Tuesday, October 05, 2010

You’ll all be wanting to know what the final outcome was of my action against France Telecom/Ya.com over the bill they sent me after I stopped paying them two years ago when my ADSL ceased functioning. Well, following the demand from the Consumo that they reveal the secret contents of this bill, they’ve written to say it was an administrative error and they’ve cancelled it. How odd they couldn’t do this at the time, before all the threatening letters and phone calls from their lawyers. Which would have saved all the time wasted on pointless exchanges and preparation of the case for the Consumo. It’s hard to avoid the conclusion it was a standard try-on. And that there’s no concern about consumer goodwill as they can rely on the fact everyone here regards all companies as equally dishonest. Or, as someone called them in my first month here, as “thieves in white gloves”.

So, Norman Wisdom has died as we’d all like to – peacefully in his bed, aged 95. I met him once, at Manchester airport. Despite his being a millionaire, we were both on the same cheap flight to Malaga. Many years prior to that, I’d been astonished to see how popular he was in Iran, when I went to live there in 1973. It’ll now be interesting to see whether either El País or El Mundo honour him with one of their impressive obituaries. Couldn’t stand him myself. But, then, I’ve never found Charlie Chaplin funny either. While being prepared to accept both were masters of their art. I would never have had either of them put down.

Someone else died yesterday – the face of moderate Islam in Spain. His passing was even more fitting than Norman Wisdom’s, as it happened when he was at prayer. If there really is a God, this should redound to his favour, I imagine.

Moving from death to life . . . It’s pretty well known that life expectancy here in Spain is greater than in most, if not all, other EU countries. Less well known, I suspect, is the fact that good health in Spain only lasts until the age of 55 on average. Which compares with 63 across the EU as a whole. So, given a life expectancy of 81, the average number of years a Spaniard can expect to live in poor health is 26. Though this breaks down to 21 for men and 31 for women. Which doesn’t sound like good news. Except I suddenly feel very lucky.

But, anyway, on to more prosaic stuff . . .  Here are some more fascinating insights into the Spanish (un)employment situation, courtesy of Charles Butler of IBEX Salad.

The phrase “progressive liberal” is in common use these days. In a political, not economic, sense. But what, I wonder, is a non-progressive (regressive?) liberal. Can such a creature exist? Or is the adjective only used to create an aura of moral superiority around anyone who calls himself a liberal?

Which reminds me . . . Here’s another of those articles reminding us that the labels Left and Right are of limited utility these (progressive) days.

Finally . . . Here’s the (right) answer to a question I first asked myself many, many years ago – Why are people willing to wear clothes with brand names or logos on them? Sorry if that includes you.

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.

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