Note: I posted a Special on the EU earlier today. If you're interested, scroll down.
What a funny place Headingley is on a Friday night. And Saturday, too, I'm guessing. And probably Sunday as well. This is a residential area for both of Leeds' universities and, at 8 tonight (tea time in Spain), the streets were thronged with students en route (I suspect) to all-night parties. And all in fancy dress. Meaning togas (i. e. sheets) in the case of one group and nothing but green paint above the waist in another. With the temperature below 10 degrees.
But the funniest sight is to be witnessed during the day, when passing white kids sporting the sort of woollen hat Rastafarians wear to contain their dreadlocks. Even though they haven't got much hair to boast of. Bloody odd, as the hat just hangs down like an empty bag. And then there's the guys in trousers of which the baggy crutch hangs a foot lower than usual and of which the lower legs are skin tight. I guess one could come up with something dafter but it'd be difficult.
Anyway . . . Back in Spain, inflation is now 3% and the unemployment rate has climbed to 21.5%, meaning 4.98 million souls unemployed. The percentage is even higher in some regions of the country but there's still no sign of the forecasted social unrest.
There's some good news in the report of Spanish companies being given the contract for a high speed train to Mecca and in the growth of the construction services industry. Plus the tourism sector had the best year since records began this summer. So it's not all bleak.
Talking of tenders . . . There's been one issued this week for mobile phones for Spanish MPs. The specification is so written that only Apple has any chance of winning it. In fact, it's said that parts of it could have come directly from the company's technical data sheets. I've seen this sort of coincidence in both Iran and Indonesia but it's surprising to meet it in Spain.
The Brits, it seems, are losing their love of Spain when it comes to buying a second home. The greater stability and lower prices of France now make it the first choice for those who can still afford to buy euro-priced properties at today's exchange rate of 1.13. A far cry from the 1.40 or more of a couple of years ago. And a crying matter if your pension is in pounds.
But maybe things will swing back. Idealista reports that the average drop in property prices during September was 22%. Though Banco Santander abandoned plans to sell off their property portfolio this week when discounts far higher than this were demanded.
The O.I.S Section
1. A teacher friend in Madrid was asked if there would still be a class on Thursday. When he said of course there would and sought an explanation for the question, the student answered - "Well. it's forecast to rain on Thursday and we don't normally come to school when it's raining."
2. Another teacher friend asked his class to write down what they valued most in their friends. The leading answer - "He/she lets me look at his/her answers during an exam".
Some Spanish politician or other has suggested it would've been better to keep Portugal and let Cataluña go. I don't think so, mate. You'd now have the entire western quarter of Iberia - the Galaico-Portugúes bit, encompassing Portugal and Galicia - giving you the same grief that Cataluña does now. And in a foreign language which claims greater affinity with Latin. Though why that should merit respect is beyond me.
Finally, a plug for the blog of a new friend, Jack, who teaches in a local school. Check it out.