The Spanish have long been known to favour their place of birth [or patria chica] over all else. Second comes the region and finally – often some way behind – is the Spanish state. This localism can be amusing – e.g. when the local papers refer to Spanish banks based outside Galicia as ‘foreign’ – but it can be irritating as well. For instance, it’s not enough to know that the person whose phone number you want lives somewhere in the province of Pontevedra. Or even ‘not far from the city of Pontevedra’. For residents in the province are not listed simply in a single alphabetical order but in alphabetical subsets according to the town, village or hamlet they live in. And there are hundreds of these. So, if you don’t know exactly where they live, you can’t find their number. Unless I am missing something.
Talking of localism, I see the Catalunian politicians pushing for ever more independence now refer to Catalunia as a pais [country], a nación [nation] and a patria [homeland]. And have even suggested it has all the attributes of an Estado [state]. So poverty of ambition doesn’t seem to be their biggest problem.
Of course, it’s all very ironic that the Spanish are at the same time both ardent lovers of their patria chica as well as the most positive people in Europe about the EU superstate. But, as I’ve said, this will all change when the goose stops laying golden eggs in the Spanish coop.
Most primary schools in Spain reopened today, after the long summer holidays. Here in Pontevedra, the rolls are 2% down on last year, despite the influx of ‘immigrants’ [a euphemism for North Africans]. One positive consequence is that serious TV programmes have returned to the 9-10am slot, replacing the pan-channel cartoon shows and sweet adverts of the summer. No one is allowed to be serious during a Spanish summer. And it’s frowned on during much of the rest of the year as well.
An anaesthetist has been arraigned for deliberately infecting 276 patients with Hepatitis C. The state prosecutor – clearly no slouch – has asked for 2,214 years in jail and payment of an indemnity of a mere 28.9m euros. As I don’t suppose anything like this will be given, it’s all rather redolent of shopping in the Tehran bazaar. Which is a strange image for a judicial system.
I see England beat Australia at cricket to regain the Ashes. It would have been nice to watch the matches – especially today’s – on Satellite TV. But no one has breathed life into my decoder yet. Such are the perils that befall one when one recklessly strays far from one’s patria chica.