Here in Spain, lawyers are not high status people, whereas notaries are demi-gods. My take on this is that governments which found it hard to tax its citizens on their income or assets majored on hitting them whenever they had to do anything official that demanded they prove something or other. And there’s a lot of this in Spain. The official appointed to oversee all this was the notary. So you can imagine how rich these have become over the last 10 years of a property boom. Anyway, it always amuses me to see the stupefied response of Spanish friends when I tell them notaries are virtually non-existent in the UK and that you can buy or sell a house without spending hours dealing with numerous documents and then sitting in the notary’s office with dozens of others [including 2 people from your bank] waiting for your turn to produce the cheque[s] and sign the papers. Most chastening is the news that estate agents don’t take anything like 6% [or even 3%] on the deal and the government doesn’t levy a 7% tax on it. But most astonishment is shown at my insistence that you can buy a house in the UK without ever even seeing the seller, your lawyer or any town hall official. Never mind a bloody notary who’s too damn busy for anyone’s good. The good news about the Spanish approach is that the notary will be cheaper than your lawyer, assuming you don’t regard time as money.
On a more macro level, early September Spanish news is not good on a couple of fronts. Apart from the dire road death numbers for the summer, it now emerges unemployment figures rose during a season when they always fall. The government’s line is roughly Steady as We Go but the right-of-centre press naturally sees it as the beginning of rough landing for an economy which has grown spectacularly in recent years. Out of a raft of data, they stress that on top of 12,000 in July another 22,000 workers lost their jobs in the construction industry in August.
As for the road deaths, the Traffic Ministry says it was largely a massive jump in motorcyclist fatalities which led to the trend reversal. It would be interesting to know how many of these were car licence holders who no longer have to pass any test in Spain.
As for Galicia, the Voz de Galicia this morning leads with the comment that our summer figures are the worst for all Spain. Again, it seems motorcyclist deaths were a major factor, along with what the paper calls Galicia’s endemic problem of pedestrian knockdowns. Closer to home, it’s reported that 75% of all points withdrawn in Galicia for bad driving belonged to drivers of the Pontevedra province. So, if you came for summer and survived, you were lucky, it seems.
On to lighter matters . . . Regular readers will know that, where I live on the hills above Pontevedra, we’ve been subjected to high levels of noise and dust for more than 18 months now, as they carve a building site out of a granite escarpment. But, finally, the stone-cracking machine may be nearing the end of its task. Here’s a photo of it excavating what I think will be the swimming pool. For those Nationalists planning to send an assassination squad, my house is the one peeking through the trees on the right. Honest. By the way, you probably can’t make it out but the operator of the machine is on the phone. Possibly saying “Err, my right wheel’s off the ground. What the hell do I do now?”. Or maybe he’s just chatting to his mate, like most other drivers here. . .
Even lighter stuff – Here are photos of a couple of new – and impressive – carvings which have appeared in the car park of the Granite Carvers’ School just above my house. What looks like a cemetery in the background is actually the dropping area for all their scrap rock. It used to be a car park.