Sunday, July 20, 2008

The EU supreme court has pronounced - to nil surprise whatsoever - that the Spanish government acted in contravention of the rules, a couple of years ago, when it helped a local energy company to fight off a bid from a German giant and, instead, to get into bed with a Catalan competitor. So, what now? Absolutely nothing, is my guess. In Spain, some rules are more important than others. And many not important at all.

I'd guess, though, that the President of Spain has got larger problems on his plate than a reproof from the EU. For, as if the economic crisis weren't enough, he's just had the Catalan branch of his PSOE party demand a wholesale revision of the country's Constitution. Given that the pesky Catalans are pushing at a door being held open by the government, it's hard to know where this process will stop, short of secession. Is there to be a 'free association' of the Spanish state with a Catalan satrapy, paying an annual tribute decided by itself? Will we, in fact, have to go back to the Persian, Greek and Roman empires to find a model that will suit everyone? Well, everyone who matters. Which may not include a substantial proportion of the Spanish population.

To my surprise, I read that Spain has now overtaken the UK as the European country with the highest percentage of its citizens behind bars - 157 per 100,000. In comparison, the UK is 152, Holland 124 and France 'only' 91.

The good news is that road deaths in Spain continue to fall and are expected to be around 2,500 for this year. However, every silver cloud has a dark lining and, in this case, it is that there are now fewer organs available from road accidents. Fatal ones, I mean.

Galicia Facts

Tourism news for Pontevedra:-
- There's Pressing Catch down at the bullring tonight, should you be reading this locally . . .
- The lovely little conch-shaped church of the Virgin Pilgrim in the centre of town has now been restored to its full beauty.
- A standard breakfast costs around 4 euros in Ponters, against 2.60 in Vigo and 3.50 in Madrid. But, in compensation, flats here are cheaper per square metre than elsewhere in Spain.

Back on the unpopular-with-everyone proposal for financing the regions, the main gripe here in Galicia is that the formula/model takes no account of the fact this region's population is 1. highly dispersed, and 2. aging quickly. But I feel sure each of the other 16 Autonomous Communities can come up with some highly reasonable objection. If they haven't already. The show could run and run.

I've mentioned the Xunta's own newspaper as being the 12th newspaper in circulation here. It goes by the snappy title of Delunsavenres, which you'll all have recognised as Gallego for Frommondaytofriday. Or Theweek, perhaps. Anyway, I'm pleased to announce that every word in it is in Gallego, with the exception of the TV schedules. Apart from the local one, of course.

Some readers will recall that, a week ago, a pigeon landed on my glass of Rioja and sent the contents all over my paper and me. Well, this Friday evening, I managed this myself without any external help whatsoever. Thankfully, in a different bar . . .

Finally - My thanks to reader David for the citation of a web site offering free tools, which has been a help as regards my malfunctioning computer. However, I'm still rather distracted by a number of changes/problems. Which I only mention as a prelude to a confession that, after years of thinking about it, I finally bought an external disk in Madrid two weeks ago, so I could back up all my files and programs. And it's still in its box. Draw your own conclusions . . .

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