By pure coincidence, fellow observers of matters Spanish – Ben Curtis of Notes From Spain and Jonathan Holland of Puerta del Sol – both chose this week to comment on the issue of honesty/dishonesty in Spain. In a podcast, Ben quite rightly praised the amazing trust system which underlies payment in bars and cafés here, whereas Jonathan addressed the topic of widespread picaresca, which my dictionary defines as guile, chicanery and subterfuge. I make no observation on how these can co-exist in the same culture. Except to say it’s fascinating. And that, if picaresca is required to surmount Spain’s mind-numbingly stupid bureaucracy, then I’m all for it.
Everyone, I guess, will have a view on whether it’s right to judge the McCanns and, if so, whether intelligence and common sense suggest they are implicated in the disappearance and probable death of their daughter or not. I am not about to bore you with my views and nor am I calling for reader’s view on these issues. I raise the subject now only to report that El Pais yesterday came up with an article about the Portuguese and British governments being at daggers drawn because, says the respected paper, the latter has been involved ‘on the McCann’s side’ since the very first moments, possibly helping to ensure, it claims, that Sky News were advised of the child’s disappearance 30 minutes before the Portuguese police were informed. It’s not clear what evidence El Pais has for this remarkable [even fantastic] story and, so far, I’ve not seen it reproduced elsewhere. Perhaps later today. Meanwhile, the Portuguese media have proved my allegation they’re at least as bad as the British tabloids by publishing extracts from Kate McCann’s diary. One wonders how they can have got hold of it. As I’ve said, all very depressing, whether the McCanns are guilty or innocent. How thin is our patina of civilisation. Which is not a new thought, of course.
Lighter matters . . . Spanglish. I wrote a while ago that footing was an amusing but logical substitute for jogging, as the latter would be pronounced very gutturally in Spanish. What, then, are we to make of groggy, which was an adjective applied to the Russian football team after Owen’s second goal? Astonishingly, it’s in my dictionary as:-
Groggy/Grogui: Atontado, Impresionado.
Galicia Facts: Our health service – like those of Andalucía and the Balearic Islands - is rated ‘average’, by the Federation of Associations in Defence of Public Health. This is better than Valencia’s [‘worst in Spain’] and those of Murcia, Madrid and the Canaries, where it was ‘deficient’. I suspect ‘average’ is also better than the ‘acceptable’ of Extremadura, Castilla-La Mancha, Castilla y León, Cataluña and La Rioja. The ‘good’ regions were Aragón, Navarra, Cantabria, Asturias and the Basque Country. So now you know. Be careful where you eat those oysters. Or get private insurance.