Largely ignored by the rest of Europe, southern Mediterranean countries have for some time been dealing with the intractable problem of thousands of would-be immigrants arriving in flimsy boats or rafts from north Africa. Most are still alive – albeit barely – but many die in the attempt. On the Italian island of Lampedusa, the inhabitants are reported to have become averse to their local shellfish, fearing it has feasted too much on human flesh. What times.
Talking of parasites, the subject of drugs in Galicia came up three times in my reading yesterday. Firstly, the British author Michael Jacobs suggested – in his Between Hopes and Memories – that a particular peninsula here has high traffic mortality because of the numbers of drug runners rushing back and forth. Secondly, another local village has held a noisy protest against the possibility that the gypsies dislodged from near me would end up living close to them, bringing a drug supermarket to their parish. And, finally, the local police provided some appropriate background by capturing another 3,500 kilos of cocaine being transported into the rías on the customary speedboats.
Actually, Jacobs was writing in 1994 and I wondered whether his speculation was soundly based. Then I recalled that a new, fast highway had been driven through the peninsula since then. And that it’s notoriously dangerous. Just a coincidence?
The other query that came to mind was the usual one of – If drug dealing and drug taking are as high here as frequently reported, why isn’t there the plague of petty crime associated with this in the UK? Perhaps the answer is the dealers and the addicts are largely the same people and can easily afford their habit.
On the economic front, bad news continues to pile up for Spain. Perhaps merely reflecting the use of a more appropriate, EU-driven formula, inflation here rose 0.9% in October to reach 3.6%. This is up from ‘only’ 2.2% at the end of August and probably accords more with what most people have long thought the true rate is. Secondly, the Economy Minister has joined the Jeremiahs by further reducing next year’s growth rate to 3%, though this is not quite as low as that of more independent commentators. Finally, a major property developer has confirmed that house prices are falling around the country. So, I guess it’s possible the ‘badwill factor’ will extend beyond long-suffering Cataluña in the five months to next year’s general elections.
As for said Cataluña, the central government in Madrid has come up with a cunning plan to ensure it can triumphantly announce the planned completion of the AVE high speed link with the capital ahead of the elections. Shuffling the options of terminating the line well outside Barcelona near the airport or by-passing this station and sticking with the aim of getting the line into the centre of the city, it has plumped for the latter. Brilliant. Whoever will notice?
Thursday is a holiday here, meaning that many people will take Friday off so as to enjoy what's called a puente or bridge. Some might do this legitimately and others might not. The railway company, RENFE, has said it’s going to fine fifteen drivers for participating in a hidden strike. All of these presented sick notes at the same time for tomorrow, causing the cancellation of some of the services between Sevilla, Córdoba and Madrid. In the UK, this is referred to as a ‘Spanish practice’. I wonder if it’s called a ‘British practice’ here.
Finally . . . A word on commenting to this blog. I recently learned that some readers were having phoney messages sent in their name. Coming on top of regular insults and messages in Gallego, this has finally pushed me to ask that all contributors register as a condition of publication. As I understand it, this doesn’t lead to any personal details – e. g. your email - becoming public information. However, for those who don’t want to do this but who still want to play silly games, messages can be sent to me personally at
This address can also be used, of course, by any reader who wants to make a serious point to me alone but who hasn’t found my personal address on the web.