Sunday, January 21, 2007

Thanks to the technical wonders of my MP3, I can now download BBC Radio 4 podcasts. Mind you, it’s not all fun. Last week there was a sobering discussion between experts on the various catastrophic threats currently facing the planet. And in a program on the ageing process, it was said some scientists believe the first person who will live to be a thousand is already alive. On balance, I think I’m glad it’s not me. Probably a majority view.

Over the next few weeks, events and decisions will determine whether Kosovo will become independent of Serbia. For obvious reasons, Spain is one of the EU members which oppose this. In yesterday’s El Mundo, there was a useful map of Europe showing the location of more than 20 independence movements, some ‘hot’ and some ‘tepid’. Among the latter are said to be Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in the UK, Brittany and Corsica in France, Bavaria in Germany and Padania in Italy. I have to admit it was news to me Northern Ireland was seeking independence but I suppose this is a reference to the IRA activities there. And I wasn’t aware of any such activity in Bavaria. Worse, I’ve never even heard of Padania, which apparently comprises the northern third [the rich bit] of Italy. It can only end in tears. Or an EU super-state within which the old national boundaries have disappeared. Perhaps the first person to live to be a thousand will witness this. Meanwhile, the three independence movements in Spain – in the Basque Country, Catalunia and Galicia – are all ranked as tepid. Which won’t come as much consolation if you’re blown to pieces by an ETA bomb.

I had a coffee in the Café Comercio in Plaza de Bilbao here in Madrid this morning. Both the place itself and its waiters have certainly seen better days and the coffee was double the normal price. But there was no TV, no radio, no screaming kids, no bawling grandmothers and no cigarette smoke. I’d have willingly paid fives times the normal price.

Competition – Name the country most likely to have a reality TV show in which 6 or 8 not-particularly-ugly contestants compete to be the one to get free plastic surgery.

Galicia Facts

The awful fires of August have brought one strange consequence in their wake. There is now not enough prey or even carrion in the forests for the wolves which roam there. So they’re venturing closer and closer to human habitation and increasingly helping themselves to farm animals. It’s estimated there are 68 packs of wolves in the mountains, numbering between 420 and 625 animals in total. Something else for Brits buying houses up near Lugo and Ourense to think about.

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