Ambrose The Optimist is back here with his fears for the economy of the Western world. He lists the “savage” measures recently taken by the Irish government but adds that “The deeper truth is that Britain, Spain, France, Germany, Italy, the US, and Japan are in varying states of fiscal ruin.” Good to know we are not alone.
Spain’s economy also ‘stars’ in the latest batch of unemployment data, with the claim that the country “has even lost touch with Greece and Portugal (its traditional allies in terms of bad figures) and has reached the lamentable state of the Balkan countries.” As if this weren’t bad enough . . . “Many believe that the country will be the last to emerge from the current downturn, with the EU forecasting unemployment in Spain next year at 20.5%”. So, shame a depreciating Peseta is off the cards. And no wonder the government seems more than willing to reduce employers’ social security contributions.
But, hey. It’s not all bad news. I had one of those great Spanish days today, when a lunch set up for three people grew first to five, then eight and finally to eleven or twelve. All very informal and enjoyable. And, though I can think of other countries in the world where this could happen, I’m not convinced any of them are in Europe. Of course, it can work the other way as well. You get commitments to lunch from twelve Spaniards and only three of them actually turn up. But you learn to take the rough with the smooth. Or emigrate.
Reader Richard in Korea has pointed me in the direction of some research which indicates that any second language you learn is ‘represented’ in a different area of your brain from that of your mother tongue. So maybe my Iranian teacher wasn’t as crazy as I thought when he told me years ago that my then wife was better at picking up Farsi than me because, as a woman, she naturally had more empty space in her brain than a man. Just in case anyone’s tempted to attribute this belief to Islam, I should add that I’ve read the Koran twice and can recall nothing about the respective sizes of male and female brains. Plenty of other stuff to raise the hackles but not this.
Finally . . . In Asia they got very excited today about a solar eclipse that lasted 6 minutes. Huh. Here in Galicia, the Atlantic Blanket paid us another unseasonal visit and blocked out the sun for at least 18 hours. So, nice to know that southern Spain is in the grip of another terrible heat wave. Couldn’t happen to nicer people.