Friday, August 31, 2012


Well, this may not be a very coherent post. I've just been stopped by a local cop and issued with a 200 euro fine for having auriculares (ear-phones) in my ear even though I wasn't listening to anything. A hundred euros for each bloody ear! This is considered a 'serious offence' in Spain, possibly on a par with using a mobile phone – a not uncommon sight. So, I'm free to have four Spaniards in my car all shouting at the same time. Or the radio on full blast. Or a sound system like those favoured by young gypsy blades which shake the foundations of buildings they pass. But I can't have a silent bit of plastic in my ear! I guess it makes sense to someone. The question is – Do I appeal?

But, anyway . . . I popped into the Telefónica shop today – my eighth visit – just to tell them my internet was functioning, though not at the speed promised. I was welcomed like the prodigal son on account of the fact they had papers for me to sign. A perfect example of the Spanish preference for face-to-face dealings. They had both my phone number and home address but preferred to wait on the off-chance I'd walk by and come in. Which I did, of course.

I was talking the other day about how the Spanish are confused by foreigners' names, as they don't conform to the hyper-complicated local pattern. Another example cropped up yesterday, when I read a review of the Santiago performance of that famous Welshman, 'Sir Jones'.

A few months back, I cited the Dacia Duster, as a strangely named car. Well, step forward now the Dacia Lodgy. Does this, I wonder, mean something in Rumanian (the nationality of the maker) or is it just another stupid name from a department which clearly has no idea what it's doing? Incidentally, if you merge Dacia and Lodgy, you get Dodgy.

I was looking today for the Spanish equivalent of 'siblings', suspecting there wasn't one. But one site gave me un hermanoahermana, which I couldn't corroborate. Anyone seen it used?

It's interesting to see Spain's Barons at each other's throats. As well as locking horns with the Baroness of Germany and the EU (Merkel), the Baron of Spain (Rajoy) is tussling with the Baron of Cataluña (Más) over a bail-out requested by the latter, 'no strings attached'. And the Baron of Galicia (Feijoo) is having a go at said Baron of Cataluña for "doing the begging while we're doing the paying”. Which, if true, is rather ironic as Galicia is a poor region and Cataluña a very wealthy one. And now the (socialist) Baron of Andalucia is gearing up to follow his Murcian and Valencian oppos to seek from Baron Rajoy the money no one else will lend him. Such fun.

Well, it wouldn't be the tail end of summer if we didn't have a picture of Ana Obregón in the papers. Ms Obregón is one of those Spanish blondes in her very, very late forties and famous for being famous. She disappears in the early summer, presumably to have her latest round of plastic surgery.

The minister of Education appears to have swiftly solved the problem caused him by the Supreme Court's pronouncement that the state can't subsidise single-sex schools. He will simply re-designate the latter something different so they don't fall within the compass of the verdict. Cute. And black will be white, when it suits him.

Changing Spain: The Pontevedra council has said it'll be banning skating, biking and ball-playing on the Alameda and I assume, the pedestrian area alongside it. So, more bikes and skates in the other pedestrianised areas of the town, I guess.

Finally . . . For only the second time in twelve years, I today told the waitress that my glass of wine was awful. As before, it was changed swiftly and without any hassle whatsoever. I'm not sure things would be the same in the UK. It's one of the little cultural differences which add up to quite a lot. At least if you drink wine.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Colin,

Ana Obregon is in her very late fifties. "Incombustible" as spaniards say. A goldmine for plastic surgeons is what others would say.

Service in Britain's pubs and restaurants is (was) simply appalling. I wish Britons would openly complain more. That would do wonders.

James Atkinson said...

The service in most restaurants in Swansea (Wales)is excellent. They are mostly owned and staffed by italians however. Except for the chinese restaurantd[s that is!
Pubs aren't too good though.

Perry said...

Your "auriculares" fine has just paid that cop's wages for two days. Could you prove they were not operating; that the device was switched off and would that make any difference?

Might the law be so worded that it is the presence of them in your ears that is the offence, not the listening to music?

CafeMark said...

Whilst I'd agree that service in UK establishments often leaves much to be desired, and even the awful house wine is charged at extravagant prices, I have to say that changing wine when it's obviously corked, is really not a problem. It'd be a crazy establishment that refused to replace bad wine, when you're just about to order a meal..

Bill said...

Getting poor wine changed has never been a problem, in my experience, in various countries, although sometimes the server has offered to change it when it is not in fact 'corked' at all, merely that a bit of extraneous cork has got into the glass, a quite different thing than 'corked' wine which is unmistakable and unforgettable once experienced. So far none of these things has happened to me in Spain. In fact the only time I have been served 'bottom of the barrel' wine by the glass was once in a very smart restaurant in, of all places, Strasbourg whilst visiting the European Parliament; I told the waiter precisely what I thought of him and the restaurant in my (as it happens) impeccable French and received a profuse apology, although I think that as I had earlier been overheard speaking with a guest in English this may not have been unconnected with the quality of the first wine we were served. I love France and most French people I have ever met, but this was definitely a less good experience.

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