Tuesday, July 10, 2012


Is this a record? VW were advertising their commercial vehicles on British TV today, mentioning Christmas in the voiceover and with Jingle Bells playing in the background. I think there should now be an embargo on their sales until Boxing Day, at the earliest.

I caught up with today's bull-running in Pamplona in The Guardian. Which was a bit of a surprise, given the very left-of-centre credentials of this paper. Perhaps the coverage was ironic and post-modern.

Annoyed that I'd gained three kilos in as many months, this morning I took the radical step of flushing away some biscuits Mike had left behind. The reason for such drastic measures is that I can't resist temptation. Anyway, I then set off for the new Corner Bar, near the town hall, where the ex head barman of my ex favourite café-bar is now working. So what happens? I get an extra choccie and an extra biccie with my coffee. Did I resist them? Of course not. Life's such a bitch at times.

The Corner Bar, by the way, though relatively small, boasts five TV sets, all playing the same program. As the place styles itself a Sports Bar, this was about football. But the noise in the place was, of course, coming not from the TVs - whose sound was switched off - but from a radio spouting whatever's currently fashionable in the pop world. I did turn off one of the TVs as a sort of test. But I was pretty sure this wouldn't make the slightest difference. And it didn't.

My friend Mike is a great fan of Malcolm Lowry, who once lived in the town in which we were brought up. During this trip he told me of an even greater admirer, Colin Dilnot. Colin has several blogs but the most relevant is Malcolm Lowry at the 19th Hole. By a weird coincidence, the same day as I logged into this, I read an obituary in El País of the British comic genius, Eric Sykes. And therein was the tidbit that he was best known in Spain for the series The 19th Hole. Ironically, this was the only Johnny Speight-Eric Sykes collaboration which wasn't a success in the UK.

I really shouldn't rail against the wi fi in Veggie square. After all, I do finally connect. And re-connect. And re-connect. But there's something very Spanish about the Calvary I have to endure. Down in Portuguese Ponte-de-Lima, there are three or four wi-fi zones - one in the main square - and you just go to the town's page and click Enter. No bloody certificate to approve, no bloody instructions in Gallego, no bloody conditions to say you've read, no bloody palaver with mobile phone numbers, no bloody code sent to your mobile phone and no bloody off-and-on operation. Just simple access and trouble-free usage. Much as a I love Spain, I'll continue to believe she'll never fulfil her potential until she leaves behind her bureaucratic, non-consumer-oriented mind set. And the ludicrous inability to achieve anything unless the parties are sitting face to face across a desk. Which is unchanged in the 12 years I've been here, despite the role the internet plays (or could play) in our lives. It's all summed up, perhaps, by the exhortation - Keep it complex (coz this helps to justify and secure my job). Ah, well. I'm going to have a go at buying from Amazon Spain and will let you know how it goes. Meanwhile, I'll just add that I have friends who are so fed up with it they no longer even try to use the free-but-irritating wi fi service.

Talking about the way things work here in Spain . . . It's reported today that, before the Board was radically reduced, there were 127 directors of Novacaixa Galicia each receiving more than 90,000 euros a year. Or more than 11m euros a year in total. I'd be surprised if they weren't there more because of their links with each other than because of their banking expertise. But, then, look where banking expertise got Barclays. To name but one.

3 comments:

Sierra said...

While it's easy to mock things in Spain, I'm impressed with their implementation of the income-related prescription co-payment (based on a sample of one -me). Hacienda just sent income band data to the health authorities, and appears to have worked.

One can imagine how UK would approach the same thing:

· form Prescription Co-payment Agency with 5000 civil servants in Bootle
· set up regulator - OfPreCop
· commission 5 billion pound IT project with EDS
· Wait 5 years for exposé on "Panorama"
· Have somebody go to EU Human Rights court regarding data protection
· Abandon project with change of government

Colin said...

I'm waiting to test it, in circumstances where they will have a tax number but won't have a Soc Sec number. Which will take precedence??

Colin said...

Actually, I have 2 tax numbers, one given to me before I was resident (NIF) and one later (NIE). As you'd expect, this causes fun from time to time.

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