Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Because of a painfully sensitive tooth I went to the dentist yesterday and was disappointed to be told that the earliest slot was 29 December. But, the receptionist added, there was a chance there’d be a cancellation today and she’d call me in the morning if so. Well, she didn’t but I went there anyway just after 1pm, to ask whether there was a product they’d recommend for my increasingly painful tooth. It turned out there’d been a cancellation for Thursday evening. So I booked this but repeated my enquiry about something I could put on the tooth in the meantime. Whereupon she told me that there’d also been a cancellation for 1.30 today, so I could have this if I wanted to. Which I did, of course. The lesson? In a country where everyone lives in the here and now, it’s worthwhile going on spec until something turns up. Waiting for a phone call may not be your best bet. Especially if everyone’s doing what you’re doing. In Spain, the most important customer is always the one in front of the provider. Even if he/she is interrupting someone else.

Reading John Carlin’s football column in El País last Sunday, I was again struck by how much easier it is to read articles that have been translated from English. I most commonly feel this when reading Timothy Gorton Ash’s prodigious output. Can it be that this is because much of the ‘music’ of English is maintained in the translation? Shorter sentences? Less flowery language? . . . Some professional translator (Dwight?) must have the answer to this. Assuming I’m not off beam with my observation.

Although Ryanair have cancelled all their flights from Galicia as on January 11, I still don’t believe the regional government will be so stupid as to let this happen and must be even now trying to find some face-saving solution to the problem. Just how important the airline is emerges from a report commissioned by the Santiago city council, showing that the company brings half a million visitors to the region per year. Or used to, at least. The (obviously miffed) council lays the blame for the current impasse on the Xunta’s ‘coffee-for-all’ policy of trying to spread international flights around Galicia’s three small airports. Which it then laughingly refers to as three separate terminals of a single Galician facility. You couldn’t make it up. Well, you could in a country where local rivalries are so intense.

Finally . . . The law which will ban smoking in all public places does now look as if it will come into force on the scheduled date of January 2. Just in time for those wanting to take the opportunity to give up the habit, El País has been offering an electric cigarette which comes in three flavours – mint, tobacco and ‘blond tobacco’. Never having indulged, I haven’t the faintest what the last of these is. Perhaps tobacco light.

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