In 12 days in the UK there are two familiar Galician sights I haven’t seen at all here - rain and builders’ cranes. In fact, visiting Alderley Edge last week, I was astonished at how little both the rural and urban topography had changed in the 6 years since I was last there. In contrast, in Pontevedra the cityscape would change during 6 minutes taking your coffee. Not that anyone would rush a coffee in 6 minutes in Spain. Sadly, in many cases this involves the replacement of a fine old building by another anodyne block of flats. Click here.
Over Christmas, I had the pleasure of watching the final of the BBC’s ballroom dancing competition, in which celebrities were partnered by professionals. It was a real joy but I couldn’t stop thinking about the Spanish version, which is at least twice as long and which features vastly more talking and showing-boating by celebrities ranging from buxom young women to geriatric divas who’d be happier performing on a Zimmer frame. Not to mention lengthy advertising segments. Not quite the same thing.
A couple of years ago, the Blair government banned foxhunting in Britain. But a number of loopholes quickly became apparent in the badly drafted legislation. As a result, the numbers participating have actually increased, quite possibly because the police feel they have higher priorities than fruitlessly chasing foxhunters around the countryside. En passant, it was depressing to see this headline in a quality UK newspaper this morning - “Police using video cameras have been monitering England's hunts.” OK, staff numbers may be down over this holiday period but, for crying out loud, even Word’s Spell Check rejects ‘monitering’.
After nine years of petitioning and several court cases, Uefa has finally accepted the Gibraltar Football Association as a provisional member. A decision will be taken on whether to admit it as a full member at Uefa's congress next month. But the outcome is all too predictable. The English football authorities have offered no support to this bid and Spain - conscious of a bad precedent for its would-be breakaway ‘nations’ - can be guaranteed to trample it underfoot.
Galicia has 3 international airports - in La Coruña, Santiago and Vigo. As you would expect in Spain, they compete with each other ferociously, with rampant disregard for the interests of the region, never mind the nation. As a result, they all lose out to the much-more-rapidly-developing nearby airport of Oporto in north Portugal. Of these 3 Galician airports, Santiago’s is best served by international flights as it hosts both Easyjet and Ryanair. Domestically, La Coruña gets the points, following Iberia’s recent decision in a fit of pique to punish Santiago for dealing with these low cost competitors. But now we read that Iberia’s own cheap operation - Clickair - is to begin international flights to Galicia from 2007. Or ‘in the worst case’ from 2008. And these will use Vigo. I guess it all makes sense to someone.
Meanwhile, it’s worth noting that Ryanair will start flying between Santiago and Nottingham from, I think, February 2007.