Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Corner cafe seems to be having another refit. Could this be because the sporting motif doesn't go down well with the civil servants who used to be its main clients? Leaving me as its only customer at the important time of 10.30 to 12.30. And that only because I'm friendly with the barman.

I took my satnav(GPS) for another trial run yesterday. Not encouraging. The English voice offered unrecognisable pronunciation of simple words such as Avenida. And it took me several minutes to realise that Berio was, in fact, Barrio. So I switched to the Spanish voice, only to find it was one of those mujeres whose harsh diction sets your teeth on edge. As so often, a choice of evils.

Still on driving . . . I don't think I've mentioned roundabouts for a while but I'm stimulated to do so now by a new one on the edge of Pontevedra, on the 'old' road to Vigo, the N550. This has only two entries/exits and the smarter among you will have realised these must mean you can only go straight ahead. Now, there are a number of these around Pontevedra but they usually have token exits left and right, creating the impression that, one day, there'll be new roads going off the roundabout. But not this one. So, one is left wondering why on earth it was built. Surely not just to increase expenditure and, thus, commissions. I fear we will never know.

The latest Spanish politician on the conveyor belt of thieves is an ex Presidenta of the Balearic islands – a position she achieved despite having only two seats. El Mundo fingered her in 2001 but the wheels of Spanish justice grind slow and she was only brought to trial this year. After committing more offences in the interim. Her father is a politician in Andalucia who's had his collar felt several times over the years. Fortunately for him, so far he's been able to convince the judge that his great wealth stems from an astonishing run of luck on the humungous Christmas lotteries. And then there's the head of the PP party in Ourense who has two warehouses full of over one hundred vintage cars. But I'll leave him until tomorrow.

On Sunday, I read about the Batalla de Las Navas de Tolosa – between the Moors and the Christians in 1212 - and today I read that yesterday was the 800th anniversary of this important event. A coincidence? I think not. Incidentally, the map of the battle in today's El Mundo had mug shots of the three Spanish kings and of their Moorish opponent but not of the Portuguese king, Afonso. But there was a little note at the bottom of the page, saying that “Portuguese troops also helped”. It reminded me of the maps of Iberian weather on which Portugal is a featureless white blob.

It was a particularly frustrating and irritating midday today with Ponte-WiFi. In fact, if I'd known where the aerials were, I probably would have ripped them from their housings. But, hey, this is Spain. Tomorrow is another day. We were born to suffer.

Reader Victor admits he's a big fan of Sálvame - the program I mentioned last night – for the same reason I used to watch Jeremy Kyle on British TV; it's so bad it's good. But then I thought of what somebody wrote about this year's Eurovision Contest - A point is eventually reached beyond which the program is no longer funny. And is just plain atrocious.

The Spanish economy . . . Here's the Economist's view of the challenge, using Wellington's phrase 'Hard pounding'.

Finally . . . I watched Frank Capra's Meet John Doe tonight, starring Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyk. A great performance from her and a welcome lack of a soundtrack to an impressive 1941 film.


Bill said...

What brand of SatNav do you have? I am on my second TomTom, which I find generally excellent; I have no experience of other brands.

With my current model, I did experiment with computer-generated voices which are designed not only to give directions, but also street names etc. Like you I found the pronunciation of street names often unintelligible, whether driving in the UK, France or Spain. I quickly switched to one of the standard human voices (male UK English called 'Tim') which gives directions, but not street names because honestly I don't care usually that I'm travelling down a particular named street or not, all I care about is following directions ("take the second exit", or "turn 3rd left" etc). I had used the "Tim" voice on my earlier TomTom too.

Just at present, though, I am using my own voice for directions. A few months back I recorded my own voice saying all the directions using the facility that my TomTom has - - basically there are about 60 standard phrases you need to repeat in response to the screen prompts. It's easy if a little laborious to do and gives good results. However, failing that I'd suggest the standard voice of "Tim" or the UK English female voice equivalent (don't remember what it is called).

Alberto MdH said...


I think that you are mixing corrupt politicians. The thief from Baleares is Maria Antonia Munar (recently sentenced to 5 year in jail, we'll see how many meets) and the daughter of the lottery winner (Who is from Castellón in Valencia, not from Andalucia) is Andrea Fabra who recently rose to fame telling "Que se jodan" to the unemployed that are going to suffer cuts in their benefits.

Colin said...

Thanks, Alberto. I did worry that I'd got this wrong. So I tried to find the article about her in the on line) El Mundo, but without success. So, I posted in the confidence that someone would put me right.

Thanks, again. I'll correct it tonight.

Colin said...

@Bill. I have a Garmin. My daughter and a friend put me off Tom Tom but I have to say one I borrowed recently seemed much better than mine. No doubt a year or so makes a big difference in technology available. For example, I don't have any choice in voices beyond English or Spanish. Certainly can't use my own voice. What's the fer. of yours. Sound good.

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