Saturday, July 01, 2006

The government has announced the date for formal talks with the ETA terrorist organisation. The President has again said no political price will be paid for peace. My own interpretation of this is that everything is on the table except the inclusion of the French Basque provinces in an enlarged Pais Vasco. And I would take a heavy bet on early prisoner releases.

In the latest survey of what concerns the Spanish populace, Terrorism has fallen to 5th place. Ranked 1 to 4 are Unemployment, Immigration, Security and Housing. In an interesting contrast with the UK, Health and Education come in at only 10 and 13 respectively. And, despite the regular diet of media reports, Corruption only manages 17th. But I guess this is logical. If there were a great popular antipathy to it, there would be less of it.

In another welcome step towards European norms, the government has announced that the minimum age for scooters and mopeds will be raised from 14 to 16. Perhaps now they will also start implementing the law which forbids the suppression of the silencers on these infernal machines.

In a Europe-wide survey of kissing practices, it’s reported that Spain, Austria and Scandinavia are each content with the two kisses ritual. In Spain the rule is strictly right cheek first. I’m not sure I knew this latter bit. As for the the Brits - In the UK kissing is only just being extended outside of family and friends. Somewhat shy of physical contact, the British have tended to opt for a handshake or nod as the safest form of greeting. In today's less formal environment, "Hi!" or "How are you?" is a way of avoiding physical contact. But it must be remembered that when the British ask how you are they don't expect you to tell them.

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