Wednesday, November 24, 2010

All of the BBC’s TV output can be received in Ireland, I believe. Well, if I can get all the programs from here, then they must be able to get them in the Emerald Isle. I mention this because next week the BBC starts what looks like an enticing “German” season. This will demonstrate how the last hundred years have caused us to forget the previous five hundred years of huge cultural achievement across all the Arts. As I say, it sounds fascinating but I can’t see it being among the most popular items on Irish TV this winter.

Talking of high finance, my latest electricity bill has arrived and I’m forced to the conclusion that the (Catalan) company actually has an Anti-Marketing or Stuff-the-Customer department. Firstly, it’s an (excessive) estimate, when I’m sure they were ordered to stop doing this a year or so ago; secondly, the unit cost of gas has gone up by almost 7% and there’s no mention of this, let alone any sort of explanation; thirdly, the item marked Electricity Tax has been increased by 29%, again without explanation; fourthly the value added tax has been increased by two percentage points or 12.5%; and, finally, the little bar chart showing what I’ve (notionally) used in the last month relative to the previous six periods suggest this is less than one fifth of what they’ve charged me for. Presumably an administrative error and not something deliberately done to make me say “Oh, goody! My electricity use is well down this month. I won’t worry about all the increases” What a way to provide a service! Possibly not even 20th century, never mind 21st. They must have friends in high places.

Galicians like to claim that the invading Moors never made it this far north and/or were beaten back by courageous Gallegos. Not to mention the mountains and the rain. But, looking at this 11th century building in Pontevedra’s old quarter, one can be forgiven for being dubious about the claims. 

Then there was the carrying off of the bells of Santiago cathedral down to Cordoba. Where they hung in the grand mosque for five hundred years. 

Finally . . . It’s reported that “speculation is growing that the eurozone will break into a core and a periphery, or that the weaker countries will unilaterally peel off. Such thoughts were considered high treason as recently as the beginning of this year. But analysts see the economic troubles in the weaker countries and speculate that the pain will become intolerable, and that these countries will head for the exit. The odds that Greece, Ireland, Portugal and, perhaps, Spain will leave the eurozone within the next three years, or maybe sooner, are shortening by the day.” (Ruth Lea, The Times). If Germany doesn't beat them to it, of course.

And in the
Spanish financial daily Expansión, journalist Tom Burns Marañón argues: “The next foreseeable step is that the other peripheral European countries . . . . will question the legitimacy of a supranational body which holds very little democratic counterweight to impose blood and tears. Likewise of the leadership of those who launched and maintained the Monetary Union, the euro and the Central European Bank without first having established a transparent fiscal and debt system common to all."

All rather predictable. And predicted.


Victor B. said...

As far as I know that building was built in the 15th century, not in the 11th, and those are gothic ogee arches -all right, of Arab origin- widely used all across Europe. Even in England.
And the Moors didn't stay here (they obviously did reach here) not because we courageous gallegos beat the crap out of them, but probably because they had no interest whatsoever in this place.

Colin said...

Damn, Victor. You've ruined one of my best party pieces for visitors . . . . I'll have to check on the age of the building. I was definitely told 11th century when I first came here. And that, more recently, it housed my favourite tapas bar, El Pitillo.

Victor B. said...

Sorry, Colin. That wasn't my intention at all. But everything is not lost yet. You can still tell your visitors about the story of the famous pontevedrés pirate Benito Soto, commander of the Burla Negra. It is believed that he hid a huge loot somewhere in that very same building. The owners of the place even included a clause in the sale contract when it was sold to the town hall requesting the loot if it was ever found.
Your guests might find that story even more amusing than the other one, and you might stick to the moors story as well. Nobody will notice.

Colin said...

Now, that's a real story! Many thanks, Victor. I'm off to research the chap now . . .

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