Sunday, January 18, 2004

Knockabout stuff in the local ‘Indian’ restaurant a couple of nights ago. See my web page for a brief account –

Down in the very centre of the old quarter of Pontevedra there is a small grocery shop-cum-bar. By this I mean that behind the counter is the entrance to what must be the most decrepit bar in Galicia, if not Spain. The clientele would be truly frightening if it weren’t for the fact that they are clearly permanently incapacitated by one chemical substance or another. The owner is an old dowager whom my English neighbour – with some justification - thinks is an uglier version of Mrs Thatcher. She is followed around by a spaniel of a son of about 35, who may well be one prawn short of a paella. If they think you are important, they put a sheet of newspaper on the table in your honour. Other than an urge to immerse yourself in Dickensian England, the sole reason for braving this place is to partake of the raisin wine this odd couple serve from filthy barrels. Contrary to all expectations, this sweet concoction is truly delicious and seems to have an alcoholic content closer to whisky than grape wine. Despite this, they virtually give it away. In every sense a knockout. It doesn’t take long to forget about the d├ęcor. Or, indeed, everything.

On a more national scale, the opposition socialist party – increasingly desperate to attract voters that stubbornly refuse to desert a government that took Spain into a war opposed by 95% of the population – has played the nationalist card. Specifically, they have said that they will allow each region to have its own tax ministry. Unfortunately for the socialists, we were told this week that a local tax office in the Basque country had been giving illegal tax holidays to companies which make contributions to the political arm of the ETA terrorist organisation. So, not much of a vote winner there, I fear.

Talking of the socialists – one of the leading lights in the party this week issued a few-well chosen words on Tony Blair. Sadly for him, they had not yet switched off the TV microphone. So his private views quickly became rather public. Anyway, he opined that our Tony was ‘A complete dickhead. An imbecile.’ This neatly proves my point, I feel, that there is much greater understanding of British politics in Spain than there is in the UK about matters Spanish.

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