I learned today of the existence of The Commission for the Rationalisation of the Spanish Timetable and its Normalisation with Other European Countries. It’s been running since 2003 and my immediate question was – What has it done in 5 years? This was actually posed in a Q&A in the article and the answer, though 83 words long, can be briefly translated as ‘Nothing’. Which didn’t come as a shock.
I’ve occasionally commented that I think the Spanish media goes too far – for me, at least - in its publication of photos of blood and gore. Not to mention bullet-ridden and decapitated bodies. But El País may finally have overdone it, even for local [non]sensitivities. I didn’t see it but earlier this month it published a picture of the naked body of a woman in Mexico who’d been raped and murdered. This actually provoked some angry letters and, today, a response in the paper. Needless to say, this was pure sophistry. To me, at least.
Surveys here suggest most Spaniards don’t actually care that much about Gibraltar. My guess is the same applies in Portugal in respect of the town of Olivenza, which the Portuguese government continues to insist be returned to them by Spain. In this post, Daniel Hannan equates the two but I have to say the place didn’t sound or feel very Portuguese when I visited it last year. That said, if the British government didn’t desperately want to get shut of The Rock, they might be able to make something of the interesting historical and legal parallels.
Talking to my Spanish friends – all ladies, obviously – about the relative merits and demerits of supermarkets here, there was no consensus on which was the best. But we all hated Carrefour. And not just because it’s French. And we all agreed that the Valencian Mercadona chain seems to employ intelligent staff and then actually train them. So, for example, they won’t treat it as a competition if both you and they are heading for the same aisle or door with your respective trolleys. One which they must win, at any cost.
Talking of shopping . . . For the last year or so, I’ve been buying bird seed for the bottom of my garden. As a result, I now have a resident sparrow community numbering around thirty. Anyway, despite the fact that the supermarkets – led by Mercadona – have just embarked on the most vicious price war in their history, I see the price of a packet of seed has just soared by more than 20%. So, it’s bye bye, birdie, I’m afraid. Every little helps.
And still talking of shopping . . . I continue to fail to get the hang of Spanish modalities. Wanting something from one of the local ironmonger Aladdin’s caves, I decided not to hang around and wait to be asked if it was my turn but to do what everyone does and ask an assistant dealing with someone else if they had a glass-cutter. He said Yes and he’d come back to me very soon. I then waited as he finished with the customer and then toured the shop, downstairs and upstairs, in obvious search of something. But, when he came back, he asked me “What was it you wanted again?”. Needless to say, at least two people who’d come in after me had been served while I waited for this.
I can’t recall whether, at the last count, the number of local daily newspapers available in Galicia - pop. of around 3m – was 13 or 14. But to my astonishment, there was another on the rack this morning. It’s El Ideal Gallego and it seems to be printed in La Coruña. And this is at a time when major national newspapers around the world are struggling to survive because of internet developments. Can all of these journals really be kept alive by real café subscriptions and ghost subscriptions from the town halls and the regional parliament? I guess so.
Finally, there were two conferences on Global Warming last week. We've all heard the pronouncements from one of them but few of us will have been aware of the one described in this article. All rather confusing. Pick your experts.