A reader has suggested it's no accident that I've been forced to go round the houses to avoid being hit by an unmerited tax. The originating mistake, he says was deliberate. Despite being a cynic in these things, I had until now favoured the cock-up rather than the conspiracy explanation. But the more I think about it, the more likely it becomes. For, of all the players in this saga, the only one who suffers from the mistake is me. Everyone else gains. The notary gets another fee; the copistaría gets to charge for all the photocopying; and the funccionarios in the ORAL and Catastral offices get help in justifying their jobs at a time when cuts are in the air. Institutionalised errorisation, therefore. One way of proving this thesis would be to check the error rate now, when jobs are at risk, with that when you couldn't move in the various offices for all the folk buying, selling and registering properties. If the latter were much lower, I'd find this conclusive. Much more work at greater speed but fewer mistake. Shame it's never going to happen.
I had a moment of transcendental joy today, when the electricity went off in the café I was in and the place fell totally silent. But it was only a fuse and the trip-switch was quickly re-set, restoring the over-loud, pointless noise from the several TVs. I say 'pointless' but this is my point of view. For the average Spaniard – brought up from birth in the midst of auditory pollution – noise is as necessary (and as comforting?) as the bread which Spaniards demand with every meal but which they hardly ever eat. For this reason, they will shun any café or bar which is remotely quiet. Such as the old Café Moderno which I treasure as an oasis of peace and quiet. Until, as I've said, the mothers start bringing in their left-to-run-riot kids at 11.30 or so. I think they should all be shot. And the kids.
I went down town today to post a T-shirt to the friend of my younger daughter. This involved conversations in a stationery store, at the Post Office and at two Tabacs, little places where they sell cigarettes and stamps.
The stationery store
I want to send a T-shirt . . .
No, we don't sell T-shirts. Only stationery.
Yes, I know. I don't want a T-shirt. I already have one. And I want to put it in a large-ish envelope. Do you sell them?
Yes. How about this one?
It's much too big.
Still too big. It only needs to be about the size of a DVD box.
Still too big.
No. You need to have it big as the shirt will bulk up if it's too small and then tear the envelope.
OK. Give me that one, then.
The Post Office
No conversation; it was closed. So, off to Tabac 1
No conversation; it was closed. So off to Tabac 2
Hi. Can you weigh this and give me a stamp for England?
You have to go to the Post Office. It's closed
I know. Why do you think I'm here?
So, another grand failure. Mainly because I forgot (again) that Saturday here is really half-a-Sunday. Or even a whole-Sunday in the case of some retailers. Car dealers, for example.
I mentioned some cyclist whingers yesterday. But on one point, at least, they do have a point. The lane is only wide enough for one cyclist but, if you go out of the lane to pass a slower cyclist, you'll be hit with a 600 euro fine for invading the car lane. I wonder what genius thought this up.
Finally . . . On Sky News this morning, I was impressed by the French journalist, Nabila Ramdani, who turns out to be of Algerian descent and to have taught at Oxford and the LSE. Apart from a large brain and faultless English, she also has a magnificent voice. Naturally, she has her own web page. Albeit without a nice example of her speaking. I think we should start a campaign for this.