Thursday, April 09, 2009

For those of us living in one of the troubled peripheral members, it’s good to read that, thanks to the long-suffering German taxpayer, it’s unlikely the EU will suffer an existential crisis. Probably.

Just before I left for the UK, I took a book out of my local library and was told I’d have to renew it by internet during my two week absence. But I forgot to do this and so expected a fine when I returned it this week. Instead, I was told I was barred from taking out any more books for three days. Try as I might, I can’t think of the logic for this. Other than the library fears that, if a system of fines were introduced, they’d never see either the lender or their books ever again.

As everyone knows, the Spanish take a flexible, individualistic approach to rules. Especially to those – the majority – seen as personally inconvenient. Here’s a beauty from the Catalan city of Gerona – The local council will be fining dog owners up to 400 euros for not giving their pets a 20 minute walk each day. Presumably the canines will be tagged and/or fitted with GPS devices. Or at least pedometers or stopwatches.

Which reminds me . . . Having occasionally been surprised at the contents of the blue, green and yellow containers in my street, I wasn’t exactly astonished to read this week that only a small percentage of Spaniards know much about recycling household stuff. And even fewer care. Whether this is due to media inattention, wilful ignorance or just a national distaste for regimentation, I wouldn’t know.

Nor was I surprised to read this morning that a significant percentage of young people here think they can have six drinks before they risk being over the limit for driving. This would be bad enough for glasses of wine or beer but, if it’s spirits they’ve got in mind – and assuming the bar-owners haven’t diluted the gin or whisky – this would equate to about 20 glasses in many other countries. No wonder so many of them have fatal nocturnal meetings with lampposts, trees and other inanimate but solid objects at the side of the road home.

Down at the Poio end of the bridge into Pontevedra, there’s a large roundabout with a bus stop on one side of it. You might like to pause a second and think about this concept. But, anyway, it’s currently being renovated. My guess is the new facility will be much snazzier than its predecessor but I’m pretty sure it will be no more of a bus stop. For the truth is the spot is really a car park, into which drivers occasionally allow a bus to intrude. With predictable consequences for traffic flow. I leave you with this pic of a typical scene . . .

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