Thursday, February 05, 2009

This is an early post, which is really yesterday’s missing post. Today’s will be along later . . .

President Zapatero met with the country’s bankers on Monday and really socked [zapped?] it to them. Instead of allowing them to lounge on sofas like the last time round, he forced them to sit on hard office chairs, at tables shaped in a horseshoe. And then begged them to start lending the money he’s thrown at them so that Spain’s now frightening plunge towards a depression can be reversed. Or at least halted.

If you want to know just how bad things now are here, this analysis should to the trick. I guess there’s a growing case for a National Government comprising both main parties but fear there’s even less chance of this happening in Spain than in the UK. I may be wrong but my impression is that politics here are rather more divisive than elsewhere. If the President isn’t fighting and insulting the Leader of the Opposition, he’s battling it out with any number of the seventeen power-hungry regional presidents. Some of whom are ostensibly members of his own party. What a job!

As for the mood of the electorate . . ? Terrified of losing their own jobs but nowhere near keen to unhorse Sr Zapatero, it seems, as they’re still willing to buy the line it’s all the fault of the Americans and nothing to do with him and his government. Which, if he wants to keep his hands on the poisoned chalice, is a bit of a lucky break. With a month to go, it looks as if his party is actually going to increase its share of the vote in the Basque and Galician regional elections. Astonishing. What on earth does it say about the Spanish electorate?

But no one can claim it’s not a mad world. A friend with no job was called yesterday by Citibank and offered a personal loan. If I had money on deposit with them, I’d be a bit worried about their lending policies. Oh, hell. I do.

At the lowest level of all this, with the construction sector as dead as a dodo, you’d think we’d be able to find an electrician willing to do some minor repairs. Well, several unanswered phones and five unfulfilled promises from the same company to call back very soon would suggest you’d be wrong. Perhaps they’ve all gone off to work on refinery projects in the UK. But, then, nobody ever calls back in Spain, good times or bad times. It’s just not done. And one is stupid to expect it and get annoyed about it. But nobody’s perfect.

And talking of bad service, here’s a comment about how things now are on the British southern rail network. As the author says, poor treatment is inevitable when there’s a regional monopoly. Which is something we know all about here in Spain. Where the outrageous billing abuses by the Electricity companies earlier this month are now very much yesterday’s news. Rating not a single word in any national paper since the reports of customer reaction and ‘investigations’ over a week ago. But life goes on. And we await the next Telefónica bill with trepidation. And a fine-toothed comb.

To end with a cosmic joke – As the wind has been howling round the house for two days, my gas boiler has naturally refused to stay on. So, we’ve had to use plug-in radiators and kettles to stay warm and heat water. Guess which company gets windfall profits from this. The one which talks of raising prices only 3.5% but which, if you analyse your bill, has actually increased them by 20% since last February.

Tomorrow’s post will be less grumpy. Maybe. Meanwhile, it’s cheered me up to read that it’s official there are more ugly than handsome/pretty people in Spain. Spaniards are forever saying how unprepossessing the Brits are. Or maybe they mean just me.

And I’ve cheered myself up even more by reading Swift’s “Modest Proposal”, downloaded from the Gutenberg Project. As everyone will know, he proposed that the problem of poverty in Ireland be solved by fattening up babies and selling them for the table at 12 months. His logic is, of course, impeccable. And one wonders whether it isn’t happening in China to solve the problem of unwanted female babies. Not to mention recession-driven poverty.

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