Wednesday, November 28, 2007

To counteract any suggestion this blog is too negative about the Spanish economy – particularly the construction sector - I’d like to stress that GDP growth this year, though down on forecast, will still be a very impressive 3.8% or more. Way up on the performance in other EU members. According to a column in Sunday’s El Mundo, the composition of this growth shows the underlying strength of the Spanish economy and its ability to withstand the current turbulence arising from criminally senseless mortgage lending in the USA. Briefly, the slowdown in consumer spending and reduced investment in construction are largely compensated for by growth in exports, investment in plant & machinery and continued strength in the tourism sector. Plus better growth in wages than at any time during the last 15 years. At least, I think that’s what the article says.

Readers arrive at this blog – currently around 150 a day – in a variety of ways. None are stranger that the bizarrely-worded searches via Google and the like that keep me amused. Yesterday, in fact, brought two of these. I apologise if the first offends . . .
Suck a donkey dick
and
throwing goats off church towers
The second is not exactly rare. And, strangely enough, I’d quoted it to Spanish friends on Monday, when stressing that the UK equivalent of Spaniards who think all Brits resemble the scum who vomit their way around Ibiza are the Brits who think all Spaniards love nothing more of a weekend than to chuck a screaming goat off a church tower. My friends were shocked and incredulous. At least about the image of themselves. Strangely, they didn’t seem to think the British stereotype was so outrageous.

Talking of national stereotypes - Thanks to TV and press reports of such things as the organised theft of luxury cars, fraudulent charity collecting and roving gangs of young pickpockets in Madrid, most Spaniards - if asked them what word they associate with Romanian - would probably respond Thief. Or perhaps Gypsy. Which is a little ironic as the number of Romanians in Spain has risen from 211,000 at the start of 2007 to 506,000 at the beginning of October. In fact, they may now outnumber even the Moroccans here. And this is despite a two-year moratorium on free entry under EU norms. So one wonders what will happen when the floodgates are fully open. And what the reaction will be. I just hope one or two of them are plumbers who mean it when they promise to come "sometime this week”.

And talking of rude words – El Pais featured an article a couple of days ago on the topical subject of telebasura. The headline read Tellyrubbish is devouring our kids. Family fights, infidelities and insults dominate the programs shown during the hours of juvenile viewing. The paper then gave an example of the sort of bad language that’s commonplace. So far, I haven’t found a Spanish friend to whom this makes any more sense than it does to me. Perhaps a clever reader could oblige - Tu eres mi cabrón, ¿Crees que voy a llamar a un putón sin dientes del puerto?" Click here for the full text.

In the USA, it’s illegal – I think – to overtake a parked school bus in any circumstances. Here in Spain, I’m sure it’s not only illegal but also stupid to cross a solid white line to overtake a bus parked on a blind bend. Particularly if you’re the second of two drivers doing this in quick succession. What I’m not sure about is why the road accident statistics in Spain aren’t even higher than they are.

Finally . . . Something to make the heart soar. And the face to break out in a smile - The missing section of a 17th century cabinet worth £1 million has been found outside the toilets of a pizza restaurant in Yorkshire. Click here for more.

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