To say the least, there’s a long history here of antipathy between the Socialist party [the PSOE] and the Catholic Church. This has flared up ahead of the March elections, after the bishops advised voters not to support parties who ‘negotiated’ with the Basque terrorist group, ETA. A furious PSOE has labelled the Church ‘immoral’, which seems an odd word to use. More logically, it’s pointed out that – as every Spanish government of whatever stamp has negotiated with ETA – this is effectively an exhortation not to vote at all. I suspect the PSOE sees this – with some justification - as the Church attacking it indirectly for introducing liberal measures in respect of divorce, gay partnerships and abortion. Some commentators argue that the Church, as an independent organisation, has the right to say whatever it likes. But this rather ignores the fact that the state – despite decisions made 30 years ago to the contrary – still provides subventions to the [established] Church. So, roll on disestablishment and financial self-sufficiency. Which, in fact, recent revisions to the annual tax return are meant to achieve.
An article in El Pais reports that, despite the law which came into force – sort of – in January 2006, Spain is now behind the rest of Europe when it comes banning smoking in closed spaces. This is because owners of bars less than 100 square metres are allowed to chose their regime. And most of them, naturally, have opted to let their clients do what they like. Which is to blew smoke in the faces of other clients, apparently. Depressingly, sales of cigarettes have fallen only fractionally since the law came into force in 2006. Except in Murcia, Extremadura and Castilla La Mancha, where they’ve grown by up to 3%.
That rather ridiculous sport, Formula 1 racing, has this week given us the pleasure of a spit-fest between Hamilton and Alonso. The former claims he did learn something from Alonso – how not to behave as a champion. To which the latter retorted – “I don’t want to talk about him. Someone who’s never won anything.” Which seems rather like talking about him, to me at least. In Alonso’s defence, one has to say it’s incredibly difficult for a Spaniard not to talk. Monks in closed orders must go mad here.
Another of our infamous drug barons was in court this week, accused of laundering around 20 million euros. His wife attended the proceedings in a Burberry dress, which can’t have gone down well with the company. Or perhaps it did, wealth being wealth regardless of origins.
A cartoon in the Faro de Vigo had an old Galician farmer using the Gallego word fechada for closed, instead of pechada, which I thought was the right word. But friends tell me the cartoonist is probably from Ourense, where this different word is used. Be that as it may, it’s confusing for us foreigners aspiring to be fluent. So I’ve written to the Xunta’s Minister of Language Normalisation to suggest he takes time off from suppressing Spanish to normalise a few things closer to home.