Thursday, September 23, 2010

Like most countries (and people), Spain is a hive of contradictions. So it’s no great surprise that the same Catalan politicians who voted a short while ago to ban the [Spanish] custom of bullfighting have now voted to keep the [Catalan] custom of Correbous, or letting bulls run at people with lighted flares on their horns. More here, if you want it.

I referred yesterday to President Zapatero’s abiding optimism in respect of the Spanish economy. Well, it seems he’s equally positive about house prices. They’ve reached rock bottom, he asserts, and are about to start rising again. Which rather conflicts with the survey reported here. In which 83% of Spaniards expressed the belief they’ll keep falling for at least the next year.

I mentioned gypsies the other day and the mess Sr Zapatero has got himself in with his natural constituency by supporting President Sakorzy in his spat with the EU Commissioner who’s taking France to court over her “illegal” expulsions. This is all comprehensively covered by Guy Hedgecoe here in QorreO. Living as I do near to two gypsy encampments – and having had my laptop lifted in Madrid - I’ve a little bit more ambivalent on this issue than I was ten years ago. Though I wouldn’t go as far as the common Spanish refrain – “I’m no racist but I hate gypsies”. This attitude, by the way, in certainly not confined to supporters of the right-of-centre PP party.

Talking of being here for ten years . . . I wonder if during the next ten we’ll reach a point where one part or another of Pontevedra city isn’t beset by road-works. There certainly hasn’t been a second in the last decade when this has been true. And I still wonder where all the finance is coming from.

And talking of obras . . . I checked and discovered it’s ‘only’ four years, and not six, since they started work behind me on a house-building project that’s yet to be completed. This is what I wrote in June 06:- Only 3 metres from my front gate, they’re dismantling a long granite escarpment which – over at least the next 2 years – will be replaced by a total of 18 houses. The dust and noise levels are intolerable for 8 hours a day but we’ve been offered no apology for this disruption to our lives. Nor even an explanation of what’s going on. And the sole concession to safety is the helmet-less chap in the T-shirt waving cars past the active pile-drivers, bulldozers and trucks. But I suppose it could be worse; they could be dynamiting the granite. Of course, the estimate of two years has proved laughingly short and it may yet be five. I seem to recall telling a reader who bet me there wouldn’t be a recession within eighteen months of mid 2006 that we’d drink the champagne he’d have to buy me as and when the houses were completed in 2008. How funny that seems now.

Finally . . . No sooner had the Spanish Consumers’ Association railed against the pre-announced 3% rise in electricity prices than the government advised us the average increase would actually be 5%. It must be a doddle running a utility company here. Or have I already said that? And even easier running Telef√≥nica. The only real challenge you have in the latter is keeping down the level of fines issued by the EU for abuse of a dominant position. And then avoiding paying them.

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.


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Nieves said...

Hola Colin, I don't understand myself about Catalonian government and its incoherence and hypocrisy, in some things it has to be black or white, and specially regarding animal cruelty. Now in Extremadura is happening just the opposite, the thing is that we are living in Spain changing times in this subject and that is good. Regards and nice weekend!

Colin said...

Hi, Nieves. Perhaps it's all down to (nationalist) politics. As I said recently, things pull in different ways in Spain, reflecting its underlying complexity as a single state/culture. That's why foreigners love it!

You have a good weekend too!

Best wishes from sunny Galicia.