Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Gib again; The Santiago rail crash; Driving in Ponters; And a Really funny joke. Honest

It's the gift that keeps on giving. Gibraltar, of course. Even if the gifts are rather shoddy. The latest battlefield developments in this phoney war:-
1. Straight after talking to an EU bigwig, the Spanish PM announced that the border checks which had led to 3-7 hour delays have been stopped.
2. Likewise, the Minister for Make-it-up-as-You-Go-Along announced that Spain wasn't now contemplating an [illegal] entry-exit tax. Rather, it's planning a 'Congestion' charge, "Like that in operation in London". So, create the congestion and then tax it. Brilliant. Especially as most of the victims will be Spanish.
3. The Spanish government continues to demand the removal of the 70 blocks of cement tipped into Gibraltar Bay to make an artificial reef. Apart from stopping [illegal] Spanish fishing, it says, this vandalism will inflict environmental damage. Something which apparently didn't concern it in respect of 23 such reefs in Andalucian waters. Or the millions of tons of concrete along its coast.
4. The Minister of Agriculture and Two Facedness - he who's been very critical of Gib's bunkering - turns out to have in interest in the company which is doing this here in Galicia, at Ferrol. Could you make it up?
5. Having backed off from everything else, the Spanish government is now demanding a 'global' review of Gibraltar activities by the EU - its low taxation policies, its alleged money-laundering and its lax approach to smuggling cigarettes. I don't suppose this'll  be extended to Andorra, the tax haven preferred by neighbourly Spaniards. Or the Galician coastline that leaks so much cocaine. Assisted by the occasional chap from the Gúardia Civil.
Finally . . .
6. The British government has rejected out of hand the demand of the Spanish Minister for Big Mouths, made (bizarrely) through a letter to The Wall St Journal, that the two countries open up bilateral discussions on sovereignty. You have to hand it to him. If he really did think this would work, he's even dafter than he's made himself out to be over the last month or so. So, is he desperately trying to cling on to his job? What the British government is prepared to do is to meet with the Spanish and Gibraltar governments to discuss the issue of Spanish fishing boats in Gibraltar waters. Which it would have done before all this nonsense. The Spanish government will, thus, have achieved nothing - though I doubt ABC and El Mundo will report it this way - unless it really did distract attention from both government corruption and government responsibility for the Santiago train crash.

The crash is very much back in the news today. The judge leading the judicial inquiry has imputed (arraigned?) Adif executives for failure to install safety measures. "It was clearly foreseeable" he said, "that driver inattention at the relevant curve could end in tragedy". In other words, as some of us said from the outset, it was an accident waiting to happen and several others need to be in the dock alongside the driver.

When I drive down to town, I pass a road on the left leading to/from one of the 2 gypsy settlements in our barrio. Unless you're actually directly opposite it, gypsy drivers never obey the Stop sign, creating some interesting confrontations. Or sharp braking anyway. This approach to rules I've always regarded as the basic Spanish approach taken to logical extremes.

Talking of driving . . . Arriving at the roundabout down by the bridge yesterday, I met the usual problem of cars from town failing to leave a gap for those of us going into town, so keen is their interest in beating everyone else to the beach. Having used Tehran techniques to barge my way through, I raised my hand to (sarcastically) thank the 2 drivers who'd been forced to let me in. One of them blew his horn, whereupon my fingers instinctively changed their formation, safe in the knowledge the recipient of my signal would never be able to extricate himself from the jam and chase me down.

Finally . . . This is said to be the funniest joke from the recent Edinburgh Fringe festival. Warning: It will mean nothing at all if you're unfamiliar with British chocolate bars: "I heard a rumour that Cadbury is bringing out an oriental chocolate bar. Could be a Chinese Wispa."

Incidentally, my mother insists that Cadbury's chocolate tastes totally different since the company was bought by the American company Kraft. I was going to dismiss this as nonsense but my young daughter has just told me her sister also thinks this. I'll have to do some research.

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