Saturday, February 02, 2008

I’ve said a couple of times that the coverage of British affairs in the Spanish press is not much reciprocated in the UK. Right now, though, attention is certainly being given to the cases of British pensioners whose houses are being demolished because they were built illegally. And it’s always stressed these people are the victims of the cabal of dishonest estate agents, lawyers and town hall officials which has been such a feature of southern Spain for some time now. President Zapatero’s government must be credited with beginning a crackdown on illegal building but - as the property market faces meltdown – I wonder whether he really wants to hear a prominent British politician saying "If there is one thing to say about buying property in Spain it is don't think once, don't think twice but think a hundred times as you may be throwing your dream, your savings and your security down the plug hole." And I also wonder whether there aren’t more deserving targets for the Spanish government’s belated action than innocent foreigners who bought in good faith. And who are reported to get little or no compensation.

Spain has recently introduced new benefits for disabled persons. So I wonder if one particular British development will get media coverage here. The man appointed to investigate things has just announced that up to two thirds of people receiving incapacity benefit aren’t entitled to it. This amounts to a mere 1.9 million people. He says the tests used to assess claims are "ludicrous" and that, as a result, billions of pounds are being paid out unnecessarily. So let’s hope the Spanish government finds out what these tests are and then improves on them. Otherwise, I might be tempted to perfect the Spanish for “Well, I’m depressed because I’ve got this permanent back pain and no one can cure it.”

Galicia Facts

It’s been a long time since I’ve trawled – for your benefit - the several pages of ads for harlots at the back of the local newspapers. Doing so yesterday, I was impressed to see the Vigo establishment Dia y Noche [Day and Night] now has more details than ever in its huge advertisement. This is a place which is set apart from others by its class and which offers discretion, tranquillity and an air-conditioned flat. Plus a 40€ deal without tricks. In the Spanish sense of the word, of course. This week’s big attraction is Larisa, who used to be a shop assistant in a major Vigo department store. Which is presumably the Corte Ingl├ęs. You couldn’t make it up. Sadly.

As it’s Saturday – and things need lightening up - here are a few entries from a Washington Post competition to find the most romantic first line in verse, followed by the least. Enjoy . . .

My darling, my lover, my beautiful wife.
Marrying you screwed up my life.

I see your face when I am dreaming.
That's why I always wake up screaming.

Kind, intelligent, loving and hot.
This describes everything you’re not.

Love may be beautiful, love may be bliss.
But I only slept with you because I was pissed.

Roses are red, violets are blue, sugar is sweet, and so are you
But the roses are wilting, the violets are dead, the sugar bowl's empty and so is your head.

I want to feel your sweet embrace;
But don't take that paper bag off your face.

I love your smile, your face, and your eyes ...
Damn, I'm good at telling lies!

My love, you take my breath away.
What have you stepped in to smell this way?

My feelings for you no words can tell.
Except for maybe "Go to hell.”

I thought that I could love no other.
Until, that is, I met your brother

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