Sunday, October 30, 2005

I wonder what the Spanish Highway Code says about not pulling out into oncoming traffic when there’s a car parked on your side of the road. In truth, I often wonder whether there even is a Spanish Highway Code.

The President of Barcelona Football Club has not only permitted but encouraged displays of Catalunian nationalism at their ground. My friend Andrew has suggested the national football authority takes this to its logical conclusion and expels them from the Spanish league. They could then play against . . . well, their reserve team.

On this issue du jour, there now comes a demand for recognition of Greater Catalunia, which would encompass Valencia, at least some of the Balearic islands and even part of Aragón. This seems more like a way to forfeit sympathy than to gain it.

The Ministry of Labour has announced two thirds of all new jobs created in the EU last year were in Spain. On the face of it, this is superb news. But I recall reading recently that almost half of all new jobs had gone to ‘foreigners’ and I don’t suppose this means British financial analysts in Madrid. Likewise, it must be disturbing that the already-high proportion of temporary jobs is increasing rapidly. To use the latest buzz word, one wonders just how sustainable all this is.

October 31st is increasingly celebrated American-style here in Spain but at least the old All Souls custom survives of visiting the graves of one’s departed relatives on the first day of November. This is when tombs are cleaned and adorned with flowers. The traffic is so dense near the cemeteries they must all be at risk from new entrants. Anyway, one of the local papers had a special supplement last week. This contained articles on services provided by local undertakers and insurance companies, which struck me as practical, if a tad macabre.

A couple of Rumanians were arrested in Vigo this week for soliciting contributions to a non-existent society for the deaf and dumb. I wonder if these were the same people mentioned in my blog of 15 October last year. As I said then, what a great way to get over the fact you don’t speak Spanish, pretending to be deaf and dumb and just pointing to a list of previous generous donations. And I also wonder if these were the parents of the Rumanian kids recently caught stealing handbags and merely returned to their homes because Spanish law doesn’t recognise criminality below a certain age. Instead, the police adopt the quaint practice of asking the parents to give their offspring a lecture on the need for honesty. Then perhaps they go and make a votive offering at the nearest chapel. Or sacrifice a goat.

A couple of quotes from Michael Cook’s engaging book ‘A Brief History of the Human Race’:-

Overreaction is a common human failing. Many of the problems that bother us end up going away.

Humans can be very adaptive but they don’t feel very good about abandoning their ancestral cultures in favour of the ways of foreigners. In these circumstances, the natural impulse is to compromise and nationalism is the name of this compromise.

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