I met my neighbour, Tony, in the supermarket last night. When he said they hadn’t seen me for a few days, I told him I’d been in Madrid. ‘You were lucky’!" he replied ‘We’ve been tearing out the old bathroom and the din has been horrendous." In noise-polluted Spain, a post-facto comment like this is the closest one gets to both an advance warning and an apology. I was touched by his concern.
The Spanish love superlatives. If you want to assimilate, this is something you just have to get used to. And emulate as best you can. On the radio last night there was a dreadful phone-tone rendition of a Mozart sonata, which the commentator then described as ‘estupendo’. Sadly, she meant stupendously good, not bad.
It’s hard to know how much further advertising can go in Spain. And just how much Spanish consumers will tolerate. Even the national channels have started to do what the cash-strapped regional channels have done for a while and run banner ads along the bottom of football matches whenever the ball is dead. Not to be outdone, the regional channels now don’t even bother to wait for this. Even worse, one of the national channels has started to show a ‘flier’ for its next programme during soccer matches, at a highly irritating frequency of every couple of minutes. And radio is no better. Driving back last night to watch a match on TV, I heard the kick-off on the radio. No sooner had the match started than the channel went into 5 minutes of advertising. A little later, the two commentators began to sing a duet about the sponsor’s products. I kid you not.
On a more serious note, all Spain’s ‘nationalist’ parties [i. e. the ones which want to see Spain broken up] boycotted Monday’s celebrations of the Constitution of 1979. Galicia, it seems, is demanding that it be called a ‘national community’, instead of ‘Autonomous Community’ as now. At least it’s one syllable less of a mouthful.
Even more serious – it seems that Mr Zapatero’s policy of cosying up to France and Germany is not paying off. The list of countries opposing Spain’s case is reported to be growing. Meanwhile, a Professor of Applied Economics in Madrid has said that it is unfair that Spain should be expected to make a 20% contribution to funds going to new members. What he seems to mean is not that Spain should actually hand over any cash whatsoever, but that it should not lose 20% of what it currently gets. I have a sister who approaches Applied Economics in much the same way.
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