Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Spain is a place where rules are generally regarded as breakable and where safety is accorded a lower importance than elsewhere. These sentiments can and do overlap, with predictable consequences for such intrinsically hazardous activities as driving or working in the construction industry. Much the same can be said of leisure pursuits. The hunting season began at the weekend and there was the usual crop of fatalities that accompanies the early days of the chase. Most of these occur when the foliage is being beaten to flush out deer and wild boar. And then, I guess, they remember it’s not smart to do this in a circle.

Unemployment is high in Spain nationally and even more so here in Galicia. To say the least, it’s a buyer’s market, where there’s little pressure on employers to empathise with employees. So I guess it wasn’t too surprising that, when a friend of mine was interviewed for a senior secretarial job yesterday, the recruitment agents were unable to give her any details at all of the position. With some justification, she came away feeling the sole purpose was to assess whether she was pretty enough.

In the UK, private education is, as I recall, about 10% of the total. Here in Spain it’s well in excess of 30%. And yet there’s little, if any, of the controversy that surrounds the subject in Britain. Perhaps this points up the difference between pragmatic Christian Democrat socialism and doctrinaire Labour socialism. Another case in point is the provision of healthcare, where it’s taken for granted here that the system will be a judicious mix of public and private provision. How little one misses the inanities of British politics!

Those of you in favour of identity cards in Britain, be warned. Today I had to write out my details three times. Firstly, when filling in a questionnaire for my bank; secondly when applying for a discount card from a supermarket, and finally when seeking a weekly debit arrangement from the same shop. One can see the case for this in the last of these but as for the others – and many more – I'm a loss to see why my identity number was critical, along with my name, address, etc. I guess it’s the Everest Syndrome. ‘Because it’s there’.

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