I mentioned yesterday that Spain had changed quite a lot since Jan Morris wrote her book Spain in 1964. But not as much as the author herself, of course. Back then she was James Morris. And married to Mrs Morris.
The art of insult is perhaps not what it was in Oscar Wilde’s day but I was impressed to read this comment on one of the senior British civil servants appearing at the recent Iraq war enquiry in London – “Then there was that vain popinjay, Christopher Myers, condemned to the hell of being himself.”
Talking of famous quotes . . . You’ll all recall, of course, that Walter Bagheot said it would be a mistake to dilute the mystique of the British royal family. Or to put it in his exact words - "We must not let the daylight in upon magic." I thought of this when reading this morning my own comment of yesterday about the secrecy with which the EU operates. Or widespread ignorance, at least. I guess we could all find out how things work in detail, if we had the time and the inclination.
And talking of the EU . . . Short term, there’s not much evidence of ‘solidarity’ in favour of Greece, which appears to have been left to swing in the wind for a few weeks at least. And tonight comes the news the country will be humiliatingly deprived of its vote at next month’s meeting of finance ministers. Possibly because of the growing evidence it’s been cooking the books for years. Mind you, Greece may not have been alone in this and it’ll be interesting to see what comes of the Brussels demand – possibly a tad late – that national accounts are audited. Brussels, of course, has lots of experience of accounts being audited. And qualified. Being adept at hiding them, they can probably smell a rat quicker than anyone. And may eventually do something about it.
Finally . . . There was an impressive symmetry in the café I had a coffee in after getting off the night train from Madrid at 8.30 this morning. In the Smoking section there were six women and in the Non-Smoking section, six men. The waitresses, by the way, were all dressed as Little Red Riding Hood (Caperucita Roja). Presumably because we’re well into Carnaval celebrations. Though I doubt that the original one wore a mini-skirt.
Which reminds me . . . The parrot effigy which will be immolated later this week in Pontevedra – Ravachol – is this year dressed as a traffic cop, with a 30kph sign on his chest. This, I understand, is a satirical comment on the new speed limits around town that I’ve moaned about a couple of times. Personally, I’d have preferred to see the parrot similarly dressed but strung up by its ankles, eyes bulging and with a sheaf of speeding-fine notifications stuffed down its throat. Anything for a laugh.
Which reminds me . . . The head of Tráfico advised today there'll be another 200 radar traps installed this year. The good news being, apparently, that "This can't go on for ever. So, yes, there will be a limit.". Impeccable logic, of course, but I wouldn't bet on it. Some local authorities are reported to have run out of funds and to be incapable of taking out more loans. Step forward the usual easy targets!