Wednesday, October 24, 2007

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.


Maria said...

The reason why Spain continues to be a net beneficiary of European Funds and "massively so at that" are all explained here (in Spanish):

Duardón de Albaredo said...

So the scoundrels (proven fact: spying on Ferrari) and the daughter’s boyfriend managed to lose when the championship was already 99% won, eh? Such a sad and touching story... Someone should explain (to the British press & fans) why the Daughter’s Boyfriend decided to go pick some mushrooms when the last race started... This might explain the “very mysterious technical failure” of Hamilton’s car (yes, a lot of sarcasm here).

Well, neither Alonso nor Hamilton had the skill to take the Formula 1 Championship

You got it wrong, Colin: “we weren’t fighting Kimi, we were fighting Alonso” -- Ron Dennis dixit after Brazil ridicule. Alonso was not supposed to win. And that cynical sentence proves the “equal treatment” was pure bullshit. So I am starting to give the Gran Bocazas (bigmouth) Asturiano some credit: scoundrels + I don’t want him to win = put here your most sordid suspicions ;)

And since we are talking about "bocazas", it looks like Mr. Hamilton is trying to imitate Mr. Alonso: "I'll be king". Eso con el permiso del vigente campeón (Raikkonen) y del bi-campeón (Alonso). Respect and Fair Play, Mister "I haven't won a World Championship yet. I'm still a Wannabe. In fact I incredibly lost a 99% won thing" ;)

This is a millionaires' sport. The lot of them are egomaniacal per definition.

Sarna con gusto no pica", that's what many Spanish fans think right now. They are delighted, so what?

moskvitch said...

What makes your blog interesting is that so many Spaniards feel compelled to post comments, as opposed, for example, to the "notesfromspain" blog, which languishes somewhere in Expatland. But that doesn't given you the right to throw every known rule of political correctness out of the window. What do you mean by Hamilton's "darker side"? Have you gone mad? Or is this just a sign of rebellion after a couple weeks in "insane" Britain?

Colin said...


Oops. Bit of a slip there. But, of course, I was referring to his mind, attitude, etc. and not to his skin. I wasn't even conscious of his colour. If I had been, I would have used a more less unfelicitous phrase. As is surely obvious. I hope.

I wonder if Notes from Spain has had more Spanish contributions after its recent Things I Dislike About Spain feature, which I've not yet read. . . . .

Colin said...


'Pick some mushrooms' - What the bloody 'ell does that mean?

“We weren’t fighting Kimi, we were fighting Alonso” - If true, this quote is open to a number of interpretations. Only one of them is that McLaren had it in for Alonso and were determined to see him lose.

Imagine if it had been his car to suffer the gear problems . . .

Generally, I think it's unwise to believe the British media on Alonso and the Spanish media on Hamilton, though I skimmed through the El Mundo article this morning and it seemed balanced. By definition, no British tabloid is balanced. I doubt that they'd claim to be. They are entertainment, not news, vehicles. Hence the immense power of Rupert Murdoch.

Colin said...


Thanks but . .
El recurso solicitado ( ) produce un error.

Is there a bit more to the URL?

Duardón de Albaredo said...

"Pick mushrooms" meaning? Oh, my own description of Hamilton's unnecessary accident. Hadn't he attacked Alonso (the start of the race, the cause of his accident, and for sure the cause of the "mysterious technical failure") by now he possibly would be world champion and thus he could be feeding an Ego Power Two :P

That's something both Alonso and Raikkonen didn't do. When they had a chance they did not miss it (when they became world champions, that is) ;)

"Hamilton then unwisely and unnecessarily tried to re-pass his team-mate on the outside into the Subida da Lago corner at the end of the back straight. He got onto the slippery outside of the track, and slid off into the run-off area, rejoining in eighth place".

"Only one of them is that McLaren had it in for Alonso and were determined to see him lose"

It's the only one, Colin. "We" = us. What's left? All the "others", those who aren't "us". But Alonso was supposed to be part of the team (the "us" thing). It's what we call a lapsus. This scoundrel has just been unmasked one more time. Better late than never ;)

And the press are doing their "normal" job. Alonso is a cartoon baddie in the UK and vice-versa (Hamilton is the archenemy in Spain). Anyone who thinks this poison is good stuff should not be taken seriously...

Colin said...

This is all very well but, as I recall, El Mundo said this morning the gear problem had happened also the previous day but the McLaren engineers had been relaxed about it. I think El Mundo also said that, if it hadn't happened, Hamilton could have risen further up the ranks and won the championship. But I think there was a refuelling strategy error as well, though I don't know who takes these decisions, the driver or the mechanics. Either way, if McLaren was trying to disadvantage Alonso, they did a crap job, it seems.

But, hey, who really cares? The 'sport' is so crazy it holds little interest as such. I'm more interested in how things are dealt with in the respective cultures. A Spanish friend told me, for example, that there was pretty widespread dislike of Alonso in Spain until the feeling developed that a Spaniard was being badly treated by all non-Spaniards. Then his guilt or lack of it became irrelevant. Naturally, enough.

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised nobody has written any comments regarding the net benefit Spain has been receiving from the EU subsidies for the past several years. I think this topic would be very interesting to discuss if anyone out there is willing to share any thoughts on the subject.

Maria said...

I don't know what may have happened Colin. The URL is complete .PDF is the last item. I just opened it, somewhat slowly though

Colin said...


What happens is that that URLs don't get printed fully in these comments. One has to separate them onto two or more lines.

But I got it from the copy Google sends to my email address and eventually opened. A lot of data!

Thanks again.

Colin said...


I completely agree. Why don't you kick off with your views?