a bit to the right. I clapped my hands so hard that I had a bruise beside my ring finger for days! I´ve never before been to a concert where the "star" took a photo of the audience! Genial..! .