Well, the begging industry here in Pontevedra reached a new high today. Or should that be a new low? Walking back from the main square, I was met by two midgets. Well, by one of them; the other was accosting someone a couple of metres away. I immediately recalled the warning I'd read about practitioners of the old phoney charity racket. One where the chuggers indicate they're deaf and dumb, handily hiding the fact they're Rumanian and can't speak Spanish. I raised my gaze and took my leave.
In the UK, the neighbours of a woman who constantly shouts at her husband have succeeded in getting a 'noise abatement order' slapped on her. Here in Spain we can only dream of such things.
To the disappointment of some, the world didn't shuffle off its mortal coil today. But no doubt some other date will now be chosen by those who hold apocalyptic views. I guess no one will be surprised to hear there are more of these in America than anywhere else. Astonishingly, some 55% of Americans are said to believe in the Rapture, which is the bodily ascent to Heaven of the saved. And which was pilloried in a recent edition of Family Guy on the BBC.
I read somewhere today that Brussels thinks that austerity is doing the trick in Spain, in that unit wage costs have started to fall towards German levels. Perhaps, but one wonders how much this owes to salary and bonus reductions in the public sector, as opposed to the private sector, where competitiveness matters rather more. I say this after reading in today's Voz de Galicia that the region's civil servants are to be hit with a third reduction (of 7%) inside two years.
The Voz also told us of a 3.4% increase in water charges as of January. Way above inflation. We won't get any information from the company, of course. We never do. I should say 'companies' as I read last week that water charges are different in each of Galicia's cities. And surely no single company could operate this way, could it? Especially as rates are twice as high in Vigo as in Ourense.
Cádiz is a major port on the west coast of Spain, famous as the place where the navies of both France and Spain hid from Nelson for several months, before someone had the bright idea to throw caution to the winds and bolt for the Mediterranean. Anyway, over the years, it's received many millions of euros from the EU, to invest in its zona franca, or free port. Surprisingly, this didn't run to the cost of a decent accountant because, when Brussels asked where their money had gone, no one could say. So now the management has been asked to pay back 80% of what they got. Reportedly, they've admitted that the money was spent on vanity projects, wages, the financing of outstanding bank debt (currently 150m euros), utility bills and “otherwise just fizzled away”. Whelk stalls spring to mind. Anyway, what chance is there of any money heading back north? And how long before we hear complaints that Brussels is 'not showing solidarity”?
Finally . . . A nice Spanish joke doing the rounds:- The Guinness Book of World Records decides to call in record-holders, so they can prove they still merit the garland. So, record holder no. 1 goes in and comes out with a smile. Ditto no. 2 and no. 3. Then comes the turn of Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves. The door opens and out comes an enraged Ali Baba, spitting out the question – Who the fuck is Bankía?
For those not in the know – Bankía is a fusion of several of Spain's piss-poor regional savings banks and several of its board members are arraigned on various charges. More here