Sunday, January 19, 2014

Vox pop; The Santiago train crash; The economy; Knives etc.; Riots; French Paquetes; & A correction.

Yesterday, I mentioned the formation of a new political party, Vox. Today, a friend described this as being formed by the moderate wing of the extreme right. And I'm not sure he was joking. If not, I presume he means they fall short of wanting a return to dictatorship.

It's hard to follow these things in Spain but I believe the investigating judge several weeks ago decided not to indict executives of the 2 companies responsible for security on the line where the express trained crashed near Santiago a few months ago. The only person in the dock would be the hapless driver who failed to apply the breaks quickly enough. But now it's emerged there was a report telling the companies it would be unwise to install a less reliable security system for the last 8km. And that it would be ridiculous to have just one 80kph speed limit signal, as by the time it was seen it would be too late to decelerate enough for the dangerous curve. The judge has given the national rail carrier 3 days to produce the report. Meanwhile, both the government and the opposition are said to be closing ranks so as to ensure they both come out of the investigation smelling of roses. One way or another.

The Spanish government has naturally seized on the (minimal) GDP growth numbers of the last 2 quarters (0.1% and 0.3%) to justify their trumpeting that the worst of the 6 year recession is over. And maybe they're right. But it's not yet visible on Pontevedra's high street, where the latest closure has been the key copier I sought out yesterday. And the only new places seem to be sweet shops and ladies' boutiques. One market sector undoubtedly still in the doldrums is that of property. This was down another 16% in November, year on year, and you can pick your own number between 25 and 50% for the decline since the peak year of 2008. Of course, this doesn't apply to niche sectors such as Marbella, where all menus now come in Russian as well as in English and German.

Leaving the museum the other day, I passed a shop window full of knives. I say 'knives' - and there was certainly a wide range of these - but the most eye-catching items were the machetes and the Samurai swords. Such is the tabloid-generated fear of sharp implements in the UK, I suspect it's not possible to buy even a pen-knife there. So, if you want to murder or slash someone, you have to go to the Kitchen department of the store. I guess it makes sense to someone.

The riotingly good people of Burgos have achieved their objective of getting plans for a 'reformed' avenue kicked permanently into touch. Cue more urban demonstrations? Though not here in smug Pontevedra, of course.

The word paquete means, as you'd expect, parcel or package. But, thanks to M. Hollande, I now know it also means pillion passenger.

Finally . . . Something to remember, particularly if you live here in Spain:- It's not who you know. It's whom you know.


Anonymous said...


SDC train crash - For those readers who prefer chapter & verse go to

Seems it is the lawyer for the hapless driver who set this hare running. No doubt into the buffers, as they say.

Regards, Q1-10

JG said...

I bought a jamon iberico recently (groupon deal, 4.5 kg for £42.50, includes olive oil, stand knife and ‘how to carve’ DVD). A Spanish friend claims the holder is called a “porta jamón”. The carving is wretchedly difficult, contrary to what the smart-arse master-carver on the DVD claims- within 1 minute I’d gouged a big piece out of my finger and would have gone to A&E had I not sensibly prepared for the jamon ritual by getting fairly drunk on Rioja. All in all I’ve found the jamon a but of a disappointment, partly due to my clumsiness but also due to the fact that...well, it’s just ham. I know it’s quite nice ham, but don’t the Spaniards get a bit over-enthusiastic about it, really?

Talking of property prices in Galicia- not wanting to sound too vulturish, but what can you get for some good British pounds now? Say for 30 grand, could you pick up anything habitable?

And a propos of not much apart from the subject of British writers in Spain (a remarkable tradition, of which blogs like this are a continuation), I’m reading “Voices Of The Old Sea” by Norman Lewis. It’s about his time in Catalonia in the 1940s and is one of the best I’ve read.

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