Sunday, June 01, 2008

The first day of June and I’m delighted to say another glorious day has dawned here in southern Galicia, rather contrary to the forecast I looked at – in despair – on Thursday. I hope the same is true of Madrid as I was a bit surprised to hear last night from my elder daughter that May had been just as bad there and that she’d even put her heating back on. But, then, she’s always been something of a friolera.

News of a surprising bit of coalescence between the UK and Spain this morning – the percentage of British families using childcare facilities has fallen from 57 to 54% in the past three years, as parents have increasingly taken to depositing their offspring on grandparents. This extended family concept has, of course, the same impact on job mobility as it has in Spain. But, truth to tell, this may not matter much in a recession.

The Spanish adjective emblematico is used a great deal more than its English equivalent, emblematic. But I guess it really can be said to be an appropriate word when, as the economy’s free-fall gathers pace, the Spanish government continues with the distraction of its multi-party negotiations aimed at arriving at a new model for financing the regions. Needless to say, the pressure comes mostly from Cataluña, supported by those regions who’ll benefit from their proposals and opposed by those – such as Galicia – who’ll suffer. The concept of solidarity has apparently been suspended as the horse-trading proceeds around a pot which is diminishing while eighteen Presidents slug things out.

And talking of the President of the Galician Xunta – He’s reported to have said gnomically in Madrid this week that “All the forces of the Right - and not only the politicians - will be waging war against the Galician language during the regional elections due next year”. I don’t really know what this means but my guess is we’re supposed to understand that anyone who doesn’t accept increasing imposition of the local language at the expense of Spanish is at least a proto-fascist. This is nonsense, of course. But I plead guilty, despite being a supporter of the promotion of Galician culture and language by willing taxpayers. On willing citizens.

I’ve not yet had any advice about roundabout protocol but I possibly got an insight when following a learner driver into one this morning. As we approached the two-lane hazard, the driver signalled right despite the fact there was no right exit and so he could only go straight on or turn left. As soon as he got into the outside lane, he started to signal left, drove round the perimeter then cut across me in the inner lane going straight on. But, as I’ve seen this a hundred times or more, I was ready for it. Of course, I’m prepared to accept I was in the wrong here in Spain, even though I don’t recall having had this experience in any of the 20-plus countries I’ve driven in. When in Rome . . .

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