Thursday, May 19, 2005

One of the major accountancy firms has announced that, when you adjust average disposable income for the cost of living, the Swedes are the poorest in Europe. And the Spanish are the richest. So… the lion’s share of EU funds goes to the country with the richest inhabitants. No wonder we have such good roads. And just as the [apparently] wealthier countries are demanding that they pay less into the EU coffers for the future benefit of the likes of Spain, the government here has admitted that economic growth was higher than previously reported because the black market was understated. Meaning Spain wasn’t entitled to everything it got. So, what odds on some of it being given back?

Two fascinating articles on France this week. The first, in Prospect magazine, pointed out that the government-controlled media there conspires to maintain the myth that Britain is a place of red-in-tooth-and-claw capitalism with a socio-economic model inferior to that of France. Consequently, the French are nonplussed that UK economic growth rates and employment levels are significantly higher than theirs. And dumbfounded that a government which presides over this hell on earth can be returned to power. In the second article, in El Pais, a director of a Paris think-tank explained how the country’s No-to-the-EU- Constitution camp are unable to grasp that they’re the only people in Europe clinging to an obsolete economic model and are prepared to destroy France’s [privileged] place in the EU fighting for something which no one else wants and which is, in fact, already lost. Sic transit gloria. All this vainglorious stupidity must be driving the enarqu├ęs hairless. At least now they know what it’s like to do business with the French. As a survey published last week showed, this view of the way the French go about things is one of the few things that everyone else in Europe has in common.

The Galician authorities have trumpeted that they have stamped out the smuggling of cigarettes. Funny but I read three years ago that, after Spain finally started to take action against this activity, the smugglers felt that they might as well move to something easier to transport and a lot more profitable. Cigarettes were for cissies.

Changing Spain: The local police report that in recent spot checks only 12% of motor cyclists were above the permitted noise levels, against 45% last year. Still too bloody high but great progress nonetheless. Perhaps we are moving towards another brief Golden Age for Spain, when all the social evils of the past have been eradicated but the country is not yet as anally retentive as elsewhere. What joy it will be to be alive. If I am.

Wonderful World: A Berlin undertaking firm will convert your remains into diamonds. I can’t think of a nicer way to go. Or stay behind. And down in Tasmania they are making paper from kangaroo dung. It’s called Roo Poo and you need 25 kilos of it to make 400 sheets of A4 paper.

Finally, after nearly 500 years of killing each other, it’s nice to see that the Anglican and Catholic communions have decided that their differences over the virginity or otherwise of Mary were not so significant after all. How ludicrous it all looks in retrospect.

No comments: