Friday, September 21, 2012

Rajoy's Rigeurs; Catalan Capers; Sivil Servant Setbacks; Indigent Immigrants; More Mayoral Money Matters; Octogenarian Offcuts; Prosperous Petting?; Becoming Bretoña; Autumn Auguries; and the Boogie-Woogie Bugle Boy from Company B.

Poor Sr Rajoy, the Spanish President. Above him the EU threatens to implode and below him Spain threatens to explode. And in both cases he's very much part of the problem as well as the potential solution. The only good news is that the IMF's Cristine Lagarde has said that Spain may need only 40bn of the 100bn euros set aside for Spanish banks. But even this has its negative side; Rajoy, it's reported, was hoping to ignore the rules and siphon off some of this easy cash into the State's coffers. Meanwhile, despite urging from Spain's Big Beasts that he act in the interests of the country and get on with it, he's holding off going down on both knees to the IMF for fear this humiliation will affect the outcome of October's regional elections. Stretching credulity, he's even said it's possible Spain won't need a bailout. And that pigs will be seen in the Madrid sky any time now.

Within Spain a real row is brewing up between Madrid and Barcelona. The regional government there has turned very 'nationalist' and is demanding the concession to Cataluña of the same fiscal rights already enjoyed by the Basques. I guess this would mean the loss of significant cash to the centre and so it's not very surprising that Rajoy is refusing to play ball. In fact, he's declined to even discuss the Catalan proposals, leading Barcelona to announce they'll view their October elections as a referendum on secession. Such fun.

In the UK, it's hard to imagine civil servants having private medical insurance as part of their terms and conditions of employment. But, here in Spain, where private healthcare isn't a political issue, it's taken for granted. However, from next year, the government's budget for this will reduce 22%, meaning the loss of some benefits. Given how comfortable the lives of Spain's funcionarios have been, I doubt there'll be much sympathy from anyone other than their dependants.

Another group which has already suffered a partial or even compete loss of healthcare cover are 'immigrants'. Not the likes of me, of course, but those among the 4 million who came here to provide cheap labour during Spain's phoney boom. And who are now surplus to requirement. In the worst cases, some of these will have defaulted on their easily-acquired mortgages and are now being pursued by whoever owns the debt, without any credit being given for the property they've been thrown out of. Scandalous.

Corruption: The Mayor of Ourense has been arrested for alleged influence peddling. He's also accused of 'increasing his assets' and money laundering. Another mayor, of a smaller town in Galicia, has also been arrested and there's a suggestion that the police learnt of their activities when pursuing the case of the mayor of Lugo and the Carioca brothel. Somebody squealed, it seems - showing you can't trust anybody.

Nice to see that the 82 year old woman who turned the Ecce Homo Christ into an orang-utang in the Borgia church, has now recovered from the shock of all the attention and is demanding a cut of the money generated from the inquisitive throng. And why not?

One of the latest retail developments in Pontevedra is the opening of a large pet shop, down by the river. Next to a bridal shop. Not a lot of passing traffic – except of would-be brides – so it'll be interesting to see if it prospers or not. After all, the town is not short of pet shops. Though this one does have some cachet; it's just down from the bull-ring. Which seems a tad ironic to me.

You'll be aware that Brittany takes its name from (west) British setters who fled the advancing German hordes. But you may not know that something similar took place in Spain, up in the north west, here in Galicia. The 6th century settlement was called Bretoña and you can read more about it here. Strange to relate, there's a village of this name just north of Pontevedra, on the road to Santiago. But there's no suggestion of settling Brits in this case.

Finally . . . The first hints of autumn? Last evening I was closely spectated by a robin as I mowed the lawn. And this morning I awoke to a light version of the Atlantic Blanket.

PS. The article on Bretoña is by Peter Robbins. Coincidence? I think not.


Alfred B. Mittington said...

Is it because I'm using an Apple? Somehow I never get to see that Boogie-Woogie Bugle Boy that's all over your blog of late...

Colin said...

He plays silently.

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