Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Listening to Radio Clasica this morning, two questions came to mind:-

1. Do German-speakers honour the Spanish language by pronouncing, say, Zaragoza as tharagotha? If so, this is not generally reciprocated here when it comes to, say, Mozart. Or, indeed, any other foreign name. In any language. All are Hispanicised.

2. Does Radio Clasica ever check its listener numbers just after they start the regular morning session of utterly dire, modern tripe? I suspect not. Perhaps they just don’t care.

To my astonishment, I read in ABC yesterday a column which came close to being eurosceptic. It was, at least, headed The End of Europe and it did suggest the original dream was unsustainable beyond a limited number of like-minded, visionary members because it flew in the face of reality. Rather like communism, then. Anyway, Spanish readers with a better grasp of the nuances will correct me, if I’ve misread it. It certainly contrasted with an earlier article in this same [right-of-centre] paper which ended with the traditional Continental view that the solution to the problem created by the ungrateful, confused Irish would have to be political and not juridical. In other words, it doesn’t matter that the letter of the law is that one member failing to ratify the Treaty/Constitution kills it stone dead; it must be implemented. Which is the sort of stance previously taken by the likes of Stalin and Hitler, I suspect. Though the latter at least came to power legitimately before he started dispensing with the niceties of the law. Unlike, say, Franco. You’d think the Continentals would be more aware of these parallels than the Brits, whose last the-law-is-what-I-say-it-is dictator was 400 years ago. But apparently not. Mark my words, it will all end in tears.

Still on the subject of confusion – Those predicting serious global warming now say this will first cause something akin to the last Little Ice Age. Which presumably satisfactorily explains why temperatures are currently falling. Time for a new overcoat before the prices rise. And time to invent a form of heating that doesn’t involve fossil fuels. Individual nuclear power stations? Designed by Iranian scientists?

When it comes to the thorny issue of bullfighting, my traditional stance is that that it’s bloody cruel but you can’t argue with the bravery of the men who risk their lives. Right now, the darling of the corridas is one José Tomás, who appears to be not so much courageous as perhaps reckless and foolhardy. Suicidal even. On Monday in Madrid, he was awarded three ears but got himself gored at least three times in the process. He certainly stands closer to the bull than anyone else I’ve seen and seems to kill the beasts more cleanly than many others. But when it comes to his artistic merit, I haven’t a clue. Perhaps he deserves the adulation for this and perhaps he doesn’t. But he’s certainly a riveting spectacle and you can see him performing here, before he duly gets himself killed. As he surely will.

Talking of young men getting themselves killed, we had this weekend a variation on the theme of a drunken young man in a fast car running into a tree at 5am of a Sunday morning. This one drove into the sea in Portonovo, along the coast. But the difference was lost on his mother. And I bet there still won’t be any police cars outside the Sanxenxo discos next weekend.

The Minister for Industry has said that the quicker the economy falls, the quicker will be its recovery. He’s also said Spain must make the most of the moment to modernise and gain competitiveness and productivity, so it will emerge from the crisis much stronger. The time to do this was surely during the fat cow years of the last decade. But the PP and PSOE governments had other priorities, obviously. And the PSOE now has no relevant policies, apparently. Being too immersed in non-crisis management, I guess.

I made four calls to one of my banks yesterday. I only intended to make one but that’s the way of things here. The first two were abortive because the system of providing identification - involving residence card letters and numbers in my case - had changed since the last time I rang. The third call was long and frustrating because the woman talked in perhaps the most rapid Spanish I’ve ever experienced, plus the line was very bad. It ended, as is not uncommon here, with her just putting the phone down. The fourth went something like this . . . . .

I’m enquiring about a transfer I made 5 days ago which hasn’t arrived in my other bank.

[Eventually] Well, it’s above the limit for internet transfers.

OK but why wasn’t that indicated when I requested it?

It must have been.

No, it wasn’t. The only advice I got was that the transfer would be made the next day.

Well, we can do it now and it will take 2 days. By the way, have you considered the X Fund?

No and I’m more interested right now in knowing what the rate on my account is and whether it’s risen in line with the Euribor of the last year.

We can offer you alternative funds.

That’s not what I asked. Has the rate risen at all during this period?

No, we haven’t raised it. Would you like to invest in the other fund?


It would be petty and vindictive of me to give the name of the bank. So here it is – ING. But, really, I blame myself re the interest rate. The rule here is caveat emptor and you must expect any service to operate more in favour of the supplier than you. I should have been more vigilant. Spanish companies just love to rely on customer inertia, though this is true of banks in particular all over the world, I guess.

As I’m talking about the economy, here’s one view of the future – “Even if there’d been no housing starts in 2007 (almost a record year in fact), it would take the market between 5 and 7 years to absorb the property glut”. Sometime during this period it will be time to buy again.

Hey ho.

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