I’m reading “Ghosts of Spain” by Giles Tremlett, a Guardian journalist who’s lived many years in Madrid. Here are a few of his observations on the Spanish. By the way, like me, he says this sort of thing as someone who loves living here:-
The tireless pursuit of pleasure, the tourist ghettoes flourishing on the coasts, and even those gaudily lit brothels on Spanish motorways all have something to say about the priorities and attitudes of modern Spaniards.
Spaniards generally believe it is their absolute right – even their obligation – to enjoy themselves.
Spaniards love to form groups and clans. They like to move en masse, to belong to large gaggles. They celebrate – and demonstrate – in huge throngs, their enjoyment increased by the numbers with them. Where Anglo-Saxons do things on their own or with their families, Spaniards often do them by the coachload. They like the warmth, the solidarity, the sense of belonging that groups give them. Individuality can be viewed with suspicion. There is something potentially dangerous, however, about these groups. The herd, once roused, can be far more destructive than a beast on its own.
Its several languages enrich Spain. But, instead of celebrating them, Spaniards seem intent on squabbling about them. Now more than ever, they are not a source of pride but division.
The Galician government – the Xunta – has said it will invest 500,000 euros in the countryside so as to promote ‘internal tourism’ in compensation for the damage done by the fires. Whenever terms like ‘domestic’ and ‘internal’ are used here, I never know whether they mean within Spain or just within Galicia. But one thing I know for sure is that all the brochures about the thermal springs in the mountains will only be in Gallego. Bugger the foreign Spaniards.
Which reminds me, David asked in a comment the other day whether ‘nationalists’ imagine that being small but independent will bring them mountains of cash from, say, the EU. Well, yes, the Galician nationalist party, the BNG, was the only party here to oppose the EU Constitution - on the grounds that it wasn’t socialist enough.
I see Gordon Brown was in Edinburgh yesterday, talking once again about Britishness so as to obscure the fact he’s Scottish. And, on the subject of British politics, can there be anything more obscene than a Prime Minister unloved by the public and the majority of his party clinging to the microscopic shreds of his power simply to minimise the prospect of his being succeeded by the person favoured by his own party members? In doing this, Mr Blair – not for the first time – is re-writing the [unwritten] British Constitution. This demands that a Prime Minister who can’t command the support of his own party must resign. Is it any wonder that politicians are now a despised class in the UK? Anyway, for what it’s worth, my prediction is that Mr Blair will be gone by the end of the year.