Tuesday, May 24, 2005

After 2 days of glorious sun, the director has decided that he’ll risk filming his docudrama in the Cemetery of the English on the north coast ‘at the weekend’. This turns out to be Friday morning for me and the other British corpses. And we may even have a rehearsal tomorrow, though I rather doubt it.

Which reminds me, my bank’s PFA naturally failed to find the time to implement my transfer instructions yesterday, as promised. An exhausting excess of chatting and coffee sipping again, I fear.

Well, The Battle of the EU Trough is warming up and getting personal. Britain has refused to countenance a reduction in its rebate and said it ill behoves Spain to demand a postponement of the agreed cuts in its grants when it hasn’t paid a single penny into the EU coffers in 25 years. France, Germany and 4 other countries insist on reducing their payments into the till and show no sympathy whatsoever for Spain’s claim that its economy will be hard hit by these reductions

Topically, there was a wonderfully vitriolic article in El Mundo today by a director of a Spanish think tank. Addressing the looming French referendum, he heaped scorn on everyone in sight – Chirac for protecting ETA terrorists for 2 decades; Giscard d’Estaing for being, well, an arrogant bastard with the blood of thousands on his hands; France and Germany for not supporting an easing of the reductions in Spain’s EU grants; Brussels for being an undemocratic cesspit of corruption; Zapatero for naively presiding over both the break up of the Spanish state and the resurgence of a crushed ETA; and a few others I can’t recall. His basic conclusion what that it would be an unmitigated blessing for Spain if France and Holland said No to the constitution. This is because Spain has a stronger negotiating capability under the Treaty of Nice, which would continue to guide EU processes and procedures. Plus, funds might not then flow to the East for the new members. One is used to seeing this stuff in British papers, of course, but never here, where the impression is given that criticism of the EU is a mortal sin. But I believe I’m on record as saying that things would surely change once the money stopped flowing this way. Or even before, it seems.

Talking of mortal sins, the Catholic Church has complained about the 3 leading Catalan politicians playing around with a crown of thorns on the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem. This seems to me to be an overreaction but it’s hard to quibble with their point that the 3 men would never have poked fun at symbols of the Muslim or Jewish faiths.

The horrendous crash I mentioned yesterday was even more emblematic than I thought. The vehicle that swerved across the road was a long wheel-based 4x4 being driven in 2 wheel mode; it was doing 140kph on a 70kph stretch and no one was wearing seat belts. And, yes, the driver was killed. Along with his wife, their 3 sons and one of their friends. The children in the saloon car were wearing belts and survived. At least the publicity from this dreadful accident should lead to better rear-seat discipline. But what a price.

In a cosmic irony, the saloon car that was hit was a Citroen Evasion.

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