First the bright sun dimmed and went behind the clouds. Then a cold rain started to fall, turning quickly into a downpour. And now it’s sheeting down on the poor uninformed, misled, confused and increasingly angry Spaniards. As they digested the latest news on austerity measures staring them in the face, the stock market plummeted yesterday, with banking shares being the hardest hit - possibly because they’re finally making overdue adjustments to their balance sheets to reflect the poor chances of getting back much of their loans to bankrupt construction companies and developers. Day by day, the sheer folly of the phoney boom glows and glares with increasing brilliance. Where and how will it all end? I haven’t the faintest idea and am just annoyed that the Spanish euro continues irrationally high against the currency of my income.
Given that the country is clearly hurtling to Hell in a handcart and the government is getting better and better at giving the impression it couldn’t run a piss-up in a brewery – let alone the EU for the next 6 months – you’d think the Opposition would be piling up a huge lead in the polls. But, no. It’s now crawled up to 4%. Or 3.8%, to give the sort of exact number the Spanish media specialises in. Which has to be a bigger comment on the quality of the Opposition than on the hopelessness of the government.
But, be all that as it may, our friend Ambrose - never one to knowingly understate things - gives his considered view of the latest developments here. It very much looks like the markets are going to force an answer to my question of yesterday as to whether the Sceptics or the Cynics will win. Short-term, the bets must be in favour of the latter, though you have to say they haven’t been proved very right to-date on their claim of some years’ standing that the EMU straightjacket would force structural changes in Spain, Greece, Portugal, etc. But, then, what could one expect after Germany and France showed how to ignore the rules with impunity in the early years of the decade. Is it too much to say the EMU so far has been a farce of sanction-less crimes? In practice, if not in theory. But, even if so, will it now be alright on the night? Or will we end up with the Northern Euro and the Southern Euro (The ‘PIG’?)? And, if so, will David Cameron take Britain into the former? Remember you heard the questions here first. If not the answers. Over to Edward and Charles for these. Though they may disagree.
Finally . . . As I’ve often written, the Spanish reputation for rudeness probably stems from their behaviour towards those with whom they lack the most minimal personal connection. Or strangers, as we usually call them. But this rarely reaches the heights of the sheer bloody-mindedness shown by a young woman sitting in my seat on the Vigo train this morning. Having decided to let this go, I was forced to act when asked to give up the seat I’d taken on other side of the aisle by the anally-retentive young man entitled to it. Even though her travelling companion immediately moved to another pair of empty seats further up the train, the young woman in mine stayed there until I asked her directly to vacate it, on the assumption she’d want to join her friend. Which she duly did. But only after first giving me a look to kill and then indulging in the pointless gesture of moving to the parallel seat for 5 seconds, before flouncing off up the carriage. Meaning, of course, I had to almost climb over her. So perhaps not totally pointless; some face had been saved. To be honest, this sort of It’s-got-nowt-to-do-with-me-and-is-all-your-own-bloody-fault is an attitude I normally associate with Spanish males. More particularly drivers who nearly run you down on crossings. The country is obviously going to the dogs. As well as to Hell.