Saturday, July 07, 2007

When I came to Pontevedra nearly 7 years ago, there were 6 not-terribly-efficient bookshops in this city of 80,000 souls. I wondered then about the profit opportunity in buying 5 of them and making the remaining one not only monopolistic but also efficient. Anyway, one of them was knocked down last year and replaced by – what else? – yet another bank branch. Spain has the highest per capita number of these in the world. Which brought a wry smile to my face when viewing the current ad for the Santander-Abbey bank in the UK. This majors on the claim the bank has more branches worldwide than any other, while neglecting to admit most of these are back home in Spain. And increasing every day.

There’s a lot of archaeological work taking place in Pontevedra’s old quarter at the moment. The council has set up a wonderful open-air museum at one spot, where you can see the old Roman road, far below today’s highway. As ever, I’m left wondering what happened to the houses which used to border this. Where they built on as well? And is the whole city 5 or 10 metres higher than it was in the 4th century? It certainly looks like it.

Schools in England are to get £13.7m to teach pupils “manners, respect and good behaviour”. Words like ‘horse’, ‘stable’ and ‘door’ leap to mind. Elsewhere it’s reported that pregnancies in the under-16s rose by 4% in 2005, the biggest annual increase for a decade. And nearly a quarter of children born in the UK live with only one parent, with 90% of these being in households headed by lone mothers. I wonder if there’s any connection.

The Spanish Association for Water Supply and Drainage warns that an increasing population and fluctuations in weather make Spain particularly vulnerable to the impact of climate change. Allegedly, 36% of Spain’s population suffers from water stress, however this is defined. Which makes it all the more puzzling to see how profligate people are with water here. I guess this is understandable in ‘Green Spain’, where we see a great deal of rain, but in Andalucia? Is this, I wonder, an example of individualismo on a grand scale?


Anonymous said...

"Spain has the highest per capita number of these in the world"

Yet we have the smallest per capita number of tellers on those branches, only one teller per branch, at least here in Oviedo where i live. On the other hand support personnel is abundant, manager, asst. manager and all sorts of other employees that don´t handle cash. I suppose there´s a lot of bureaucracy going on.

Great blog Colin, very fun to read.

Diego Ramos

Colin said...

Many, thanks,Diego. Delighted you find my blog fun as this is the primary objective.

I couldn't agree more about the banks. I've written a great deal about them in 3 years and plan to make them the subject of one of my compilations very soon. As you say, it's infuriating to wait in a long queue while a long line of 'personal advisers' appear to be doing nothing. But I guess it's the Spanish demand for personal attention without the need for an appointment The banks are merely, one could argue, giving customers what they demand. And then, of course, charging heavily for it.

Anonymous said...

I think your point about the water waste in Spain is one of great concern that politicians seem frightened to tackle. In Valencia as well as Andalucia, many farmers idea of irrigation is to flood the fields, wasting huge quantities of water.