Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Did you now there's an Exit Clause in the Lisbon Treaty? And that one country has actually left the EU? Bet you didn't. Anyway, it's Greenland, which departed the then EEC in 1985 but maintains links into the EU via Denmark.

More disclosures from the murky world of politics in the Ourense area. The guy who was in charge of building permits and land (re)designation in the delightful Miño-Sil region has admitted receiving 3,500 euros a month in brown envelopes.. From Vendex is my bet. That's a nice 42,000 a year, undeclared and untaxed. I wonder if he's one of 'more than a thousand' people in Galicia who own more that 50 immovables. Or 'properties' to you and me.

Down in the old quarter there's a square that used to be called Plaza de Abastos. But the locals now call it Plaza de Gatos. Or 'The Square of Cats'. This is because there's an abandoned and fenced-off archaeological dig which is awash with cats, fed by the neighbours. The same is true of other sites, both in the old quarter and elsewhere. The result this year was a plague of fleas in a primary school nearby when it opened after the summers holiday. A notice was sent out begging people to stop feeding the felines but not all have taken heed of this. Even in Spain, some people regard animals more highly than humans. They may have a point with adults. But children?

Talking of children . . . There's a particularly gruesome case proceeding through the Spanish courts at the moment. This is of a father accused of killing his two kids and then burning their bodies in a large garden bonfire. The reason why we've read so much about is that the first expert to analyse the bones declared them to be of dogs. For which she was later sacked, a rare event in Spain. At least if you're a banker of any sort. Or, of course, a politician.

I think I've read that tourism did well this year along the southern and eastern coasts. And that property purchases by foreigners have increased over recent years. In both cases propelled by Brits, for the most part. Up here, though, where we have few foreign tourists, hotel occupation, nights stayed and spend per day, all reflected how the crisis is hitting Spaniards. In a nutshell, we had the worst August in years. Which will have hit everyone very hard, as this is the big month of the year. Hence the phrase Hacer el agosto. Meaning 'To coin it'.

Talking of the crisis – An enterprising Pontevedra cobbler has decided to improve his takings by selling off all the footwear unclaimed by customers. I do think, though, that he could have tried selling them at a market price, rather than the price of repair he's going for. You can always go down but you can never go up.

But there is good news. There's to be a Galician version of Twitter. Using @tweet-en-galego takes you to a translation service, I read. Not knowing how to do this, I googled it and came up with this. Which looks like the real McCoy. 

Which reminds me . . . I came across another of those H/F examples this morning. The Spanish for 'owl' is buha but the Galician is bufa. This time, though, the Latin word – strig – bears no relation to the Gallego word. Incidentally, I once found a young owl and gave it free use of the house. It repaid me by attacking my elder daughter whenever it saw her, trying to pull out her curly hair. Sadly, we were unaware that you have to mix meat with stuff from the vacuum cleaner so that it can cough up 'owl pellets'. Otherwise, it seems, they die from their own stomach juices.

I had an appointment with the doctor this afternoon. As with the national habit of speciously reporting numbers to two decimal points so as to feign accuracy, I was down to see him at 15.06. I'm not sure why but the doctor calls out 3 names at once. Maybe we're expected to fight to be the first through his door.

Finally . . . A 'subsaharian' has tried to get into one of Spain's north African enclaves (not colonies!) by covering himself with a cloth and disguising himself as the passenger seat. With a friend sitting in his lap.

Finally, finally . . . I hit the road for France tomorrow morning. I'm sure I'll be able to draft a post in my head but whether I'll be able to commit it to my laptop depends on what sort of place I get to rest my head in. If not, it'll be Thursday.


Azra said...

I wish I was on the road to France! Instead I am in an office looking out at a blooming Johannesburg - spring is amazing here. Have a safe trip!

Colin said...

Many thanks, Azra. And I wish I had a lovely lady riding shotgun, to compensate for the awful weather forecast for northern Spain and southern France.

Anonymous said...


Following yesterday's comment I have to admit that I am becoming decidedly pessimistic about Spain. Events in Catalonia may become the trigger that might unleash unrest similar to that of the 1930s.

Would everybody in Europe be like Mr. Sikorski...:


Anonymous said...


I am a bit of a pest these days. This is a must-read. I could have written most of it myself...if only I knew how to - "false consciousness"? How come I didn't come up with that? Simply brilliant.


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Perry said...

Sikorski wrote "Since I first came to these shores over 30 years ago, Britain has become much more European."

He should have visited High Wycombe instead of Oxford.


Since when did the sub-continent become Europe?

Colin said...

Yes I read it a couple of days ago.

It pushed me in the direction of a growing belief - I've listened twice to a BBC podcast on this theme - that 'Now we're in, we might as well stay in and play the game for all it's worth.'

But please don't tell anyone.

It's probably the UK government's default position. But they're not going to admit it any day soon.