Friday, October 26, 2012


A beautiful day for a lunch with friends in Vigo. Blue skies and plenty of sun. I hadn't seen some of my friends for more than a year so the greetings and kissings were more fulsome than usual. At least from me. Greeting the señora, I found myself saying “You look lovelier than ever. When your divorce comes through, give me a call.” Now this is something I've never, ever said (or even thought of saying) before. And I hadn't had any intention of saying it now. Spontaneous, then. And possibly OTT. But one of the (few) advantages of being my age is that one can get away with this sort of thing. Probably because everyone assumes you're joking. Which I might have been.

The train back to Pontevedra at 3.45 afforded irrefutable evidence of a key element of Spanish life. The train was packed and most of the (young) passengers were lugging the sort of case you take on a plane. These, I realised, were students at Vigo University taking their dirty washing home to Mum in towns and cities all along the coast to La Coruña. Many of them got off with me at Pontevedra, to be replaced by other students from the Pontevedra campus, going north. As it happened, a train from La Coruña arrived at Pontevedra at the same time as ours did, disgorging students from the university in that city. I've never seen the station so packed. And I've never seen so much dirty washing.

Another aspect of Spanish society – The Consumer Association reports that 92% of the population thinks there's either a lot or quite a lot of fiscal fraud in the country. I wonder what planet the 8% are living on.

As you'd expect, sales of both new and second-hand cars are way down in Spain. And the number of cars on the road is inevitably down as well. It's reported that more and more people are switching to scooters and bikes as cheaper forms of transport, at least in and around towns. So I guess it's not very surprising that the theft of these is on the up as well.

Talking of cars . . . One unusual aspect of driving on motorways in Spain is that you regularly come up against large overhead signs telling you you're about to pass a fixed radar camera. In some cases the latter are, nastily, only a metre or so after the gantry but in most they're sufficiently far away to allow you to slow down, if necessary. Recently, another wrinkle has been added to this set up – the cameras at the side of the road are painted in luminous green and the speed limit is written in large black numerals on them. I confess I don't understand the logic of all this. But this isn't unusual in Spain.

My old friend Alfred B Mittington - 'ABM' to the inner circle – has reminded me that he addressed last night's question of what the EU guilty knew way back in March. Though at rather greater and more eloquent length than I did. Which means not only that Alf is ahead of the game but also remembers what he's written. For someone like me – who can't recall from one day to the next what he wrote yesterday – this is truly impressive. I suspect he also has views which are consistent. The mark of a disciplined mind. Whereas . . .

Finally . . . Facebook has gone a tad mad with the ads down the side of my page. Some are in French and the rest are in Spanish. But none of them has anything to do with meeting members of the opposite sex. The oddest is a French site which seems to specialise in cartoons of people of people (usually women) spanking someone else (usually men). I dedicated a minute or two to trying to identify what word in my emails or Facebook comments could have instigated this but gave up.

Note: Just checked. The spanking ad's gone.

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