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:-
- 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.”
- 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 . . .