converting hotels from 4 to 5-star. Good luck to them.
The other excellent news of yesterday was that President Rajoy has finally bowed to pressure and promised to address parliament on the issue of illegal funding of his PP party. This followed a day or so of various PP mouths telling us he would do this when it suited him. In the arrogance stakes, none emerged higher than the Deputy PM telling us Rajoy would "give his explanation at the time and in the manner he feels appropriate." To be followed by the Foreign mInister telling us he'd appear "when he considers the timing to be right". This turns out to be at the end of either this month or the end of August. So, either when everyone is setting off on holiday or when they're coming back from holiday. Can this be a coincidence?
No sooner had I given my car its bi-annual wash than they started to tear up the road with a jack-hammer. The result? A car covered with a layer of tarmac and granite dust. The lovely Ester tells me they're connecting to the electricity grid the 23 houses behind me, finished at least 2 years ago but still unoccupied. Which is odd as there's an electricity sub-station alongside the access drive. I guess this means they've solved the problem of the drive and the first 4 houses being illegal. Anyway, pending completion of the works, we now have regular blasts of metallic thunder, as cars drive over the lids on the trench in the road. Noise and dust, a wonderful combination.
The good news is that I've learned the Spanish for 'jack-hammer' - martillo neumático. Which is closer to the British equivalent of 'pneumatic drill'. So, comparing syllables - Spanish: 8; British: 5; American: 3. Sounds about right. No wonder notices are so much longer in Spanish than in English.
My mother called me yesterday to say my old college (King's, London) had topped a chart of crime rates near British universities. A bit of checking revealed that 1. This is true, but 2. Crime is measured within a 3 mile radius of the main campus. As King's doesn't have one, crime was measured within 3 miles of its location in The Strand. In other words, central London. Likewise, the LSE and University College, London, who ranked shortly after King's. So, not a very fair comparison as no students actually live in central London. But thanks, Mum.
In the late 19th century, after military defeats to Germany, the French were desperate for a great national figurehead. They went with Joan of Arc. In other words, they chose someone who'd been tried and executed, not by the English, but by the French themselves. Likewise, although the Catholic Church later made her a saint, she was tried in an Ecclesiastical Court and convicted of heresy, before being burnt at the stake. By the French. So, an episode rich in irony. By the way, the miracle said to allow sanctification of Joan, was a change in the wind which benefited the French in their attempts to end the English siege of Orleans. Which smacks of desperation to me. Not a coincidence, then? Maybe my Catholic daughter take take advantage of any change in the weather that occurs just before my death. Not much for a father to ask, I feel.
That other French hero - Napoleon - is also rather tarnished. Aside from ending his years in ignominy and exile (twice in each case), he was also an invader of a Hitlerian scale. Not to mention the initiator of a new royal family in Spain. Where I doubt he's remembered with affection. All in all, it was odd to see monuments to the tyrant when watching the end of the Tour de France. By the way, next year's Tour de France will start in England, but in Leeds - not at Waterloo Station.
While I'm on this French theme, my elder daughter told me of this recent conversation with a friend who works in international personnel (or 'human relations' as we now have to say):-
So, Helen. How do you find working with people from different cultures?
Fine. I enjoy it.
Are there any significant differences between nationalities, in terms of being hard or easy to work with?
No, not really. Of course, there are occasionally difficult people from every country, Except for the French. They're always difficult.
Publisher's Note: If you're a regular reader of this blog, you may find the easiest way to access it is via an RSS reader. I used to use Google Reader for the blogs I read but Google killed this a month or so ago. There are several alternatives, all free, but I've gone with Old Reader as it pretty accurately replicates Google Reader. But don't go there today as they are experiencing problems.