Wednesday, December 31, 2008

In El Pais this week, their literary critics and colleagues chose Chesil Beach as the best novel of 2008. Call me paranoid but I can’t help feeling this is because it confirms the Spanish view that all Brits are sexually repressed.

Tomorrow, the presidency of the EU Commission will move from a committed Europhile – the president of France – to a eurosceptic, the president of Czechoslovakia. This is not going down well across Europe and the impression gained is that one is not allowed to disagree with what we might call the party line. This has led me to wonder who actually constitutes the Government and who the Opposition of the allegedly democratic body which rules so much of our lives. And whether it’s really regarded as acceptable for a party of opposition to be put in power by what passes for the European electorate. Actually, the answer’s pretty obvious. Any and all opposition to the great project from, say, French, Dutch or Irish referendum voters will be roundly and contemptuously ignored. There simply is no mechanism for an effective Opposition to the EU government. Which is hardly a new observation but the change of president has given us a timely reminder us of it. The Czech chap may be able to slow things down for 6 months but the project will steamroller on towards ultimate success or massive failure. And during this process Spain’s great [and understable] love affair with the EU will either continue or, like all infatuations, turn to either real love or to disappointment and even disdain. Which is a good time to note that [relatively poor] foreigners are now officially more than 10% of the [relatively rich] Spanish population. Which will surely provide the central and local governments with some real challenges in the future. Especially during a recession.

I actually wrote the above paragraph yesterday. Today I read that a mere 80% of Spaniards think the government needs to change its policy on immigration. And this is before unemployment reaches the levels it’s forecast to soar to in 2009.

The second pertinent thing I read today was this forecast for the EU – “It will be a good year for the EU despite the drama of an Irish referendum and the uncertainties of the Czech presidency for the first half of the year. Even if Ireland votes “No”, the EU will chug along.” Of course it will. What’s to stop it other than implosion?

Here’s a linguistic conundrum for Spanish speakers to mull over on their day off tomorrow, inspired by yet another look at the small ads at the back of the Faro de Vigo. Should it be “Las chicas mas sexy”, which I think is the normal way it’s done. Or “Las chicas mas sexys”, which I saw today. And has the Royal Academy of the Spanish language pronounced on this?

Just a quick comment today on the Great Galician Turbine Turmoil [the Mammoth Mill Mess?] – It seems that an added element of bizarreness to the process was that the views of the Ministry of the Environment were ignored and that the plans announced call for several ‘parks’ in protected areas. The leader of the PP party has said of the whole affair that “It smells of something rotten.” Hard to disagree. It’s either a brilliant move by the nationalist BNG that will secure it increased representation and power in March or both a reflection of just how much power has gone to its head and the highwater mark of its exercise of same. Not long to wait to see whether it has over-reached itself in mistaking its position for that of the much-better-supported Basque and Catalan nationalist parties.

Finally, the last day of the year sees me finally bringing you these pictures of the best tuning in and around town, and which I’ve been trying to snap for quite a while. When I’ve had my camera with me, it wasn’t to be seen and when it was, I didn’t have my camera. But today I came back from town and found it parked in front of me. Serendipity? Or God again? If the latter, it occurs to me he might turn out to be Jeremy Clarkson.

Actually, it now strikes me this may be the same car I photographed from afar last week. Oh well, Happy New Year, everyone.


Midnight Golfer said...

Subaru is a Japanese expression meaning "unusable horsepower"

(and Tennessee is the old Cherokee word for parallelogram.)

Keefieboy said...

That's a bloody ugly car. Happy New Year!

moscow said...

The half of "Czechoslovakia" which does not form part of the country whose president will take over the presidency of the EU, has just entered the Euro today. I don't seem to recall that the Slovaks were in any way coerced, forced, bullied into doing so. The people of Slovakia are by all accounts very happy to join the Euro. I would like to remind you that the queue to join is getting longer and longer.

moscow said...

And BTW, it's not the Czechs who are against the EU/Euro. It's not the prime minister. It is just the president - Vaslaw Klaus. I have listened to many interviews with him over the years. A bit of my humble opinion.

Colin said...

As if it made any difference what the French, Dutch and Irish were against . . .

My point was both the 'government' and 'opposition`are comprised of heads of state. But no opposition is permitted, whether or not it's in accord with the wishes of the people represented by the head of state.

As I say, the EU may prosper or fail. I don't know which and, frankly, me da igual. I live in one member and am planning to move to another. it matters little to me whether Britain [or Denmark or Iceland] prosper in or out of the EU. My real concern is its democratic credentials and whether the fact that they are contrary to the localist zeitgeist will or won't contribute to its future.

Meanwhile, any port in a storm . . .

Happy New Year. I will watch the progress of the euro this year with personal and financial interest.

Colin said...


HNY to you. See you in Madrid one of these days.

Colin said...

Thanks, MG. HNY

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