Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Spanish press gives impressive coverage of UK events. To say the least, this is not exactly reciprocated in Britain. Today’s item on Spain in the UK papers is pretty representative of the situation - a report that Brits stand to have their houses, at best, confiscated or, at worst, destroyed even if they were legally built 30 years ago. In other words, long before the 1988 Law of the Coast and the current government’s efforts to clean up after the rampant corruption and despoliation of the last 10 to 15 years. This won’t, of course, do much for a construction industry now screaming for bankruptcy-avoiding tax breaks for the buyers who are now refusing to open their wallets. Funny but I don’t recall hearing this during the ‘fat cow’ years.

I regularly comment on the different attitude towards risk in Spain. And I’ve confessed to ambivalence about this, sometimes viewing Spanish pragmatism as more sane than the UK’s obsession with [unachievable] total safety. A nice example of the latter is today’s recommendation from Britain’s doctors that pregnant women should avoid alcohol totally. This, it seems, is far more stringent than their recommendation of only a couple of months ago and was justified by the relevant government minister on the grounds that they were really interested in absolute safety. Which, she logically said, could only be achieved by taking no alcohol at all. I guess she’ll be advising next that we stop eating, so as to ensure we don’t go down [and out] with botulism.

Another example of this madness today was the warning that kids under 2 should not be given cough medicines as:- 1. They are not as effective as a blast of steam up the nostrils, and 2. There have been 4 deaths in 50 years which might just have had something to do with the ingestion of a syrup. So, to be absolutely sure your child does not become an esoteric statistic, just keep taking the steam. And putting vinegar and brown paper on cuts in case you get an allergy from the plaster. Is this really the stamp of government to come? If it is, roll on another war to distract us from trivia. Brought to us by people whose expenses alone vastly exceed the salaries of most of the population. The trivia, I mean. Not the war.

In my hugely popular book How to Slim Easily and Cheaply, there’s only one chapter. In fact, there’s only one page. OK, there’s only one line. And it’s shorter than the title - Eat less. Exercise more. The validity of this advice has been proven yet again over the last 10 days, when I've walked little, eaten more than usual and gained 2 kilos. Or 4.4 pounds. Which will, of course, take a lot more than 10 days to shift. And I have another 10 days of excess before I can even start on this. Oh for a bit of Delhi belly.

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