Thursday, May 14, 2009

As regards both illegal immigrants who actually made it here and citizens of the EU’s new eastern members, Spain’s policies have been unquestionably – even admirably - Liberal. As the economic crisis brings evidence of higher levels of petty crime and racism, one wonders whether these policies will, nonetheless, come to be seen as excessively liberal. It was one thing to invite or accept people when the construction industry demanded cheap labour but it’s another thing knowing what to do with them now. Hence the various bound-to-fail schemes for persuading them to go back home. Not a happy scenario. And it coincides with the news that Spain has slipped to no. 3 in the global tourism stakes, behind France and the USA. It never rains but it pours. Especially here in Galicia. In winter, I mean.

My rule-of-thumb for the word ‘solidarity’ is that the more it’s used, the less of it there is around. And so it is here in Spain. Where 'national solidarity' means squeezing more out of the EU, Andalucian solidarity means getting more from Madrid and Catalan solidarity means keeping more in Barcelona. In the context of unemployment and labour reform, union solidarity seems to mean protecting those workers already on good ‘permanent’ contracts while doing little for the many on insecure temporary contracts. “What’s ours is ours”, in other words. Especially when times are bad. I put it all down to Spanish tribalism and a form of devolved government which seems designed to entrench it.

It’s not only us guiris who think Spain is a noisy place. Apparently, many Spaniards formally complain about being disturbed by loud neighbours. But respite is at hand. New building regulations have recently come into force and will ensure greater ‘acoustic isolation’. Too late for me, though. Thank God Tony goes away to sea for 6 weeks at a time. And I have a refuge in the hills for when he’s home.

Finally . . Down at the roundabout, the construction of the bus-stop continues at its established stately pace and I think it’ll be a while before I can post a picture of the finished item. Meanwhile, I can reveal that it’s quite a work of art, where form has possibly triumphed over function. So, for example, the ceiling is of wood panelling, bolted to granite beams. Which I venture to say is a tad ambitious – even foolhardy – in Galicia’s maritime climate. But perhaps the architect is expecting repeat fees. Or owns a timber business.

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