Whenever I’ve lost my ADSL line, I’ve used the cyber café which is en route to my regular café/bar. This is run by a man who’s hitherto always been very affable. But yesterday, when I asked him why the amount he charged me was always higher than that on the screen, his attitude changed considerably. If I understood his rapid-fire, South American accent, his response was that we weren’t talking about much money and he didn’t have any idea why there should be a difference. I think I do. It happens all over the world, of course, when you can’t see what’s being shown on the screen or cash register. I first fell victim to it as a young man passing through Amsterdam airport. The chap in the left luggage office – I later read – was notorious for placing a piece of cardboard over the customer’s view of the cost he rang up on the till and charging you an extra Guilder. That, too, wasn’t much money. But it must certainly have mounted up.
The Spanish president, Mr Zapatero, has proposed a triple-element bi-partisan approach to the problems currently dominating the media here – achieving a permanent ceasefire with ETA, controlling illegal immigration, and dealing with the vast and wide-spread corruption arising from the construction ‘bum’ of the last decade. However, the opposition leader has rejected this, possibly because he wants to be free to claim skulduggery always soars here when the socialists get back into power. Of course, to him it doesn’t matter if this is true or not, so long as it’s credible to the populace. Which – thanks to the last socialist administration – it certainly is.
I read a review yesterday of a book which compares the origins and growth of the Spanish and British empires. I was intrigued by one of the points apparently made – viz. that the British colonies benefited from the export of democratic values, whereas the Spanish colonies suffered from the export of caudillismo [‘autocratic government’] that they’ve not yet been able to shake off. I was also interested in the comment that the Spanish empire had scored higher than its British equivalent in the area of humane treatment promoted by the Catholic Church. Hmmm. If I understand this, it’s because the British took their time to get round to such measures as the abolition of slavery. I suppose it’s true the Spanish didn’t enslave the Aztecs or the Incas. But, then, it’s hard to get a corpse to make your dinner.
There are some new statues in the car park of the nearby School for Granite Carvers. If it ever stops raining, I’ll take some photos and post them.
Talking of the weather, here’s a few statistics about the current rainfall. The first figure is the annual average for each city over the last 30 years, in cubic metres. The second is the amount of water which fell in the first 3 weeks of this month:-
Pontevedra 1778/902 = 51%
Ourense 794/415 = 52%
Santiago 1862/545 = 29%
Lugo 958/421 = 44%
And, yes, this was posted at 6.39 in the morning . . .