The good – indeed excellent - news at the start of the year is that road mortalities in Spain were down by 599 in 2008. Equally welcome is the news that workplace fatalities fell by 6%
The bad news is that, though inflation has fallen, there’ll be a slew of price increases this month at the level of a few months ago, or at least 4-5% . And then there’s the increased taxes threatened by the local authorities, aimed at compensating for the loss of massive income on property transfers. So the challenge of getting through to the end of January will be harder than ever. Perhaps it’ll mean fewer kids getting a second batch of gifts on the feast of The Kings on January 6th. Known as the Epiphany elsewhere.
Whatever one thinks of them, it can be hard to let go of one’s cultural norms. I, for example, continue to overdose on ‘please´ and ‘thank-you’, even though I know it comes across as at least quaint to Spanish ears. Similarly, it’s hard for many Spaniards to forego using the formal ‘usted`, even when you’ve asked them to. At least that’s my experience with the staff in my regular bar-café. Apart from the fact there’s no equivalent of this usage in English, I also find it complicates matters when I’m asked a question in the third person. “Where has he come from?” is not instinctively translatable as “Where have you come from?” At least not by me. Perhaps I’ll get used to it one day. When it will be time to go. Meanwhile, one of the reasons it gets to me is that it’s also a mark of respect granted to older folk and I consider myself to be a man of only 29. Whose mirrors are haunted by his father.
Well, there’s now been some national coverage of the planned demonstration by foreign residents down in the south on January 9. According to David Jackson, El País has published a ‘rather nasty’ article on the subject which he sees as evidence of his fear that local politicians will use the media to present the issue as a simple one of them arrogant, rich foreigners against us poor, overtaxed Spaniards. I guess it’s too conspiratorial and simplistic to suggest El País is the mouthpiece of the governing PSOE party and that Andalucia is a PSOE fiefdom. Anyway, it would be a shame if Spain’s national press couldn’t see the international implications of this brewing storm. At a time when giving the golden but ailing goose the coup-de-grace would be to shoot oneself in at least one foot. But, then, taking the long view is not an obvious national characteristic.
Finally, here's more on the planned demonstration. I'm sure Mark will soon correct his headline . . .