Here in the UK - and I'm sure in the USA and, say, Holland - there's constant innovation in the supermarkets. In Waitrose, for example, you can go round with a palm thingy and tot up your bill as you go along. And in all the major supermarkets there's a self-checkout option. These have just come to prominence with the news that one of the country's numerous celebrity chefs has been arrested for failing to check out several items on a number of occasions. Amusingly, the term given to this crime is "five finger discount" and it's said to account for 7% of sales. So, the Sainsburys' staff I (naively) thought were standing close to the self-checkout machines so they could help confused customers were probably there to keep an eye on customers.
The urge to innovate is not so great in Spain. To be honest, I can't recall anything new in the Carrefour place I use during ten years or so. And, given the scope for theft, I rather doubt we'll be getting self-checkouts. The lack of trust between shop and customers is amply demonstrated by the obligation to put any bags you arrive with into a locker before you enter the shop.
Because I've been rather negative about Spain with my (longish) list of things I don't like, here's something very positive about Spain with which I'm in complete agreement. It's called Spain - The Place to Live.
I should also stress that Spain has maintained its number one position in the are of organ transplants. And also in the registration of donors. Ironically, I've recently registered as a donor here in the UK. Essentially because I was asked to.
Back here in Headingley, I'm lucky enough to have a good (non-chain) café only five minutes from my daughter's flat. They have wi-fi, of course, as well as a couple of national newspapers. But there's a major problem, arising purely from the fact I'm English. Back home in Spain, I'd have to concentrate to listen to and understand a conversation within my hearing. As I don't do this, I'm just surrounded by ambient noise. But here in England, it's like reading - you can't not read and you can't not understand the conversation at the next table. Which is annoying. Especially when it's the sort of self-centred drivel I was subjected to yesterday. The solution, of course, is either decent ear-plugs or the iPod Shuffle which my elder daughter bought me for Christmas.
Finally . . . I've remembered something else I don't like in Spain - and which you don't get in the UK. It's the obligation to use an expensive premium number if you want to get in touch with a company by phone. This is pretty standard in Spain, in contrast with the local or free numbers that are available as part of customer service in the UK. And, I'm sure, in the USA and, say, Holland.