Friday, March 06, 2009

The percebe – or goose barnacle – is an ugly but highly prized and very expensive delicacy here. Even more so in Madrid. I read today that someone is going to market a paté of the repulsive-looking thing. I guess, like the original product, it will taste of nothing but sea water. However, it’ll certainly have a couple of edges in that, firstly, it will actually look edible and, secondly, it won’t have the consistency of rubber.

Over at her blog, my Vigo friend, Anthea, has been noting the sort of thing that makes Spain both wonderful and weird, at least to us foreigners. She touches, of course, on one on my pet-hates – the ubiquitous smoking – and this reminded me that I’d wanted to say that, while the number of people indulging in the habit may not have reduced, the legislation does seem to have diminished the amount of smoking done in places of work other than bars and restaurants. Which is presumably the explanation for this mass of cigarette butts outside the office in the residential street I walk through on the way to town each morning . . .

I can’t recall whether it’s Act 7 or Act 8 of the National Soap Opera but the crusading judge, Baltasar Garzón, has had to comply with the decision of the Public Prosecutor to transfer the PP corruption case to the courts of the Madrid and Valencia regions, rather than to Spain’s supreme court. Presumably it will now fade from public view. Especially now the elections are over.

In answer to reader Justin’s query about Gibraltar, I wrote early this morning that the Left seemed admirably less agitated than the Right about Princess Anne’s visit there this week. But - by pure coincidence I suppose - both of their house organs – El País and El Mundo, respectively – had only a brief column on page 19 today. So I reached for ABC, confident it would be on or near the front page. But I finally found it on page 23. Not a huge issue, it seems.

While doing this, I caught sight of the headline ‘Amor y esperanza’ but, to my disappointment, it turned out not to be about Graeme from South of Watford and Señora Aguirre, the Presidenta of the Madrid region.

Here’s more on the need for the EU to get its act together to avoid the Armageddon some feel/felt was impossible – “What is so dangerous, and different, this time, is that France and Germany do not at the moment see eye to eye at all. As well pointed out by Judy Dempsey today in the International Herald Tribune, the Germans are appalled by the lack of budgetary discipline in Paris, and horrified at the idea of having to bail out profligate countries in the east. Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy haven't quite sparred in public yet - they've left the sparring to Hungary, the Czechs and others who have taken shots at their bigger cousins. But common ground must be found, and soon, because the EU cannot afford countries to go bust, and it cannot afford disunity while negotiating with the US and China over the future of the global economy.” Here’s the link to the IHT article cited.

Referring back to Gordon Brown’s aspiration – demand? – for a global New Deal, the aphorism that all politics are local is never more true than in times of crisis, when personal and national self-interest are maximised. So it will, in all truth, be a stupendous political achievement if the EU survives. How it will look economically and socially – especially for countries such as Spain – is anyone’s guess. Bloody awful, is my suspicion. But, hey! No pain, no gain.

But, meanwhile, here’s some info on the latest solution - quantitative easing. This is different from everything else tried so far, except to the extent that no one has the slightest idea whether it will work or not. But, ignoring its failure in Japan, some have convinced themselves that it will. Let’s hope they’re right as, whether it does or it doesn’t, we’ll be paying for it for a long time, they say.

I regularly say that the most important thing in Spain is to have fun. Sometimes, though, the definition of this can be a tad troublesome. Here’s a video which is currently very popular here but which some see not as a bit of harmless fun but as an example of macho aggression. These would be the people regarded here as killjoys. At least by half the population.

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