Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Referring to claims of widespread corruption in PP party councils last week, I didn’t muddy the waters by airing my query as to how long it would be before the party’s leaders started claiming it was all a government set-up ahead of elections in the Basque and Galician regions. About 48 hours turned out to be the answer. In Spain, this is pushing at an open door. But what is really horrifying is that I find it at least plausible. So, I’m clearly well on my way to becoming a fully-fledged Spanish conspiracy theorist. Or perhaps just a plague-on-both-houses-ist.

Conspiracy thinking is one thing but I’ve now read the first example of pre-conspiracy thinking I can recall. Ahead of a football match between Spain and England this week, the Spanish Football Federation has advised the players to keep silent on the subject of xenophobia [and racism?] as any comments will only give the British ammunition with which to weaken the Spanish case for hosting the World Cup in 2018, in preference to the UK. So far, I haven’t seen any suggestion that this might be advisable because this [these] are abhorrent in its [their] own right.

Well, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard may not be Britain’s most admired financial commentator but at least he’s consistent. In this article this morning he told us EU finance ministers were planning to ambush the German government today into accepting the debt union Berlin regards as an anathema. I guess he’ll tell us the outcome tomorrow.

Four of Britain’s best known – and now most reviled – bankers were grilled live on TV by a parliamentary commission in London this morning. As they’d had serious coaching, it wasn’t very surprising they made a decent fist of defending themselves against claims of both cupidity and stupidity. But, then, bankers are traditionally good at holding their own . . .

The city of Pontevedra is blessed with a philharmonic society. A couple of years back I tried to join it but there was no web page and the address cited on its publicity material turned out to be a dead-end. Things are now much better. There’s a decent web page and you can apply to join on line. Or, rather, you can if you either have two surnames or are prepared to make one up. Otherwise it won’t let you proceed. So, I’m now officially Lord Davies. All of this is a prelude to a report that I attended one of the society’s concerts last night and was impressed at how much more civil things were than down at the Caixa Galicia film show for riff-raff a week or so ago. The piano recital started bang on time and no one was allowed in after it had begun. Plus we were instructed to turn off our mobile phones. But . . . Of the 42 people attending, 34 of them - 81% - aggregated on the left side of aisle, leaving a mere 8 odd folk on the right. So, not entirely un-Spanish.

As I’ve mentioned, Pontevedra also now has a bike-hire scheme. I noticed a couple of days ago that the ranks were empty at night. So I assumed they’re routinely removed for nocturnal safe-keeping. It did occur to me they might all have been stolen but I rejected this out of hand. Now I’m wondering, as I’ve just read that the world’s premier bike-rental scheme in Paris suffers inordinately high rates of theft and vandalism. And I know there are some French people living in Ponters.

Finally, it looks as if my ex internet provider, Ya.com, is about to take me to court over a debt of 39 euros. In the past two months they’ve sent me bills, reminders, debt collection letters and now a final demand from their lawyers. What they haven’t done is provide me with an explanation of this bill, despite an email back in December promising to do this. Such is life as a Spanish customer. So, on my lawyer’s advice, I’m off to the Consumo tomorrow morning to lodge a complaint against Ya.com and to seek an arbitration that should surely never happen. If that doesn’t work and I get hit for 39 euros plus expenses, I shall be shifting my mobile phone from Orange to Vodafone - on the grounds that both Orange and Ya.com belong to France Telecom, whereas Vodafone is British. That should hurt the Gallic bastards. And give me something British to moan about.

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