Thursday, September 20, 2012

Excruciating Excuses; Muslims and Maturity; Pharmacy Phun; Questionable Qui Quality; Flatly Frustrated; Amusing Musings; and the Boogie-Woogie Bugle Boy from Company B.

It seems to be the Spanish equivalent of “I was just obeying orders”. We heard it a few times from bank directors and now we've heard it from the director of the institution employing the nun charged with stealing newborn babies from their mothers - “I didn't know what I was signing. I just signed everything put in front of me.” Pathetic, really.

Muslim fury around the world – Here's David Aaronovitch of The Times making the same point as I did a few days ago, only much more elegantly:- Of course Muslims are not the only people whose leaders harness and exploit the reactionary emotional power of grievance. But the idea of “global Muslim anger” relies on the seductive trick of placing yourself always in the position of the done-to and not the doing, even when you run a quarter of the countries on the planet. It’s not global anger. It’s global adolescence. As I said, I fear it'll be many decades before maturity is reached. With decidedly serious implications for the interim.

Following up my trip to the doctor, I went to the pharmacy today to get the medicines. As I'd feared, we soon ran into a problem. The computer said some detail or other was lacking. One of the pharmacists then spent 20 minutes waiting on a help-line, before determining – in 30 seconds - what needed to be done. And so I got my medicines, at just under 6 euros. Compared with 130 euros the last time I got them, via a private prescription. But there was a residual problem; the doctor hadn't indicated the quantity of tablets, so they could only give me one box. For one item, this meant only 10 days supply. So back I'll have to go to the surgery tomorrow to waste more time of everyone involved. Especially me. So thank God for iPods and BBC podcasts.

I did try to make an appointment on line this afternoon and I'm sure it can be done. But not by me, as – not yet having a card - I lack some of the numbers required.

Talking of wasting time . . . I paid my 7th visit to the car-dealer's yesterday evening, to pick up all the permits I need for opening my car door, driving it on the road and getting out of the car again later. You might think my driving licence covered all this but, No, I have to get permits from El Tráfico. This stuff could have been mailed to me but this isn't how things are done in this face-to-face society. So . . .
Hi. Here are your papers. Everything aright with the car?
Yes, everything's fine. Except for the nice key ring you gave me.
Why, what happened to that?
It fell apart on the hall table.
Oh, no!. But you're not the first person to tell me that. They're poor quality. I'll get you another one.
No, no. Don't bother. I'm sure I can fix it.
Yes, you just have to use a bit of glue.
No problem. But it does create a bad impression
Yes, you're right.

No prizes for guessing in which context I've recently seen a new bit of Spanglish – Un toples.

One of the problems of buying and developing property in Spain is that there are four levels of government who can take a view on things – the municipal, the provincial, the regional and the national. For example on how close to the sea one can build. A developer in Pontevedra has just (re)learned this the hard way. Having got local permissions, be bought one of the very few riverside sites not yet occupied by a 7-storey block of flats and set about demolishing the old salt factory there as a prelude to constructing yet another flat block. Doubtless he felt assured that this had been going on not just for 5 years but for 20. Unhappily for him, though, the regional Xunta has decided it's time to protect the area around the basilica of Santa Maria, so that “buildings in the old quarter can have a view of the river”. Since about 95% of them don't, the words 'horse', 'stable' and 'bolted' spring to mind. To add insult to injury, the Xunta has not only vetoed the building of flats but ordered the developer to re-build the salt factory he'd demolished on what must now be a pretty valueless plot of land. I almost feel sorry for him.

Finally . . . I mentioned George Borrow's Lavengro the other night. The book is not, it has to be said, a barrel of laughs but I found this sentence rather amusing. Not that he meant it to be, I suspect:- Once more I fell into meditation; my mind wandered from one thing to the other – musing now on the structure of the Roman[y] tongue – now on the rise and fall of Persian power - now on the powers vested in recorders at quarter sessions. Wonderful notion that one can suddenly start musing on the rise and fall of the Persian empire.

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