Sunday, September 26, 2010

So, it’s official. On the basis of parameters such as pensions, holiday entitlement, retirement age and healthcare spend, Britain is the worst place in Europe in which to live. France is the best and Spain comes just after that. Although there’s a ring of truth about this, it does take some believing that life in the UK is quite this bad and one wonders how much the fall of the pound has affected the numerical data. Anyway, more here.

Not everyone in Spain is deliriously happy, of course and one group with a gripe is that of grandparents. These, as Giles Trimlett says, “provide the childcare that working parents cannot give and the state does not offer”. As I wrote the other day, the unions have asked them to stop doing this on the day of the general strike (29 Sept.), so that the parents are forced to take time off work. You can read more of what Trimlett says here but it didn’t surprise me to hear it’s not done for grandparents to complain.

Nor, I suspect, is it done for anyone to complain that young people very often stay in the family home until well into their thirties, unable to afford any degree of independence or any real privacy.

One other aspect of life here with which few can be happy is the ridiculously long working hours, born of a day which is still split into two around a very long midday break. But I’m guessing neither this factor nor those above featured in the survey.

The Galician nationalists - or at least the extremists among them - would like Galicia to be an independent state. Quite how it would then be run can perhaps be seen from the way the airports issue is managed. As I’ve said several times, we have three international minnows here, instead of one big fish. The local Faro de Vigo went to town on this in an editorial today, stressing that Galicia is a perfect place for low-cost airlines, as all these facilities can be played off against each other in a situation characterised by localism, hypocrisy and a morass of people claiming or disclaiming local/regional responsibility. The end result is that flights have gravitated to the smallest, least-equipped facility on the north coast (at La Coruña) to the detriment of those in the capital (Santiago) and in Galicia’s largest and most commercial city, Vigo. And all three of these are overshadowed by Oporto’s rapidly developing airport down in North Portugal. The paper’s leader writer calls for coordination, strategic thinking and a level playing field. Fat chance, I fear.

Back in the UK, it seems Ed Milliband was (narrowly) elected leader of the Labour Party there on the back of a process which allowed union members up to 12 votes each. Quite how, I’m not sure but I guess it’s a reflection of how many unions and “associations” you belong to. Though it’s not clear you need to be a member of the Labour Party to have even one vote, never mind twelve. It’s notoriously difficult to come up with a satisfactory system of electing a leader in any broad church – does the PP party here even have one? – but this one certainly looks like it could do with a re-think. I guess it’s even possible that right-wing members of the unions cast their single/multiple votes for the candidate furthest to the Left, so as to damage the electoral chances of the Labour Party. For this is the majority view in the UK media today of what the main outcome of the election has been.

Finally . . . I’ve finally seen a prediction which merits serious thought on how to reduce global warming. If it continues, Galicia’s Albariño grape will lose aroma and acidity. Which is pretty damn serious, I’m sure you’ll agree.

Finally, finally . . . My apologies to those readers who logged on during the European night. I did write a post yesterday but then neglected to publish it! This I did early this morning, datelined late last night. So you might want to scroll down for this.


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.

2 comments:

moscow said...

Colin,
you will not catch me saying this again: no, Britain is not that bad. It is actually a very fine country and it has a lot to offer to those living there. Just don't quote me.

Colin said...

Thanks. Moscow. Made me LOL. No. I won't tell anyone. . .

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