Spain now has over 3m foreigners living legally here. The Brits, at 170k, come in at 5th, beaten by the Moroccans, the Ecuadorians, the Colombians and [surprisingly] the Rumanians. After us Brits come the Chinese, the Italians, the Peruvians, the Argentineans and the Germans. The average age is 34, which must surely be dragged upwards by the British south coast contingent. Not to mention me.
The Spanish authorities have expressed concern that in-car sat nav facilities are dangerous. Well, who’d have thought that something you keep looking at and fiddling with would distract you from driving?
I’ve often wondered what Spanish drivers are thinking when they park their cars illegally and then switch on their hazard lights. After all, in daylight you can’t miss a car that’s obstructing your progress and at night simple side lights would be enough. Yesterday I concluded it’s a religious act. In effect, it’s a Confiteor; I confess I know I’m breaking the law and being a bloody nuisance to the rest of you. But whether there’s any element of mea culpa in this I’m not so sure. I suspect most of these ‘individualistic’ drivers don’t give a damn about the inconvenience caused to others. They just want to salve their conscience. I wonder whether it happens in non-Catholic, non confessional cultures.
Galicia’s cost of living is 88% of the EU average and, more usefully, only higher than those of Andalucia and Murcia within Spain. When it comes to cities, Catalunia scoops the pool, with Barcelona and Girona in the first and second slots. Surprisingly, Madrid comes in at only no. 7.
Finally, Galician nationalism: Switch off now if this is of no interest to you . . . Carlos - presumably not the very civil and patient Xoan Carlos - has written to accuse me [inter alia] of drawing false conclusions about Galician nationalism from an over-narrow circle of friends. He insists that a ‘nationalistic feeling’ permeates Galician society. Well, he may be right. But it all hinges on what you mean by ‘nationalist’. After my recent dialogue with Xoan Carlos, I concluded he was using ‘nation’ to mean no more than a community of like-minded souls who saw themselves as different from other ‘shared culture’ groups. On this basis, I had no difficulty accepting Galicia was a nation but suggested even Yorkshire would qualify for this status. As would my own stomping ground of Merseyside. And even Greater Manchester. After all – despite being only 30 miles apart – they certainly see themselves as being very different and can scarcely understand each other’s dialect. So, if Carlos means most Galicians have a love of their culture and see themselves as different from people in other parts of Spain – including even next door Asturias – then I’m sure he’s right. But I’ve seen no evidence at all in 6 years that anyone here is striving for Galicia to be a nation in the normally accepted meaning of this word. I’d even go so far as to say that those who feel strongest about this live – like our New Zealand Basque friend – outside Galicia/Spain. But maybe there’s a pragmatic solution to this problem. In the UK, we use the word ‘country’ in the same way it’s used for the ‘Basque Country’. As in 'the West Country', for example. Perhaps Galicia should start calling itself ‘the Galician Country’ and everyone would be happy and able to concentrate on the economic challenges which Carlos and I agree are of paramount importance. By the way, Carlos, you must know that ‘Spanish’ is used for the language of Spain in English, not ‘Castilian’. To use the latter suggests you’re coming at this issue primarily from a negative and adversarial perspective. Rather like all those who bang on about Galicia being a colonial victim of Castilian imperialism. It leaves me wondering how the people of Normandy [who, after all, successfully invaded England a mere millennium ago] feel about the French imperialist bastards suppressing their nation. Or the poor people of Languedoc, who were forced to accept the imperium of Languedoui. I guess they’ve got over it and moved on.