Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The other day I cited a British newspaper article in which the writer recommended we get our money out of Spain before some of it is confiscated as part of a rescue of the bankrupt economy. This has not gone down well in Spain, where the author and his paper have come in for widespread strong criticism. Not necessarily because he's wrong but because he's had the temerity to write about Spain as a foreigner. This is not an uncommon reaction in Spain, where an argument along the lines of “He should be criticising his own crap country, not ours.” is deemed to be merit-worthy, rather than meretricious. 

More recently, though, another pot-stirrer – the Catholic Archbishop of Toledo – has wandered (trespassed?) onto political ground by warning of complete social collapse here, unless something is done to alleviate suffering. "There is deep unease across the whole society”, he says, adding that: “We have to give people some hope or this is going to foment conflict and mutual hatred." And he doesn't, I guess, just mean between the population of Spain and a British commentator on the Spanish economy.

In today's El País, the lead article, much of page 1 and all of pages 2 and 3 were dedicated to developments on the British political scene – specifically the pronouncements of two Tory party 'heavies' in favour of the UK leaving the EU. I doubt this would have got any coverage five years ago, when the Spanish love affair with the EU was still in full swing. Possibly even only two years ago. But things are rather different now and anti-EU sentiment is no longer as rare as a believer in the latest official forecasts of the 2013 performance of the Spanish economy.
The Spanish government's attempts to reduce the deficit by raising taxes has backfired. Overall tax income was down 8% in the first quarter, with value added tax receipts down by up to 30% in some regions of the country. Evidence of a lower volume of sales? Or endorsement of the belief the increases would lead to growth in the 'submerged' market? Either way, a disappointment for the government. But perhaps not a surprise to the rest of us.
Around 30,000 Spaniards moved to the UK last year, compared with 11,000 in 2002. Other than desperation, you do wonder why. But, then, the typical profile of a migrant is said to be “aged 35 to 44, with high qualifications and financially comfortable, armed with plenty of information and usually with a job offer in the shape of a promotion already in hand.” So, presumably all off to work in Zara, Banco Santander or Ferrovial, the company which operates several British airports.

Spanish may have fewer words than English - though I'm not sure the Spanish believe this - but they make up for this by using not only more syllables per word but also several different ways of describing the same thing. So, a football can be a pelota (ball); a balón (ball); a globo (balloon, globe); a cuero (leather); and even an esférico (sphere). And all in the same match, as I can vouch for. And I'm pretty sure there are more. Plus there are 42 ways you can have your coffee, all with their own name.

Mots Justes
The happiest people don't have the best of everything. They just make the best of everything. Live simply. Speak kindly. Care deeply. Love generously.
Valid advice, of course. But bloody hard to follow. Nice video here.

Finally (and unusually), this is a short video featuring a survivor from mesothelioma cancer, Heather Von St. James. Her aim is to spread awareness and, more importantly, hope. Please take a look.

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