Wednesday, December 08, 2010

It’s an up and down life for Elena Salgado, the Spanish Economy Minister(ess). The other day she was rated by the FT as being near the bottom of the class among her international peers but yesterday Eurozone ministers pronounced themselves very impressed by measures she’s announced to tackle Spain’s debt crisis. So, is this another example of Anglo-Saxon bias or does the EU have a vested interest in talking up Spain? Or both?

One group of Spaniards who can’t be at all impressed by or happy with Señora Salgado is smokers. As of January 2, they lose all right to indulge the habit in public and now the lady in question has slapped a 28% increase on the price of tobacco. I almost feel sorry for them.

Talking of Spanish vices, here’s an interesting article on prostitution, from Qorreo – with the fascinating title “What I learned in a Spanish brothel”. The writer is not the only person to have heard Spanish men assert that the ladies enjoy what they do. As much as bulls like being stabbed, I guess.

Despite ten years of massively increased investment in British state education, the country continues to slip down the OECD international rankings. Spain has recorded one or two improvements but still comes in below the average against most criteria. This is doubly depressing but at least the Spanish excuse could be relatively low per capita spend. I’ve no idea what the UK excuse might be; but one thing I’m sure of is that the results were (or would be) a lot better in the British private sector. Hence its steady growth over at least the last two decades. Generally, Asian countries do far better than their Western counterparts but Finland is an outstanding exception. I wonder what they do to get things right.

My daughter from Madrid tells me that the Express self-checkout desks in the supermarkets there are made rather less ‘express’ by the fact that everyone who wants to use this facility must first line up to show his/her ID card to an employee. Why am I not surprised?

Finally . . . Here’s the front cover to the book of my friend, Peter Missler - The Treasure Hunter of Santiago.

For those who didn’t see it last week, here’s my thoroughly merited plug for this . . . .

Peter has penned a fascinating account of one of the main characters in George Borrow’s The Bible in Spain - Benedict Mol. It’s a must-read for anyone with an interest in Santiago, Galicia or, indeed, Spain generally. And everyone else, for that matter.

Here’s the flyer and you can sample enticing extracts here:-

In August of 1838, in the middle of a devastating civil war, a grotesque figure arrived at Santiago de Compostela, the ancient pilgrimage town in the North-West of Spain. He was a former Swiss mercenary, who thirty years previously had heard a rumour about a massive hoard of church plate buried by the soldiers of Marshal Ney. A fantasy? A daydream? Just one of the many hollow legends of hidden gold that abound in Spain? Perhaps so. But, astonishingly, the Swiss vagrant did not come on his own errand. He came sponsored by Spain’s savvy Minister of Finance, Don Alejandro Mon, who for some shadowy reason of his own lent credence to the tale.

Like an historical sleuth, Peter Missler traces the tale of Benedict Mol the treasure hunter through the mists of time and a smoke-screen of cover-stories. It is a fascinating saga which takes us to Portugal with looting French soldiers, into the wild mountains of Northern Spain with the brilliant polyglot George Borrow, and – by the hand of Mol - into the darkest nooks and corners of a hospital for syphilitics. The first attempt to find the treasure toppled the government, the second ended with the murder of two peasants. But was the hoard secured? Or does it still lie waiting somewhere in a Santiago park…?
Durrant Publishing, Norfolk, UK. Available in hardcover (₤20 + postage), paperback (₤10 + postage) and eText (₤0.75). For sample chapters see

How to order:-

The Treasure Hunter of Santiago may be ordered from Amazon (enter ‘Missler Treasure Hunter’ into the search machine of any Amazon site).

Those who prefer to acquire the book from a bookshop may contact Graham York Rare Books, 225 High Street, Honiton, Devon, EX14 1LB England. Tel: 01 404 41727; email ; website

1 comment:

Keefieboy said...

I was amused by that QorreO article, and have my doubts about its veracity. I you exit Estrecho Metro station onto Bravo Murillo, as the author suggests you do, you will not find Vive. You need to go to Tetuan Metro, and then down Marques de Viana. We live two blocks further down the road. But, hey, I'm glad I saw the article - I always thought Vive was some kind of gym: now I know what all of those fit young ladies are really up to; busy getting themselves exploited for €200 a pop and buying houses for cash in South America.