I went to the local Sainsburys supermarket today. At the checkout, I paid the four or five quid bill and asked for fifty quid cash-back. As I was using my debit card, I was asked for proof of identity. Except I wasn't, as - in contrast with Spain - you're never asked for this in the UK. What I was asked - as on all previous visits - was whether I had the store's Nectar card. I merely said No. But, such is the British eagerness to apologise, the student in front of me had actually answered "No, sorry." to this question, as if he were guilty of something reprehensible.
Corruption cases are not exactly rare in Spain - some of them involving truly incredible sums of money. And it's probably not too unusual for members of the aristocracy to be involved from time to time. But it is rare for the monarchs' son-in-law - the Duke of Palma - to be implicated. Specifically, the anti-corruption prosecutor in the Balearic Islands suspects the Duke and his business partner of setting up a corporate network to divert public and private funds received by the Nóos Institute, a non-for-profit organisation over which they both presided. It'll be interesting to watch events unfold. And the regal reactions.
The EU Commission has cut next year's economic growth forecast for Spain from 1.5 to 0.7% and said that Spain won't meet her deficit objectives either this year or next year. And that's under currently envisaged circumstances. If the eurozone breaks up or is re-formed in any way, it's anyone's guess what will happen next year.
Such is the volume of fraudulent activity on Facebook, an organisation called Facecrook has been established "to monitor and chronicle the seedy, unsavoury and silly side of social media." More here.
Tuning in my daughter's digital box today, I landed on the gutter TV program, The Jeremy Kyle Show. Just as he was about to open an envelope containing the results of a DNA test which would establish if the man on the screen was really the father of the child he and his wife had reared as his. He wasn't. At which point I changed channels, recalling that we hadn't come up with this application of DNA technology when in 1985 we'd brainstormed the issue on licensing the technology from the later be-Nobled and be-knighted Alec Jeffries. But, as someone (Mr Barnum?) once said, no one ever went broke by under-estimating the taste of the public.
My Iranian Bahai friends have sent me this link to a talk by a musician - Khadem-Missagh - which is well worth watching. Especially if, like me, you enjoy the way Persians speak English. Contrasted with the Dutch. Except my friend Peter. And probably a few others as well.
Here's an article on Greece, originally published by the Daily Mail in June last year and since reproduced widely across the blogosphere. Reading it, you can understand why the Germans have an aversion to using more of their money to rescue the place. And then there's Italy.
Finally . . . My American friend, Rick, is having difficulties making comments to this blog. If anyone else is having this experience, could they please write to me here.
Finally, finally . . . Here's one very stupid Italian with her ridiculous opinions on herself and another Italian clown. The latter may be able to dance but the former - one Nancy Dell 'Olio - certainly can't. Vertically, I mean. I wonder if I'll get sued now. For libel by innuendo.
Oh, just realised it's The Times and there's a paywall. So here's the article in full. Enjoy.
Italians will miss Silvio Berlusconi. It’s strange to think of him leaving the political stage, even though it is definitely time for him to go. He had not just lost the confidence of the markets; he had lost the plot. When you are in the public eye you have to be more careful about what you do in your private life. But in the end it was the financial crisis, not the scandal, that pushed him out.
It was inevitable that he would be demonised for his behaviour. He brought it on himself. But like everything in life, he isn’t black and white.
I worked as an organiser on his first political campaign in 1994, when he stood to be an MP and Prime Minister. He is absolutely charming and very charismatic — but definitely too vain and too misogynist for my taste. If you met him at dinner, you could have a lot of fun.
Those of us working on the campaign thought that we were starting a revolution. Before Mr Berlusconi all politicians were the same. But he talked another language, one that spoke to normal people. He was a breath of fresh air. Mr Berlusconi was like John F. Kennedy in America and Tony Blair in Britain: a great communicator who really understood the power of television.
He was very clever in the way he created a business and political empire and manipulated it to suit his ambitions. With Mr Berlusconi it was always about power, but not about using it in a sinister or negative way.
He used the power of the media and of football to talk about a modern kind of politics. All of us felt that it was our duty to be involved in something that was going to change the face of politics in Italy for the better.
I have the same feeling now. We have a generation of great young people in Italy — on the Left, on the Right and liberals — who feel the same way as we did in 1994. They know that we need another revolution. I cannot wait to see the kind of changes that are to come.
But right now we face a problem. They are not old enough to step up and fill the breach and we don’t have a strong opposition. At the moment there is no one to lead Italy. People talk about having a bureaucrat as leader, but what we need is politicians, people with ideas.
Nothing will change dramatically this year. We’re not going back to the communists or changing how we live. Things will be tough for Italians, just as they are tough right now for people in Britain and everywhere in the West. But nothing will stop Italians eating good food and wearing good clothes.
I love politics. I might even get involved myself one day. I quite fancy being Italy’s foreign minister. But I love living in London right now. If they need me, they’ll have to call me.
Don't hold your breath, Nancy. And you're far too old for Silvio so it's pointless ingratiating yourself with him.