Spanish newspapers are once again reporting that a deal has been struck to transfer Ronaldo to Real Madrid. So I was interested to see this bit of diplomatic British understatement from the Manchester United manager, Alex Ferguson – “Do you think I would get into a contract with that mob? No chance. Christ almighty, I wouldn’t sell them a virus, let alone Cristiano Ronaldo. So you can take that as a No. There is no agreement whatsoever between the clubs.” It will be interesting to see what Spanish conspiracy thinkers will make of this. They are not exactly thin on the ground.
Customer Service – Spanish style. I did some gift-shopping today. Well, one has to around this time of year. Though I don’t normally start so early. I was in search of an electronic dictionary and tried eleven different shops across a spectrum of outlets - stationers, gift-shops, bookshops, electrical goods retailers and computer shops - before I found a place [book-cum-gift shop] which stocked a range of dictionaries. Here’s the summary of the responses to my query as to whether these were sold:-
‘No’ with an expression of regret – Nil
‘No’ with advice as to where I might get one – Nil
‘No’ with a smile – 1
Bald ‘No’ - 9
One gets use to this but it still leaves me wondering how Spanish companies do any overseas business. And, of course, it isn’t very fair as, firstly, Spanish customers don’t demand anything more and, secondly, Pontevedra is hardly at the centre of international trade.
But there was one shop where the treatment was fine. This was a down-to-earth place in the centre of the city which sells agricultural stuff - including live quail, plants and trees and crude but doubtless effective rodent traps. I was after a Christmas tree but they’d run out and weren’t sure if they’d be getting any more in. However, the guy was apologetic and told me of a garden centre out of town where I might just get one. It’s a shame I wasn’t in search of something he stocked for my true love. Like a partridge caught by its leg in a rat trap in the middle of a pear tree.
President Zapatero has often been criticised for his naivety in economic matters and for the ludicrous inaccuracy of his forecasts/ promises. But, undaunted, he’s now telling us employment in Spain will suddenly stop falling and even soar skywards from next April. Which, happily enough, would be just after the regional elections here in Galicia in March. Luckily for him, a week is a long time in politics and electors’ memories are short. In fact, I’d bet most Galicians won’t recall similar prognostications about imminent full employment in Spain made only a year or so ago, prior to national elections. The reality, of course, is drastically different. But do immigrants vote?
I’m trying hard to stick to a resolution not to cite bad news and to minimise references to the UK or the EU in a blog written from – and largely about – Spain. But, in a region which has Europe’s largest fishing port, it’s impossible not to be worried by a comment like this – “This week European fisheries ministers have been haggling in the annual quota-setting round in Brussels. Europe's systematic mismanagement of its fisheries, under which ministers regularly hand out quotas higher than scientists advise, was memorably described this week as akin to a ‘doctor assisting the suicide of a patient’ – for it will ultimately condemn the fishing industry to death.” But, hey, maybe that’s just alarmist claptrap. Even if we continue to turn a blind eye towards illegal fishing. Which is not an accusation which can be levelled at the Spanish government, as it regularly bombards us with ads about the size of the wee fishies we should have on our tapas plates. But don’t. Suffer little fish to come unto us.