Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Most days I'd agree with the contention that Spanish motorists are not very much worse than those anywhere else. And then, within an hour, I come up against a van driver on my side of the road with a mobile phone to his ear and a guy driving across the bridge at 30-40kph with both hands behind his head. Incidentally, the van driver had the phone in his left hand but pressed to his right ear. This is not uncommon and I can only guess that his right ear is more 'trained' but that he wanted to keep his right hand on the wheel. Other explanations/theories welcome.

Following on its scrapping of plans for a Lisbon-Madrid high-speed train, the Portuguese government has now said it's cancelling the existing train service between Oporto and Vigo. They claim this is because few people use it. True but then, firstly, the times are not very convenient and, secondly, you could walk faster between these two cities than this ancient snail train manages it.

Click here if you want to know more about the stock market flotation of Bankia, the new institution created by fusing Caja Madrid and several smaller savings banks. And when you fully understand what's going on, please send me a summary. I may have the pleasure of meeting Charles Butler this summer and I don't want to appear completely ignorant.

I don't do much late-night drinking (de copas) but I do recall that when I first came here in 2000 the price of a copa was 500 pesetas, or 3 euros. When the euro was introduced in 2002, and as with many everyday items, the chance was taken to profit from the development and the price rose overnight to 5 euros, or 835 euros. Then it rose quickly to at least 6 euros, or 1000 pesetas. A doubling of the price, in other words. I mention this not to cite yet another dubious advantage of the introduction of the euro but as a prelude to the report that I walked past a bar today desperately advertising copas at the 2000 price of 3 euros a shot. A real sign of the times. But I'd be a bit worried about how close my copa was to the original spirit provided by the manufacturer.

Talking of bars . . . Despite La Crisis, at least two new ones have opened up in Pontevedra's old quarter in the last few weeks. And here they are . . . .

Which reminds me . . . I'm going to have to revise my estimate of the new roundabouts in Pontevedra. Walking into town from the station this morning, I passed one under construction that wasn't there last week. And this has an exit road leading into a new (and unpopulated) development where there are several more.

Shopping in Mercadona last night, I came upon a group of young people who'd just come through the checkout having bought nothing but cans of beer. Several hundred of them, in fact. Which they were trying to pack into suitcases and wheelie-bags. From the hair and dress styles, my guess was they were from the rump Indignados camp on the Alameda. Good to see they have their priorities right. There's hope for them yet.

As I wait to find out how Vodafone will (try to) screw me, I read this pertinent post from Lenox this morning. I agree with him about what will be the death (or at least the shackles) of Spain. Meanwhile, we're now into day 17 of my wait (“6 days, sir”) for a transfer from Orange to Vodafone.

Talking of customer service . . . Here's an amusing post, also from Lenox.

Finally . . . To prove my point, here's a foto taken from the steps of the basilica of Santa María. You can see my house with its bougainvillea towards the top of it. If you look hard enough.

And even more so in this zoomed snap. The uppermost row of town houses are those behind mine for which no owners have come forward in the six (noisy and dusty) years it took to build them.

End house on the right of the third block from the left.

Finally, finally . . . The overnight hits to this blog were double the norm. So maybe one of the words or phrases I cited last night - but which one? - really does do the trick. Alternatively, a friend has suggested hits rise when I don't post until late and there've been multiple hits to see if I've written anything. I've often pondered this but the counter point is that at least 131 readers are automatically advised by Google Reader when something has been posted. Likewise those using other RSS feeds. So they don't need to do this. Hey ho. It's not really important, is it?


Mike the Traditionalist said...

Colin - because I have nothing else to do I must make about 5 hits a day on your blog just in case someone has posted a comment. Sometimes I will take it upon myself to make comments so that readers will think I am someone important. I often wonder what happened to rusty pin who used post on here.

tim said...

Those three euro copas are illegal but probably taste better. In Galicia you cant have happy hours or two for one or reduced drinks from the two visible price lists one should be posted by the door and another near the register. Why? Because it promotes drinking more - so how are the bars suppose to make money?....

Eugenia said...

A google search for mongolian donkey decathlon has you six from the top. Perhaps that explains it. I tried donkey brothel first and the results were disturbing!

moscow said...

Answering yesterday's reply:
No Colin, the boom really got going after the introduction of the Euro and lower interest rates, not before. But it is not the Euro's fault. The fault lies with Spaniards themselves for keeping inefficiencies and corruption in place after entry. But as I have always maintained, and I know I am right because what is happenning now is exactly what I said would happen, being within the Euro would inevitably lead to the necessary reforms being forced through.
Another problem now is the foot-dragging and ZP's absence of real believe in the need for structural reforms (some of which he is carrying out through himself). But up to know nobody has come with a plausible argument to convince me that Spain cannot be in the same union as Germany. If the PP truly handbags Spain's rigidities away, unshackling free the true potential of the country then the economy will get back to a healthier growth trend.

Colin said...


1. "the boom really got going after the introduction of the Euro and lower interest rates, not before."

Well, at least we agree on something.

2. "But it is not the Euro's fault. The fault lies with Spaniards themselves for keeping inefficiencies and corruption in place after entry. "

Hmm. So, if I wander into the wrong bit of, say. Chicago and get robbed and killed, the perpetrator has a good defence in "It was his fault, not mine"?

3. "what is happenning now is exactly what I said would happen, being within the Euro would inevitably lead to the necessary reforms being forced through."

Yes, just as in Greece. Where the reforms have yet to happen but the country is in revolt at the prospect of taking all the medicine.

As for Spain, there was never going to be an immediate change, either under the PP or (even less, as happened) under the PSOE. So the madness began and the price is even higher now (and in the future) than it would have been be if Spain had waited for real convergence before entry. But I'm guessing your response to this would be that this convergence wouldn't have happened without the pressure of the EU straitjacket. So it was really necessary/inescabable to have the ridiculous boom and now the very damaging bust, to which we have yet to see a real social (as opposed to political) reaction.

All this very much sounds like "The end justifies the means. So it doesn't matter what happens to this generation of Spanish "youngsters". Their kids (if they can afford them as well as a flat) will have great employment prospects because of the EU and its wonders."

Colin said...


LoL. But, funnily enough, I can't reproduce this search result. Google?

Colin said...


Thanks for these insights.

Colin said...


Understand and wish it were otherwise. But I think you can elect to be advised if and when there are comment follow ups. But not sure.

moscow said...

And what has the advantage been for the UK of not having the Euro? Absolutely none. The UK's economy is heading right down the plughole, only the financial markets seem to give the UK the benefit of the doubt so obviously denied to Spain. And this despite Britain doing worse on all parameters except unemployment.

They way you tell it is as if Spain is the only country that has had a construction boom. But it has happened outside the Euro, and the USA is the best example. Furthermore, Spain has suffered recessions before and will suffer them in future as well, regardless of whether it is inside the Euro or not. Boom and bust is a unavoidable in a market economy. Yes Spain is going through tough times and there is some cutting back to be done. But Spaniards have had it never so good. What if after growing tenfold since the sixties the economy falls now by 3%-4%? You seriously suggesting that is a game-changer?
I would worry less about Spain and more about your relatives back in the UK because Spain will sort itself out but the UK is soon to become Europe's empoverished northwestern neighbour.

Colin said...

OK, let's assume all this is correct, for the sake of argument (not that it concerns me much, especially as my euros/pesetas will be worth more as time goes on). But of what relevance is it to where the eurozone will go and where Greece, Portugal, Italy, Ireland and Spain will end up.

I have profited greatly from housing peaks and troughs in the UK but none of them was caused by an erroneous currency and exchange rate for the UK economy. Likewise, as you well know, the US boom had its own causes. It's utterly irrelevant to say these things happen elsewhere when we are talking about the euro and its effects, past and future.

Are you prepared to give us the future of the PIGS to set against your bleak prediction for the UK?

Or, stepping back, will you hazard a guess as to the answer to the question of what will happen to the eurozone. Will it split? If so, how? Even if it remains a one-speed institution (with Serbia joining soon?!), will some members (be allowed to) leave? Will new entrants be put in limbo for 5, 10, 15 years? etc. etc.

If you can't tell us, why not, given your absolute certainty about being right about Spain's current and the UK's future plight? I really wouldn't have thought it was beyond you.

Ferrolano said...

Well Colin, just arrived back in Ferrol and what grand selection of items to comment about. And, seeing that the first item has not been picked up on, here goes:

Phone in left hand so that the driver can continue to change gear with his – during this time, he will then be doing better than your chap with both hands behind his head as he will be multi-tasking – talk on phone, changing gear and, driving with no hands…!!

Phone held to right ear – as the driver is sitting against the left hand window and holding phone to right ear, this then leaves is left ear ready to catch the shouted messages and greetings from his friends and bystanders out on the street. And of course when that occurs, he then hold multiple conversations, one of which will be shouted, much to the annoyance of the person at the other end of the telephone conversation.

What more can I say??

Colin said...

Of course! LoL. Mucho.

Search This Blog