Here’s a funny thing . . . The general strike might have been more effective in this non-industrial-and-not-very-commercial little city than in Spain’s major conurbations. In the latter, life seems to have continued rather more as normal than it did here. Perhaps our legions of civil servants – and the café and shop owners who depend on them – simply decided to have another day off. Actually, this is probably an unwarranted slur as one of our local newspapers suggests that, thanks to the efforts of pickets, the strike closed most private sector businesses but few public sector operations. The big surprise for me was to find the Chinese restaurant I patronise closed, depriving me of their menú del día in place of the tapas I normally have. In the end it was meat balls in the wi-fi café I’d expected to be closed but which wasn’t. Presumably the pickets never got round to it as it’s outside the city centre.
As to whether the strike was a success in turnout terms and whether it will affect government policies, the answers appear to be No and No. Unless you’re a union organiser or the editor of a left-wing newspaper. My own suspicion is that the majority of Spaniards are well aware who the unions really represent and are also prepared to accept that pain must follow the pure folly of the boom years. Which were not all down to greedy capitalists and bankers. Or even to EU politicians who ushered in an economic regime inappropriate to Spain. There was a lot of personal greed and corruption. And most Spaniards, after all, are very used to the concept of Penance. Even if there’s been no prior Confession. Especially not on the part of Sr Zapatero. Which is not to suggest, by the way, that poorly-paid, innocent people aren’t being badly hit by the consequences of it all.
So, the EU Commission won’t be backing up its angry Commissioner and taking action against France in respect of her expulsion of Romanian gypsies. One can’t help wondering if they’d been as lenient if the boot had been on the other foot and the Romanian government had expelled French gypsies en masse. Some members of the club are more equal than others, it seems. And France has always been more equal than most.
Final word on the new Labour leader, Ed Miliband . . . In the form of a nice comment on him from the ex Tory MP and columnist Matthew Parrish:- “I’ve always had the impression he’s one of those North London Labour intellectuals who find it genuinely difficult to believe there could exist people of sound mind and humane instincts outside the circle of light in which the intelligent Centre Left feel they are bathed.” I’m sure we all know someone like that.
Well, almost the last word . . . A senior member of his party summed up Miliband’s big speech at the national conference as “The Three Fs Strategy: To his predecessors, F---k you. To his party, We’re F-----d. And to his brother, F---k off.” I suspect this doesn’t work quite as well in Spanish.
Finally . . . It’s reported today that Attention Deficit Disorder is primarily genetic in origin and that 10% of kids suffer from it. Well, all I can say is that they must have been well hidden from view when I was a kid. Or the fault has only recently found its way into our DNA.
Tailnote for new readers: My elder daughter has now net-published six chapters of a novel which is “A fast-paced political thriller but, above all, a personal tale of pride and paranoia.” Set in a fictionalised Cuba, it’s being e-published at the rate of at least a couple of chapters a week. If this entices you, click here. And, if you enjoy it, please tell her. It’s tough being an aspirant novelist.