The politician Carlos Fabra is a Spanish rogue straight out of central casting, with the slicked-back black hair, the perma-tan and the impenetrable, never-off-his-face sunglasses. His was the decision to pour billions of euros into the huge white elephant of Castellón airport, which is unlikely to ever see a commercial flight. He also commissioned the massive, stylised statue in front of the airport, which just happens to be of himself. So, a modest man as well as a crook. Seeing a reference to him today, I got to wondering whether it would ever be possible to calculate the total of taxpayer funds stolen by the likes of Fabra and taken offshore to those countries where questions are never asked. Friendly little Switzerland for example. I imagine not.
Another duff 'investment' of the good years was the Terra Mitica theme park down in Valencia. This was recently referred to by Roger Cohen in the New York Times as “a product of the Valencia region’s giddy building boom fed by cheap money, venal politics and galloping illusion”. Which could easily stand as an accurate comment on Spain as a whole.
In today's Spanish property market, there's little but gloom. Residential planning approvals sank to only 4,022 in July. Which is 95% down on July 2006. Activity is now so low, it's a safe bet some parts of the country will experience property famines when things eventually pick up again. Even if there are still more than a million unsold properties on the market.
El Roto was at it again in El País today. This time there was drawing of a young child with the letters C to O across its face. The caption ran “Why learn the letters when only the numbers count?” Strangely, the only colour in the cartoon was the blue of the child's eyes.
When you get a prescription filled here in Spain, they take the box the pills are in and cut off a small, serrated portion of it. Sometimes with a knife and sometimes with scissors. This they then either staple or sellotape to a copy of your prescription. Which rather contrasts with the computerisation of the rest of the process. Surely there's a better way.
On University Challenge tonight, there was a chap from UCL with two surnames. The second was simple enough – Smith. But the first, and I kid you not, was Tyszczuk.
Much money is being invested in Vigo airport – as it is in the Santiago and La Coruña facilities. But not in the services of a native speaker. Hence the sign over the newsagent's – Kiosk of Press.
Finally . . . A brief and amusing history of the English language.