Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Spain’s unemployment rate has now reached 20% and the country’s credit rating has been taken down a notch, on fears it’s heading in the same direction as Greece and, now, Portugal. Will we finally see some social unrest here, as (increased?) austerity measures begin to bite? Or is there something very different about the Spanish economy to the extent that – as in the property market – normal rules don’t apply? Or is it that the Spanish are still living in a bit a of dream world, from which they will be rudely awoken in due course?

Over in the UK, the news media is fixated on a verbal gaffe by Gordon Brown, who today labelled a woman he’d just spoken to a bigot, not knowing his microphone was still on. This, it seems, is far more important than his record as Chancellor of the Exchequer and Prime Minister. Of course, not many observers are surprised that politicians say one thing but think another but the irony is that Mr Brown’s recent election pitch has been “With me, what you see is what you get”. Apparently not. Maybe I should now withdraw my bet on the Liberal party getting less than 20% of the vote in a couple of weeks time.

Finally . . . An unsolicited plug for a book called “In the Garlic” by Valerie Collins and Theresa O’Shea, which they describe – justifiably – as Your informative, fun guide to Spain. I dip into this regularly and was interested today to be reminded that the average Spanish family now spends 3,000 euros on their child’s First Communion. I checked this out after recently seeing a shop window full of the ridiculous outfits cited by the authors in their entry on Primera ComuniĆ³n. Namely, “white meringue dresses for the girls and military uniforms and sailor suits for the boys”. By the way, I’d love to say I quarrel with some of the contents of this book but, sadly, I can’t.

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