Saturday, March 14, 2009

I saw a strange sight in a café this morning - a solitary chap reading a book while taking his coffee. Clearly, he was unaware it's forbidden both to be alone and to read books in a Spanish café. Plus it's compulsory to chat, preferably at the same time and volume as everyone else. Though you are permitted to flick through any number of newspapers while doing so. But all was explained when I later saw him wending his way along the Portuguese camino to Santiago that runs through Ponters. A foreign pilgrim with higher things on his mind. So, more likely the Bible than the latest 'erotic' novel given away by El País.

Talking of Spanish café life . . . There are a lot fewer people around of a Saturday morning. I guess the reason is two-fold:-1. Many folk are sleeping off last night’s juerga; and 2. There’s no work to be taking an hour’s break from. Or two hours, if you’re a civil servant.

Replying to a message from Mike the Trike this morning, I was reminded of a quote by Angel Ganivet about the Spanish that I’d noted yesterday when fixing broken links on my Galicia web page. It’s included here. As I said to Mike, the universal attitude to rules here – whether you’re an individual or the government – is that they’re to be accepted in principle but ignored if they’re inconvenient to you personally. Screw everyone else. Especially ignorant, insensitive funcionarios in Brussels who are threatening Spanish culture by trying to stop 10 year olds throwing fireworks at each other. And the British worry about their bananas being straightened! Or used to until the directive was scrapped last year. By the way, there’s also a quote from Katherine Hepburn which nicely sums up Spanish society.

I mentioned yesterday a hard-hitting El Mundo editorial against corruption in the opposition PP party. Graeme of South of Watford has kindly confirmed his view that the target was really its president, Sr Rajoy, and not the party itself. Or even corruption, I guess. The other thing odd about the article was the way in which it talked about the guy accused of bribing party officials – Sr Correa – as if were already a convicted, jailed felon, rather than someone who merely stands accused of, admittedly, a series of offences. However things look, isn’t there a presumption of innocence here?

Finally, here's a fascinating article on leadership, at the end of which the writer poses the question - So, if we cannot bear heroes with feet of clay, must we prepare ourselves to have no heroes at all, and instead look up to boring functionaries who rely on reassuring clichés and the bland avoidance of the truth? Sadly, the truth is that in the increasingly tabloidised Age of the Bureaucrat there can be only one answer. But I guess it's better than fighting the Germans every few years. My suggestion, which I expect to fall on stony ground, is that we start the fight-back by arraigning Rupert Murdoch before a war crimes tribunal. Which would possibly be rather ironic as he may well be a brilliant leader.

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