Saturday, July 31, 2004

The Spanish government professes to be very annoyed by events in Gibraltar. If he is to be believed, the new President - Mr Zapatero – has not been irritated by anything in his first few months in office to match the ‘triple insult’ of sending Princess Anne, a nuclear submarine and the Secretary of Defence to participate in the celebrations around the 300th anniversary of the taking of the Rock by Britain. It’s very hard – nay, impossible – to convince anyone Spanish that the UK Foreign Office has been trying for decades to get rid of Gibraltar and that British governments of any stamp would be only too pleased to see the back of it. What is required is not so much quiet as silent diplomacy. The mistake Spain makes – and will go on making – is to mark its annoyance with some futile gesture - such as temporarily closing the border - which allows the scabrous UK tabloid press to bring out the mob under the banner of patriotism. That’s a lot of voters for any Prime Minister to worry about. Can’t see things changing for decades, myself. Spanish voters demand provocative actions and UK voters demand insulting responses.

Another very Spanish tale - The owner of my favourite tapas bar joined me as I sat reading my paper last Sunday and invited himself not only for a drink but also for [another] meal at my house. We agreed on tomorrow. Except, of course, we didn’t, as this left 7 days for him to either just forget about the arrangement or to reject it for something better. I called into the bar tonight – just after buying food for an indeterminate number of people – and asked him how many might be coming for either lunch or dinner. He will call me when he knows how things stand after the arrival of his cousin from Mexico. But at least I know it won’t be lunch, though this means that the state of uncertainly will last all day. And even up to the meal itself if they do decide to come but neglect to tell me how many. Not that I would believe any forecast, of course. Así son las cosas en España. One way or another some of us will have a good night. Which reminds me, does anyone know where I can get hold of a Caja China in Spain?

No comments: