Monday, November 07, 2011

Spain's general elections are in less than two weeks' time but, according to a recent survey, 70% of the populace claim to have little to nil interest in politics. Perhaps this merely reflects the fact that the out-of-office PP party have what looks like an unassailable 17% lead, making the outcome a foregone conclusion. Mind you, we all thought that in 2004, when the eve-of-voting bombs in Madrid resulted in a massive change of heart on the part of the electorate. For those readers who do have an interest in politics, here's Graeme of South of Watford on the subject of Spanish voter attitudes.

The number 70 cropped up elsewhere during last week - The Spanish are now said to drink a mere 20 litres of wine a year, as against 70 in the 70s. Are people drinking less or has the wine shortfall been made up by other drinks such as beer and spirits? I certainly can't say.

My daughter lives near the campus of one of Leeds' universities and many of the houses in her barrio of 1930s semis (duplexes) are given over to student flats. Which is a shame, as these do nothing to improve - or even maintain - the 'tone' of the area. It's pretty easy to identify the student-occupied properties, even when there isn't a large To Let sign outside. The front gardens have usually been paved, to accommodate several cars; there's a high number of garbage bins at the side of the houses, often overflowing with the detritus you'd expect from hard-drinking students; and the flats tend to have single sheets draped across the front windows, rather than proper curtains (drapes). When I think about my own student days, it's the number of cars which surprises me. A reflection of increased wealth throughout society, I guess.

I had a very pleasant lunch with two friends today in Huddersfield (Ottersfelt in the Domesday Book). In a pub you could enter either from the street or from the station platform. The food was very good and the waitress excellent. And I say that not merely because I progressed from being merely 'Love' when I bought the first round of drinks to 'Darling' when we paid the bill. Incidentally, one of the doors from the platform had this cryptic note on it. DUE TO FOOTBALL, PLEASE USE THE FRONT DOOR NOT THIS ONE. Our best guess was that they'd suffered at the hands of football supporters arriving already drunk and decanting themselves straight into the pub. Which reminded my friends that, at the station of their departure, they'd had to ask for a key to the toilets as "If they're open, they get wrecked." Which, sadly, is another commentary on British society.

On the other side of the coin, and being rather used now to a different culture, I'm astounded at the number of times Brits say 'sorry' to each other. The slightest intrusion into someone else's personal space leads to an immediate apology. Even when it's not merited. To be honest, I find it rather excessive and even amusing. But better, I suppose, than a total unawareness of intrusion into someone else's personal space. Mine, for example.

Finally . . . The EU. Just a brief citation of part of a leader from The Times this morning:- Democratic governments in postwar Europe have made many advances, but none has ever overcome the laws of arithmetic. That constraint is the reason that the Continent faces its greatest financial crisis since the 1930s, which the G20 summit in Cannes last week failed to resolve The eurozone crisis will have political victims, and some of them merit the obloquy. But the underlying reason for the imbroglio should not be overlooked. A utopian scheme for European integration has merely spread the disastrous misconception that the price of profligacy will always be paid by someone else.

Finally, finally . . . I started today on James Michener's huge tome, Iberia. From which I'll surely be able to harvest more than a few interesting perceptions on Spain between the 1930s and the 1960s.

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