If you got hold of a well-educated, liberally-minded Martian and plonked him or her down in Spain he or she might be hard pushed to believe that only 40 years ago the police could do what they liked with complete impunity, whereas now they seem reluctant to do much – if anything – about violent pickets who are effectively holding the country to ransom until they get subsidies from the taxpayers denied to anyone else struggling with the rise of fuel prices. But, of course, the police take their tone from the government of the day. And present-day Spanish governments seem to have an excess fear of being taken for anything like the one of 40 years ago. Which is a shame. And an invitation to anarchy.
Talking about money - Over the past two decades, Spain has received many billions of euros from the EU. And – despite the country’s obvious wealth - will continue to do so for several years yet. So it’s not too surprising it'd be difficult to find a single Spaniard who doesn’t love the EU. But I’ve occasionally wondered out loud how things will be when Spanish taxpayers start paying for roads in, say, Albania. So, I was naturally interested to read this comment from an Irish commentator in the context of on his country’s referendum tomorrow on the Lisbon Treaty-that-isn’t-really-the-Constitution-
it-so-closely-resembles:- For a long time, Ireland was the EU's little pet. Being poor and small and charming, we were showered with money and encouragement. We responded by being model Europeans and, to be fair, used the money to better ourselves. Now, the attention has all shifted eastwards and Ireland's new wealth means it is about to become a net contributor to the EU budget, rather than a big beneficiary. Although no one in Ireland says so publicly, EU solidarity looks a little different when the Irish taxpayer is building roads in Estonia than it did when the German taxpayer was building roads in Co Mayo. Quite. Mind you, I don’t suppose there’ll ever be a change of heart among those folk in the Basque Country, Cataluña and Galicia who see the EU as the quickest route out from under Spain’s jackboot. Though ‘frying pan’ and ‘fire’ are the words which occur to me.
Talking of Europe and Spain, how wonderful to see such a good performance last night from the national team against the hapless Ruskis. Thank God England aren’t in the competition, relieving me of any prospect of conflicting loyalties.
The Xunta has announced a road building plan for the next 12 years that will mean expenditure of [at least!] €6 billion over that period. I imagine some of this – possibly most – will come, via Brussels and Madrid, from German and even Irish taxpayers. I have to say roads here seem exceptionally good in comparison with the UK so I’m a little puzzled as to why it’s all so necessary. In particular, I’m nonplussed at plans to make the north-south N550 parallel to the A9 of ‘a similar standard’ to that motorway. The latter is almost empty as it is, reflecting the high tolls, but there won’t be any point to it at all if this part of the plan is implemented. I guess I’m missing something. Wonder what it can be.
There’s currently a lot of talk of topographical confusion here, arising from differing Spanish and Galician spellings of places in the region. Most prominently of Galicia/Galiza/ Galiz/Galixa itself. Which, as regular readers will know, is not merely a region but a country, a national reality or even a nation. You’d think politicians facing a recession would have better things to think about but that’s life when the Nationalist tail wags the Socialist dog. As it happens, I am topographically confused myself this morning. Reading of the road plans just mentioned, I saw a place labelled Quitiris, of which I was unaware. So I wonder whether this is the new official spelling of Guitiriz, up near Lugo. My computer travel-planning program doesn’t recognise the name and a Google search throws up no answers. Or even any clues. So it’s over to my clued-up Nationalist readers on this one.
By the way 1: If you are driving to Guitiriz/Quitiris, you can go via the camino/camiño and stop for a vino/viño along the way. It all adds to the gaiety of life. Not to mention the complexity.
By the way 2: Things could be worse. The Xunta could be composed of the Socialist Party and the Luso-galaicos[?] who think everything here should be spoken and written exactly as they are in Portugal. I think even the normal Nationalists regard these folk as nutters. But it takes one. And it’s all a question of degree. There’s another nice article in the Voz de Galicia today, but only for those of a non-Nationalist bent. My friend Roberto Blanco Valdés ends by concluding the Xunta would be better called the Separada. Which made me smile anyway. Mostly because I could understand a pun in Castellano/Castelano and/or Gallego/Galego.
Forgive the repetition. That’s life in whatever name you prefer.