Another country's judicial system is, I fear, treacherous ground upon which to tread. For this reason, I've held off commenting on the long-running saga of appointments to Spain's dysfunctional General Council of Judicial Power. But Government and Opposition differences have finally been resolved and a dozen or so appointments announced. Meaning the body can start operating again. In the process, the PSOE and PP parties seem to have pleased no one but themselves and the Council is now seen to be less independent of politics than ever before. There was a column on the subject in the Voz de Galicia today and the opening paragraph probably sums up the widespread view:- Justice in Spain would be just as slow and inefficient if there were no General Council of Judicial Power but at least it would be cheaper. Decisions could simply be left to the politicians. Even the government-sympathetic El País weighed in with a critical leader headed:- The parties stuff the Judicial Council with biased mouthpieces and relegate professional competence and courage. Or words to that effect. But, frankly, I wonder whether anyone outside the media cares. It's not as if impartiality is commonly anticipated in Spain.
Can it be only a year or so since President Zapatero was hubristically boasting that Spanish per capita income had overtaken that of Italy and promising it would surpass even that of Germany by, I think, 2012? Sic transit gloria mundi. For now the international bond market is rating Spain the worst possible bet for the next ten years. An article on this in today's El País begins:- The hurricane of adverse economic data has caused the market to do an about turn when it comes to the risk of betting on Spain. And it's true there's nothing but negative news in the media. So much so I'm tempted to conclude the picture being painted is just as misleading as the previous overly-positive one and that things simply can't be as bad as made out. But we shall see.
A short while ago, I asked whether Telefónica would allow us to cancel the caller identification service they were going to start charging for us. Well, now we know. And, of course, the answer is Yes and No. You can do it but they'll charge you 7 euros in the process. And possibly demand you hand deliver your entire family's documentation to an address in Mongolia. I calculate that, in this financial year, they'll make pure profit of 17 million euros if no one cancels; 39 million if half of the subscribers cancel; and 77 million if we all do. Nice business. Reportedly illegal but, hey, this is Telefónica we're talking about. They may not be able to find the resources to give you broadband - or even a simple land line - but they're the bees' knees when it comes to investment in South America and China. And to coining it from ending a service to their clients. And the Spanish think Anglo capitalism is bad! Roll on a truly free market.
Spain's equivalents of the UK's motorways [M1 etc.], A roads and B roads, are the autovias [A...], national roads [N...] and, lastly, the provincial roads. It's a regular problem here that roads have changed their number since your map was published but the situation is exacerbated by the fact the country's localism means that the provincial roads must change their designation each time you cross a border. To take just one example - the B road from Lugo starts off as the LU701 but converts into the AS28 as soon as it crosses into Asturias. A few miles down the road, it morphs into the AS14 for no apparent reason but this is by the by. I fancy I've travelled - between Pontevedra and Monforte - on a road that's changed its number at least twice - from the PO533 to the LU533 to the OU533. But this is possibly my memory playing tricks on me. Probably it wasn't so neat and easy to remember.
Friends of the celebrity chef caught up in the scandal around illegal scallops have rallied round her and said the fault lies entirely with the people on the Xunta responsible for health matters. I'm not clear how this can be but, anyway, the latest development is that the only company selling de-toxified frozen scallops says its phones are ringing off the hook. Apparently, Galicia is full of restaurants which want to establish sensible ordering patterns before the police come calling. Even those who've never ordered any before but have long offered the dish on their menus. There will be more rejoicing in heaven . . .
It's not all bad news. The local press reports that a shipyard in nearby Marín is bucking the economic trend because it makes luxury yachts. Which will be some compensation to us all, I think, as we scrape the bottoms of our barrels.
At the other end of the shopping scale, I bought some D batteries from my friendly Chinese bazaar merchant tonight. It says on them they have nil mercury and cadmium and they're Ecologica. And I'm the king of Siam, of course.
Finally . . . My sister arrived last night, bringing with her a product - Stop Bark Plus - which may or may be the answer to my partner's prayers and the best 40 quid ever spent. I will let you know but, meanwhile, no negative testamonials, please. To travel hopefully is often better than to arrive.