It isn’t just raining bad data on Spain’s economic plight; it’s deluging the stuff. The front-page headline of today’s El País is “Spain’s loss of competitiveness complicates her recovery”. Which may well be worth shouting from the rooftops but is not exactly news. At least not to those who’ve been warning of it for several years.
El Mundo also majors on the theme, highlighting (like El País) depressing elements from two recent reports on national competitiveness and the ease of doing business in 183 countries around the world. Spain doesn’t do well in either of these and, when it comes to contracting staff ranks at a lowly 157. Coincidentally, I was talking only yesterday to a Spanish entrepreneur who spelled out to me the costs of giving anyone a ‘permanent’ contract here. It was enough to leave me very content I no longer face such challenges
And then there’s education . . . and the fact that in Europe only Portugal has greater ‘scholastic failure’. Which I think is the drop-out rate. Altogether, exactly the sort of news one needs when coming back from a long summer vacation, during which you’ve tried to convince yourself things aren't as bad as they seemed in June and that it’s really very significant that consumer optimism is slowly rising.
No wonder there’s a widespread view that the country needs a leader more competent than Señor Zapatero. It may not deserve it, but it certainly needs it. It’s a shame, perhaps, that fascism is out of fashion.
But, anyway, to lighten our day, the Madrid correspondent of the Guardian has addressed the issue of public whoring in Barcelona. You can read his article here but I should add that Tom of The Bad Rash says it’s rubbish to suggest prostitution was once confined to the port area.
Referring to the debacle of the release of the Libyan man who was possibly behind the Lockerbie bombing, a British commentator writes “There is no surer mark of a government in meltdown than that it loses the ability to lie properly.” This is meant to apply to Mr Brown and his Labour government in the UK but I suspect it’s equally true of our Sr Zapatero and his Socialist administration here in Spain. Or, if it isn’t now, it soon will be. Though not for lack of practice.
I may, over the years, have given the impression I’m unimpressed with the fact that just about the only sauce you get with Galician food is one made of olive oil and paprika. Very aptly, this is denoted on menus by the phrase a la gallega. Well, I think the nadir was reached yesterday when I tried an item new to me - Lacón en fiambre. This turned out to be slices of tasteless – and possibly raw - cold bacon, swimming in a small pool of olive oil into which paprika had been so liberally sprinkled much of it had failed to dissolve. If this is an example of the sort of on-the-cheap creativity inspired by the economic crisis, I think I’ll stay home and eat spam until it’s over.
Finally . . . On one of the containers near my house, there’s an advert for beagle puppies. I had fun with two questions when I saw it this morning:- 1. How do most Spaniards pronounce ‘beagle’? and 2. What do they taste like a la gallega?