Sunday, December 21, 2003

One of the things done tremendously well here is the wrapping of things you buy. Even the most basic commodity is carefully wrapped before being given to you. If you say it’s a gift, then appropriate paper, ribbons and bow are professionally applied. Free of charge, I might add. All of this can take considerable time, of course, and it is just one of the many reflections of the slower pace of life here and of the different attitude towards time. To be honest, it can be a bit of a nonsense and even a nuisance. Who really needs a small box of aspirins to be wrapped and then sealed with tape, all of which will be torn off as you leave the counter if your headache is bad enough? Or even if not.

It is a regular refrain of mine that I feel that I have seen everything now. Perhaps I have in the toy line at least. Last night, there was an advert on the TV for a doll which not only sits on the toilet and potty provided but, as we were shown, also farts and craps as well. Everything a trainee mother would need, though I suspect that papel hygenica is extra.

It was reported in Friday’s papers that, on the main roads, less than 50% of Spanish children are protected via a child seat. In towns, the number falls to less than 20%. As if we didn’t know. The European average was said to be around the 95% mark. A law making protection obligatory will come into force next June but one wonders whether it will make much difference. The Spanish affection for children is exceeded only by their love of breaking rules. Especially if they are not much enforced. It is rare that one sees adults using the belts that have long been obligatory.

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