Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Although all of us Johnny Foreigners may regard the Spanish as a nation [or even 5 or 6 nations] of rampant individualists, it seems they see themselves as conformists. Or this, at least, is the inference to be drawn by a survey carried out by El Mundo into attitudes towards the Franco regime. To the question ‘Do you think this lasted 40 years because it was repressive or because the majority of Spaniard felt able to conform with it?’ a surprising 57% plumped for the second reason. So, can the Spanish be conformist and individualist at the same time? I guess so. Faced with a pervasive government bureaucracy and inefficient/corrupt local government, they can be very conformist. But, faced with parking rules, they can be very individualist. And perhaps the latter is a consequence of the former, with impotence around large matters breeding futile protest around small matters.

Talking of bureaucracy, I still owe a reply to the reader who asked me to explain the British resistance to an identity card. My incentive to do will surely rise if someone Spanish can tell me why on earth – when talking to my ADSL [semi]provider this morning – I was obliged to supply not only my name, my phone number and the number of my contract with them but also the number on my identity card. In other words, can anyone advance a plausible reason for this last bit of information?

I’ve never read much about vestiges in Spain of the Visigoths who ruled the Iberian peninsula between the Romans and the Moors from North Africa. So I was pleased to see a headline today referring to the site, just outside Toledo, of the capital of two Visigoth kings, Leovigilido and Recaredo. Names familiar to us all, of course. But the content of the article brought me down to earth; the authorities there are planning to construct a housing development on the site.

I suppose if you call your golf club the Royal Liverpool the media around the world are naturally going to think it’s in that great but maligned city. But this would horrify the residents of genteel Hoylake on the Wirral, where it actually is. Things could have been worse; it might have been in even-more-genteel West Kirby next door. And even more confusable with the notorious Kirkby district of Liverpool.

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