The primary school kids went back after their three month break on Monday. This means two things for me. Firstly, if I'm dumb enough to try to go down the hill around 5.30, I won't be able to for all the selfish bitches in their SUVs parked in the middle of the road. Secondly – until my ears adjust – I won't be able to sleep past 7.30 because of Toni's hour-long bawling, aimed at getting his boys out of the house by 8.30. Now, 7.30 is not normally particularly early but it is when you've been forced by the BBC's scheduling of Family Guy to stay up until one-thirty. Yes, I know there are digital recorders. In fact, I have one, brought back from the UK. I guess this is the incentive I need to get it out of the box.
To be more serious . . . If I were given the task of cutting Spanish costs, what would I go for? Well, I'd bring in a bit of zero-based budgeting, to look at every item of expenditure, and here are the things I suspect I'd be looking to do. Against each of them is a probability rating of it actually happening:-
- Remove a layer of government. Almost certainly the Provincial administrations, of which we have four in Galicia.
- Merge town councils, of which we have around 350 for 3 million people in Galicia.
- Shut down all the overseas 'embassies', established in the fat cow days.
- Close down the La Coruña and Vigo airports and enlarge Santiago's, so it can concentrate on competing with that of Oporto.
- Reduce all mayoral salaries to something below that of the Prime Minister. At present, the mayor of Ourense has an annual salary of c. 130,000 euros, compared with 32,000 for the Pontevedra mayor.
- Force every civil servant to justify his/her job. And then just cut 30% of them.
- Change the ridiculous Spanish timetable so that people get to work for 9 and leave at 5. Abolish the 2-3 hour 'midday' break.
- Deal with the corruption that's rife in business and politics.
OK, I haven't put any probability factors, as I realised when typing the list that for all of them it's zero. Which is why Spain is in the mess it is.
From time to time, I touch on a feature of the Spanish film industry - After they've finished dubbing it to death, they then often apply a Spanish title which, at best, is unnecessary but, at worst, is downright misleading. And example of the former is the rendition of 'Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid' as Two men and One Destiny.
And an example of the latter is the biopic of Johnny Cash, 'I walk the Line'. Which was turned into 'On the Ropes' (En La Cuerda Floja). God knows why but I suspect it was based on a misunderstanding.
The other area where Spanish practice annoys me is that of Hispanicising every foreign name they report. So, Prince Henry/Harry becomes Henrique and Elizabeth becomes Isabel. And Beijing remains Pekín. I may be wrong but I think names are kept in their original in the UK. Which is a good job for Mariano Rajoy, perhaps.
I went to pay my motoring fine today and asked them if I could pay by credit card. Only if you have an account with NCG, I was told. This is the merged Galician savings bank. This reminded me of when I went to pay the tax on the transfer to me of my house in the hills and was told they didn't have an arrangement with my bank – or indeed any bank that wasn't a Galician Savings bank - and that I'd have to get and bring back the cash amount due. Which is how I came to be carrying 13,000 euros around the town.
The other thing I had to do today was give several pieces of paper to the dealer whom I'm buying a car from. He'd rung this morning to say the car registration people wouldn't accept my identity card as some eagle-eyed clerk had noticed it had expired. So, in an attempt to avoid a further We Need Another Piece of Paper, I gave the dealer a copy of all five identity documents I have in my files. And wished him well. With luck, I'll get the car tomorrow, two days late.
I thought of my poor daughter this morning as I sat in one of my regular cafés. Knowing that, as a teacher of English, she hardly gets a minute to relax both during and after the working day, I almost get (irrationally) annoyed at the teachers who frequent this café and who start arriving from 11 onwards and stay for at least 30 minutes, if not 60. So, there's another saving – Abolish the coffee break(hour) of all civil servants and employ fewer of them.
Finally . . . I just love the Spanish for jellyfish – Medusa