Friday, February 05, 2010

It's still the economy, stupid! And Spanish rudeness.

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.


Graeme said...

Colin, what makes you so sure that the UK would be accepted into the "Northern" euro anyway? The differences in economic performance don't run North/South, it's not that simple.

Colin said...

Graeme, I'm astonished I give the impression of being sure of anything . . .

Midnight Golfer said...

I picked up my wife (a Spaniard) from an appointment the other evening, and she told me about how she was just nearly run over in a crosswalk, and how the young man driving (also a Spaniard) swore at her, and told her to "get out of the way," and called her "fea" AND "gorda" when she flipped him the bird.
Of course my first reaction was a desire to go find the bastard (or do we say 'love-child' nowadays?) and run him off the road; my second reaction was to kindly calm her down.
But, once she was calm, I couldn't help but have a flood of memories rushing to my mind, all of which I had to fight back, and to avoid bringing up... as they were all examples of when she had done similarly shocking and rude things to other people (even me.)
I resisted the best I could, but a few minutes later I demonstrated what a weak man I really am, and I brought up the instance when I observed her weave around a startled, elderly, British couple on her moped, as they attempted to cross the street themselves.

When it happened, she said it was because she was in such a hurry to drive over to where I was walking, to say "hi" to me.
When I mentioned it the other evening, hoping she might understand how it makes other people feel when you don't respect their sense of personal space, she just glared at me, and then rolled her eyes.

She got me back, a littler later, with the type of insult that seems to always work for Spanish women, intent on making their men feel bad...
"You can't wear that..." she said as we headed out the door to meet up with some friends, "it's the same sweater you had on early this morning." --derisive laughter ---

"And change those shoes too."

(I feel I should also mention that the sweater and shoes I was wearing were "gifts" from her, not even 3 months old, which she had insisted that I try on in the stores where they were purchased, and which I paid for, despite insisting that I didn't need them, just so that she could give me a "gift.")

Am I just a pushover? Maybe if I were a Spaniard I'd figure out how to be rude enough to keep from getting "run over" myself. (Or, maybe it's just a husband thing?)

moscow said...

Hi Colin,
Finally a bit of honesty from you: "I haven’t the faintest idea and am just annoyed that the Spanish euro continues irrationally high against the currency of my income".

So, I am a cynic now. Well, at least my convictions extend beyond the current state of my own pocket.

Colin said...

Hola, Moscow

What a pleasant surprise to see that you are still reading.

As to whether you're a cynic or not, it all rather depends. If you believe that crises will ultimately allow the top-down creation of a political superstructure that the voters would never accept otherwise, then you are a cynic. If you merely believe that the EU is a good thing and that the people will eventually be properly persuaded of what you think is good for them, then you're not. You're just a believer. Or an optimist. But you may prefer another label.

As for me being honest. As it's clearly not true that my financial situation is my main/only concern (I sometimes wonder if you understand my humour), it's rather ironic that you accuse me of being honest when I'm actually lying.

But best wishes anyway. I prefer your longer comments, by the way.

Colin said...

MG, I guess it's a husband-of-a-Spanish-woman thing.

I don't hink I'd ever be brave enough to try it.

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