It was no great surprise to read today that the PSOE socialist party here is unhappy about the support given by Spain’s (socialist) president Zapatero to France’s president Sarkozy on the issue of expulsion of Rumanian gypsies. I was rather more astonished to see a leader in the right-of-centre El Mundo yesterday adding to the barrage of criticism levelled at M Sarkozy. As the paper is not known for any liberal leanings whatsoever, I’m guessing this a back-handed slap at Sr. Zapatero. Especially as Spain, it’s reported, does go in for a bit of this activity itself.
As for Spain and its own gypsies, I was a little surprised to read that the integration model here is seen as a reference standard in the rest of Europe. I live near two gypsy encampments and the degree of integration appears to be nil. However, there are other gypsies who live in one of the city’s other suburbs and these may be closer to the national norm.
Ahead of the general strike called for the end of this month, the unions have asked Spanish grandparents to hold off looking after their grandkids that day. This is presumably to put pressure on the parents to stay off work. On this, I was surprised to read today that 50% of grandparents here spend an average of six hours a day on this task. Six hours! I imagine the UK daily average can be measured in minutes. If not seconds.
The pre-general strike issue of how many idle union officials there are hasn’t gone away yet. Today we’re told that Galicia has 18,000 of these and that they cost employers 50 million euros a year. Or c. 2,800 euros each. This, incidentally, allows me to correct yesterday’s suggestion that these liberados sindicales are paid for by the state. If they’re in the public sector, they are. In the private sector, the employers cough up. I’m wondering if this is one of those things called ‘Spanish practices’ in the UK.
Life in Galicia 1: The Voz de Galicia likes to ask its readers to vote on an issue every day. Here’s the results of two of this week’s surveys:-
- 63% of Galicians say they’re unsatisfied with their sex life. There must be a business opportunity here. A sex-counselling service, at the very least.
- 94% of Galicians believe Spain should desist from holding all the many, many fiestas which involve maltreatment of animals. Which wouldn’t actually cost much here as, apart from Potevedra’s annual bullfights, there are none in this region. Unless you include dogs being tied up 24/7.
Life in Galicia 2: Yes, there is indeed a committee of bureaucrats making the decisions for the three small international airports here. It’s called, naturally enough, The Committee for Galicia Routes and it’s part of the Ministry of Development. My guess it operates on the basis of what the Spanish call coffee-for-all principles, rather than on the basis of what would make a sensible, single airport for less than 3 million people. And so it is we’re told that Vigo airport ‘deserves’ (and may well get) two new routes – one to London and one to a continental city. Let’s hope so, even if it is daft.
Life in Galicia 3: For six years now, they’ve been building 17 houses just behind mine, on the hillside above Pontevedra. Quite possibly illegally but that’s another issue. During all this time, we’ve been subjected to high levels of noise and dust, in part because the houses are on a granite escarpment. The only days when there’s no disturbances are Saturday and Sunday. I mention this because this afternoon I went up to my little house in the hills to sit on the terrace for a couple of hours, partake of a glass of wine and read a book. Imagine, then, how I felt to find that, at 5pm of a Saturday, there were works right outside my gate. Their purpose is to lay a new water pipe for the village and need I add that the trench-digging necessitates the breaking up granite rocks? Not quite what I had in mind for the evening. But at least the dogs didn’t bark.
Finally . . . Trying to get out of the narrow lane to my house in the hills, and to avoid the holes created for the pipe-laying, I managed, first, to get my car stuck and, then, to scrape its wing on the gate of the neighbours helping me out. Hey, ho. It's only metal.
Finally, finally . . . . This is only for those who know about computers. I’ve inadvertently disabled the sound card in my laptop and now Vista tells me it doesn’t exist. I’ve tried everything advised both in the manual and on the web – other than use the recovery disks to reinstall all the drivers and return the computer to its original state – but without luck. If anyone’s got any tips, could they please use the Contact Me button above to pass them to me. Very many thanks.
Tailnote for new readers: My elder daughter has now net-published five chapters of a novel she describes as “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. Click here, if this entices you. If you do go and you enjoy it, please comment. It’s tough being an aspirant novelist.
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