Thursday, February 07, 2008

I mentioned yesterday the telling responses to my survey of Spanish friends on the likelihood of a female President here. [By the way, I overlooked the redoubtable Mrs Merkel]. So it was a tad ironic to read that Hispanic voters had helped Mrs Clinton to her victory/draw [tie] on Super Duper Tuesday. The second irony was that perceived Spanish racism was the main topic of yesterday’s blog and that Hillary’s opponent was black. So, all in all, it’s impossible to draw any hard conclusions. As if I’d try.

I wrote recently that the salary of many [most?] young people in Spain is around €12,000 a year. This is not quite true as it was also claimed that Arts graduates get as little as 7,200 - because the business world regards them as poor team players who additionally fall short in English and IT skills. One wonders why they bother to attend university in the first place. Unless it’s just to spend 3 to 15 years failing exams while having a good time at your parents’ expense. Perhaps some Arts undergraduates never actually graduate. Or even try to. You could hardly blame them when there is no stigma attached to this life of leisure. And someone else is prepared to go on funding it. Plus give you a car in which to bring home your washing at the weekend.

Despite government measures, crimes of violence in Spain continue their upwards trajectory. I don’t know whether the rate is higher than in other developed countries but I do get the impression Galicia’s speciality is men above 60 killing wives to whom they’ve been wed for 40 years or more. Often these are retired fishermen and one wonders whether spending an unaccustomed amount of time together proves fatal for one of them.

The percentage of Spaniards interested in bullfighting is reported to have fallen from 55% in 1971 to 27% in 2006. And within the latter group, the vast majority are over 55. Not a good trend for those who make a handsome income from this cultural event. It’s actually possible to see it dying out in the whole of Spain, as it already has done in Cataluña.

French farmers have once again been demonstrating their particular understanding of the free trade essence of the common market by destroying Spanish fruit and vegetables on the border. And taxi drivers have been blocking the frontier because of a dispute about their fees. And why not; they’ve been pulling this sort of stunt with impunity at the Channel ports for decades now.

There are stock market upheavals all over the world but from Asia comes the news that theirs have been unsettled by the arrival of the Year of the Rat. Astrologers have said the Chinese new year will be unstable. Well, it certainly will be if everyone fears it will and acts accordingly. A one-way bet. Surely these people can be bribed to change their opinion. Where is corruption when you need it?

GALICIA FACTS

I wouldn’t have thought it clever just before a general election but the Socialist/ Nationalist coalition which runs Pontevedra appears to be falling out in public on an increasing basis. In the last week, much has been written of their differences on how to address the problem of binge drinking in the street and on street furniture in the city. Good knockabout stuff.

Tuesday evening saw the one of the main Carnaval [Entroido] events on the fringes of Pontevedra’s old quarter. Well, I say ‘evening’ but the start time was 11.30. It was billed as an evening of satirical performances, taking place on the back of large flat-bed trucks, and it was the first time in seven years I’d attended. But probably the last. It’s always a joy to mingle with fun-loving Spanish crowds but the performances left me rather cold. For the most part, they were by men indulging the strange Spanish male penchant for cross- dressing - either as women or as flamboyant homosexuals. This is reciprocated by members of the audience, as it will be on Friday, when we have the funeral cortege for Ravachol. But more of that later.

En passant, the binge drinking mentioned above – or even that which accompanies fiesta events such as Tuesday night's - produces UK levels of raucous behaviour, vomit and urine. What it doesn’t have is any violence. This is truly impressive but the pessimist within me wonders whether it can continue.

Finally - An Anglo Galician Association has been formed. Membership merely requires an ability to speak good English and a connection with Galicia. The one in Spain, not Poland. Anyone interested should write to angalass@gmail.com

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