Sunday, February 03, 2013

Today's allegations of corruption in Spain concern the Health Minister, Ana Mato. She's said to have received tens of thousands of euros worth of gifts from companies implicated in an existing corruption investigation. She says she didn't but we will see.

President Rajoy today came out denying, if not exactly fighting. He says he'll make his tax returns public but how this will prove he didn't receive black money payments not included in them he didn't explain. He also said the PP party didn't have an account in Switzerland and that its official books were always cleared by the auditors – both of which statements fall within the category of True But Irrelevant. More pertinently, he's denied that he or anyone else received illicit payments and dismissed the handwritten accounts detailing these as false. I'm not sure many people believe him and there have been street demonstrations outside the party HQ in Madrid.

To be honest, all this has come as a bit of a shock to me. I went along with the 96% of the Spanish population who were said to believe corruption was widespread in their country but I'd been prepared to believe this this was confined to regional, provincial and municipal politicians and that national politicians were pretty clean. I'm not sure of anything now.

Back here in Hamburg, it was a revelation to visit the shopping district today. Not a single shop boarded up. And only the occasional beggar. What a contrast with Pontevedra these days. Convergence there ain't.

Hamburg is a wealthy city and it teems with top-end German cars. Well, why not? If the rest of the world wants to buy your cars, why shouldn't you? The surprising thing was the identity of the next most popular car – the Mini. Followed, I'd guess, by the Smart Car.

Finally . . . Who could not be amused by the story of the (Spanish) ex-boyfriend of Gina Lollobrigida who, according to her, faked a marriage to her in Barcelona a few years back, by getting another (Spanish) woman to stand in for her. Top marks for chutzpah.

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