The Spanish government recently announced major new benefits for the disabled. One wonders how much analysis they’ve done of the UK scene, where it’s said that the incapacity benefit has been “abused and misappropriated to the point of travesty”. So much so, in fact, that it’s now acknowledged by all to be a racket. Indeed, data obtained under the UK’s Freedom of Information Act confirms that “an absurdly high number of claimants are receiving benefit for conditions such as obesity and vaguely defined ‘stress’”. Could this happen here? I expect so. But at least it will have the same beneficial effect of reducing the unemployment numbers, once people latch on to the possibilities of a lifetime benefit without strings. Or am I being too cynical about human behaviour?
Galicia’s saving banks [the Caixas] are traditionally involved in sponsorship of cultural events, possibly because they’re obliged to be. In fact, each of our two biggest Caixas has an impressive cultural centre in the heart of Pontevedra, dedicated to exhibitions and to regular events. Trying to book on line for one of these yesterday – with ‘trying’ being the operative word – I discovered at least one of these banks indulges in another Spanish tradition, charging you more for doing things on line than by phone. Can this be because they can’t or won’t make the overhead savings that would motivate them to offer you a net discount? Or is it just profiteering by not-for-profit organisations?
Up in the hills behind Pontevedra, a group of people belonging to a sect called Gnosis Samael aun Weor are having problems with the local council over six container-homes they’ve installed on land they bought a while back. A spokesperson insisted that the Barcelona dealer who’d sold them the containers had assured them they wouldn’t need planning permission to set them up as houses. Well, posibly not in Cataluña. And maybe not even here, in theory. I suspect the group will have to call on all its divine connections to get this solved. Including their celestial bankers.
In the past few weeks, I’ve been referred to – not unwelcomingly – as ‘Spain’s most prolific blogger’ and ‘the doyen of bloggers in Spain’. Yesterday, though, fellow blogger John in Barcelona labelled me ‘Old Reliable’. I’m sure he meant this kindly but, on balance, I prefer ‘prolific’ and ‘doyen’. Even if some of the insults hurled at me in Spanish and Gallego have been more entertaining.