Thursday, September 01, 2011


I went shopping this morning. As ever, it was pretty much a failure. Like each of the three I'd previously tried, the ironmongers didn't stock microwave fuses. But (when asked) thought an electrical shop at the other end of town might. Like the previous specialist electrical shop I'd tried, this didn't either. But (when asked) thought that a place on the north side of town might. Which I will try another day.

The one good aspect of shopping in Spain is that they're incredible at wrapping stuff. But this can reach farcical levels, as when they wrap a single screw in brown paper and then sellotape the little parcel. And it's not so appealing when you're in a bit of a hurry and, as this morning, the guy at the counter is attempting to wrap a piece of kitchen furniture in brown paper for the women in front of you. And inevitably taking an age.

So, Richard Branson's Caribbean palace was destroyed during an electrical storm. Surprising he couldn't afford to put a lightning conductor on the roof. Or anywhere, for that matter.

The Tour de España came to Pontevedra today, where all hotels are now fully booked. This is in sharp contrast with July, it seems, when occupation was down around 50%. As our tourists are "92%" Spanish, this says something about La Crisis. Parts of Spain which depend on foreign visitors have done rather better, I believe. And August is reported to have been good, with 77% occupation along this coast. Good, but still not great, in view of the fixed costs. Variable costs are, of course, kept down by only employing cheap and servile South Americans.

Actually, it was fun watching the cyclists race over a bridge across the river while also viewing the same event on the TV. Though not exactly at the same time, of course. And it was me watching the race on the TV, not the cyclists.

It had to happen . . . Such has been the explosion in (EU-funded) roads and motorways in Spain over the last ten years, one of the easiest ways to save money, going forward, is to cut the road maintenance program. And, sure enough, this is what's just been announced for Galicia. I wonder how long it'll be before driving long distances here ceases to be an old-fashioned pleasure, because the roads are both high quality and relatively empty.

I've often expressed admiration for the obituaries in Spain's national papers. This week we've had one dedicated to a Mississippi Delta Bluesman, David Edwards. Shame they cited his nickname as Honeboy, rather than what it was - Honeyboy. You can hear his music on Spotify, by the way. Lovely guitar. Voice not bad either.

I mentioned ADSL prices yesterday and today I noted that BT is now promoting its services in Spain. Naturally, they've adopted the Spanish practice of luring you in with a a price which is reasonable (relatively speaking) but then shoots up after six months. I say 'reasonable', but it isn't really, against the prices being offered by Telefónica as of this week. Some quick rethinking will have to be done in the BT marketing department.

As I was writing some of this post this morning, I had to move from my preferred table as four of the six young women on the one behind me were smoking. This prompted some quick research on the internet, which confirmed my suspicion that deaths from lung cancer among women are rocketing up in Spain, as in France. In both countries cigarettes are primarily seen as appetite suppressors. So the more the merrier. Until later. Click here if you want more detail about the claim that "the female lung cancer epidemic is likely to expand in southern Europe from the current rate of 5/100,000 in Spain to approach 20/100,000 within the next 2-3 decades. Horrifying.

The Pontevedra character, Draculín, now seems to be patronising the same lunchtime bar as me. And so it was today I could snap him wearing something I've never even seen in England, despite living four years in London - a bloody bowler hat!


And here's a picture of the latest block of - totally empty - flats to be finished in Pontevedra. What's the betting on how long it'll be before they're all taken? 10 years? Twenty?


Finally . . . A complaint. Some genius at M&S has decided it'd be a good idea to save money (I guess) by getting rid of labels on mens' jockey shorts (slips - sleeps - in Spanish) and replacing them by print on the inside of the garment. The core problem with this is that the 'label' fades with washing. The additional problem, if you need glasses, is that a point is reached when you can't see the print at all and so proceed to put your shorts on back-to-front. Which is annoying. I shall have to consider taking my annual business elsewhere.

14 comments:

kalebeul said...

Pants: how about sewing an elephant trunk on front?

Candide said...

Draculin gone Magritte?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Son_of_Man_(Magritte)

Azra said...

How much do you think one of those new flats cost? I think I need one. I'd also need to win the lotto I think...

lifeboatjohn said...

Colin, with respect....you are talking pants. I've been wearing these new type of slips for many years and have yet to have a label fade or fall off. Might I suggest you stop boil washing your smalls?!

sally said...

With regards to the ASDL have you seen the company Iberbanda? The service they provide in Galicia is under the name tngo.es and if you live in the province of Pontevedra the council subsidise your monthly costs. We were finally able to get rid of Telefonica, who continually refused for 6 years to give us a fixed line although the posts only stopped a hundred yards or so down the road, their ridiculous costs plus slow internet access and now we pay around 28 euros a month for internet including calls to landlines throughout Spain or if wish you can even choose to have 300 minutes of calls to England included instead. Their customer service, not that we have needed it much, is impressive but the best thing of all was telling Telefonica to bogg off!

Bill said...

The new M&S pant-labelling system is MUCH better than the old labels, which at one point became so long (for translations, etc) that they spawned a 'sketch' in a French & Saunders show ;) The new print-on labelling hasn't faded on mine so far, after numerous washes; mind you I have so many pants that none gets worn more than once a month or so.

Colin said...

@Sally

Thanks for that. I think, from memory, that this is BT's partner in Spain. Just checked and they are BT's 'sister company in Spain', whatever that means.

"If you do not have a landline look at our sister site Iberbanda In English to see whether we can supply you with wireless broadband."

I wonder if the subsidy applies when there are other alternatives available. Will check it out.

Colin said...

@LBJ and Bill

Much depends on one's eyesight . . .

sally said...

We have a couple of spanish friends who have had a landline but have changed to Iberbanda and their wireless system and still have received the subsidy.

Mike the Traditionalist said...

I must be missing something with "sleeps"! A label needed to see which way to put your underwear on? Semper ubi sub ubi.

Colin said...

Well, no problem with Y-fronts, of course. But sleeps tend to look the same from the front and the back. Or v similar.

BTW - I think I've cracked the problem of excessively large labels (which they never were in sleeps). Take a pair of scissors and cut off 90% of it, leaving a little white strip that shows you whether or not your pants are inside out.

Women must have a similar problem with their nix. Just one of the things they cope better with than men???

Mike the Traditionalist said...

I can't see much of a problem for women putting on a piece of string with a fig leaf indicating the front!

Colin said...

I was thinking of something less modern . . .

Pericles said...

Pants from C & A (as was) were said to be labelled in a similar manner to navvy wellington boots with L & R on the toes.

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