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A dish served cold

Por: | 17 de octubre de 2013

I was pleased to read recently in El Pais that wolves have returned to the Madrid region, but began to hesitate a little upon one comment: “they are what we call good wolves”. My imagination immediately swung into action and alarm bells started ringing. Doesn’t a ‘good wolf’ sound a bit too much like a ‘pleasant panther’ or a ‘gracious grizzly’? Does the phrase, perhaps, make the animals sound a little too amiable? A ‘good wolf’ almost seems like a ‘good buddy’, to the extent that you start to think about hitting town on a Saturday night with your new-found furry friend, wolfing down a few beers, and then indulging in some embarrassing wolf-whistling, at which assumedly any ‘good wolf’ would be highly adept.

English idioms don’t do the wolf any favours. ‘A wolf in sheep’s clothing’, ‘to keep the wolf from the door’, ‘to cry wolf’ – none of these are teeming with positivity, and that’s without even touching on ‘werewolf’ or ‘wolfman’. Clearly, we don’t want to panic, but the headline of the wolf piece states, “Wolves return to Madrid 70 years after being hunted out”. So let’s get this straight: we hunted them down, but now they’re back. I say this isn’t about nature or chance; this is about revenge.

The article also mentions that the wolves have previously been “making sorties over the mountains” from Segovia. Sorties? So they’ve been checking us out? Probing our strengths and weaknesses before… an invasion, perhaps? To compound matters, we are then told, “their presence is a clear indicator that the wolf has found everything it needs to settle in the Madrid region”. Again, I could be reading too much between the lines, but that suggests that each wolf has already managed to obtain a DNI, an abono for the Metro, and even more remarkably, a job. You would have thought sending photos for the DNI or abono might have given the game away, although wolves have been known to dress up, particularly to fool children, in the past.

"And by Christmas, the Plaza Mayor will be ours!"   Photo: flickr (CC) Serge Melki

Apparently, the wolves have already claimed the lives of 28 sheep and a cow. (You have to feel some sympathy for the lone cow, which must have been in the wrong place at the wrong time when a wolf cub said, “but Dad, do we have to have sheep again?”) In overall numbers, it’s too few to worry about, but it does mean that wolves are not yet ready to sit down at a table with a knife and fork, no matter how ‘good’ they might be. Improvements to Madrid’s natural areas have also resulted in the return of the vulture and the otter. Can the authorities not see, with vultures, wolves and otters, that the animal world has the tactical advantage of air, land, and river forces?

It’s not clear whether the vultures and otters are ‘good’, but to put matters in perspective, imagine sharing your sofa and watching TV with our three potential new friends. The way things are going, it could happen. With an otter, the biggest fear might be that it gets stuck between the cushions, because otters have that sort of shape. A vulture may well perch on the arm of the sofa, but I guess on the pecking and tearing front there would be little worry unless you were already dead. And a wolf? Well, let’s just say don’t get into an argument about channel-hopping. If the wolf wants to watch his cousins on an animal documentary, simply nod and don’t make any rapid movements. Invasions and revenge aside, as a Spanish friend pointed out, there is one other possibility. Perhaps the wolves are just arriving in time for a famous brand of turrón at Christmas?

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Authors (Bloggers)

Chris Finnigan is a freelance journalist based in Barcelona. He writes for Barcelona Metropolitan and is a book reviewer and reader for The Barcelona Review. He is a graduate of the London School of Economics. You can find him on twitter @chrisjfinnigan

Ben Cardew is a freelance journalist, translator and teacher, now resident in Barcelona after growing up gracefully in Scotland via Norwich. He writes for The Guardian, the NME and The Quietus, among others, on everything from music to digital media. You can find him on Twitter @bencardew

Fiona Flores Watson is a freelance journalist, guide and translator who has lived in Seville since 2003, and has been a writer and editor for more than 20 years. She writes for the Guardian, Telegraph and Sunday Times Travel Magazine. Originally from Essex, Fiona is also Consulting Editor of and has her own blog, Scribbler in Seville. She has been contributing to Trans-Iberian since 2014 and tweets at @Seville_Writer

Jeff Brodsky is a freelance writer. He arrived in Barcelona in 2013 via an admittedly indirect route, living in Chicago, Arizona, Seville, Amsterdam, North Carolina and Madrid. Despite not having stepped foot in Seville for over five years, he still speaks Spanish with an Andalusian accent. Jeff’s writing has been published in newspapers and magazines in America and Europe.

Koren Helbig is an Australian freelance journalist and blogger enjoying a life of near-eternal sunshine in Alicante. She writes for publications in Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom, focusing on stories exploring smart and positive approaches to social issues. She hangs out on Twitter at @KorenHelbig and keeps a selection of her favourite stories at

Julie Pybus lives in a small off-grid house on a hillside in Catalunya. She usually focuses on helping charities and social enterprises with their publications and websites, but has also written for The Guardian, Country Living and The Observer. Julie launched and runs a hyperlocal website which endeavors to increase understanding between the different nationalities in her area @JuliePybus

Paul Louis Archer is a freelance photographer, multimedia storyteller and artist educator. A cross-disciplinary worker, who endeavors to encompass the mediums of photography, audio design and writing. Born in Hertfordshire of an English father and Spanish mother. Based in the United Kingdom. @PaulLouisArcher

Vicki McLeod is a freelance writer and photographer. She has lived in Mallorca since 2004. Vicki writes about her beloved island for The Majorca Daily Bulletin, the only daily English language paper in Spain; produces regular columns for the Euro Weekly News, and articles for Vicki runs PR strategies for several businesses in Mallorca and London as well as working on her own blogs and projects. She and her husband, Oliver Neilson, supply photo and text content for private clients via @phoenixmediamlr. She tweets at @mcleod_vicki.

Born in Newcastle upon Tyne and based in Barcelona, Alx Phillips writes about contemporary art, dance and theatre in a way that human beings can understand. For more previews, reviews, interviews and extras, check:

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