One of the things I always try to instil into my visitors is not to over-tip here. Views vary on what the Spanish ‘rule’ might be but, generally speaking, it’s not often that a tip of more than 5% is needed. Unless, of course, things have been ruined by foreign tourists. I thought of all this morning when I saw a local family had left 10 cents on a bill of more than 6 euros. Or rather less than 2%. Better than nothing, they’d surely retort.
If asked, I’d have said the Spanish were quick to aggressive words, rather than aggressive actions. But this tale of a pugilistic priest has left me wondering whether I’m right on this.
The Spanish – possibly like most Continentals – take a world-wearily dim view of the Anglo obsession with sexual peccadilloes, the latest case being Wayne Rooney’s dalliances with a prostitute during his wife’s pregnancy. One rather gets the impression that, as with corruption, they feel more mature and sophisticated societies take these things in their stride and endeavour not to get too interested in them. At least when politicians are involved. Which is nice for politicians.
Talking of Spanish society . . . There was a nice cartoon in El País yesterday. It showed a mother taking her child to school and saying to him “Remember, it’s not what you learn that’s important for your future but who you sit next to.” I was reminded of the English woman who told me years ago that, when she’d set up an ‘academy’ here, she couldn’t understand why all the mothers were asking her if little María or Marta could sit next to the kids who shared surnames with the names of the town's main streets.
There was a headline in one of the papers today about Spain fearing it would lose some of its cash transfers from Brussels because it had breached the rule on deficits. The Minister of the Economy was reported as saying that she supported the non-sanctioning of those members who’d trangressed. Hang on, I thought. Wasn’t such a measure the cornerstone of President Zapatero’s headline proposals for change when Spain took over the presidency of the EU last year? Perhaps circumstances have changed principles.
I suggested last week there was a lack of political will here to address the issues of prostitution and women-trafficking. Well, the city of Alicante has announced it’s not only making prostitution in public places an offence but will also prosecute the clients. A similar provision is already in effect, it’s reported, in Valencia. However, I imagine these measures will have little effect on the graphic advertising in the back pages of local, regional and even national newspapers. Even though they seem pretty public to me.
I suspect it does nothing for Spain’s image that the president of the national association of businessmen is in court for neglecting to pay the salaries of the staff of his then-moribund now-defunct airline, Air Comet. Or he would be, if he could be bothered to turn up.
Finally . . . It’s half-time in the match between Argentina and Spain and the former are leading 3-0. Which rather raises the question of why anyone thought it would be a good idea for Spain to fly 15 hours for a mid-week pointless friendly match, where they'd be on a hiding to nothing. Money spoke, I guess. And it was a hiding which they got.
Tailnote for new readers: My elder daughter has now net-published three 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 one chapter per week. Click here, if this entices you. If you do go and you enjoy it, please comment. It’s tough being a novelist. And the father of a novelist.