My elder daughter's partner, Jonny, is something of a musician. Apart from the sax and piano, he's recently taken up the bandoneón, an instrument of astonishing complexity. I had thought it was impressive of me to start playing the piano in my sixties but tackling the bandoneón is like typing on four different vertical typewriters, with a blindfold over your eyes. And that's without the complication of the fact the accordian-type feature of this monster means that the little knobs play a different note when it's being squeezed than when it's being extended. Quite why he's inflicted this torture on himself is rather beyond me.
Talking of music . . . Jonny has introduced me to my first purchase of an Apple app - One that provides me with a phenomenal amount of easy-to-use piano chord info. And all for a mere 9 quid. A good example of the benefits the net has brought us. Along with all the porn.
Anyway, the Asian restaurant was still open last night. In fact, there were more customers there than I'd seen on any of my three previous visits. But, then, we do have the European Triathlon Championships in Pontevedra this weekend. Which explained the Bulgarian family at the next table. Whom we got to know when the waiter asked me to tell them how the place worked. I had hoped to use one of the fliers I'd collected to get a 10% discount but I was told this didn't apply in June because of the (false) price reduction. Only at weekends, when the price reduction doesn't operate. Unless you've got a discount voucher. Confused? I certainly was. But, as I said, clever these Chinese. In compensation, we were all given a little gift as we left. Although Jonny's was only a packet of tissues, against the teacup (with lid) which I got.
Greece and the EU:
In The Times yesterday the ex Labour Chancellor of the British Exchequer, Mr Alastair Darling, contributed an article which rehearsed some of the EU mistakes made over the years when politics triumphed over economics but, nonetheless, came down in favour of continuing this process, on the basis of “strong visionary leadership”. And in the continuing absence of this?
The writer of this second article also believes the break-up of the eurozone should be prevented by arranging for “the solvent north to bail out the stricken south on a more or less permanent basis”. Something which he sees as being “progressively forced” on the former anyway. However, his support for this acceptance of “harsh reality” is based on a belief that, firstly, Britain won't have to contribute and that, more importantly, it will be beneficial to the British economy in the longer run. He does, though, accept that the chances of the EU allowing the UK to cherry-pick in this fashion must be “open to question”.
On a hill outside Santiago de Compostela, there's a constellation of buildings (the "City of Culture") which is generally seen as a vanity project initiated by the multi-term President of the Galician Xunta, Manuel Fraga. It's said to be nearing completion but over the years it's been more famous for its apparent white-elephant uselessness, its huge cost overruns and the fraud involved in its construction than for its beauty. However, here's an article from the Wall St. Journal, of all things, which extolls the latter - “Mr. Eisenman's marvelous new architectural landscape is a masterly and vigorous achievement - an enhancement of a region of Spain that deserves to be much better known.” At least the last bit's true.
Spain and Greece . . . The FT today pronounced that “Last week’s spike in the 10-year bond yield is not fully justified; Spain is far ahead of Greece in its state finances and economic culture. But the needed reforms – to address a dysfunctional labour market and poor productivity – have an eerie similarity.” Mmmm. Meanwhile, exports continue to do well.
Finally . . . Two concepts new to me:-