Tomorrow is the feast of Our Lady of the Pillar here in Spain. So, we have what the Spanish call a ‘bridge’. Meaning that, as tomorrow’s a holiday, nothing much happens today. Nor last Friday it would seem, as the plumber who’s about to work on my central heating told me on Thursday last there wouldn’t be much point ordering the necessary parts until at least next Wednesday. Meaning, in short, a lost week. It’s at times like this I wonder if the Spanish are really serious about exporting their way out of their current economic mess. I appreciate my plumbing doesn’t rank as an export challenge but I guess you know what I mean.
But what do I know? It’s reported that the IMF is forecasting the Spanish economy will grow faster than those of Germany, France and Italy after 2013. Given there are oceans to flow under bridges between now and then, perhaps we can be forgiven for being a tad sceptical on this. Though it’s true that it’s not President Zapatero again forecasting Spaniards will be richer than Germans by 2012.
Something else I’m asking myself today is whether there could a Spanish equivalent of the book I heard about this morning – “1,000 years of annoying the French.” While I ponder this issue, I’ll have to buy two copies of it – one for me and one for my last partner, who’s French. We parted amicably and remain friends and I’m sure she’d appreciate a copy. Especially as, after reading Kate Fox’s splendid book “Watching the English”, she decided she was more English than me. Which may not say much.
It’s not much of an exaggeration to say that, whenever I go on a car trip in Spain, I happen upon a new road. Or at least a much improved one. As this has been going on for at least ten years, you’d think we’d have enough of them by now. But, in fact, in around Pontevedra there’ve long been plans for even more of the things – most obviously an outer ring road for the city and a third main road between here and Vigo. You’re forced to wonder whether they’re being constructed simply because the money is there and it has to pass through numerous hands. Or, rather, it was and used to do so. Inevitably, La crísis has led to some sail-trimming. I was reminded of this when reading this comment in the Voz de Galicia the other day – “This model – constructing things that no one has commissioned and without any research or any real need – better represents Galicia than our national anthem, the bagpipes or Santiago cathedral.” The writer went on to say that, but for the recession, we’d now be facing the prospect of a fourth small Galician airport, up near Ourense. Which surely can’t have made any economic sense at all. Except to the construction company and those on commission.
A few metres from the chocolate café I mentioned yesterday is the new (underground) museum centring on the huge defensive ditch accidentally discovered just inside the medieval walls of the old quarter a few years ago. Seeing this was finally open this morning, I entered in a spirit of excited enquiry, only to find the inner doors bearing the word Pechado. Which is Gallego for ‘Closed’. So, a big disappointment. But we’re getting there. I think.
Finally . . . Just down from the café there’s yet another new shop. This one’s called Otaku Center and seems to be a (franchised?) operation specialising in figures from Star Trek and Japanese comics. Just what we need. What with Christmas and The Three Kings coming up soon.
Tailnote for new readers: Exciting news. The first seven chapters of my daughter’s novel can now be read and/or downloaded in pdf form, for easy reading. It’s 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.