Friday, December 02, 2005

I see George Best has now been deified to the point of resurrection. Sky News told us this morning that he – not just his body – had been flown to Northern Ireland for what amounts to a state funeral in Stormont Castle. I know Northern Ireland has had little to smile about for the last 40 years but what on earth would they do for someone really significant to the course of human history? And I don’t deny he was a brilliant footballer, albeit for far fewer years than should have been the case.

I touched on safety the other day, expressing pleasure that we don’t have anything like the Health & Safety Gestapo here. But I did admit there was another side to this. I was reminded of this when I read today we’d had the second fatal work accident within a week here in Pontevedra. This was on a construction site, where a combination of rule-aversion and machismo seems to mean levels of risk-taking that wouldn’t be tolerated elsewhere.

And on the same theme, I read today of a car crash yesterday in which a 31 year old local civil servant was killed in at 10.30 in the morning. As is often the case, the report said his car ‘swerved into a car coming the other way for reasons as yet unknown’. But, as he was young, male, Spanish and driving a powerful BMW on a wet, winding road, I think we can be excused for hazarding a guess that he was driving too fast. The good news is that he didn’t kill the driver coming the other way. Who could have been me, of course.

And still on the subject of accidents - The President of the opposition PP party, Mariano Rajoy, escaped death yesterday when his helicopter crashed shortly after taking off from the centre of a bullring. Mr Rajoy is actually from Galicia – Pontevedra, in fact – and here the local PP is undergoing a succession process which is even longer and more confrontational than that of the Conservative party in the UK. Passions are running high, as several candidates seek to fill the gap left by the previous President, ‘Don’ Manuel Fraga, who – in true dictatorial fashion – spent several decades ensuring there was no one to take over from him. [Well, he is a friend of Mr Castro.] So imagine how fevered things would have become if Mr Rajoy had gone to meet his maker and the political spoils had increased. Mr Rajoy will be here next August for the town’s annual bullfights, by which time someone will surely have come up with some good black jokes. Perhaps these will even amuse the bulls who are about to die.

And talking of dying, I was impressed [and touched] to see affectionate obituaries of The Shadows’ drummer, Tony Meehan, in both El Mundo and El Pais. I got to wondering why The Shadows and, after them, The Beatles had developed such a wide fan base in Spain. Rightly or wrongly, I concluded it was all to do with escaping from the suffocation of the Franco years. Something which reached its apogee in the hedonistic late 70s and 80s.

My daughter Faye, who lives in Madrid, called to tell me she’d been charged extra to send a card to her sister in the UK because the envelope was yellow. ‘Put it in your blog!’, she insisted. But I’ve long given up doing what my wives and daughters tell me to do.

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