Thursday, May 13, 2004

Picking up on the theme of illegal [and obstructionist] parking, I have belatedly realised that there is one law in Spain that is obeyed even more than the law of supply and demand. This is that - rather like water finding its own level - every road in Spain will always reduce itself to either one lane, if it’s one-way, or two lanes, if it’s two-way. Regardless of the road’s width, every other lane will be taken up by parked cars. If one is lucky, the traffic will flow reasonably smoothly down the residual lane. Until, of course, someone wants to park. Or, more often, to chat with a friend. Or, in Andrew’s experience the other day, to reverse against the flow. The only thing which can free the road is the appearance of the dreaded grua, the crane which drags the occasional offending car to the pound. When this happens, cars, vans and trucks alike scatter like cherry blossom in a gale. Only to return a few minutes later, of course. Would that we were so lucky with cherry blossom.

One thing I still find hard to take in Spain is the acceptance of pictures that are far gorier than in any other country in which I have lived. And I’m not talking here about pictures of bulls with glistening flanks. More the compulsory shots of pools of blood [or even bits of brain] resulting from ETA murders or road accidents. Today we had TV pictures of the murder of a US hostage by hooded Islamic terrorists. To be sure, we didn’t see the actual decapitation but we did see the knife drawn, the head thrown back and the blade applied to the throat. And then we were treated - over this frozen scene - to the screams of the victim mingled with cries from the perpetrators of Allah Akbar! Who knows what we’ll get tonight during the peak hour news bulletins.

On a lighter note, I was taken today by a lady from an estate agent’s office to see a house in the hills. Not only did she not know where the house was, she couldn’t even find the village. Armed with a good map, I finally got us there. Fortunately, the passing village idiot knew which house was for sale. It wasn’t the one the lady had pointed out to me.

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