Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The latest potty pronouncement from the Bank of Spain is that companies should show ‘moderation’ as regards salaries and dividends. Do the directors really believe that commerce in Spain acts differently from elsewhere and that there’s someone out there who will actually take any notice of this plea just because it comes from the BoE?

For his part, President Zapatero appears to lack confidence that public sector managers, at least, can be relied on to show moderation as he’s announced there’s to be a freeze on salaries for its top managers. Admitting this year’s economic growth rate will be ‘below 2%’, he also advised that jobs in the public sector will be reduced by 30% this year. But that was yesterday morning and, by evening, he’d confirmed he’d got his numbers the wrong way round and that the cutback would be 70%. Which hardly inspires confidence that he’s on top of the challenges faced by the economy.

I believe we’re currently enjoying Equality Week. Flanked by the very young [and not-yet-much-admired] Ministress for Equality, the ever-visible VP, María Teresa Fernández de la Vega Sanz, assured us yesterday that imminent new legislation will bring an immediate end to all forms of discrimination against women here. The said Ministress has been lying rather low after kicking up a storm in which she said the words fistro, finstro and jarl were all Anglicisms which had been happily introduced into Spanish. But none of these mean anything at all to me and none of them is in the Royal Academy’s dictionary. The only definition for jarl I’ve come up with is Old Norse: a Scandinavian noble ranking immediately below the king. Which is probably not what she had in mind. Fistro/Finstro may or may not be a term of abuse invented by a Spanish comedian and bearing no relation whatsoever to an English word. So . . . Help!

And talking of Spanglish – A young Spanish friend visiting her family here told me last night she’s now employed – in Finland – ‘testeando software”. To my surprise, both ‘testear’ and ‘el software’ are to be found in the Collins dictionary. Purists may say these are not really examples of Spanglish but [I think] Anglicisms which are now true Spanish words. Maybe, but that’s not really the point.

And talking of Spanish – El Mundo reports that 16 intellectuals have come up with what they call a manifesto for a common language. They want parliament to guarantee the teaching of Castellano [= Spanish] across all the regions of Spain. Could there be a more eloquent testament to the fact that this is now a lost cause?

Two interesting observations arising from the final pages of Paul Preston’s ‘El Caudillo’:-
1. Tony Blair’s Third Way was preceded in the 1950s by Spain’s Third Force. Which was something mid-way between the Left[!] of the Falange Movement and the Right of Catholic ‘conservatives’. Well, everything’s relative.
2. Manuel Fraga’s decision to go hunting the weekend the Prestige oil tanker broke up off the Galician coast in 2002, was in keeping with Franco’s strategy of dealing with Spain’s 1950s crises by disappearing on extensive fishing or shooting trips.

By the way - The other council that has implemented anti-corruption measures is that of Sevilla. Since this city's in Andalucia, one's left wondering whether this is some sort of clever smokescreen!

Finally, I’ve been asked for my comments on the Spain-Italy match . . Unexciting. Great result. Worrying lack of sharpness upfront. Concern re Russia on Thursday night. Meanwhile, though, Spain is awash with relief that a curse/jinx that’s at least 88 years old has finally been lifted. Personally, I was amused to read that numerous ‘Sub-Saharans’ has used an anticipated distraction on the part of border patrols to attempt a mass crossing into the North Africa ‘enclave’ of Melilla during the penalty shoot-out. Though it’s not really funny, of course.

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