In his/her recent list of unattractive British practices, a Spanish reader included something to the effect that both the British and their houses are filthy. Truth to tell, this does seem to be a widespread perception amongst modern Spaniards and this image can only have been furthered by frontpage headlines in Spain on the Clostridium-related deaths in British hospitals. Dining with an Anglo-Spanish couple recently, I was jocularly asked by the husband whether all British women were like his ‘untidy’ British wife. I said I couldn’t speak for all British women; all I knew was that no Spanish woman could possibly give lessons in cleanliness to either my mother, my sisters or either of my ex wives. In return, I asked him whether all Spanish women were as fanatical about cleanliness and hygiene as I'd heard claimed by both Spanish and British men. He said indeed they were and we then mused on the possibility this was one of the factors behind the Spanish aversion to home entertaining. Given the tendency, he said, for Spanish women to gossip and backbite, no wife wanted to run the risk of having her picture frames checked for dust. So, on this subject at least, there you have the modern stereotypes. British women are carelessly dirty and Spanish women neurotically clean. A bit of a clash, then, with the older picture of anally-retentive Brits on one side and happy-go-lucky Spaniards on the other. “Truth? What is truth?” said Pilate, and departed smiling.
The Times reference to Spain yesterday was on the likelihood of a bank crash there. “Lending in Spain’s financial and corporate sectors” it claimed “ is grinding to near-standstill, amid a climate of suspicion about which bank could be the ‘Spanish Northern Rock' . . There is a climate of total mistrust’. Since Spanish banks didn't lend heavily to sub-prime mortage customers, the allegation is that this fear is connected to the less-than-gentle collapse in the overheated housing market. But vamos a ver.
As for Northern Rock itself, it seems the odds are on Virgin taking this over. Which would mean it wouldn't end up in the hands of the consortium of Spanish businessmen reported to be looking at it. Perhaps no local banks could/would lend them the finance.
Returning to the issue of modern Spain, here’s a quote from a Spanish newspaper - “Aesthetic medicine is now being included in the calculation of the IPC retail price index in Spain. A new study has shown that on average every Spaniard spends 2,000 euros a year on such treatments, making it part of the regular family budget”. I’m not sure I find this credible. Can it really be true that Spanish families are spending upwards of 4,000 euros a year on whatever ‘aesthetic medicine’ is? Opinions welcome.