Saturday, February 07, 2009

It never rains but it pours. At least for the right-of-centre PP party. Ahead of regional elections in both the Basque Country and Galicia, it’s recently become embroiled in a vote-sapping scandal around who’s spying on whom within its divided Madrid organisation. And now the crusading leftist judge, Baltazar Garzón, has announced he’ll be prosecuting a number of leading people connected with the party for the usual package of fraud, embezzlement, etc., etc. And, as if that wasn’t enough, the PP party leader in Galicia has today announced he’ll be letting go of his leading candidate for the city of Ourense as he apparently failed to tell the tax authorities about 250,000 euros commission paid offshore to him by a Portuguese company a couple of years ago. You couldn't make it up.

My net colleague Graeme of South of Watford (But A Lot West of the Centre), once told me – I think – that, while both main parties have more than a few members convicted of corruption in office, the laurels go to the town halls controlled by the PP party. Maybe so but I’d have to say it’s a hard task deciding where the bias lies just from reading the endless news reports. But I can say that one or two of the men fingered by Garzón look as if they came straight out of Hollywood casting for Spanish empresarios – tanned face, big cigar, huge sunglasses and long greased-down locks. Perhaps they were only play-acting.

Talking of skullduggery . . . The consulting group GFK estimates the total number of films illegally downloaded in Spain last year at 350 million. Along with 2 billion songs and 50 million videogames. No doubt we’ll be hearing some tut-tutting from government spokespersons quite soon. But, then, they do have more important things to worry about right now.

Here in Galicia, it's reported that the guy responsible for Environmental Affairs in the city of Ourense has between 60 and 70 people on his payroll from a town of only 3,500 souls. So, guess where he comes from. As it happens, he's from the Nationalist party. But then 'nationalist' usually means 'regionalist' in Spain. If not actually 'localist'. Which won't help as the country struggles to get to grips with and survive the recession-cum-depression. And I can't help noticing it doesn't stop the media going on at length about the narrow xenophobia being demonstrated in Britain and France. The words 'mote' and 'eye' spring to mind.

Driving back from town tonight, I flashed the driver in front who’d neglected to put his lights on. But I should have known it would have no effect. This doesn’t seem to be an established signal here in Spain. Incidentally, it’s not that uncommon here to see cars being driven without lights on. At night, I mean. I wonder whether it happens elsewhere. Or whether switching on the lights is just one of those things that take second place here to a good chat.

Finally . . . For the etymologically curious, something I discovered today:- Bellwether: Derived from the Middle English bellewether and refers to the practice of placing a bell around the neck of a castrated ram (a wether) leading its flock of sheep. The movements of the flock could be perceived by hearing the bell before the flock was in sight.


David said...

Down south we indicate that people's lights are on/off by holding our hand out flat, thumb underneath, and closing them in a pincher motion. (Doesn't work in the dark, of course).

Mind you, irrelevant as from 2011 as all EU cars will have to have lights on all the time, a la Sweden.

Flashing lights means "cops around corner". It's good manners not to flash back, as otherwise the cops might see it and Take Action.

Justin Roberts said...

Down south we also have many one-eyed monsters. I used to live in Malawi (3rd world) and that's what we called them there: You know, the ones where you think a motorbike is oncoming but it turns out to be car when it gets closer.

Ferolano said...

Some years ago, when first living in Spain, a municipal cop tried to give me a ticket for driving in town with my headlights on - I should have been driving with only my sidelights (luces de poblacion - town lights) I always had the impression that the reason was one of saving money on the car's fuel bill.

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