Tuesday, May 07, 2013

In 1567, an English gentleman wrote an account of the vagrants, vagabonds and 'sturdy beggars' of the realm. In his introduction he referred to the “abominable, wicked and detestable behaviour of all those rowsey, ragged rabblement of rakehells that – under pretence of great misery, diseases and other innumerable calamities which they feign – through great hypocrisy do win and gain great alms in all places where they wander, to the utter deluding of the good givers.” Things aren't quite that bad here in Pontevedra in the 21st century, but we're getting there. We have our fair share of rowsey, ragged rabblements of rakehells. Especially the drug dealers down the hill. Funnily enough, of this alliterative quartet, my spellcheck only recognises 'ragged' .

Sometime during the (phoney) boom years, I commented to a Spanish friend that Spain's new roads and motorways were quite magnificent. Just wait, he said, until they start to deteriorate and we'll see whether the money is there to repair them. This article suggests his pessimism was well founded. Sadly.

The ex Chancellor of the British Exchequer, Nigel Lawson, champions the growing view that Safely removed from effective democratic accountability, the EU has become a bureaucratic monstrosity. This imposes substantial economic costs on all member states. These are perhaps greatest in the case of the UK, not principally because our own dear bureaucracy is inclined to goldplate the regulations that emanate from Brussels, but more because we have a tradition of precision in law-making and respect for the law that is less pronounced in much, if not most, of the rest of Europe. That is not going to change, nor should it. Rather Mr Lawson feels Britain should manage an amicable – well, as amicable as possible – exit from the EU.

As to where the EU is right now, here's the view of the Berlin correspondent of the "Daily Telegraph": As the quarrelling voices in the eurozone grow louder, Germany once again finds itself at the centre of conflict. From Italy, where voters have resoundingly rejected austerity measures, to Greece and Cyprus, where Angela Merkel has been caricatured as a Nazi, to Paris, where members of Fran├žois Hollande’s party accuse the German chancellor of “selfish intransigence”, the project intended to bring Europe together has been stirring up animosity. Germany wants a more powerful Europe to have the last word on national budgets. But other countries are giving this short shrift. In the showdown over austerity, it is Germany that has blinked first. Berlin, which has overseen Europe’s austerity policy since the start of the debt crisis, is now indicating that it is relaxed about eurozone countries failing to hit their deficit-cutting targets. In the case of France – Germany’s key partner in Europe – Mrs Merkel is now offering an alternative prescription: economic reforms that will reduce labour costs in the long term. But the pain has only been deferred. Germany has made no secret of its view that the French workforce, in particular, is far too cosseted. . . The forthcoming [German] election campaign, then, will be rather unusual. For the first time, there are loud voices from both Left and Right calling for an end to the euro. . . [Germany's] policies during the debt crisis are fuelling a revival of nationalism elsewhere in Europe – and within Germany itself, from taxpayers alarmed at the mounting costs of rescuing the euro. As a result, a country desperate to keep Europe together, in order to escape the ghosts of its own history, is now risking the prospect of a European departure from the global stage.

It seems situation in Syria is even worse than I cited yesterday. There are fears that the internecine Sunni-Shia war could yet engulf Iraq, where the Shiites, despite being in the majority, have long had to play second fiddle to the Sunnis. As someone has asked – Could Syria, Iran and sectarian fury destroy a hard-won peace? - Allah forfend. Surely He can knock a few heads together, if He wants to. We must assume that He doesn't.

Finally . . . Like me, you might not know what an evil digital camera is. Having just googled it, I can tell you it's an 'electronic viewfinder with interchangeable lens'. Or EVIL.


Perry said...

One of the reasons why the world of fiscal affairs is so flummoxed can be attributed to the cognitive skills & abilities of politicians. An economics numbskull gave a speech on 4th May. This is it, word for word.

"Imagine a wage earner, John, employed in the same job throughout the last 20 years. For a period in 2003 to 2007, every year his employer gave him a sizable bonus.

He was grateful but in his bones knew it wouldn't last. The bonuses did stop and John was told that his income would rise by around 5 per cent each year over the years to come. That's the basis for his financial plans.

Now, very late, John has been told he won't get those promised increases for the next few years, but his income will get back up after that to where he was promised it would be. What should John do? What would you do?

A rational response would be to make some responsible savings. And to engage in some moderate borrowing to get through to the time of higher income, with his family and lifestyle intact - and then use the higher income to pay off the extra borrowing undertaken in the lean years." ‽‽‽‽‽‽‽‽‽‽

Well, I just had to take the advice, so I 'phoned my Lloyds TSB manager and regaled him with the considered advice of Julia Gillard, the Prime Minister of Australia.

I requested a sizable bonus loan, which I assured him I shall pay back when times are better. Naturally, I was unable to proffer any idea of time scale , but I promised I'd see him all right when my circumstances improved.

His reply; "No wonder Australia is ***ked."


Anonymous said...

Don't worry Colin, England will keep well ahead of Pontevedra, in terms of rabble. You just have to walk around any inner city area after 6pm (if you are brave enough) to be reassured. Otherwise try the John Lennon quartier of Liverpool a Sunday afternoon, if you don't mind going deaf or watching the elderly behaving like scalies on a new year's eve. If you once got the capital of culture, what's stopping you now from winning that of the inculture?

Colin said...

@-anonymous. Too true. At least in terms of Neanderthal youths, if not beggars. Who would deny it?

I think you mean 'scallies', not 'scalies'. Which are lizards.

And what's an inculture?

BTW - Do you mean Liverpool 1?

Anonymous said...

I knew you would understand me Colin. Can you imagine if I wrote in Galician-portuguese all the lengths you would go to just to have a remote idea of what I was saying ... ?

PS - Well done for crackin the conundrum "Liverpool - elderly - Sunday afternoon - behaving like scallies / lizards on new years eve" ...

Colin said...


If you were to write a blog in Galego, why on earth would I want to read it? In fact, if you wrote one in English, ditto.

The fact is, my friend, you are far more interested in reading what I write than I ever would/could be in writing what you might write.

As you will demonstrate by responding to this. Or not.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, but Liverpool is still pestering with old people getting pissed every Sunday evening and acting as their granchildren going clubbing. And that's, my friend, a disgrace, it puts you off from going there to have a drink at the very core of the city, whereas the Pontevedran folk are probably not permitted to do that kind of thing, save perhaps during carnaval times ... I think the northern peoples shouldn't be allowed to drink, at least until they demonstrate that they can act as normal civilized people