Friday, November 28, 2008

I attended a lecture last night by a friend who restores stonework throughout Galicia, after which I enjoyed the Thanksgiving dinner at Pontevedra’s English Speaking Society. Where I took the opportunity to ask several friends whether it was considered rude in Spain for people to get up and leave a lecture at any time from five minutes after its start. The consensus appeared to be that Yes, it is regarded as bad manners. But only in theory because, since in practice everyone does it, there’s no moral obloquy attached to it. In other words, when a rule is widely ignored, it’s no longer a rule. And something which would be inconsiderate if only one person did it ceases to be inconsiderate when done en masse. As with illegal parking, I suppose. And talking during music concerts. Or any sort of performance, in fact. I have to admit the logic is lost on me. But of course there’s always strength in numbers.

Talking of the Spanish approach to inconvenient rules . . . I don’t watch much TV here but enough to be unsurprised the Brussels is taking Spain to the European Court of Justice for not doing anything to stop the ads regularly totalling more than the 12 minutes per hour permitted by European law. Often quite significantly. As with Bulgaria and its rampant corruption, the EU is miffed that previous warnings had been completely ignored. Not that the two cases are equivalent, of course. You’d have to consider something like the Valencian “Land Grab” laws, if you wanted this.

Just in case one wasn’t sated by the pictures of bodies and parts thereof yesterday, there were plenty more in today’s papers. In fact, I’m not sure any of them could resist a large spread.

On the economic front, the government of President Zapatero has decided not to go with tax cuts a la Gordon Brown and others but to inject 11 billion euros into the economy one way or another. Of this, the lion’s share – 8 billion – will be passed directly to the regions/municipalities, to allow them to stimulate things locally in any way they want. And without much supervision and accountability, it seems. Cynics say this is aimed at buying support ahead of difficult negotiations around constitutional reform and regional elections. God forbid.


Because of a question on a news item raised by one of the staff in my regular midday bar, I yesterday got to meet a man I’ve seen in there many times over the last eight years. He turned out to be a doctor and we chatted for a while over issues of mutual interest. But he never introduced me to his wife, who was sitting at the table just a metre or so from us. Things can happen quite slowly here in Galicia but I hope it’s not another eight years before I make her acquaintance. Meanwhile, I did address greetings to both of them today as a sort of compromise. Or invitation even. The ball is in their court, I feel.

I didn’t actually go into town a couple of days ago. So Fate dictated that the person hit on one of my regular zebra crossings would be a 65 year old woman. Ironically, a car stopped for her but was then shunted into her by the idiot behind. I can’t help wondering whether it was the local police chief. It wouldn’t be his first time.

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