Wednesday, October 07, 2009

I see the pound is still falling. Which is bad news for my visiting British friend. And it’s very cold comfort to know that, if Spain were not in the EU, the peseta would probably have devalued even more than the pound. This prompts the question of whether membership of the EU is forcing Spain to make the forecasted structural changes to its economy or whether the political necessity of keeping Spain in the EU come hell or high water is allowing the government to carry on regardless. Without even having to devalue. Edward Hugh has suggested that, this being the case, things here will soon be so bad the IMF and/or the EU will effectively have to take over the management of the Spanish economy but one does begin to wonder. Especially as, over at IBEX Salad, Charles Butler seems more positive than ever about the Spanish banking sector. If I understand him correctly.

On the northern edge of the city of Pontevedra there’s a lovely old building which is run by “The Little Sisters of Forsaken Old Folk” (Las Hermanitas de los Ancianos Desamparados). I’ve often wondered about the value of its prime location in a residential area so I wasn’t too surprised this week to read the nuns had agreed to open a commercial enterprise on the ground floor. But I was a bit taken aback to see this would be a funeral home. Perhaps they’re counting on all the new residents being so gaga they don’t notice the ‘one-stop’ approach.

I see we may get some sun on Friday. Which is good news, as it’s now been raining pretty non-stop since Saturday evening. We do get a lot of weather here sometimes.

Finally . . . One gets some odd things with one’s beer at times. I’ve just been given a plate of Bombay mix (sort of) with several jelly babies on the top of them. Quite nice, once you’ve got rid of the salt on them. Like teenage daughters, I guess.

11 comments:

Midnight Golfer said...

" Like teenage daughters, I guess"
I feel so ignorant sometimes.
What does this mean?

I always feel bad about it later, but I keep praying that the U.S. dollar will stay, or get even weaker. I've still got some student loans back there.

moscow said...

Colin,
Spain is obviously heading for a rubbish time next year. But it will stay within the Euro. And I agree that things are not as bad as the cassandras of this world would want it to be. Behind every doomsday-er there seems to be a Euroscpetic (or should I say Euro-hater) who would like the whole thing come down like a castle in the air.

Nevertheless, I will never lose hope that one day the British people will see the light and join the Euro. 2020 anyone?

Colin said...

MG, Well, it was really a throwaway line, the sort of thing that upsets Cade.

If it means anything it is that teenage girls can be very acerbic on the outside but are really sweet inside.

Colin said...

Moscow,

Well, they may never see the light but, as they almost certainly won't be given a chance to vote on it, this is irrelevant. It's a done deal. Only the mechanics are proving troublesome.

You know I don't buy your logic that to be a critic is to hate something and to actively want it to fail. Does the pessimistic Edward Hugh hate Spain and want to actually see it collapse? I guess than many British eurosceptics would be quite happy for the EU to continue, so long as the UK was not dragged into what they think is a grandiose, undemocratic, politically-driven adventure, designed for Europe of the 50s and controlled for the benefit of France and Germany.

Personally, I think the UK should go the other way and pin at least its currency to the US/dollar mast. At least it would then be subservient to something it better understands and sympathises with. And things would be a lot clearer.

I beleive the official papers for Britain's entry to the EU are in a carriage of the AVE train due to arrive in Galicia some time this century . . .

moscow said...

Colin,
We will never agree on this one. But I remain convinced that the British people - or just the English - grow up in a climate of suspicion towards Europe. Timothy Arton Gash (who I freely admit is one of the few British commentators I find relevant on this issue) calls it the "Don't know, don't care, don't trust" syndrome. This thing starts at home and at school. British schools teach about Germany's Nazi past, and leave out the last 65 years (because it's "too boring"). And yes, I think there is an underlying undercurrent of nothing less than hate - openly xenophbic parties (UKIP and the other one) got a very high percentage of the vote in the last EU elections - which is the only reason to be happy about Britain's electoral coup d'etat system.

TAG, with whom I coincide very often - not, of course, because I agree so much with him - says Britain hasn't yet got over it's imperial past. Well, I don't need TAG to tell me what has been obvious to me for, at least, the last 20 years, but it's nice to be able to quote someone with a certain cache.

Colin, when you mention joining the $, you remind me of that American restaurant critic who complained about Europe's 'absurd' multitude of languages - as written on the menus.

Britain - England even - is a part of Europe. It has always been, and now that the days of might are over, the government should start telling it's people the plain truth - and not let the agenda be dictated by a rabid saliva-spitting euro-phobic press.

Colin said...

Well, I agree with your first words and your last sentiment.

I know a market research sample is useless but I am 62 and have never harked back to imperial greatness. The vast majority of Brits are not even aware there was an empire, let alone stay awake at night worrying about its loss. You have an idée fixe on this.

But, yes, Britain is rather different and you know that I am not an admirer of British society.

Things could be worse . . The Eu could be run by corrupt Italy and . . . . [Fill in you own country or countries].

moscow said...

Colin,
I would like to make an effort to leave this on a concordant note, but when I (and Timothy Garton Ash) say 'Britain hasn't yet got over it's imperial past', it doesn't mean people think about it or are aware of it in any sort of conscious way. That would be too simplistic a statement. I realize that the issue of empire as such is more often the butt of self-effacing mockery rather than of pride in the UK. It's something deeper and perhaps even more disturbing, because it has unconsciously become enmeshed with the common culture, and therefore is more difficult to get rid of. Otherwise why do the British feel so uncomfortable about something the Germans, the Spanish, the French, the Dutch, the Irish, even the Czechs, obviously do not feeel so bothered about? Why so flustered? Why the constant and unrelenting hysteria? TGA is British, and a very sharp, knowledgeable and observant commentator (not like some of the imbeciles I sometimes read). Why then, did he write that?

Colin said...

Moscow, I didn't think there was anything discordant so far . . .

I read a lot of TGA and I agree he is a fine writer. But he seems to me to have made a career out of being syndicated across EWurope by writing the sort of thing Continental Europeans want to hear about Britain. And themselves in the process.

One could discuss for ever what is or is not in the British soul but I repeat that not only has no one ever mentioned the empire to me since I was 5, my daughters and her generation have alll been taught to despise and feel ashamed of the British empire.

It's true that Brits feel different but the reason for this is not grief over the loss of empire; it is because the society is fundamentally different and things are aproached in different ways. Sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse.

I think I have said previously that no one but an idiot in the UK could feel that Britain is now anything like a superpower, though there are certainly some and they are pandered to by the appalling tabloid press. But it is strange that you cannot conceive that intelligent, honest people could take the view - which they would think as objective as yours - that being in the EU is not good for Britain. Or at least, even if it is, there are better options to consider.

Perhaps if we deprived two thirds of the populace of the vote and executed all the Murdoch family, there would be a better quality of debate. But the low quality of the current debate does not disqualify the views of serous people with whom you disagree simply because you and TGA disagree with them.

Still no rancour. At least, not on my part. I enjoy the dialogue, even if I know/suspect we are unlikely to agree.

moscow said...

Colin,
I also enjoy this back-and-forth, but, but, if the British are different to the 'others', then, then, what is it exactly? The 'Common law'? The fact it is an island? The fact Britain hasn't endured Fascim or Commnunism? What can possibly make a country so different that it cannot, cannot join the EU-project like others do without creating such a fuss?

Every country in Europe can point to some particularity that makes it slightly different from all the others. After all, all of Britain's culture comes entirely from the continent. Every little bit of it - with the exception of the last wave of inmigrant add-ons. Britain did not engage in revolutions from the 18th century onwards, but chop the king's head they did in England, only a lot earlier. So what is the difference? if not the feeling that Britons like to feel different for difference's sake?

CafeMark said...

Still surprised by this comment "I beleive the official papers for Britain's entry to the EU are in a carriage of the AVE train due to arrive in Galicia some time this century . . ."
Considering all the AVE links that have already been established (Valencia will be there next year), we can safely say that Spain is light-years ahead of the UK in this area. As for joining the Euro (for better or for worse already a member of the EU), it's never going to happen. Dave's lot are soon to be the next government, and if anything they will further pull away from European co-operation.

moscow said...

Sorrz Colin to pester you. But I sometimes think you are so utterly wrong on Europe that you deserve a bit of a spanking.

First, it is not Europe that remains stuck in the fifties. It is Britain. And Britain has benefited enormously from being in the EU - not that anybody in the UK will ever admit it.

But here is an article in the Economist, just to show it is not just me who links the words 'hatred' and 'euro-scepticism' together.
http://www.economist.com/opinion/displayStory.cfm?story_id=14587055&source=hptextfeature

And I do not mean to say that you 'hate' Europe or Spain in any way. I actually believe that you like Spain (well, sort of) and Europe. That is what I can derive from reading your blog. But what I can also infer from reading the blog is that you hate the 'EU-construct' and that you positively want it to fail - regardless of whether you own a house in Spain or not. You are obviously too "British" to go and say directly "I hate it and I want it to fail". But that is just a matter of semantics.

PS: to finish on light note, brilliant the picture of Blair about to rape Europe.

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