I mentioned last week Spain had moved up the corruption rankings so it’s only fair I report now she’s also moved up the UN index of ‘developed’ nations. As with all such tables, this is headed by one of the Scandinavian countries – this time Norway. Spain comes in at no. 19 - one place behind the UK - and scores well on such things as life expectancy, access to education, health and a good quality of life. However, the average annual income is €19,500, against 31,000 for the EU as a whole. Perhaps this explains the apparent absurdity of Spain being the second largest beneficiary of EU funds, after Poland, over the next 7 years - having been at no. 1 for the last 15 or 20 years. I say ‘absurdity’ but, of course, one doesn’t see or hear many complaints about this on the ground here. As I’ve said before, this is consistent with the Spanish philosophy that the wisest thing you can do is to live at someone else’s expense.
My elder daughter lives in Malasaña in Madrid. This is a bustling bohemian barrio of streets so narrow they can hardly take a small car. Right now it’s awash with road-works and trenches offering access to the electricity cables. Not, then, a good place for huge, crane-bearing trucks. As one unfortunate driver discovered last Friday, when he managed to drop one of his front wheels into one of said trenches.
But it’s not just Malasaña which is bedevilled by road-works; much of the city is infested and nowhere more so that south west of the capital, where there’s a massive project devoted to improving the city’s inner ring road, the M-30. This has featured much in the news over the last week as it’s presented an impassable obstacle, would you believe, to a thousand sheep. These were being driven across the city in celebration of the right of shepherds to cross Spain on historic routes. Halted by the works, the [remarkably clean] sheep have been grazing in the city’s notorious Casa de Campo park, where they’ve been forced to mingle with the 4,000 prostitutes reputed to operate there every night. Though there’s been no suggestion they provided any competition to the saddest of the desperate nocturnal ramblers.