Friday, July 27, 2012

Walking across the A Barca bridge each day is one of the constants of my life. During the summer at least, it's usually a pleasure. Among the displeasures are the dirt deposited by the gypsy curs; winter's winds and horizontal rains; and, of course, the ten to twenty demonstrations of the Spanish inability to accommodate the approach of others until the very last moment.

I read last week that the businesses most at risk from September's VAT increase to 21% (from only 8% in some cases) were hairdressers, opticians, cinemas and theatres. So, I wasn't too surprised to see reports of a street protest by Pontevedra's angry hairdressers yesterday. Who looked a little windswept.

Thanks to reader curiosity, I went today to the old Bank of Spain offices, to ask the price of the flats these were being converted into. I thought things seemed a tad strange when I entered to find no activity except a chap behind a reception desk, walking around in a circle, with his head bent:-
Good morning.
[Looking up in surprise] Good morning.
Can you tell me how much the flats will be?
Yes, flats?
Flats for rent or sale?
There are no flats. These are government offices.
And that's what they're staying?
Offices of the Galician Xunta?
No, Offices of the Spanish state.

At a guess, I'd say I was going to be his only visitor all day, despite the fact there was an X-ray machine and a security frame (though no operators) at the entrance to the offices/non-flats. And, for the life of me, I can't guess why Madrid would need a huge office block in Pontevedra, just down the road from the Town Hall and the Provincial Government offices. But ours is not to ask why. It must make sense to someone.

I mentioned an infamous Galician dynasty yesterday and another one has featured in today's papers – the Oubiña family. Basically they're big in drugs. So it was disappointing to hear that the head of the clan wasn't going to be prosecuted for money laundering because a judge had thrown out as illegal the tapping of his mobile phone while he'd been in prison. Possibly because he wasn't allowed a mobile phone. Stranger things have happened in the judicial world.

But just going back to the Vidal family – it seems that, while they were committing the overfishing crime they were heavily fined for– they were getting 1.5m euros from Brussels. I bet they don't have to pay it back.

The bankers involved in the fusion of Galicia's two savings banks have been appearing before the Spanish parliament. As is customary, each is exculpating himself, saying that he wasn't in a position – despite his salary – to see relevant documents. Or to take the questionable decisions. One wonders how they did earn their huge salaries.

Finally . . . It's 10.05 Spanish time and I'm off to watch the Olympics Opening, though not with any great anticipation. We can't all be Chinese.


Azra said...

So if most of the businesses are shut down and the ones that are open are only occupied by one or two individuals, where are all the people of Spain? Like, where have they gone to and what do they do on a daily basis? I'm just curious what does a nation do when there's nothing to do...

Bill said...

I think that quite a lot of them, those that aren't out taking part in some kind of demonstration, are at home, having taken their latest dose of anti-depressants, which I expect is why the Spanish health system is creaking under the strain, with the regional health authorities unable to pay for the drugs they prescribe any longer and pharmacies caught in the middle.

Colin said...

I agree with Bill. Spanish parents have long been part of the the country's "welfare system" in that they allow their kids to stay at home free or come back to stay for free, if problems arise. This of course means that the kids are consuming their own inheritance and the government is saving on tax revenues and (even more) on expenditure.

The unemployment rate has now reached 25% as a whole and more than 50% for the 18-35 year olds.

I imagine that the impact on family relations is far greater than it seems. It's a feature of Spanish culture that dirty washing is not aired as much as it is in Anglo cultures. And, yes, I agree with Bill that there must be a fair bit of depression out there.

Nothing to do? There's always the TV. And you can go to a bar and sit all day people watching for the price of a bottle of water.

The real problem is that people have not much hope for the future, apart from the present. Hence, the high emigration numbers. Especially of the young and talented. Meaning even less hope for the future, of course.

Perry said...

Danny Boyle's working class Irish Catholic vision of British history is not to my taste.

Whilst I would not object to living in a multiracial society, I resent the fact of having to live in a leftwing, multicultural society. Boyle's kindergarten level portrayal of our past achievements has confirmed to me that Scumeron's party members continue to betray the native bloodlines of the British Isles. Read what a Dutch immigrant to Australia though about the opening ceremony. said...
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