Thursday, September 25, 2008

Yesterday in New York, the Spanish President, Sr Zapatero, again claimed the financial system here is the most stable in the world. Personally, I’ve no informed view either way, though I know there are differences of opinion on this. However, I do wonder why President Z feels the need to stick his head so far above the parapet and to offer such a large hostage to fortune. Is he naïve or is he merely using a foreign platform to play to the domestic market, in advance of elections in the Basque Country and Galicia?

In the UK it’s a long-established practice to generate revenue by fining motorists for relatively minor offences. However, it’s never – as far as I know – been a feature of Spain. But it’s a relatively easy source of revenue for cash-strapped councils and, sure enough, there’s an item in one of the papers this morning about the police planning to check we’re all carrying the compulsory two warning triangles and a complete set of spare light bulbs. This development possibly endorses my suspicions about the real reasons behind the recent painting of white lines in our street. And could explain why El Trafico were stopping cars last night on a large roundabout near my house. As I doubt they were checking for ETA terrorists, I guess it highlights the importance of my regular - and no longer academic - question about the technically correct way to navegate these in Spain. Not to mention the appropriate signalling. So I think I’ll forget about safety and just stick in the outer lane and switch back and forth from a left signal to a right signal and hope for the best. When in Rome . . .

If you live with a border collie, one of the things you get to admire about these clever dogs is their uncanny ability to anticipate things. But, as I now move to and from my town and country homes on a daily basis, this is beginning to get to me. For I literally can’t move a muscle without Ryan leaping to his feet and dashing towards the door. This may sound innocuous but, believe me, when you have a collie’s gimlet eye fixed on you for hours on end, this can be more than a tad irritating. And it’s making me rather more homicidal than sheepish.


The struggling construction company which owns our toll roads has put the business up for sale. This has stirred local columnists to express the fear ownership will now pass to real foreigners and not just those with HQs in distant cities like Madrid and Barcelona. Worse, these Americans, Germans or Italians might may have motives related only to profit. Given that the A9 from Vigo to La Coruña is already one of the most expensive in the country, the inference that the construction company has been operating as a charity brought a wry smile to at least my face.

But there was even worse news in the local papers this morning – It seems that both Pontevedra and Vigo could be denied an AVE high-speed train passing through them. Which would force us to travel up to Santiago if we wanted to catch a train to Madrid. If yesterday’s report about Vigo having a line from Oporto by 2013 is accurate, this would mean the city being better connected with Portugal than with Madrid. Perhaps this is the real significance of being a eurorregion.

Which reminds me – getting a ticket for somewhere else last week, I asked the woman at Pontevedra station whether they really had withdrawn beds from the overnight train to Madrid. She said they hadn’t and asked me how I’d got this impression. When I cited the internet, she merely gave me a look of intense pity and gently shook her head. As if to say only a cretin would try to get information about Renfe this way. Maybe she’s right.

Finally – The latest chapter in the saga of the Super Bark Stop. Those not interested should sign off now as it does go on a bit . . . My partner went to see the neighbours yesterday and discovered that the dog even they think is a bloody nuisance had not only got loose during the previous night but had taken rubbish bags from our garden and scattered the contents all around their land. So they’d assumed the machine they’d found had been part of this. Acquainted with its true purpose, they gave it their blessing and confessed they felt it a better option than the one they were considering – viz. taking the dog to the top of the mountain and leaving it there. So the machine was attached to a tree and left to do its work last night. Except it didn’t, as all four dogs barked without cease between 6.30 and 7.00 this morning. Preliminary investigations suggested the contraption wasn’t working in accordance with the claim of efficacy up to 15 metres as it wasn’t responding to a dog only 5 metres away. So, we’ve taken up the [‘dog loving’] neighbours' willingness to let us put it virtually down the creature’s ear and placed it within a couple of metres. And crossed our fingers for tonight. Upon which I will report tomorrow. From a cyber café, I regret to say.

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