Walking into town at 1 o’clock yesterday, I passed five estate agent offices. Only one of them had a client and I guess she may have been a friend popping in for a chat. Maybe everyone is using the internet these days, even in this verbal society. Or perhaps – like the static cranes on many of the building sites – this is a sign of the changing times. As is the fact that shops that close are no longer converted overnight into bank branches or yet another inmobiliaria.
In the mid 60s – after thirty years of stultification under Franco – Spain was considerably less developed than most of the rest of Europe. Now it’s the world’s 8th economy and a modern, vibrant country with the highest rate of growth in the EU. But development this rapid can never be even and the result is one sometimes feels one’s in the 22nd century and sometimes in the 19th. Occasionally at one and the same time. As an example, the Voz de Galicia has been running articles on the difficulties faced in getting your super-duper, most-modern-in-the-world identity card. For this it’s necessary to go to your local police station and get in the queue well before the 9 o’clock opening time, sometimes, the paper says, as early as 5am. The Voz labelled this a ‘Third World system’ and described the appointment system as ‘archaic’. One disenchanted observer – not me – felt it was paradoxical that the application and production processes for such a technological advance belonged to another era. OK, it was a Nationalist deputy who said this, asking - quite rightly - why things couldn’t be decentralised. Which is something I’ve asked many times about the Post Office.
If you want to know the price of the Kia Picanto in the UK, you go to the company’s web site and, after a couple of clicks and about 3 seconds, your get ‘From ₤5,995’. Try to do the same thing on Kia’s Spanish site and this proves both time-consuming and impossible. Unless I’m doing something wrong, the best you can achieve is to register your details and apply for information or get the location of your nearest dealer. So, the question arises – It is actually illegal in Spain for price data to be supplied on the internet or over the phone? Or is it a refection of a different approach to customer service? I ask this because of the experience related above and also because of the August 16 post to this blog. Perhaps some of my anonymous commentators could do something useful and answer this question for me. Preferably without the personal abuse. If that’s possible.
In a recent podcast, Ben Curtis of Notes from Spain reviewed changes in Madrid since his arrival 9 years ago. One point he makes is that the Spanish equivalent of youthful binge drinking – el botellón – has been effectively suppressed there. In contrast, here in Pontevedra it gets bigger by the week. And the participants younger. The authorities seem to lack the will to take harsh measures but are said to be considering trying to persuade the kids to take their Friday and Saturday raucous all-night revels somewhere else. The football stadium perhaps. Meanwhile, though, in one of the strangest municipal initiatives I can recall, they’re going to conduct a survey among the participants themselves on where they’d like to be moved on to. Let’s hope it’s distributed before they’re too drunk – or ill – to read and complete it.
Checking – as you do – links to my blog, I saw that a Spanish reader had suggested* my pedantic and controversial comments are aimed at maximising what he suspects is an already sizeable income via Google ads. I nearly wet myself laughing. In almost 5 months, my earnings have totalled 50 dollars, or 35 euros. This wouldn’t even get me one menú del día per month down in town. And Google don’t fork out until you get to 100 dollars. So, not exactly the big time and I could probably survive without it.
There may be room for discussion on this but the writer feels my obsessions are nationalism, corruption, bureaucracy, Spanish society and neighbours whom I regard as ignorant and bad mannered. I take objection only to the last cited. What I complain about is their inconsiderate noise and I go out of my way to stress that Tony is certainly loud but also ‘nice’ and that Amparo is not even noisy. Anyway, the Labels I use may give a semi-objective indication of my obsessions and the top 10 turn out to be:-
Galicia Facts + Galician weather 157
Spanish Culture 114
Nationalism + Galician Nationalism 73
British Society 46
The Spanish Economy 33
The EU 32
Language and Galician Language 27
So, my greatest obsession appears to be . . . . Galicia. Followed by Spanish Culture and its Economy. And my rather negative views of British society/culture rank pretty high too. OK, possibly not totally balanced but perhaps not quite as bad as some readers think. Of course, the problem is you don’t get a fair perspective just by reading a few posts. Especially if you don’t have a sense of humour and/or have to use Google to translate them.
So, please keep reading everyone. I’ve got a fortune to make.
*Para los que leen inglés, os presento a Colin Davies, un inglés jubilado de Liverpool que ha montado un blog bastante polemico. Sospecho que el tio esta sacando pasta con los anuncios google, que dependen, creo, de la cantidad de 'trafico' que pasa por el blog.
Es un pedante, aunque escribe muy bien. Lanza dardos en todas las direcciones. Sus obsesiones son el nacionalismo, la corrupcion, la burocracia, la cultura española y unos vecinos a los que el considera ignorantes y mal educados. Todo dios entra allí cada dia a darle caña, tanto en inglés, español y galego. Debe de estar sacando una pasta increible, el mamón.