Friday, June 27, 2008

What a wonderful performance last night from Spain in the European Cup. I can do no better than quote Henry Winter - Echoing the three-goal margin with which they defeated Russia as Euro 2008 opened, Spain last night glided to the tournament's climax with some memorable second-half moves. Their football was of an elevated class that England can only dream of, the ball caressed at speed between friendly feet, the touch as instant as the vision was inspired. Russia were simply outplayed again. Only 2 more years of residence and I’ll be able to change my nationality.

Meanwhile, my good mood allows me to cite this ad featuring Torres and the other team in Liverpool, for which I’m indebted to reader David.

Since this is a day for good news, I’m delaying the posting of my list of Spain’s Negatives. Probably until Monday. Those who read or re-read the list of Positives [see yesterday’s post] will recall my point that Spain is a far more sane place than the UK. I’m reminded of this yet again when reading that a quarter of Britain’s adults will need to get official proof they’re not paedophiles. And that I’d quite possibly be arrested now for taking the picture I’ve got in my album of my two naked daughters in the bath, aged 1 and 5. For a more qualified comment on this madness, click here.

Having been born in South America, the Conservative Euro-MP, Daniel Hannan, is a lover of all things Hispanic. Currently travelling in Castile, he makes this comment about attitudes here to the EU - There is a little more Euro-sentimentalism in Spain than in Britain; but not much. As in Ireland, Spaniards knew that Brussels was a handy source of funds and, being a polite people, they didn't wish to seem ungrateful. But, again as in Ireland, the money is drying up, and it is far from clear that a new referendum would replicate the big "Yes" vote of three years ago. Take away the economics, and there is remarkably little European feeling. Regular readers will know I’ve suggested from time to time that attitudes here will change as soon as Spaniards start subsidising roads in, say, Bulgaria. But I still think Hannan’s being a tad over-optimistic about the speed with which this will happen. Conventional thinking on beneficent Europe runs wide and deep here. The only hope is that the veil of ‘solidarity’ behind which talk of Europe takes place in all the Spanish media will be ripped apart to reveal the same self-interested attitudes towards this subject that dominate the domestic political scene.

Hannan says the Spanish are a ‘a polite people’. Well, yes they certainly are. Or can be. Noble even, as I regularly say. But their directness also gives them the capacity to appear to be terribly rude at times. At least to over-polite Brits. For example, when the phone rang yesterday morning, I picked it up to hear the bald, barked question Quien es? [Who are you?]. And I recognised the voice of the friend I’d just tried to call. Not for him the ultra British politeness of “I’m sorry to bother you but I’ve just seen that I missed a call from you and wondered who you might be.” Then, later in the day, I got a second – even ‘ruder’ – call, which went . . .




By some incredible coincidence, this call was from the wife of the friend who’d rung in the morning. But I decided not to call her back and tell her it was me she’d put the phone down on. Which diplomacy I know she’d regard as ridiculously British. Probably.

Galicia Facts

A gentleman in our region/nation was issued this week with an ID card that expires in 9,999. These things happen with computers, of course. As the Vigo chap accused of travelling at 750kph knows only too well.

As for things that happen on Galicia’s roads, click here for a telling photo. My initial thought was this had happened at 6.30am but it turns out to have been at 6.30pm. I just love the all-too-common phrase - Por causas que aún se desconocen, el vehículo siniestrado se salió de la vía tras atravesar el carril del sentido contrario.

Finally, I see the Nationalist VP of the Galician Xunta has urged local firms to “bet on greater internationalism”. Coming from a man whose primary aim appears to be to suppress the world’s second most international language in favour of Gallego, I must say I find this a bit rich. And talking of betting, I’ll wager he didn’t make his exhortation in either Spanish or English. Both ever so slightly more international than Gallego.

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