Watching the tail end of a British TV program last night on the 100 Most Annoying People of 2008, I was delighted to find I’d never even heard of the winner, one Agyness Deyn. She’s an empty-headed model, apparently.
Talking of which . . . I’ve taken to accessing an on-line news and opinion digest called The First Post. Over the last 3 or 4 days, this has brought me nothing but at least a hundred citations of a report that the secret of fashion designer Valentino's perma-tan may have been revealed. Click here if this intrigues you.
As predicted, President Zapatero has announced that the poorer bits of Spain disadvantaged by his new system for financing the regions will benefit from a separate fund. As a result, says the government, all the regions will get more money than ever before and everyone in Spain will get the same level of services wherever they live. If you believe this, you’ll believe anything. Or at least that Spain will have full employment by the end of 2008. Anyway, President Z’s divide-and-rule strategy obviously owes so much to perfidious Albion that I’m surprised it hasn’t yet been labelled El Plan Britanico.
There’s no doubt Pontevedra is a finer city now than when I arrived 8 years ago. Assuming you’re a pedestrian. However, the price in daily disruption has been high and I had hoped this was coming to an end. So it was disappointing to see this headline in the Diaro de Pontevedra – “Get ready for a year of widespread works”. So, more road and pavement obras to avoid. Or at least negotiate. However, the good news is that much of the recession-easing cash will be spent on two more bridges over the river separating Pontevedra from my barrio of Poio. Ultimately, this will ease traffic bottlenecks but you don’t have to be a pessimist to envisage more chaos in the near term. Hey ho. I just hope they finally finish and open the monstrous glass and granite building which is destined to be the new home of the city’s fine museum.
If you’re thinking of bucking the trend and buying a property in Spain, you might want to give the developers and estate agents [realtors] a miss and head for the nearest bank or caja/caixa. As this commentary points out, they're likely to have a lot of stuff to shift. Perhaps at knockdown prices. Though I should warn you it’s a commonly held view here that bank auctions are dominated by a ruthless mafia who don’t take kindly to being overbidden on distressed properties. But this could be just an urban myth.
For one reason and another, we’re giving up the modem/dongle that allows us to get the internet on our laptops wherever there’s mobile phone coverage. Needless to say, it wasn’t enough to go back to the shop where we signed the contract. Nor just to ring the premium rate number they gave us and go through the customary time-consuming process of extrication. No, we also had to send a premium rate fax with a letter and a photocopy of both sides of an ID card. Just in case – I suppose – some twisted crook was trying to end the contract to our disadvantage. As I was walking through town later, I got to pondering just how long Santander’s business would last if they decided to introduce such Spanish practices in the UK, when I suddenly came upon this car . . . .
I may be mis-reading this but, on the surface, it looks like Santander’s acquisition of a couple of ailing UK banks has led them to try a few British practices here. But, if in fact they’ve been providing commission-free banking for some time, then I apologise for my rank opportunism. Frankly, though, it looks to me like a message from God. Who presumably reads this blog and has some sympathy with my view of Spanish banks.
By the way, the phone company from which we rented the dongle is Vodafone. Which is British, of course. It obviously cuts both ways.