When you read something like this about Spain’s rapidly deteriorating state finances and then you read that Sr Zapatero says he’s resolved the ‘sudoku’ challenge of regional finance by promising every region more money via a combination of the main fund and one or more of three new ones he’s just invented, you begin to wonder whether he’s living in the same world as the rest of us. Or just thinks the Spanish electorate is stupid. Oh, hang on. We got the national answer to this last March. And will probably get it again here in Galicia this coming March.
Of course, I can’t resist quoting this extract from the above article - As we say in English, it never rains but it pours - and just to confirm the validity of the old adage we learn today that Spanish prosecutors are currently investigating Banco Santander's loss of more than 2.3 billion euros of its clients' money by investing with alleged swindler Bernard Madoff. Just what Spain and its badly mauled banking system needed at this moment in time - a crisis of confidence in the professional judgement of Emilio Botin.
When it comes to the law and its application, Spain can be a very confusing country. There’s been a statute for 20 years now forbidding construction within a certain distance of the sea. I think it used to be 50 metres and has recently been increased to 500 or more. Need I say that it’s been honoured more in the breach than the observance? But recently there’s been a lot of talk about enforcing it, even to the extent of knocking down huge illegal buildings. To date, though, the only demolition in Spain everyone’s aware of is that of the house of a British couple in Almería, miles away from the sea. Anyway, my point is – if the law is now to be enforced, why has the Galician Xunta authorised the cutting down of half a forest so that a huge block of flats can be built on the island of Arousa within 20 metres of the sea? And why does the Vice Secretary of the socialist PSOE party own the flat with the best view? I fear we will never know.
Having had to deal with the consequences of a my dog’s stomach upset this morning, I went to the vet’s and asked for some antibiotics. “Oh, no.” they said, in horror. “We’ll have to see whether he has a fever or anything.” So I took him in this evening, whereupon – without any discussion or request on my part – they went to work and then, twenty minutes later, presented me with a bill for 143 euros for lab tests and eight tins of special food. And the prescription? Why, antibiotics, of course. Costing all of 2 euros at the nearby pharmacy. So, yet another example of the standard Spanish business strategy of First trap your customer however you can and then skin him as often as possible. And the special food? Well, Ryan is refusing to eat it, of course. Even if he is partial to the filthy water of pools up in the forest. Anyway, you certainly need to have your wits about you in this country. Which I manifestly didn’t this evening. I wonder if they’ll ever notice that I never set foot in their clinic again. Even if Ryan begs me to take him for another painful finger up his backside. Which is somewhat less than likely.
And I wonder, if I were Spanish, would I have kicked up a fuss and refused to pay.
Finally, here’s something about a truly admirable young Spaniard . . .