Tuesday, October 09, 2012

As I am now in my very late 40s, it's inevitable I'll occasionally suffer from absent-mindedness. Like this morning, when I realised – just in time – I was about to put toothpaste on my shaving brush. Hey, ho.

If you've read the John Carlin article I cited yesterday, you'll know that people in Spain don't always get their jobs on merit. Quite logically, the default position of existing employees is to assume a new one has got his or her job through connections – called a 'plug-in' or enchufe in Spain. One of my friends who got a job on merit nonetheless spent the first day fending of various questions from her new colleagues all designed to identify to whom she was related and how senior (s)he was.

Changing Spain 1: A Congressional Committee yesterday discussed how to change Spain's workday. As everyone knows by now, Spain is the only country in Europe (the world?) to retain the ridiculous split-day horario, with a 2-3 hour midday break and office/shop closure at 8-9pm. The result is the highest total of hours worked and one of the lowest productivity levels in Europe. Let's hope they move from talking to doing. But I'll be surprised if they do.

I say that Spain's split-day is ridiculous but there are a number of ways we foreigners can benefit from it. Firstly, you can go shopping at 4pm, as I did today, and be the only person in the supermarket apart from the now easy-to-find staff. Secondly, you can take yourself to the beach, knowing it'll be empty, as everyone's gone home for the main meal of the day. Thirdly, it's a good time to drive – on empty roads – and to visit those tourist places that don't need someone to open them up for you. Cathedrals, say. Plus several other benefits I can't think of right now.

Changing Spain 2: In A Coruña, they've introduced the equivalent of Britain's 'lollypop ladies' to help school kids get from one side of a zebra crossing to the other in safety. And I see from the foto they've even installed bollards to stop cars parking right up to the crossing and obscuring the vision of drivers. What next? A ban on the use of mobile phones while driving? Oh, we've already got that, for all the good it apparently does.

Talking of the law, there was a strange case in the Madrid Provincial Court this week. Two women had accused their employer of sexual harassment, claiming he'd fondled them, frotterised them, kissed them, patted their backsides, sent them suggestive letters and made proposals of a sexual nature. A lower court had found him guilty but the three judges in this court pronounced that what he'd done hadn't been of a sexual nature; it had only been 'sentimental'. No, I don't know what the hell they meant either but here's a few of the English words said to correspond with the Spanish sentimental - sentimental; affecting; pathetic; emotional; easily affected; ridiculously affected. Any the wiser? No, me neither. The worst thing is that, if I read the report correctly, the court said that, while he wasn't guilty of sexual harassment, what he'd done did amount to the more serious crime of 'sexual abuse'. But since he hadn't been accused of this, he couldn't be condemned for it. Perhaps in the next court. Meanwhile, the two women are being treated for depression.

A hearse has been clocked doing 187kph on a motorway near Salamanca. So, the quick and the dead in this case.

Still on roads – The 12km point on the A55 in Pontevedra province is one of the two most dangerous spots in Spain, we're told. I think I know where it is – down near Portugal – and will certainly be on the lookout when I next go that way. Quite soon probably. 

As regards the Spanish economy, here's our Ambrose pointing out, quite rightly, that the deficit targets for this year are impossible and that, in trying to achieve them, Madrid is chasing its tail in a downward spiral.

One of the problems may be that Sr Rajoy, being unfamiliar with parliamentary revolts, is unaware of what is brewing in the German and Nordic parliaments. He may well find out that others can play hard ball better than him.

Finally . . .Forgive me for pointing out that the easiest way to get these posts as they arise is to use something like Google Reader. Especially Google Reader, where subscriptions to this blog are now nearing the nice round figure of 200.


Azra said...

Spain's hours, however absurd to the rest of the world, forms a solid part of the culture... so it would be interesting to see a change. Although, being such an integral part of the culture, I sincerely doubt it will change. Culture is a funny thing. Most people hate it but can't live without it ;P

Word Verification is: poomore. Really?

Anthea said...

I don't know abut offices in Italy but in Sicily shops appear to follow the same hours as in Spain.

In Cefalu the tourist office, open 9.00am to 8.00 pm continuously according ot the guide book, closed from 12 to 2.30. They need to get lunch after all. We were obliged to sit and eat ice cream until they opened.

Colin said...

@Azra. Yes, they certainly are an integral part of the culture but I suspect the younger generation (those of it who are lucky enough to be in work) would be far better disposed to making a change than their parents.

Sorry about the shitty Word Verification.

Colin said...

@Anthea. Must be the Moorish influence . . .