Sunday, August 10, 2008

Theoretically at least, the time has run out for agreement between Madrid and Barcelona over how to finance Cataluña under its new Constitution. And a true war of words has inevitably broken out between the respective Presidents and cabinets. Of course, it's pale stuff beside the differences being aired right now between Russia and Georgia but it's nonetheless quite serious. All the more so as the Presidents are from the same Socialist Party/Group. Re-reading Raymond Carr's History of Modern Spain this week, I noted his comment that the regions were a perennially complicating factor throughout the 19th century. One could hardly argue that things are much different now and I've begun to wonder whether there'll be regional problems in Spain until the day dawns when there are no regions in Spain. Just Madrid [renamed Esperanzastan?] and 16 other EU satrapies, all wanting to take part in the European and World Cups. Plus the Olympics, of course.

El País tells us today of a Spanish-Russian mafia responsible for running 26 brothels around the country, in which up to 10,000 Russian women had been tricked into working and then held as slaves. It's apparently taken four years to bring 99 people to justice and to close some, at least, of the brothels. However, one is left wondering just how seriously the Spanish government regards this issue by the last sentence of the paper's report:- The judicial authorities have detected that the first dozen or so brothels closed down are now operating again under new owners, after the term of the precautionary closure has ended.

Galicia Facts

By midday today, the streets of Pontevedra were remarkably clean of the detritus of last night's bacchanal. Some of the smaller ones, though, still stank rather more of expressed urine than of hurled wine..

The other problem faced by residents and visitors enjoying the summer festivities are the unfinished works taking place both on major city roads and on the old quarter's pavements. In some places, it's a real mess. But at least we know the city will look even better when the works are finished than before they started and that this will be the end of things. Except it won't be. For - assuming the funds are there - our mayor will then turn his attention from the roads and the pavements of the city to the river which runs round it. As of 2010, he assures us, we will have a playa fluvial [fluvial beach] on which to relax. What then, I wonder. A new sky?

More excellent news on the noise front - The Xunta is going to oblige town councils to create noise-free zones. Bringing us this welcome news, the Faro de Vigo provided a helpful list of things associated with different decibel levels, viz.:-
Really harmful: 130-140 - A rivetting machine
Harmful: 90-120 - A chain saw
Dangerous: 80 - A street with lots of traffic
Impedes speech: 60-70 - A normal conversation
Irritating: 40-50 - Loud conversation
I can't help feeling the last two examples have been transposed. Nonetheless, I think most foreign visitors to Spain would have no difficulty in recognising that a 'normal conversation' between Spaniards could well impede their speech.

The Faro de Vigo did, by the way, find space to report the anti-bullfight protests in Pontevedra, re-raising the question of why the Diario de Pontevedra decided this wasn't newsworthy. Can it really be in thrall to political and/or commercial interests? Surely not.

Finally, if you're interested in buying one, you'll want to know that Galicia and Asturias have, between them, two thirds of Spain's 2,800 abandoned villages. Galicia's Lugo and A Coruña provinces have 524 and 506, respectively. Buy one, get one free.

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