Friday, February 20, 2009

The topic of young people having sex has featured in both the UK and the Spanish news this week. In Britain it was the tabloid-led tale of a 15 year old girl and the three potential fathers of her baby aged between 13 and 16. Here in Spain, there have been demands to raise the age of consent from its current 13 to something nearer the European norm. If you think 13 is young, bear in mind it’s even lower in the Vatican City. There seems to be something of a Catholic factor at play here. Though I guess the rate of teenage pregnancy in both places is a lot lower than in Protestant Britain.

Although Spain's economy is in a truly dire state, we currently have a comic opera being played out on the national stage that is both a joy and a boon to the media. The characters include:-
- A crusading prosecutor of left-wing sympathies who’s both loved and loathed within the socialist government. And who is said to be vain and ambitious.
- An opposition party which he’s trying to bring to book for wide-ranging corruption in and around Madrid [and possibly Valencia]. And which was already severely distracted by an internal power struggle.
- A Minister of Justice who went hunting with the prosecutor and other pals last weekend, in a region for which he lacked a licence, and for which he now faces a conviction and a fine of up to 4,000 euros,
- A leader of a regional government from the same party as the Justice Minister who is driving the latter’s prosecution for illegal hunting, and
- A leader of the opposition party under the cosh who appears to be lost at sea, without a rudder.

I believe it was in the latter days of the Roman empire that the politicians hit on distracting the populace with circuses that were ever bloodier. In modern Spain, it seems, the politicians favour distracting themselves. Though we do have a ring-side seat.

Out in the sticks of Galicia, we’ve had our own little comic opera to enjoy. Yesterday a group of pensioners paid 15 euros each for a trip down into Portugal involving lunch. Imagine, firstly, their surprise when the coach disgorged them at a restaurant quite a bit short of the border and, secondly, their astonishment when they then received a 30 minute harangue from the leader of the Galician Nationalist Party as to why they should vote for him in the imminent elections. Fittingly, the episode was dismissed by the Voz de Galicia as “Low grade caciquismo”.

Taking my daughter and her friend to a distant beach yesterday, I decided to take the Vía Rápida route through the hills, in preference to the coast road. Since I last used this, it’s been converted from a two-lane death-trap to a four lane motorway, with a concrete divide down the middle. However, the old speed limit of 100kph has been retained and there are now two short 80kph stretches, round curves that are pretty gentle by Galician standards. One wonders why this is. At least, one does until one notices the radar cameras on the bends, one of which I might well have fallen foul of, despite watching my speed intensely. I was annoyed about this today, until I happily recalled it had been my UK-resident daughter who’d been driving the car . . .

Talking of revenue-raising scams, here’s an article from the Galician press about the Tax Office demanding supplementary payments from anyone who’s bought property in the last year. The specious basis of this are the valuations done by the banks for mortgage purposes. As everyone – including the Tax Office – knows full well, these have been laughingly higher than the market value of the property, never mind the [lower] valued declared in the notarised documents. Clever but nasty. And no one is laughing now.

The EU is tightening up regulations around fireworks. But not here, as Spain will opt out of the directive on the grounds that it conflicts with time-honoured traditions and threatens her cultural heritage. As would a directive against throwing various animals off church roofs, I guess. Or sticking firebrands into the flanks of terrified bulls. But I digress. The complaint has been aired here that people in northern climes just don’t understand Mediterranean folk. Which is true but it works the other way round as well. And he who pays the piper normally calls the tune. Though not in this case, obviously. Anyway, when it comes to fireworks at least, my sympathies are with the Spanish. Despite the still vibrant memory of a night of terror in Elche all of 38 years ago.

Finally, my comment yesterday about PP party fears of losing the Galician elections because of easy-to-forge postal votes from South America has been endorsed by a report today that a family in Argentina has received a card for an old member who died four years ago and whose death they’d reported several times to the Xunta. It’s bad enough being beaten by a whisker. But by a whiskered ghost?


Lenox said...

I was in the Guardia Civil cuartel today and was asked to help translate for a distraught Englishman who'd lost his 16 year old daughter. She'd disappeared four days ago and he hadn't seen or heard from her since.
As we were putting the finishing touches to the denuncia, the girl herself arrived under escort. 'Where have you been since Tuesday?' we asked her. Her answer, in a delightful Mancunian accent, was 'I've been out shaggin' and switched off me phone'.
Well, that's orl right then.

Sierra said...

Your lucky - our local two-lane but with crawler lanes on the hilly sections has been supplemented by a "Galician Corridor" (designated GC-2.2)- a two-lane limited-access road, but no crawler lanes. So in theory it is a faster route unless you get stuck behind a lorry. (Thank you EU tax-payers)

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