During my UK trip, I commented a couple of times on how increasingly regimented – repressive even – I now find the place. So it wasn’t hard to sympathise with this incisive article from the estimable Simon Jenkins in the Sunday Times.
That said, the joys of my trip were, firstly, the endless civility which Brits show to strangers and, secondly [and more relevantly], the total absence of a need to prove my identity each time I used my debit and credit cards. Not to mention the pleasure of dealing with a bank which didn’t regard a sister branch as being located on the moon. I imagine that one of these pleasures will evaporate if and when identity cards are introduced.
Back home in Pontevedra, I’ve been catching up on the podcasts I never got round to listening to in more than 20 hours of driving. From Ben Curtis at Notes from Spain I’ve just learned three things while walking the dog – 1. Madrid is officially the noisiest city in Europe; 2. The sound of the saw on stone drowning out his voice was coming from his street and not from the usual suspect - the Granite Carving School on my left; and 3. The Spanish don’t go in for raucous late-night parties at home. I guess no one has advised my neighbour nice-but-noisy Tony and his family of this convention. Actually, there was a 4th bit of news for me – That, if anyone does have such a late-night party, the Spanish are not behind the door at calling out the police to get it stopped. But I imagine that Tony would become a lot less nice if I resorted to this stratagem.
Well, neither Alonso nor Hamilton had the skill to take the Formula 1 Championship, for which we should all be eternally grateful. Of course, neither man is much liked in his opponent’s country, though I have to confess I find Alonso’s persistent whingeing marginally more unattractive than Hamilton’s darker side. However, it was easy to agree with a letter writer to El Mundo yesterday who said neither of them had set a good example by showing genuine sporting behaviour - contrast the wonderful Rugby World Cup in France – and that it was a bit much for Alonso to wrap himself in the Spanish flag when he is domiciled in Switzerland so pays not a centimo to the Spanish tax authorities. Final comment on this sorry saga – I stopped off for lunch in a restaurant in Alonso’s home region of Asturias. The TV was showing pictures of great jubilation in the capital, Oviedo, where the predominant attitude seemed to be Alonso was a hero simply because Hamilton hadn’t beaten him. Which is about as mature as the same pose struck in one of two of the UK’s execrable tabloids. I suppose it was local – and not national – TV.
Some fascinating EU news - France has taken over from Spain as the main beneficiary of European Funds. in 2006. France received 13.5 billion euros, Spain was second at 12.9 billion and Germany third at 12.2 billion. However, the numbers are misleading in that both Germany and France are net contributors to Europe, while Spain continues to be a net beneficiary. Massively so at that.
Finally - The forecast rain never arrived yesterday. So I watered my lawns at 8pm. That did the trick and it poured down overnight.