Saturday, December 20, 2008

I’ve written that it’s easy to measure the impact of the recession by the number of shops in the city now boarded up. But it’s not all doom and gloom. As I walked into the centre yesterday, I passed three places being fitted out. These were branches of La Caixa, Caixa Galicia and Caja Iberia. So, all banks. In a city which is already overflowing with them and is in the grip of a credit crisis. Must be further evidence of the truth of President Zapatero’s claim that Spanish banks are the strongest in the world. Or at least the most profitable.

The Spanish Supreme Court has pronounced it illegal for CCTV or hidden camera images of private individuals to appear in the media as this infringes their right to privacy. Would that the Spanish courts were equally concerned with a person’s right to peace and quiet. I was going to write this anyway today but the immediate stimulus has been my neighbour hammering on the wall at 7.45 of a Saturday morning. Which, by my ‘two-hour’ rule-of-thumb for coping with the unique Spanish timetable, equates to 5.45 in other countries. And I don’t mean just one big bang for, say, putting up a picture; I mean continuous hammering over 45 minutes. So far.

I’ve made a number of references to university rankings recently. Here’s some from a Dutch university, comparing places across Europe by various criteria. As the Voz de Galicia said yesterday, those for Spanish institutions are hardly in keeping for a country which boasts of being the 8th largest economy in the world. Specifically, the first appearance is at 26 [Barcelona] and the second at 45 [Madrid]. As the paper says, there’s a long way to go before Spanish universities rank with her business schools. Perhaps the Bologna process will help. If it is fully implemented.

This global warming is a bugger. I think I read it’s been one of the coldest starts to winter for ages. And now I see there’s been snow in both New Orleans and Las Vegas. What on earth can it all mean? Will polar bears start heading south for the winter?

Back in the here-and-now, the BBVA bank tells us the ‘overhang’ of unsold new properties in Spain has reached 1.4 million and that – rather unsurprisingly – there are 50% discounts in some parts of the country. What a shame the poor Brits can’t take advantage of this, thanks to their rubbish currency. Which is forecast to reach parity with the Zimbabwe dollar by the end of next year. Unless Gordon Brown wins a snap election next Spring. In which case, it could fall even further.

Finally . . . Need I add that I’ve just discovered Tony is back from sea. The first clue lay in the [adult] bawling and [child] crying that began the minute the [bastard] hammering stopped. Presumably we can lay the fault for the latter at his jet lag as he always flies home from Singapore. Anyway, on to the next, noise-laden 6 weeks. Starting with the 5 boisterous, all-night dinners between Christmas and the Epiphany on 6th January. Hey ho. Life can be such a joy in fun-loving Spain.

We're going away for a while. Well, wouldn't you?

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