It's a classic, I suppose. Create a problem and then profit from providing the solution. As you approach the always-tiresome security checks at Liverpool airport, there are signs pointing to a Fast Check alternative. And above the entrance is the legend - The Faster
way to Relax. I guess this one of those services to be accessed by the sort of elite folk who are the target of the idiot who swam towards the Oxford boat in last week's varsity boat-race and almost got decapitated for his pains.
Walking through Madrid airport, en route to Vigo, two things stood out. The first was a shop built around the passageway, meaning that you literally had to walk through it on the way to your destination. And the second was a restaurant called Ars. Which might be a tad off-putting for some Brits.
At the macro level, Spain's economy has had some bad press recently. Down at the micro level, it was dispiriting to see that several more shops had closed since I was last here, as well as some estate agents and bank branches. It's hard for me to remember what the places had been selling before they closed but I do know that one of today's batch had sold upmarket dresses and another had retailed shoes.
An altogether more uplifting closure was experienced recently by a Spanish woman in her eighties. Faced with a Civil War communal grave, she was able to identify her sister's bones by the single earring found next to her body. Because of an ear infection, she had not been wearing the other one when arrested by Franco's forces, prior to being tortured and executed. The surviving sister - who had kept the second earring for just this possibility - was quoted as saying "To see the other earring was the moment of my life. To be able to take her out of the ditch has sealed my wound." How very sad she had to wait so long.
Finally . . .Spain's civil servants are famous for taking a 'coffee break' of considerable length during at least once during the working day. But, as observed above, times are tough and the government has said it'll put a stop to this practice/abuse. As said servants of the people seem to regard it as a statutory right, it'll be interesting to see how successful the government is. My guess is Not very.