Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Happy places; The Spanish economy; Spanish TV; Pontevedra diggings; and Escudos.

The latest survey of happiness (however that's defined) reveals that the top ten countries are the usual subjects, with Scandinavia ranking as high as ever:-
1. Denmark
2. Norway
3. Switzerland
4. Holland
5. Sweden
6. Canada
7. Finland
8. Austria
9. Iceland
10. Australia.
For no good reason, I was surprised at the inclusion of Holland, where I thought there were stresses and strains similar to those in the UK. If I have a Dutch reader, perhaps he/she could set me straight.

As for Spanish felicity, the Minister for the Economy has cheered us all up with his insistence that Spain is no longer a problem for the EU or the world. She will, he says, finally emerge this quarter from her 2-4 year recession and the end-year budget deficit target of 6.5% of GDP will easily be achieved. Of course, the 2012 forecast for this deficit was lower than 6.5%, as I recall, but one mustn't carp. Unemployment will also be lower by the year end and will continue to fall, albeit slowly, throughout next year. But, at 26.7%,the number will still be very high and the minister admits that, although the recession will be over, La Crisis won't be. As for economic growth, this will be around minus 1.3% this year, following last year's fall of 1.6%, but 2014 will see growth of 0.5%. Well, let's hope so but what normally happens now is that the IMF and/or the EU come out with numbers that are not quite as optimistic as those of the Spanish government. So, you pays your money and takes your choice.

Anyone who's seen the institutionalised slanging matches on Spanish TV won't have been surprised at the recent study which concluded that 86% of programs for kids were unsuitable for them - because of "explicit sex, dirty language and the denigration of women". Which reminds me . . . It seems I was wrong to say the peak viewing time here is 12.30am; it's now said to be only 10.30pm. However, the majority of programs starting at this time don't end until 12.30 or later. The TV channels say this reflects Spanish working hours but they agree it's crazy and insist they'd be happy to bring things forward. But no one wants to be first to do it and risk losing viewers. Institutionalised inertia, then.

There's been an unusual development down in Pontevedra; they've happened upon a Roman grave inside the city walls; this is unprecedented (and confusing) because the Romans always buried their dead - Whoever buried the living? - outside the walls. Elsewhere, they've almost finished covering a significant Roman and medieval site with sand. This is sad victim of La Crisis, as the city can no longer afford to finish the excavation, never mind turn it into the planned museum. The end result is a permanent disruption to the traffic flow, which was said to be essential 3-4 years ago to allow for the creation of said museum. Now just a chimera.

Finally . . . I'm doing a survey of all the escudos (coats-of-arms) on the facades of houses once owned by the comfortable bourgeoisie of Pontevedra. Of which this is just one fine example. More anon. 


Alfred B. Mittington said...

As I know the sodden country well enough, let me try to help you out. The Dutch make a whole lot of noise over every tiny minor little problem, but when push comes to shove the place is doing beautifully well and the Dutch live rich and happy lives. It has, as a famous entrepreneur remarked, the richest poor in the whole world, and can count on a great justice system, solid social security, 99 % of housing is in top shape, and all except the most destitute drown in entertainment.

Of course, the present government, with the help of Brussels, is working hard to undermine all that, as we are all supposed to resemble China and the USA as soon as possible. But, on the other hand, the Dutch are beginning to protest, and the present coalition will not last to the end of the year. After which we may expect Mr Wilder's populist PVV to make a tremendous showing, and then controversy is served. In fact, if things really turn out funny, the Netherlands may have a referendum on EU exit before Britain does...

Yours, Al.

Colin said...

Thanks, Al, for that illumination. I knew I could rely on you.

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