Our Minister for the Economy and Taxes has called on Spaniards [and the rest of us, presumably] to show solidarity and to tighten our belts. Solidarity within Spain? Is the man mad? Doesn’t he read the papers? We’re all totally in favour of solidarity between us and taxpayers in northern Europe but solidarity between ever-jealous Spanish ‘nations’, regions, cities, towns, villages, parishes, barrios . . . ? Just look at the Catalans, fighting harder than ever to keep every duro raised in taxes there so that none of their hard-earned cash flows south via Madrid to featherbed idle Andalucians. Stuff solidarity. And tighten your own bloody belt, Sr Solbes.
Meanwhile, the Bank of Spain says it now thinks Spain grew in an unbalanced way because of the real estate bubble. Presumably it’s been hibernating until quite recently, when the heat generated by an economic implosion woke it up.
If you want to enjoy life in Spain – essentially an excellent idea – you’ll have to become inured to levels of bureaucracy quite possibly higher than you’re used to. And to learn to carry reading matter wherever you go. I got a note in my mailbox yesterday asking me to collect a registered letter from the Environment Department of the Galician Xunta. Down at the post office, this was a six step process:-
1. Hand in the slip
2. Produce my official identification and have it returned to me
3. Fill in my name, my ID no. and the date on a pink form
4. Hand back the pink form and get back the slip left in my box
5. Fill in my name, ID no. and date on this as well and hand it back.
6. Receive the letter
The utter pointlessness of steps 3 to 5 was evidenced by the fact that what I wrote wasn’t checked in any way. Indeed, it couldn’t have been as I’d already been given back my ID. So it would be perfectly possible [I can assure you] for me to have written total nonsense on both the pink form and the original slip. One wonders what is done with these afterwards. And how many Scandinavian forests are razed to feed this queue-creating, time-wasting, job-justifying madness.
After Ben Curtis of Notes from Spain kindly cited my comments about the Spanish duty of consideration for others [or the lack of it], hits to my blog virtually doubled yesterday. One reader said he couldn’t disagree more because Spaniards were far better than, say, the Brits at things like saying Hello when they enter a lift or bon appetit when they walk past your table in a restaurant. Well, yes, I certainly agree this does happen but regular readers will know that part of my thesis is that Spaniards generally have poor social antennae but, paradoxically, become extremely polite when you force yourself onto their radar. This happens most easily in confined spaces, as they can’t miss you. But you’re certainly not on their radar as they prepare to walk out of the front door of their apartment block, for example. Or to move rapidly to the left or right to enter the supermarket they’ve just decided to patronise. But, as someone else commented, if they do hit you, you will get the profusest of apologies. Usually. I did write up my thesis on this subject a while back but never posted it. Maybe I should dig it out. Or, alternatively, just lie low for a while.
After its success in interfering in the car parking and mobile phone markets so as to increase my bills in both cases, the EU commission is now threatening further action that will, it’s said, result in us having to pay to receive mobile phone calls. Way to go, Brussels. I can’t wait for your latest attempt to force markets to operate how you think they should. A little more belt-tightening will surely do me good. As a Puritan Brit in a land of hedonistic Latinos.
Finally, my thanks to The Baldie for the latest bit of Spanglish to come my way – un jatrik. Think football. Or soccer, if you must.