I trawled the offices of all the banks in town today, in search of information on interest rates for term deposits. Not an uplifting experience. Firstly, there was little data available. Secondly, what there was gave no hope of a better rate than 1.2% for a 12m deposit. No wonder my bank was relaxed about me looking elsewhere; their offering is the best of a bad bunch. But the most telling feature of the exercise was confirmation that Spanish high-street banks still major on offering all manner of household goods as an inducement to opening an account with them, before locking you into a service considered by some to be expensive and of low quality. In the BBVA branch there was actually a single bed on either side of the queue for the tellers, complete with sheets and towels on each of them. More like Harrods than a bank.
My post yesterday was largely about fish. As it happens, I later saw a TV documentary which claimed the EU quota for blue fin tuna in the Med last year was twice what the experts decreed was the sensible maximum. Nonetheless, the fishing ‘community’ then relieved the sea of double the official quota. Or four times the recommended limit. Which guarantees that, by the time any effective points system is in place, there won’t be any blue fin tuna left to protect.
Last week I decided against issuing yet another warning to visitors and new residents that zebra crossings can be dangerous places in Spain. This was after a woman who had had plenty of time to stop drove between me and my more hesitant houseguest, when he declined to follow me onto the battlefield. But I’m stimulated to do this today, after reading of an incident in the nearby town of Caldas de Reis, when a petrol tanker hit a chap who was risking a crossing. In a wheelchair. Truly can it be said no quarter is given.
For those with an interest in the Spanish housing market, here’s a synopsis of what economics ‘experts’ think of it. And here’s Charles Butler’s interesting take on where we currently are with private housing starts and completions.
When Mike and I were in Ferrol on Sunday, there was a demonstration in Santiago in favour of the local language, Gallego, and against the policies of the new Xunta. Reader (and avid polemicist) Cade is anxious that I write something about this. But I’d better not. For it’ll only upset him if I say that my main take on the event is that the demonstrators don’t seem to appreciate how the democratic system works. Worse, many of them favour methods for the protection and development of the language identical to those previously used by Franco in respect of Spanish and dismissed by them as fascist and imperialist. All that (not) said, I do sympathise with those who want to see Gallego protected and developed. If only they could think of some way to do this without alienating an electorate which gave the local nationalist party its lowest share of the vote for decades in the last elections here. And I was interested in an article in the Voz de Galicia yesterday in which the writer pointed out that much of the language used by politicians and people who want to advance in one Galician sphere or another is not pure Gallego but a mixture of the two languages. As in the case of one of the demonstrators who criticised the government for trampling on the rights of the Galician people, but used ‘pueblo’ instead of ‘pobo’ for ‘people’. I imagine this must have really hurt our friend Cade, given that he seems to think everyone in ‘Galiza’ should be persuaded, one way or another, to speak pure Gallego/Galego. And also to shift themselves from the Hispanosphere to the Lusitanosphere. Fat chance. But one can dream. And comment.
Finally . . . Someone once said “Happy the country whose annals are dull.” If I were going to write anything on the thorny subject of Gallego v. Spanish, it would be something along similar lines – “Happy the region/country/nation which knows what it really is and has no language disputes.” Obviously not Belgium, then. For one.