Tuesday, March 17, 2009

At last a non-partisan article in the Spanish national press on corruption. In El País today, Rosa María Artal spares no blushes in attacking Spanish practices and attitudes and calls for an end to this huge stain on the country’s reputation. What she’s up against is the statistic she quotes herself – Only 2% of Spaniards think corruption is a national problem. But, hey, it’s a start.

As it happens, I hear there’s a program tonight on British TV about land abuses down south. This should further postpone the day when Brits start re-investing in property here. I guess it’s just possible that economic distress will cause something of a re-think here. But it’s hard to be confident.

Talking of the economy . . . The eminent economist, Paul Krugman, came to Madrid over the weekend and re-acquainted President Zapatero with some truths about his room for fiscal manoeuvre within the eurozone and the pain which must be inflicted on Spain, if she is to resume convergence towards EU norms. In brief, ‘Very deep and unpopular structural reforms’. Hard times. Some, of course, have argued that this is exactly why Spain is in the eurozone. But this may take some explaining to the man in the street.

The north west of Spain is naturally not as hot and dry as the south of the country. Indeed, I recently described Galicia’s maritime climate to friends as ‘like living in the Atlantic but without the bobbing up and down’. And in winter we usually get a lot of rain. And I do mean a lot of rain. Though it’s not so wet right up in the hills, I believe. All that said, we’ve just had a month of superb sun and the temperatures today are again up in the 20s. In fact, at 29 degrees, the Galician city of Ourense was set to have the highest temperature of the day for all Spain. This city up in the mountains sits in a natural bowl, alongside the river Miño. As a result, it’s the only city in the country capable of achieving the national extreme at both ends of the temperature scale. Though not on the same day, of course.

It’s not unusual in Pontevedra to see two women coming towards you of similar height and build, wearing an identical style of clothes and sporting the same hairstyle, despite the fact there’s about 20 years between them. These, of course, are mother and daughter and it makes me smile to think how much of an anathema this would be for young British women. From the back, these be-jeaned mothers look like their daughters’ sisters and are referred to by my own sharp-tongued elder daughter as 17/60s. Seventeen from the back and 60 from the front. This is because she’s still nearer 17 than 60 and I guess her attitude could change.

A bar owner in Barcelona has been jailed for several years for driving his neighbours mad with noise. And down in Malaga new laws are being introduced to prevent one practising one’s guitar at home. The local authority says it’s imposing a max of 45 decibels generally and only 40 in bedrooms, which is described as being as loud as a library. I wonder if that’s a Spanish library or, say, a Japanese library. I’m left wondering by how far Tony’s bawling would exceed these. Not to mention every moped in every street in Spain.

Finally, an interesting article on that modern sham, the Irish Pub.

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