Tuesday, November 29, 2005

I’ve said a few times that Spain seems to me to be living on borrowed time and beyond its means. A bank of Spain report today rather confirms this and says, in effect, that once interest rates rise and EU transfers fall, Spain is going to be in for a rough ride. One main reason, they say, is that productivity is very low compared with international competitors, hence the record trade deficit. Separately, a leader in El Mundo today suggested it was more than time to put an end to the good-times practice of allowing people to take early retirement. Needless to say, this is widespread in the government and in the grossly inefficient and high-priced [oligarchic?] banking sphere.

Safety is not a god in Spain. This has both positive and negative aspects. For example, unlike in the UK, there is nothing like the Health and Safety Gestapo here. On the other hand, it is occasionally shocking to encounter such thing as the unlocked fuse box for all the community’s electricity on the wall outside my house. Or to read of the 11 year old stopped for riding a scooter his friend has customised by fitting a hidden hi-fi system in a false tank. Plus neon lights that light up in time with the music.

Pontevedra’s police yesterday began their campaign of ‘admonishing’ jaywalkers and pointing them towards nearby zebra crossings. And this morning I was again almost mowed down on one of these. I predict an increase in the mortality rate, further proof of the view that the result of all major reforms is the exact opposite of that intended. I just hope I live long enough to gloat at the accuracy of my prediction.

English and Spanish naturally share many words of Latin origin. Some of them mean much the same but there are also the notorious ‘false friends’. In between, there are words which have come to have a different nuance in English, largely because there are Old English, Scandinavian, etc. equivalents for the Spanish word. ‘Obsequio’ merely means ‘gift’ in Spanish but in English 'obsequy' has come to mean a funeral rite. So I was a bit nonplussed to get a letter from my bank today asking me to pop along and pick up the ‘obsequio’ due to me for filling in a questionnaire. On-the-ball readers will have guessed this is the temperature/humidity gauge that was supposed to be in the bank by October 15. But what’s 6 weeks between friends?

1 comment:

Josep M. Fernández said...

An equivalent in Spanish for obsequy might be exequias.