Monday, April 28, 2008

According to a Trivial Pursuit card, ‘Barcelona’ is the answer to the question Which city is called the Manchester of Spain? I wonder what the place has done to deserve this dubious accolade.

As I regularly say, the obituaries of Spain’s leading papers are astonishingly catholic. Yesterday, El País carried one on the English actress Hazel Court – a name, I suspect, unknown to millions of Brits. And another on Joy Pace, who apparently had a small part in Casablanca.

El País also carried a two-page article on the imminent election for the Mayor of London. Hard to see the Times or Guardian reciprocating as regards a Madrid contest. Unless, of course, Graeme from South of Watford had risen to the position of editor of one of them and Esperanza Aguirre was lurking in the background.

While no one would want to criticise the emotions shown by the families of the crew of the ship released from the maw of Somali pirates at the weekend, I have to say I found the triumphalist attitude of the Spanish government a little hard to take. How on earth can it be so proud of helping to ensure release via the payment of a huge ransom? And is this all at one with the pronouncements of the new Minister of Defence yesterday that she’s a pacifist who wants all Spaniards to see the army as a force for peace? Is appeasement back in vogue? Does no one actually want to blow the escaping pirates out of the water? Or would this, perhaps, need a UN resolution?

In their respective blogs recently, both John Chappell and Trevor ap Simon have touched on the issue of anti-Semitism in Spain. Or at least on prevalent attitudes towards Israel. So it was something of a coincidence to read in the Faro de Vigo last night that a member of the Galician Nationalist Party [BNG] had been expelled after becoming president of the Galician Friends of Israel Society. Apparently, this is incompatible with the BNG stance that Israel is an imperialist state. Even though the party claims to be in favour of democracy and free speech.

Which reminds me – I’ve been wondering recently why so many of Pontevedra’s youth sport the Palestinian scarf, the keffiyah. After all, if they wanted to show they were revolting, they could wear the Galician flag or some other symbol of protest against the colonial Castilians in Madrid. But now I realise that, in displaying anti-Israel sentiment, they are at the same time proving their Nationalist credentials. A toofer*, in other words. Clever.

I’ve repeated my view recently that local government in the UK is corrupt, in that it appears to operate primarily for the benefit of civil servants and not for their ‘clients’. Here, then, is some support for this claim.

I was saying yesterday I was a pretty contented chap. So how to explain that I awoke today after a night of dreams which included one in which my baby younger daughter – now a mere 27 – was missing? And another in which I drove an Alfa Romeo saloon into a deep flood in the tunnel of a motorway? But I should stress not all was disastrous; I emerged from the waters carrying the car under my arm. Albeit as a sans-roof decapotable. Triumphalist? Moi!

* Two for the price of one


Anonymous said...

It seems that Barcelona was considered the Manchester of Spain because of the Mancunian help given in setting up Catalonia's textile industry. The know-how and, I think, some machinery was indeed brought over from perfidious Albion.

In fact most of the textile industry was actually around Terrassa but I suppose the vast fortunes generated by it stayed in the Condal City...

Xoan-Carlos said...

There's a massive leap from anti-semitism to anti-zionism (even Jews can be among the later).

Colin said...

Well, yes and no. I guess anti-semitism would include anti-zionism but not the other way round. In the first case, no leaping would be required.