Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Inevitably - if just a tad late – the latest issue of the satyrical magazine, Private Eye, has a field day with the News International/Met Police/ Government saga. And why not? Over the years, they've been even more assiduous than The Guardian at drawing attention to rogues in all these places And I'm indebted to the mag for these tidbits:-
  1. In 1799 a certain judge Kenyon pronounces that “The freedom of the press is dear to England; the licentiousness of the press is odious to England. I can see no better way to preserve the former than by beating down heavily on the latter.”
  2. 1843: The News of the World starts up. Just to prove him wrong. For a while.
The regular cartoonist in El Pais is called El Roto. Normally I just don't get what he draws. But yesterday he finally brought a smile to my face with his cartoon of a vulture saying he ignored what there was to eat on the TV as the carrion is inedible. Well, I thought it was funny. And on the button.

In the never-ending battle between Madrid and the regions, the former has said it'll no longer make cash transfers to those of the latter who are exceeding their debt targets. Feathers are now flying all over the dovecots and it'll be interesting to see where the inevitable local cuts bite and whether more supernumerary politicians are laid off. 

Talking of the economy, things don't look too good in any direction. The UK's growth in the second quarter was an anaemic 0.2% but the news is not much better elsewhere, with even Germany slowing down. As ever, Edward Hugh is pessimistic about Spain and sees her on the edge of a second dip . . . “Even as growth in the core economies approaches stall speed, out on the periphery a new recession seems increasingly on the cards, most importantly in countries like Spain and Italy which have so far managed to keep their heads just above the waterline. Growth in the second quarter of the year looks likely to have been minimal in both cases, and the outlook for the third quarter suggests we are entering a bout of economic shrinkage.” Which ain't good news for debt servicing challenges.

Actually, there's one thing that'll help Spain's GDP per capita number without too much effort. The country can continue to lose people the way it's doing at present. 300,000 since January, offset by only 278,000 immigrants.

On the specifics of the Spanish property sector, the news continues to be dismal:- “The large construction companies have started a mere 220 new homes this year. The companies in the so-called G-14 group have only managed to clear 15% of their stock over the past year and still have 4,700 flats for sale, despite dropping the prices. Only 1,700 flats are under construction, the ‘lowest number in history’. [Mostly in Pontevedra, it seems] In the first half of the year the large companies sold just 60% of the number sold in the same period in 2010. Prices are down an average 27% since the highs of 2008.” If you believe the official numbers, house prices have fallen from their 2007/8 peak least of all in Spain's two poorest regions Extremadura and Galicia. Of course, this may just mean that Extremadurans (Extremeños) display the same reality-defying stubbornness as the slightly less poor Gallegos.

Yesterday was the feast of Santiago, the patron saint of both Galicia and Spain (I think). So it was a good day to learn that the city boasts not just one but two ridiculous saint myths. The first, of course, about St James and the second about St Francis, who's said (on nil evidence) to have preached in the very building named after him in the city. Anyway, here's IberoSphere on the St James nonsense and you can read my comments there, if you haven't exploded with apoplexy.

Moving from Orange to Yoigo.
Chapter 3: I received a text today from Yoigo telling me all was done and dusted and confirming I'll be a customer of theirs from 2 August.
Chapter 4: A few minutes later, I got a text from Orange telling me nothing would happen until I called them. Which I didn't
Chapter 5: The number which has been calling me for days finally answered when I spoke and a woman asked me in a rapid mechanical tone why I'd decided to move from Orange. Equally mechanically and quickly, I ended the call.
So, either Yoigo or Orange is blatantly lying. I guess I'll find out which on August 2.

Finally . . . The free wi-fi down in Vegetables Square has entered a new era. Now they cut you off after 15, not 20 minutes. And there's apparently no way on earth you can get re-connected. That's service for you. Albeit free.

PS. As I post this, a guy who might not be all there has sat down beside me and started to mutter things to me in Spanish. I told him I didn't understand as I was English. So he switched to Gallego . . .

English speakers from Portugal and Galicia will be meeting in the Asian-buffet restaurant on the top floor of the A Barca shopping centre in Poio tomorrow, Wednesday. From 1.30 on. Everyone welcome. If I am still standing at the end of it – and can walk with three meals inside me – I will be giving a guided tour of the old quarter of Pontevedra, during the “dead hour”, when all is blissfully quiet.

Write to me at colindavies@terra.es if you really can't used Google Maps to find the place.


Sierra said...

It's interesting to speculate where the Eurozone woould be if UK had joined - would we be talking about the PIIGSUK nations?

Ferrolano said...

Colin, as a follow-up to your comments about St. James, I was reminded of an official guided tour I made some years ago around the complex of Santiago Cathedral. In covering the history leading up to what became the Church and now the Cathedral, the guide further explained about the remains of St. James being transferred from the cave where they had lain for many a year until finally being placed in a casket within a crypt below the main altar of the Cathedral, where they rest today.

We were also told by the guide that this may not in fact be true as nobody can verify that the remains are in fact those of St. James. To which my thought ever since has been; “This is what faith is all about because logic tells me many contradictory things about what I have been taught”

Colin said...

@Sierra. I'm sure we would.

@Ferrolano: Faith and logic are not natural bedfellows. To say the least! with one atheist daughter and one Catholic daughter, I should know.

Azra said...

Hi Colin. 278K immigrants? Wow thats alot. I've heard that there are many expats in Spain (from Britain particularly) that have returned home after realising that it wasn't working out for them. As someone who's dreamt of moving to Spain all my life, I have to wonder if it will ever happen. Can it happen? I'm only 29 with "half" an MBA... so I'm no expert on anything and my contribution to the country as such would be debatable. And in the current economic climate, I'm sure there are enough English teachers around.

Maybe I should look towards Italy or Croatia :)

Colin said...

Hola, Azra.

Most of Spain's immigrants come from South America and East Europe. And these come to stay. Or to try to. There are an awful lot of Brits in the south (around a million they say) but no one seems to know how many of them only come to spend time in their holiday homes. Or how many have retreated back to the UK because of the decline of the pound.

For a native speaker, there are always opportunities to teach English here. In fact, a chap who runs an academy with this wife in lovely Cambados was telling me yesterday that he was looking for someone from september (anyone interested should write to me at colindavies@terra.es). Unless you work for a reputable academy, though, it's a precarious existence as Spanish students are notoriously unreliable.

So, keep your Spanish dream!



BTW - I've added your blog to my Blogroll.

Azra said...

Hello again Colin

That's very good to know (about keeping the dream alive)... thanks for all the information. I will email you soon. I too think it would be best to be affiliated with a school or academy.

There are many British immigrants here too, I was actually surprised by how many (almost a million).

PS. Thanks for putting me on your blog roll, although I can't imagine people would find me half as entertaining or interesting as I find all your posts! :)

Colin said...

You are too kind, Azra. I suspect you are wrong. Just look at the number of Followers you have, against my paltry 66. (One of which is me, so that I can write to the others!) Plus you have 19 on Google Reader. Though I do beat you there . . .
Totals: You 159 + 19 178
Me: 65 + 136 201

Not much in it and I hope you get more via my readers. They (nearly) all like a good rant!

Have you got an RSS feed on your blog?

Wait to hear from you on your Spanish dream.

May be able to help.


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