So, Spain is going for a 'virtual rescue'. Well, why not? We have a virtual European union, a virtual currency union, and a soon-to-arrive virtual banking union. And over at The Hague, we have a virtual saint in the form of Radan Karadzich, who says he's 'tolerant and kind' and that there would have been a lot more Serbian slaughter but for him. He's not bad as a comedian too. Though of the sick kind.
My favourite quiet – only quiet – café in town is now patronised by so many talkative matrons, it's become rather like the Women's Institute. The other problem is that, for some unknown reason, it closes at 2pm. Which is not good when you've arrived at 1.45. But preparing to leave today, I did have the compensation of an insight into differing – not necessarily 'right and 'wrong' – cultural instincts. When Brits answer their phones, their instinct is to whisper. For Spaniards, it's to shout. And, when it comes to the newspapers, my instinct is to put them back on the rack as I leave. Whereas the woman with the irritating ring tone of a squeaky toy left hers on the table, for the waitress to pick up. As I say, there's no question of right and wrong here. But that doesn't stop me feeling superior.
Readers may recall the appalling saga of the oil-slick from the Prestige along the Galician coast in 2002. Well, the trial of three people finally came to court this week. And will continue for at least a year. As the Director of the Institute of Marine Studies at La Coruña University remarked - “Justice in Spain is not noteworthy for its speed”. Indeed not. I guess it's lucky none of the accused died in the interim.
I read somewhere weeks ago that the big bonanza for phone companies would be advertising on our mobiles(cell phones). Perhaps this has now begun, given that this morning I received a message about the whatsapp app. At least I think that's what it was called.
Way down in the (extra)lawless south, keen observer – and fellow blogger - David Jackson reminds us that a 35% unemployment rate isn't necessarily all that it seems and that, as predicted, the black economy is growing rapidly, as people seek to avoid the taxes they fear are going into the pockets of corrupt politicians. As David says, it all helps to avoid the social unrest you'd expect from the official level of joblessness.
One of the money saving measures of the Spanish government has been the removal of 417 medicines from the items available on prescription. Most of these are OTC products and, in other countries, they'd be available from supermarkets. Here, though, they'll continue to be available only from pharmacies. Who tend to have higher prices. It's hard to see any liberalisation taking place. Which reminds me . . . Parapharmacies are a common site on Spanish high streets. When I first came here I thought it would be here I could get things like analgesics, if they weren't available in supermarkets. But, no, you can't. Frankly, I wouldn't know why parapharmacies have this name, since sun creams, perfumes and the like don't seem to justify it. Even if the shop assistants do wear white coats. Perhaps it's a Spanish joke.
I really much knuckle down to at least a page or two of my new car manual. If only to find out why my key sometimes locks or unlocks only one door and why all four windows sometimes open a fraction when I unlock the door(s). Can this really be a feature?
Finally . . . A joke. The European Commission is seeking approval of a 26% increase in its budget for Salaries and Pensions. Well, why ever not? That's our future government and it has to be of the right size and quality for the challenges ahead. But can anyone get on board the train? Or is it First Class passengers only?