Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Local madness; Belated Steps; Ciggie news; Jotting of a Rotter; & Madrid.


You might think that those managing the white elephant of a hugely expensive airport used by absolutely no one would be careful with their money. If so, you'd be very wrong. For, down in Valencia, the (heavily indebted) regional government has handed over €660,000 to the local Castellón football team in a sponsorship deal that beggars belief.

One of Spain's worst anti-entrepreneur aspects has long been the obligation on the part of anyone self-employed to pay at least €280 social security tax a month, regardless of sales and profits. This has finally been reduced to €53 a month, albeit for only the first 6 months. As a result, numbers of people registering as an autonomo have shot up. Let's hope they're all successful.

Going in the other direction have been cigarette sales. There's been a 47% drop in ten years, with factors including anti-smoking laws, tax increases and Crisis-created lower purchasing power. Then, of course, there's the alleged smuggling from Gibraltar. Not to mention the contraband trade into Galicia's estuaries and coves. Personally, I see anything that reduces smoking as a good thing and I've noticed that few Spanish men seem to smoke these days. Sadly, this can't be said for Spanish women. Especially the younger ones.

Here's a jotting from one of my visitors, a self-designated rotter.

Finally . . . HT to Lenox of Business Over Tapas for this citation, a video on Madrid life.

Incidentally, the Spanish for 'weekend' (fin de semana) is translated for the subtitles as 'from Thursday through Saturday'. Which surely tells you something. If only that Sunday is a day of recovery from 3 nights on the tiles.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The ID obsession: Helpful locals; Changing English; & A funny tapa.


A conversation at a courier's office this morning:-
Hi. I've come to collect a packet of books.
OK. Can I have your ID?
It's X*********P.
No, I need to see your card, to prove you are who you say you are.
Yes, there must be a real risk of some foreigner coming in here and pretending to be me.
You wouldn't believe what goes on here.

I took a visitor with an ear problem to my doctor's surgery this morning. The receptionist was very helpful and showed herself unusually flexible at finding a way to save my guest from having to pay for treatment because she'd left her EU health card at home. When I said she was willing to pay as she had insurance to cover it, the receptionist answered: "We don't want her to have to go to all that trouble, do we?" And then she gave us an appointment for the evening, apologising that it couldn't be earlier. All very commendable. Mind you, my visitor did have to fill in the same form in the evening when we went for the appointment. Probably because she has a second appointment, with a syringe-wielding nurse, later in the week.

Another helpful individual today was the owner of a lamp shop in which I left my car keys. Going back later, I found the place closed but with a notice on the door telling me my keys were in the pharmacy next door. Sadly, this was closed and we had to get a taxi home but this didn't diminish my appreciation for the guy from the lamp shop.

Having young visitors has reminded me of how certain words and phrases have changed their meaning over the last few decades:
Steaming - Now means to be drunk
To take the piss - No longer means just 'to make fun' of but to 'irritate, annoy'
LOL - Now means 'Laugh out loud', rather than 'Lots of love'.
Doubtless there'll be others over the next week.

Finally . . . In a bar down near the local brothel, we were given a standard bowl of nuts with our drinks. But on top of the nuts were several sweets, including coca-cola bottles and what I'm reliably informed are yummy bears. Only one of us ate the latter.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Poor English; Driving in Galicia; UK v. EU economies; & Pigeon power.


Picking up a visitor at Santiago airport yesterday, I noticed yet again that, while investing millions in a new terminal, they couldn't afford to pay a native speaker to check the English. So we have Place here instead of 'Stop here'. And the pay machine for car parking says Cashier's Parking. Not even Cashiers' Parking. That's exclusivity for you.

Why am I not surprised that little old Galicia has had a disproportionate increase in driving fines in the first 6 months of this year? Do we have worse drivers than in other regions? Or are our traffic police simply more vigilant? If that's the right word.

A few years ago, a reader (Moscow) assured me the British economy was essentially a pack of cards built on shifting sands and would eventually collapse, taking the (worthless) pound down with it. In contrast, the members of the eurozone would progressively coalesce and the EU would sail off into the wide blue yonder, leaving the UK beached in the shallows. Well, maybe he's right and it's just a question of time but it doesn't look like that right now. The British economy is up 3.2% on last year and an astonishing 820,000 jobs have been generated. Projections are equally good for the next 12m, which is in sharp contrast with the stagnating eurozone which is "flat and teetering on the brink of debilitating deflation." I don't think Moscow still reads this blog but, if I'm wrong, I'd welcome his latest thoughts.

Finally . . . In my war against the flying rats of Veggie Square, my new water pistol is very effective at getting them to quickly depart the scene. One of the waiters in my regular bar has suggested I replace the water by bleach. I'm not sure I'm quite ready for this but am mulling it over.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Aldi prices; Kute Kittens; Chance meetings; Wi-fi. Not; & Chaucer's English.


A comparison of Aldi supermarkets in the UK, Spain, France and Germany reveals that prices in Spain are the lowest, with those in Britain being double these. Why am I not surprised?

Today's Diario de Pontevedra had fotos of cats and kittens available for adoption from the town's refuge. Their (intriguing) names were: June, Marta, Speedy, Yuyu, Globo, Yuca, Lola, Whisky, Talvo and Testa. The good news is that I learnt from the article that the Spanish for 'to purr' is ronronear.

My young visitor, Jack, today bumped into a colleague from his college in Pontevedra's old quarter, the PE teacher. Neither knew the other was here. Or, indeed, that they'd be in that street right at that time. What are the odds on that, then? When Jock posted about this on Facebook, the previous PE teacher at his college wrote to say that he, too, would be in Pontevedra next week. The centre of the world all of a sudden.

The cable company - R - confirmed that, in principle, they could guarantee a wi-fi download of speed of 1 mega(!) for my street. But, when I gave them my number, they told me they couldn't, even though they do for my neighbour 10m away. They said every house was different but gave no reason why. Still, at least they admitted this before I signed an 18m contract.

Finally . . . 75% of the verbs and nouns used by Chaucer in The Tale of Sir Thopas still feature in today's English. For example dreme, corage, and londe (land). In contrast, words such as to prick (ride a horse) and destrier (horse) didn't make it through into present-day English. The percentage of verbs which survived is 84, against 72 for nouns.


House for Sale in Pontevedra

My neighbours are moving to Madrid and selling their lovely house. Lots of pictures here. Brief description: South west orientation. Completely renovated. In a development with swimming pool, extensive green areas, place for parties, excellent community environment. €395,000.

Details
4 floors
322 sq m constructed, 283 sq m usable
5 double bedrooms
3 bathrooms
Plot of 336 sq m
Terrace of 336 sq m plus
Garage
Completely furnished
Excellent condition
5 built-in wardrobes
Lumber room
Covered laundry room
Central heating
Private garden

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Gib. v Spain; Delightful Debs: Life in Spain: Toe nail query; & Costly comics


I mentioned recently that the result of an EU investigation into the Gibraltar situation was 2:1 in favour of the Rock against Spain. The latter finding has naturally been rather more covered in the Spanish media. Indeed the Gibraltar First minister has described reports here as 'sensationalist' and has complained about one TV channel portraying as real 'smuggling scenes' which it had set up itself. But all's fair in love and war. And this particular war is now more than 300 years old.

The institution may have died decades ago in the UK but Pontevedra still has its annual Debs' Ball, when 16 or 17 young beauties in virginal white are presented to society by their fathers or, in a couple of cases, by their grandfathers. Quite quaint. And it fills several column inches in the local paper.

Life in Spain
  • Frighteningly, 10,000 random tests have shown that 36% of Spanish drivers have been taking drugs, presumably hash for the most part. At a crash scene it's 50%. Something else to worry about.
  • Spain has a child poverty rate of 27% and the government has been criticised by several charities for not doing enough to reduce this. Unicef has said that Madrid is putting up only €17m of the €9.4bn necessary for vital medicines, clothing, food and toiletries, meaning that millions of youngsters are being left at risk. When times are tough, they're always tougher for the poor.

I took to wondering yesterday how people in societies which hadn't yet invented small scissors got to trim their toenails. Did they get someone else to bite them? Or did they just file them against a handy rock? Seems more likely.

Finally . . . British comedians - some of whom make me laugh - are said to earn up to 20m pounds from touring the UK. Laughing all the way to the bank, then.


House for Sale in Pontevedra

My neighbours are moving to Madrid and selling their lovely house. Lots of pictures here. Brief description: South west orientation. Completely renovated. In a development with swimming pool, extensive green areas, place for parties, excellent community environment. €395,000.

Details
4 floors
322 sq m constructed, 283 sq m usable
5 double bedrooms
3 bathrooms
Plot of 336 sq m
Terrace of 336 sq m plus
Garage
Completely furnished
Excellent condition
5 built-in wardrobes
Lumber room
Covered laundry room
Central heating
Private garden

Search This Blog

Loading...