Friday, September 03, 2010

For some time now, there’s been a huge corruption cloud hanging over the head of the president of the Valencian regional government. And it gets bigger by the week. He belongs to the right-of-centre PP party, currently in opposition. Its president is reported to have opined that the situation is “very discomforting but of no electoral importance.” Sadly, this appears to be true. Meaning that, as of 2012, Spain’s President/Prime Minister will be a man with no will to tackle corruption in his party and no discernible political skill other than to be in the right place at the right time. The current president, Sr Zapatero, has said that his opponent represents his best weapon in the election battle but this, I’m afraid, won’t be enough. Especially for someone who’s shown as much incompetence as he himself has. Poor Spain. But, then, people get the governments they deserve. Especially if they're apathetic.

At the other end of the spectrum, we have the hugely successful politician, Tony Blair, who this week published the fastest selling autobiography ever. At least in Britain. Having never been a fan, I won’t be reading it. But, if I did, I like to think I’d share the opinions of this review from a right-of-centre British paper. And these from one on the other side of the divide, by the always-superb Simon Jenkins..

Talking about the absence of political will . . . El País had its annual article on the evils of prostitution this week. Interestingly, the view it took was that all the research suggested legalising the industry only increased women-trafficking. Instead, the columnist recommended penalising the customers. When Andalucia freezes over, I guess.

But that wasn’t the only prostitution story this week. It seems that we now have men-trafficking as well. Thanks to the wonders of Viagra, males can now be forced to work as homosexual prostitutes. And so they are. One wonders if this will lead to a change of Spanish heart about this large and ever-thriving sector of its economy.

I wouldn’t like to give the impression that, here in Galicia, it happens every day but it certainly occurs often enough to justify a certain wariness on the autopistas. I’m talking about what the Spanish call kamikaze drivers - the people (OK, men) who drive the wrong way down the motorways. The latest example is of a 65 year old who drove 14km the wrong side of the A6 the other day, at 2.30 in the afternoon. Needless to say, he was five times over the drink limit. I imagine he’ll lose his licence. I wouldn’t have been so confident of this ten years ago but things have certainly tightened up in this area in the interim. And the truly impressive reduction in the road death statistics is testimony to this. Indeed, they’ve even continued to fall despite the “dropped-pen” strike of the traffic cops over the last few months.

A truly international item on a menu I saw yesterday – Cordon Blue de Pollo. Chicken cordon bleu. But in French, English and Spanish. Not bad for four words.

Finally . . . I’ve written this post in the quietest wifi café in town. I’m usually on my own here but tonight I’ve been joined by three kids of around 5 or 6, who are playing cards. One of them can’t talk. He can only scream. I’ve asked him nicely four times to lower his voice and each time he’s displayed the limitless Spanish capacity for sincere apology, lowered his voice for all of twenty seconds and then returned to the previous level. The little girl among them keeps looking round and smiling as if to agree with me that he’s mad and that she’s not deaf. But I’ve given up nonetheless. After all, it might be the only time in his life he’s been told he’s making too much noise. At least until the waiter just came up and told him to quieten down. Which was just as successful as all my efforts.

Tailnote for new readers: My elder daughter has now published the second chapter of a novel she describes as “A fast-paced political thriller but, above all, a personal tale of pride and paranoia.” Set in a fictionalized Cuba, it’s being e-published one chapter per week. Click here. The easiest way to get new chapters, I guess, is to become a Follower of her blog. Or use Google Reader or the like.

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