Spain is different: I've occasionally smiled at the tendency here to sometimes quote numbers to the second place of decimals, theorising that its purpose is to give specious accuracy to dubious data. The government's numbers on the growth/decline of property sales would be one example. And possibly an unemployment number of 26.24%. But, in two important areas, the opposite obtains. When it comes to exam marks, they're always given out of 10, albeit to one decimal place. Say, 6,5. And blood pressure readings are (usually) given as, say, 13/9, rather than 139/99. I'm not sure whether the latter is a significantly more important number but I think it is.
This morning came the unprecedented news that “An anti-corruption drive has netted an executive accused of cavorting with gigolos, a young woman who owns 11 apartments, a provincial official with 47 mistresses and a deputy-mayor with ties to a drug gang.” No, not Spain but China. This couldn't happen here. An anti-corruption driven by the government? I don't think so. Leave it to the police and the (even slower) courts.
Talking of corruption . . . I've mentioned the accusations made against the ex president of the Ourense provincial government. A man who's singlehandedly kept alive the 18th-19th century concept of the corrupt political baron(cacique). Well, President Rajoy came back to Pontevedra again for Xmas and some reporter asked him what he had to say about corruption in the Galician branch of his PP party. “I am here for something else today”, he said, fly-whisking the question. His appointee to the position of President of the Galician government, Sr Feijoo, (we have an awful lot of presidents) was also asked by El País to say something about the allegations against the Ourense ex-president. “Well, we know that the PSOE party made the allegations in 2010” he said, “and that the full force of the courts must come down on him, if proved guilty. But, until that happens, he is an innocent man.” He then moved on to another subject, having said precisely nothing about corruption. Incidentally, the cacique is now reported to have filled 400 of 475 council positions with people from or connected with his family. So he was pretty subtle about it all. He's referred to, by the way, as Baltar1, Baltar2 being the son he crowned as his successor. To an elected position. Only in Galicia? I doubt it.
Sr Baltar is not the only Galician provincial president with a cloud over his head. Our own Pontevedra province incumbent is a man who's said to have gone from relatively poor origins to a millionaire lifestyle. On a civil servant salary. He hasn't, though, been accused of anything. Officially. And it may well be a case of smoke without fire. Envious gossipers and all that.
I mentioned enchufes the other day, the practices of nepotism and croneyism. Reader Sierra has kindly told me of a good example of the latter. The Parador chain – long regarded as one of the best things about Spain – is in serious financial trouble. In 2007 it moved out of profit and into losses which have continued ever since. This coincided with the appointment of a chief executive who knew nothing about tourism or hotels but was a close friend of the then Spanish President, Sr. Zapatero. Of course, one can't say his (mis)management was behind this change of fortune but it would be a tad annoying if he were paid bonuses during this period. For one thing. What's hard to understand is why Rajoy didn't dump him in favour of his own placeman when he came to power a year ago. Possibly got more important matters in his in-tray.
Talking of bonuses, I received from my friend Dwight this morning a schedule of salaries, bonuses, pensions and pay-offs given to bankers who've been let go during the industry restructuring of the last year or two. The sums are staggering but what's particularly interesting is that around 40 bankers declined to give their numbers to the Bank of Spain. I guess they'll be the first to swing, come the revolution. See the details here.
And talking of the Paradors . . . I tried to make a reservation for Wednesday in Ferrol. I entered 9.1.2013 but the confirmation kept coming up 1.9.2013. The breakfast also seemed steep at 28 euros a head. When I phoned to make the booking, I was told the price was 16 a head. If this sort of nonsense is going on all over the country, no wonder business is being lost. And you do have to blame Zapatero's mate, for a fish, as they say, always stinks from the head.
Finally – and to lighten the mood - here's a nice story from the doyen of BBC Radio2, Terry Wogan:- A few years back, a listener of mine told a tale of his grandparents during an air raid. As the sirens went off, everybody in the house rushed out to the relative safety of the good old Anderson shelter. As they ran, the grandma stopped suddenly and turned to run back .
“Where are you going, woman?” shouted her husband.
“I’ve left me teeth indoors!” came the reply.
“For heaven’s sake!” roared Granddad, “They’re droppin’ bombs, not sandwiches!”
For me, this story doesn't quite ring true; there are no expletives before 'bombs' and 'sandwiches'.