Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Thirty-five years or so ago, I'm told, the pronunciation of the Spanish double L was the equivalent of an L followed by a Y. As in tortiLYa. Over the years, though, this has given way to a simple Y. As in tortiYa. So it is that Llámame (Call me) is now pronounced Yámame. And very, very occasionally it's written this way, as it was in a flier from a handyman in my mail-box today.

At lunch the other day, my Dutch friend, Peter, and I agreed that neither of us knew what was happening in the eurozone these days. Worse, we also agreed that no one else in the world did either. Though I suspect quite a few will claim they did in a few years time.

I take my hat off to anyone who sets up a business in Spain. As the World Bank reports, Spain ranks 136th of the 185 countries surveyed in its Doing Business in 2013. Meaning she's behind an awful lot of third world countries. As for starting up a business, Spain ranks 44th, with the top five countries being Singapore, Hong Kong, New Zealand, the USA and Denmark. Presumably it would be relatively easy for Sr Rajoy to make savings in the department(s) which oversee business start-ups. But it isn't going to happen, I fear.

Just for the record – the Galician Nationalist Party (BNG) only managed to get 10% of the vote in Sunday's regional elections. Strangely, the wealthy city of Pontevedra is one of its strongholds but I suspect this is down to affection for the incumbent mayor for what he's done over the last decade. The media reported the BNG vote as 10.16%, against the AGE share of 13.99%. A degree of accuracy required by absolutely no one.

Climate change or just a lucky break?: Today was astonishingly sunny and warm and this evening was as balmy as a midsummer's night. I spent it with six Spanish ladies celebrating the birthday of one of them. A sort of Celibacy in the City.

The consequence, by the way, of three or four cold, wet days followed by this sun and heat is that today it was about ten degrees cooler inside my house than it was outside. Quite bizarre.

Three hundred and ten years ago, the largest Spanish bullion fleet ever to sail from the Caribbean was holed up in a small bay near Vigo, protected by several French men-o-war. They'd been driven up from Cádiz by severe storms and were hoping to avoid contact with a British-Dutch fleet in the area. Unfortunately, the latter learnt of their location and summarily sank all the Spanish and French galleons, sending the bullion to the bottom. Or so it was thought. Despite many attempts over the last three centuries, no one but the crewe of the Nautilus in 20,000 Leagues under the Sea has managed to retrieve any of it. And the consensus now is it was offloaded from the ships before the British and Dutch hove into view and trundled down to Madrid. No doubt, though, there'll be more diving expeditions in due course. Meanwhile, the only metal visible in the bay is a statue of Jules Verne.

Finally . . . It was interesting to read that the EU Commissioner sacked for fraud will get 8,600 euros a month for three years, after which he'll be entitled to a pension based on his years of service. In the large company I worked in, if you got sacked for fraud you lost not only your job but also your pension. It's a different world in Brussels. So it's a good job we can vote the bastards out.

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