Friday, March 24, 2017

Thoughts from Galicia: 24.3.17

More comments have come in about about Spain and Galicia in the first half of the 20th century. Eamon has told me that, when he first arrived in La Coruña, there were knife sharpeners(afiladores) in the streets during the day and watchmen(serenos) patrolling them during the night. And my friend Ian has advised that, in the towns and villages he visited in the late 50s, drinking water was only available from a pump in the main square. And that there was a guardia civil on every corner.

Reader Maria has commented on the aspects of poverty at the time of her grandmother here in Galicia. Going further back still – to the late 1830s – here's what George Borrow had to say about Galicia, when he first entered it, on horseback: The villages were mostly an assemblage of wretched cabins; the roofs were thatched, dank, and moist, and not infrequently covered with rank vegetation. There were dunghills before the doors, and no lack of pools and puddles. Immense swine were stalking about, intermingled with naked children. The interior of the cabins corresponded with their external appearance: they were filled with filth and misery.

When you look at today's Spain and marvel at such things as its ultra-modern road and high-speed rail network, you can be forgiven for forgetting that, back in the 60s, Spain was officially part of the Developing World. No wonder Spaniards love the EU, the source of massive largesse. Only relatively recently did Poland take over as the biggest beneficiary of this. Which is ironic as - in contrast to Spain - Poland is not showing much gratitude. In fact, it's threatening to replace the UK as the bad boy on the EU block. See the article at the end of this post on this.

By the way . . .There was the occasional knife sharpener on the streets of my street when I was a kid.

Back to modern Spain . . . Here, from The Local, is a list of the 'strange' things Spanish parents do with their kids:

And here's a scarcely believable account of a suit taken out by a teenager against his mother, for taking his mobile phone off him. He accused her of maltreatment.

Here's The Local's list of the Top Ten paradors in Spain. I featured No. 1 here a few months ago, of course.

As for the Spanish economy, here's something that reflects the macro-micro void I keep banging on about.

I read conflicting reports about the Spanish construction industry. Generally speaking, it's still in the doldrums. Pontevedra, for example, has only 10% of the number of active architects it had back in the boom. (As if we care). But, in Madrid, huge investment is going into office premises. Which Spain thinks is a major positive factor in her favour in the current Continental war to get bits of the London financial business post Brexit.

On the latter, Don Quijones reports that Frankfurt is the way-ahead favourite to bag the biz. See here on this.

Over in the USA, Trump's healthcare reforms - which will hit the poor - have been held up by Republican extremists who don't think it goes far enough. They insist the law must more accurately reflect the 'character' of the nation. Jeez. Some more people who deserve to be shot.

Finally . . . El País tells us that almost two people are processed every day for political corruption here in Spain. One wonders when – or, indeed, if – the Spanish public will eventually rebel against this in any serious way. Not while it continues to put the PP in power, of course. Which they might well have another chance to do quite soon. The government has had a couple of reverses in parliament and President Rajoy is threatening to go for a new and larger mandate. This doesn't concern me, of course. I might pay taxes but I have no vote. Revolutions have been incited by less.

Today's cartoon:-

Poles threaten to spoil EU’s birthday party

European leaders heading for Rome this weekend to shrug off Brexit gloom and celebrate the EU’s 60th birthday are ruining the party mood with bickering and finger pointing.

Heads of government minus Theresa May, will gather at the Campidoglio palace tomorrow to commemorate the signing of the Treaty of Rome in 1957.

Smiles may seem forced, however, amid threats from Poland and Greece not to sign a joint declaration on the EU’s future. Beata Szydlo, the Polish prime minister, is upset by a reference to a multispeed Europe in the document. Brussels officials see it as giving members greater leeway as they integrate their economies, but Poland fears it will be left behind in a second division.

“It’s an incentive to create sub-groups, to exclude, to abandon joint decisions,” Ms Szydlo said.

Greece says it will sign the declaration only if it mentions protecting jobs — an issue seen as important because of demands from international lenders to make lay-offs easier. One diplomat warned that Greece would not get far by sabotaging the declaration. “We won’t be blackmailed by one member state which is linking one EU issue with a totally different one,” he said.

Southern states are already on a war footing after Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the Dutch eurogroup chief, accused them of wasting money on “drinks and women”. Luigi Di Maio, the probable prime ministerial candidate for the Italian Five Star Movement, which is leading the polls, said yesterday: “The euro made us poorer and we are now being humiliated too.”

Tensions will run high outside the signing ceremony tomorrow as police patrol a barricaded city centre and Predator drones fly overhead.

Riot police will be on hand as 30,000 demonstrators criss-cross Rome in numerous marches, including potentially violent hard-left and hard-right anti-EU protesters, and pro-Brussels marchers.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Thoughts from Galicia: 23.3.17

My thanks to readers Eamon and Maria for adding details of Galician and Madrid aspects of the things I cited from Arturo's Barea's book yesterday. Check these out in yesterday's Comments. On a point of detail, the barquilleros used to sort of sell barquellos and these were not the filloas(pancakes) of Galicia but wafers of some sort. Here's an article on Madrid's last dealer in these.

And here's something on the trade of Barea's mother, who was a washerwoman down at the river Manzanares. They all lost their work when it was 'canalised'. Or channelled, I guess.

Am I being unfair about Spanish social norms? This is a foto of a group of 3 young women – and their 3 large plastic bags – blocking the pavement this morning. 

The thing to bear in mind is that not only is there a strip of grass to the side of the pavement but also a bench half a metre from the path as well. I've advanced a number of theories for this sort of thing over the years – lack of antennae; individualismo; poor consideration for others; pragmatism; a love of spontaneity; a failure to think ahead or, even a hatred of planning. But the truth is I still have no idea why this sort of thing happens more in Spain than in any of the other 5 countries I've lived in. And I should be inured to it by now. As, indeed, I must be as I didn't get remotely annoyed. If only because, when I got within half a metre of them, the women all shuffled a bit to the left, so that I had enough room to pass without having to step into the road. One must be grateful for small mercies.

Just after I passed these women I went into the A Barca mall to check on an upcoming event there. On the top floor, there are 10 locales – 1 (Chinese) restaurant, 2 bar/cafés and 7 shops. Every one of these except the Café Games has closed in the last 2 years or so. Of course, I've confessed to a total inability to understand the Pontevedra 'retail' scene – I passed a restaurant yesterday which is being fitted out for its 4th incarnation in 10 years – and am forced to include it probably does have more to do with money laundering than with any serious attempt to sell things.

Which reminds me . . . 

They say you're never far from a rat in Londom. Well, the same is true of addicts on this drug-financed western coast of Galicia. Apart from the incessant beggars, there's also a group of men - and the occasional women - who gather and argue in the old quarter. And sometimes shout at each other and then fight. I wouldn't mind but they do this under some soportales within a few metres of my table outside my regular bar. 

Something should be done about it . . . 

If you're trying to effect major change in society, it helps to go with the human grain. My ex stepson reminded me this week that I always told him this when arguing against his teenage love of communism. I had the same thought this morning when reading that the survival of the EU depends on rapid formation of a superstate. Have they not realised by now how concerned the various national populations – as opposed to their leaders - are at this prospect? Maybe over a 100 years, as one philosopher said last week, but surely not within the next 5 to 10 years. It's because of this that one can have no faith in the survival of 'the project'. If only they had gone slower. And not introduced the euro. And not seriously damaged several already weak economies in the process. And not allowed Germany to come to dominate Europe so quickly and comprehensively. But they did. And did. And did. And did. Meaning that their salaries and pensions are now at risk. Which is quite possibly all they really care about.

Finally . . . Our weather this year is bizarre. December and January were a great deal less wet than usual and we had a temperature of 28 degrees in Pontevedra last Friday. And ice on my car windscreen at 8.30 last night. I blame it on the boogy.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Thoughts from Galicia: 22.3.17

I've just finished the first of 3 volumes comprising the autobiography of Arturo Barea, entitled The Forging of a Rebel. This first part is called The Forge and is a tremendous read. On the back cover it says Orwell described it as excellent and, when I got to the end of it, I saw that the British historian, Paul Preston, had written: There is no book in any language which more vividly recreates the years of poverty, political corruption and social violence which finally erupted into the Spanish Civil War. So, you won't be surprised to hear I'm awaiting delivery of the second volume. Meanwhile: Here's a few things about the Madrid of 1907-1914. It was a time when:-
  • Poverty in Madrid was at what are now considered Third World levels
  • Spanish employers were even more ruthless with employees than they are today
  • All mayors and priests were fat.
  • Parents believed they had a right to tell their children what they had to do with their lives.
  • Priests were either feared and obeyed or detested and ignored
  • Priests commonly had 'nieces' who lived with them. Wives, even.
  • People ate paciencias, which no one in my bar recognises but which is described by the Royal Academy as: Un bollo redondo y muy pequeño hecho con harina, huevo, almendra y azúcar y cocido en el horno.
  • The daily wage for new bank clerks - after a year of earning nothing while on probation - was less than 1 peseta. Or 25 pesetas a month.
  • Families were large
  • Merluza (hake) was as popular a fish as it is today.
  • Cocido (stew) was eaten every day by the poor, put on in the morning and left to stew all day.
  • The midday meal took place at 12 noon, not 3pm, at least in poor houses and in the villages
  • Monkey nuts and roasted chick peas were also as popular as they are today. Well, the latter anyway.
  • Night watchmen patrolled the streets, bawling the hour and the weather.
  • Poor farmers pulled the plough themselves
  • His uncle only shaved on Thursdays and Sundays - As priests do.
  • The cruelty to bulls in villages was beyond belief, if not description.
  • Poor, starving, terrified teenagers pretending to be toreros were regularly gored in the villages.
  • Barea's uncle belonged to a race of men which has almost disappeared; he was a craftsman [a blacksmith] and a gentleman.
  • Cobwebs were placed over cuts and grazes.
  • Poor relatives fought like cats - in front of the notary - over the estate of their not-so-dear departed.
  • Corrupt priests still sold indulgences and benedictions 'blessed by the Pope'. And double, triple or quadruple charged for the same Mass for the dead.
  • At picnics in the villages, sheep and rabbits were strung up in the trees and skinned.
  • Young boys from Galicia came to Madrid on foot with a tin box full of thin rolled wafers [filloas?] slung around their shoulders.
  • Corporal punishment was routinely dished out to kids, not only by parents and relatives but also by anyone in the street who took offence to their activities or words.
  • Park keepers beat kids with a stick if they transgressed
  • Carpenters, masons, tailors and the like barely earned enough to keep death from the door of their families
  • 'Hide and seek' was called 'I spy' in Spanish. 
  • Town councils and the Catholic Church fleeced you when you had to move a body from its temporary grave
  • What is the modern Lavapies barrio in Madrid was then called El Avapies. It contained within it the desperately poor 'quarter of the injuries'. Or El barrio de las injurias which looked like part of modern day Calcutta. Where naked gypsies squatted in the sun killing the lice which the swarthy fingers of their mother or sister plucked from their hair, one by one.
  • Priests told boys in their care: Playing with your parts is fornication. And Woman is sin. For the sake of Woman the human race fell from grace, and all the saints suffered the temptations of evil. In short: Woman is evil. Men who sleep with them go to Hell. It is a sin to come near a woman.
  • Village priests forbade the teachers to show children how to read and write.
  • The first question asked of a new employee - much like today - was: Who got you in here?
  • Two banks - Banco de Urquijo and Banco de Vizcaya - had made themselves masters of the Public Utilities of Madrid and of almost all the industries of Bilbao.
  • Banks sometimes forced their clerks to work from 7am until 1 in the next morning. Albeit probably with a short break for lunch and dinner. Certainly the lucky clerks had a coffee bought for them each night.
  • Notaries - as they still are - were God.
  • The Parque del Oeste was known as The English Park, at least by Barea. 
  • Men 'killed the worm' by drinking brandy or 'cheap spirits' with their first coffee of the day. As they still do in villages.
  • People went to the pictures (movies) at midnight, as they still do.
  • All male clerks were being replaced by very much cheaper young girls. As were the attendants in shops and department stores.
  • People with many years of low-paid service were summarily sacked if found to be a member of a trade union.
By the way, I recognise some of these from my own childhood - e. g. the corporal punishments - but not a lot.

The book is beautifully written and very well translated. A representative paragraph: The sunlight, speckled with flies, streamed through the small square window above my head. The room smelled of the village, the sun-dried grain in the corn-loft opposite, of furze burning in the kitchen, of clinging reek from the chicken coop and of dung in the stables, and of the mud walls of the house, baked by the sun and covered with whitewash.

Returning to the present day . . . When I went to get an up-to-date certificado de empadronamiento from the Poio town hall, the nonplussed lady clerk was incredulous that I didn't have an ID card, only a by-now tattered A4 sheet which confirms I am a resident and gives my NIE number. Lenox of Business over Tapas has advised that we Brits are in this unfortunate position because a couple of Brits compained a few years ago that we were above ID cards. The result is that most of us now have to carry our bloody passports around. Or at least a Spanish driving licence. They should be shot.

Don Quijones reports that: The Euro Group President, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, has managed to offend just about every Southern European nation with the following comment (in reference to recent EU bailouts), at a time when relations between Europe’s north and south are already strained: “You can’t just spend all your money on alcohol and women and then ask for help.” DQ adds thatIt’s fair to say that Dijsselbloem was not speaking literally, but he could have chosen a far better metaphor to illustrate his point — preferably one that doesn’t depict Southern Europeans as alcoholics and prostitutes.

Oddly enough, I also read yesterday that going to a brothel is now de riguer amongst Spain's 20 year old males.

Today's cartoon:-

Finally . . . An interesting article:-

Erdogan threatens a summer of chaos for the EU: Roger Boyes, The Times

The street-wise but pious kid from Istanbul’s harbour district is both a victim and a fighter. According to the film The Chief, the young Tayyip Erdogan was a frequent mosque-goer, protested when a referee refused to interrupt a football game for prayers and was chucked into jail for reciting a poem that goes: “the minarets are our bayonets, and the faithful our soldiers”.

Across Europe’s Turkish communities, where the film is being shown this week, audiences may well be dabbing their eyes and declaring: “That’s our boy!” President Erdogan’s spin doctors certainly hope so. There are four million registered voters outside Turkey and the referendum on April 16 — over boosting the president’s powers to near-Putin levels — is looking as if it could be a near-run thing.

If he wins approval, the Turkish constitution will be changed, handing executive powers to the president. Mr Erdogan will be able to hire and fire ministers, rule by edict and curb parliament. In theory he will be able to rule until 2029, giving him the chance to enter the 1,100 rooms of his long-awaited new palace and inspect the silk wallpaper. That sounds like a further, decisive lurch towards autocratic rule, and it is. One of many concerns is that he will use his extended powers to declare all-out war on the Kurds, thus sprinkling kerosene on the Middle East bonfire.

Mr Erdogan’s supporters say he is creating a strong state and correcting the 1982 constitution. Drawn up at a time when the Turkish general staff thought itself better placed than any civilian government to define the country’s interests, the constitution gave a crucial role to a national security council half-filled by army officers. Mr Erdogan believed he had tamed the army — but then came last July’s botched coup.

The past few months have seen him unleash an extraordinary purge. Critical academics have been sacked, newspapers closed down, journalists jailed; it has become a society of snitches who denounce those with suspect loyalties. There is a hysterical undercurrent to today’s Turkey, a touch of King Lear about Mr Erdogan himself and a lick of black Dario Fo-style farce about the behaviour of his followers. A Turkish farmers’ association said it would respond to the recent Dutch deportation of one of Ankara’s cabinet ministers by expelling 40 Holstein Friesian cows. One farmer even chose to slaughter his Dutch cow in protest at the Hague’s supposed neo-Nazi high-handedness.

The Chief may be crude propaganda but it does at least recall why Mr Erdogan was once rated by the West: he was a moderniser, someone who wanted to redress the balance between Islam and Kemalist secularism. We were so sure that Mr Erdogan had got that balance right that we held up his brand of political Islam as being a desirable destination for the rebels of the Arab Spring.

That has vanished now and the big question is: who lost Turkey? People still ask the same question about Russia. When Vladimir Putin appeared in 1999-2000 it was all about engagement: getting him involved in the G8, signing him up for the Nato-Russia strategic council.

It seemed to be going that way with Turkey at the beginning. Turkey signed an association agreement with the EEC in 1963 and became a formal candidate for the EU in 1999. By the time Erdogan became prime minister in 2003 it seemed as if he was going to be the man to make it happen: he agreed to scrap the death penalty, to move towards an independent judiciary, to protect Kurdish rights.

And yet we never really wanted Turkey in the club. Turkey’s swelling population, its Muslim identity, its proximity to troublespots, made it a difficult proposition. Then came the terror attacks in Madrid and London. Centre-right parties discovered Europe’s Christian identity and failed to break the bad news to Mr Erdogan. Instead he was offered weasel words such as “privileged partnership”— by which point it was clear to the Turks that they were destined to remain, as they had always been for Europeans, The Other. The more dependent the EU becomes on Mr Erdogan to act as a holding pen for refugees, the more uncomfortable this Otherness becomes. Last week he was campaigning against the European Court of Justice ruling against the wearing of headscarves and religious symbols in the workplace. Christian Europe, he said, has “started a struggle between the cross and the crescent”. Mevlut Cavusoglu, his foreign minister, recently barred from the Netherlands, warned: “You have begun to collapse, Europe . . . holy wars will soon begin in Europe.”

It is the migrant deal with the EU that allows Mr Cavusoglu to declare: “Turkey is in command.” That flawed bargain, sealed in a moment of desperation, is about to fall apart. If he wins the referendum in April, the Turkish president will see himself at the pinnacle of his power. He will be tempted to take one of two options: to abandon the deal altogether and watch the EU struggle with 15,000 more refugees washing up every day, or to release migrants in controlled doses that end up crippling Greece and Bulgaria, piling pressure on Brussels to give Turks visa-free access to Europe.

The Mediterranean is getting calmer; drought and famine in Africa is driving people towards the sea and the German general election is approaching fast. Forget Russian cyberhacking, Mr Erdogan has in his hands the most disruptive weapon of all: the ability to demonstrate that European governments cannot control their borders. Prepare for a summer of chaos.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Thoughts from Galicia: 21.3.17

In one of those questionable surveys, Spain has been adjudged to rank as only the 34th country in the world as regards 'happiness'. The latter is measured using GDP per capita, life expectancy, social support (as measured by having someone to count on in times of trouble), trust (as measured by a perceived absence of corruption in government and business), perceived freedom to make life decisions, and generosity (as measured by recent donations). Astonishingly, the UK came in at 19th. And the USA at 14th. You'll surely be able to guess where No. 1 is. As ever.

Spain is famous for the longevity of its people, attributed to the Mediterranean diet. And perhaps lower levels of stress. So, it comes as at least a surprise - but possibly a shock - to read that a quarter of the population is obese. But at least we know what the main causes are - white bread and the malign influence of US culture.

Changing spain?:
  1. A major Spanish company – and a state-owned one at that – has been fined for abusing its dominant position.
  2. Spanish banks have had some constraints forced on them as regards home repossessions.
  3. Not before time, new rules have been established for unbuilt properties down south.
  4. The authorities in the nearby resort of Sanxenxo/Sanjenjo - The Marbella of Galicia - have announced they'll be introducing an ordinance designed to reduce noise levels in summer.
Back to my application of a 25% reduction in my electricity bill. I do hope that the folk in the HQ of GasNaturalFenosa can read Gallego. For my certificado de empadramiento is only in this language - in contrast to the 2010 version, which was only in Spanish. The text, in fact, is so short it would be easy to have it in both languages on an A4 sheet. But this is obviously too simple. I guess it makes sense to someone. To the Galician nationalists, at least. Incidentally, the Voz de Galicia yesterday reported that our electricity bills rose 22% last winter. My low-use discount will help to compensate for that.

In 1990 the British Secretary of State for Industry – Nicholas Ridley – was fired by Maggie Thatcher for saying that the EU was a German racket to take over Europe. When one looks at these statistics of electorate support for Social Democratic parties in Europe over the past 5 years or so, one can certainly see evidence of something:-
Spain: Down from 44 to 23%
Greece: Down from 44 to 6%
Holland: Down from 25 to 6%
France: Down from 52 to 13%
Germany: Up from 26 to 31%
Voters in Germany certainly seem to be happier with the status quo than elsewhere. And are said to be about to replace Mrs. Merkel by someone universally seen as an EU fanatic. Possibly just a convenience.

Which reminds me . . . Is it fanciful to see the core countries of the EU accepting a 2-speed institution as an admission of defeat for their grand project? Well, I think so anyway. On this subject, there's a short article at the end of this post from one of my favourite columnists.

The governing PP party is having a conference down in Andalucia. Their slogan is We Believe in Andalucia. I don't know why political parties bother with these things. Why not Simply Better. Which is all they're trying to tell us. By the way, the PP has never governed Andalucia since the inception of democracy in 1978. Which is odd as there's a real affinity - the region is universally seen as the most corrupt in Spain. Even by the purblind EU Commission.

Finally . . . I had the bizarre experience of the postman yesterday quoting the first 3 numbers of my NIE yesterday, when I stumbled over it. Is there an easy explanation for this? Do all foreigners have 356 as their first 3 numbers? The letter was from the Tax Office, of course. Telling me - for the second time - that they rejected my appeal in respect of an 'overcharge'. I can only surmise that the chap I spoke to personally did something alongside the computer's standard rejection of all appeals. But the computer was quicker.

Today's cartoon:-


Europe has forgotten what it means for a nation to govern itself. Article 50 will remind them. Janet Daley, Daily Telegraph

So it begins. This is either going to be the most tedious two years of argy-bargy, mind-numbing detail, procrastination, futile grandstanding, and empty threats ending with something that looks remarkably like the present arrangements... or it isn’t.

What could and should happen is that the UK creates not just a stunning precedent in the modern European era of a country leaving what was supposed to be an everlasting relationship, but an entirely new model of the nation state fit for the 21st century.

Europe has almost forgotten – sometimes with good historical reasons – what pride in nationality might mean, and how democratically responsive governments in touch with their populations might have something valuable to offer the world. Ironically, the idea of the self-governing state directly answerable to its own people was lost in the terrible shame of the twentieth century’s nationalist crimes. But the EU now finds itself harbouring a return to just the kind of populist nativism which it was designed to prevent. Will this generation of British politicians have the vision and the strength of character to re-invent nationhood? Who knows?

Until this moment, I suspect that at least some of the EU establishment doubted that Theresa May would go through with it. Presumably this is why Donald Tusk has to be given forty-eight hours to make a formal response to the announcement of the actual date: he and his colleagues must be allowed to come to terms with the reality that some political leaders mean what they say. Yes, this is really happening. 

March 29th will be the first day of the rest of our lives.


Monday, March 20, 2017

Thoughts from Galicia: 20.3.17

Spain's population soared by10% - from 40 to 44m - during the 2000-2008 phony boom, mostly by virtue of easily-absorbed immigrants from Catholic, Spanish-speaking ex-colonies in South America. Many of these have now gone back and more are leaving all the time, as the construction industry remains firmly in the doldrums. These immigrants were the main victims of the rapacious banks which threw mortgages around like confetti and then, when things went belly-up, displayed the red-in-tooth-and-claw nature of Spanish banks by evicting them en masse. Which is why said banks are loaded with useless – but still over-valued – properties on their balance sheets.

Talking of banks . . . Here and here are Don Quijones' latest insights into what's going on in the EU.

One of the main organs of the EU is the Council of Europe. This has decided that the British government is suppressing the rights of the people of Cornwall, by not chucking more money at them so they can resurrect their dead language. The Council also demands that the UK government stops the “Disneyfication” of such landmarks as Tintagel Castle. Ye gods!

Time to remind ourselves that: The European Union has been the all-time champion at devising barriers to economic flexibility and vitality, with the predictable consequence that youth unemployment in many member countries is now at its highest levels in living memory. But this monumental failure doesn't, of course, stop it giving lectures to national governments how how to run their internal affairs. It can't go on.

US Nutters Corner: Gordon Klingenschmitt, host of a conservative Christian talk-show, reported that atheists had got a public high school to remove a Ten Commandments from outside the building and insisted that the only reason was that they were controlled by demonic spirits. Not because it was illegal, then?

Down in southern Spain, one British consul has come up with the idea of consulting Brits about their mood, terming them Our Local Ambassadors. Or OLA. I'm confident that, when this initiative reaches Galicia, I'll be top of the list of those to be consulted on Brexit. Or perhaps not. Click here for more on this.

Here in Galicia, the local business community and municipal governments seem very upset that the economic growth of nearby North Portugal is greater than ours. I haven't heard it yet but doubtless I'll soon read that this competition is unfair. Or competencia desloyal as it's termed here. Perhaps Spain will ask the EU to tell Portugal to stop being so entrepreneurial. The classic example of which is Oporto's airport, which now dwarfs Galicia's 3 'international' tiddler facilities. Which, believe me, it didn't when I first used it in 1998.

Finally, here's a cartoon which, for obvious reasons, I had intended to include yesterday:-

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