It’s generally felt the Spanish don’t read newspapers. This is because they don’t buy that many per head. But they do, of course, read them in the cafés and bars, assuming it’s possible to read while you’re having a conversation with one to four people at the same time. So I was a bit confused by the daily ‘audience’ figure of 663,000 for the Voz de Galicia I quoted yesterday. A quick internet search today threw up the ‘circulation’ figure of 107,446 per day in 2004. So your guess is as good as mine.
The death was announced today of a woman who was Spain’s Minister of Agriculture in the late 90s when a massive flax fraud implicated several of her underlings. She was subsequently booted upstairs to the EU Commission, where she gained a reputation for being rather anti-British. I wonder if either of these aspects will be mentioned in her obituaries but rather doubt it. I think I’m right in saying, firstly, that the fraud led to a huge fine and, secondly, that Spain – a la France - is refusing to pay it. The most interesting aspect of the case, as I recall, was that the Spanish factories claiming to produce huge quantities of [worthless] flax were suddenly all destroyed in an astonishing outbreak of fires. Assuming they ever existed. Nobody had checked.
Belgians are not generally renowned for their humour but on Wednesday the state TV channel had a spoof report about Flanders declaring independence and the royal family fleeing into exile. Seeing this as only too plausible, the populace was immediately – albeit only briefly - thrown into panic. Given the activities of our three ‘nationalist’ regions, I imagine the Spanish public would accord a similar degree of credence to such an announcement here too. Especially in view of the widespread belief in conspiracy theories.
On the BBC's website yesterday, you could click on to a reconstruction of the Paris crash in which Princess Diana died. As someone has said, “The ghoulishness of such an invitation is foul and the tabloidisation of the BBC whenever the name of Diana is mentioned is a sign of the debasement of our culture”.