Monday, January 19, 2009

They say that today, the 19th of January, is the most depressing day of the year. Well, I’ve returned from the excitement of Madrid, it’s pouring with rain and my central heating boiler won’t even do me the courtesy of switching on, never mind firing up and then summarily shutting down on a whim. So maybe they’re right.

On a wider front, the European Commission has certainly done its bit for depression by announcing that economic performances this year – both inside and outside the eurozone – will be far worse than it predicted as recently as November. Both the UK and Spain are among the worst performers and are forecast to suffer very significant contractions after the end of their respective property booms.

A leading British businessman has said that “There are no quick, miracle cures for a recession. There is, I fear, a real risk that politicians, in seeking an overnight cure, will overmedicate the economy, creating more problems than they solve.” I doubt there’s much chance President Zapatero will be falling into this trap. After all, his government only recently recognised there is a recession to cure. And since then has given the impression of having little idea how to deal with it. However, it has ventured the view that recovery will start in 2010, though the more-pessimistic EC puts this at 2011. Others are even less optimistic, feeling that the European Central Bank is proving to be slow and indecisive. Perhaps because it has so many members’ competing interests to weigh in the balance.

To get back to more important things . . . Yesterday was the feast day of St Antón, the patron saint of animals. In Madrid, a vast array of these are brought to a church dedicated to him to be blessed. As it happens, my daughter and I caught the tail end [sorry] of this as we set off on an evening paseo. It would, though, have been far more interesting to catch the ceremony which takes place down in Mijas in Andalucia, where women throw pebbles at the genitals of a statue of the saint in order to increase their fertility. Honest.

Passing a music school this evening, I noticed there were four cars parked in a forbidden zone outside it, all empty but with their indicator lights flashing. I guess this was meant to suggest “I’m only going to be parked here for a while. Please don’t tow me away.” It wouldn’t work in, say, the UK but it might do here. After eight years, I really should know.

Finally, my daughter has introduced me to a magazine called El Extintor – “A humorous magazine for the serious”. I will now see whether it makes me laugh and let you know.

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