Well, four more car-knackers yards and still no wing mirror. Boy, are these down-to-earth places. But I was wrong to suggest none of them has any system for storing parts from wrecked cars. The big one near Vigo certainly does. But it compensated by having an anarchic ordering system which was essentially a free-for-all. So, as I’m still too British for this rough and tumble, it naturally took me longer to get a negative here than anywhere else.
I don’t think I’ll ever understand how rules work here. On the way into town this morning, I saw two motorbike cops cast a glance at three cars blocking the ambulance emergency bay outside the health centre and then just drive on. Ten minutes later, I saw them do likewise in the centre of town for a car parked three quarters on the pavement. It had its hazard lights on, of course, and I know the Spanish think this makes cars invisible but I could certainly see it and I imagine the cops could too. Perhaps they were on their way to the richer pickings of the little cul-de-sac where many of us have been hit in the last couple of weeks, even though there’s space aplenty. Which makes a good lure, of course.
My impression is that there’s a pretty widespread view here that the three to twenty years spent at university are somewhat less than taxing for the majority of students. At times of economic duress, you might think they’d keep their heads down and concentrate on getting a qualification to help them secure employment. In contrast, Spain’s streets are still ringing to the sound of demonstrations against the Bologna Process designed to adapt Spanish universities to European standards. For what it’s worth, the students say they’re protesting against back-door privatisation but one does wonder whether the real concern is the ending of comfortable Spanish practices.
I say there’s economic duress but, if the students read only the newspaper front pages, they could be forgiven for not being aware of it. For some time now, these have been filled by accusations of corruption against whichever party the paper’s owners don’t support. The right-of-centre El Mundo did have a hard-hitting editorial the other day, demanding that the president of the conservative PP party gets to grips with the corruption daily chronicled by El País. But it wouldn’t surprise me if Graeme from South of Watford felt this was really just another bit of undermining of said president as a prelude to him being replaced by El Mundo’s favoured candidate for succession - the woman Graeme loves to hate, Esperanza Aguirre, the Presidenta of the Madrid Region. And he might be right.
Two weeks after the elections there, things are still unclear in the Basque Country, as the government and opposition parties strive to forge some sort of deal that will deprive the local nationalist PNV party of power after thirty years. Whatever this signifies for that region, it should mean that in Madrid the minority socialist government will lose the voting support of one of the smaller parties which have kept it in power. Which will make things interesting, if there’s a vote of censure brought by the resurgent Opposition. Indeed, another of the smaller parties who’ve been bribed into supporting the government – the Galician Nationalist Party – has reacted to its loss of power here by becoming rather more critical of Madrid than it managed at any time over the last four years. It has, for example, suddenly joined us sceptics in dismissing claims from the Ministress of Development – previously endorsed - that the AVE high-speed train will be up and running by the end of 2012.
Finally . . . I’ve been updating/correcting my Galicia web page and I was reminded that someone wrote to me a couple of weeks ago to say that the para below showed I was a racist bigot. I have to say, I’m not entirely clear why. But the amazing thing is he said he’d been brooding on my offence since he first read the page 5 or 6 years ago and had now decided to show me – at very great length – just what an arrogant British bastard I was. It takes all sorts:-
Located up in the north west corner of Spain – above Portugal – Galicia is separated from the rest of the country by extensive mountain ranges on all sides. To the south, though, only the river Miño separates it from Portugal. For hundreds of years Galicians looked west for the solutions to their problems - to the New World – rather than to the rest of Spain. In its turn, Spain regarded Galicia as a poor - and not-too-bright - relative and treated it rather shabbily. Until recently, the roads through the mountains were less than adequate and the journey from say, Vigo, to Madrid took 10 to 12 hours. With the opening of the A52 and A6 autopistas, this can now be done in less than 5 hours. Possibly even 4 if you drive at the sort of (illegal) speeds which are quite commonplace on Spanish motorways.
Here’s a link to the page, if you want to read more about Galicia. Please let me know if any of the links there still aren’t working.