Saturday, October 05, 2013

Changing Spain; Genders; Corruption; Owls; and Hitler at play.

Changing Spain 1: Ten years ago, the law against drink-driving was pretty laxly enforced. Especially here in my barrio of Poio, where the chief of the local police was infamous for crashing into the back of other cars after lunch, with total impunity. As of yesterday, though, the fine for driving while over the lowest limit in Europe is an inflation-busting €1,000. Double the previous €500. As the limit is less than a glass of wine, and as the police are now an arm of the Tax Office, it's easy to see why they're predicting significant revenue from this source next year. I guess they'll also get to grips with the driving while phoning or texting one of these days.

Changing Spain 2: A couple of banks have announced that, in the interests of customers, they'll be staying open during the afternoon/evening, beyond the 2pm norm in Spain. This is nothing short of revolutionary in a country where customer orientation has traditionally been 10 to 20 years behind other countries. The thin end of a (positive) wedge, born of La Crisis? And a demonstration of the truth of the old saw that it's an ill wind that blows no good?

One of the oddities of languages with genders is that nouns that seem obviously masculine can actually be feminine. As it is with the word Señorías used by the Speaker in the Spanish parliament to mean Lordships, or Gentlemen. But also Ladyships or Ladies. Or all of these. The absence of genders is one of the big pluses of the English language, of course. Another is that I learned it as a child.

Sentences have now been handed down in the Malaya trial I mentioned the other day. This case centred on kickbacks to the entire local council from constructors, master-minded by the Chief Planning Officer. You can see just how successful he was from the eye-watering fine imposed on him of €240m. In addition to which he was sentenced to 11 years in jail. Other sentences were not quite as punitive but a couple of mayors were sentenced to 6 and 2 years in jail.

Talking of corruption - The ex-provincial President responsible for the Castellón (non)airport is now on the bench. Apart from financial skulduggery, Carlos Fabra is famous for a few other things - 1. Looking like a Spanish gangster from Central Casting; 2. Never taking off his opaque sunglasses, as if he were an actor in a Godfather film; 3. Winning the lottery very regularly - a classic way to launder black money; and 4. Displaying the sort of arrogance which led him to refuse to answer questions in court. Justice must be equitable, of course, but it's hard not to hope he gets sent down for a long stretch. By the way, Fabra is the 7th member of his family to rise to the position of President of the province of Castellón. In other words, an old fashioned cacique, whose father, of course, was a Francoist.

Galicia fares well in next year's State budget. On a per capita basis, it ranks third in the central allocations. But, then, when the President is a hometown boy, the only surprising thing about this is that we're not first.

Owls: Here's what we really need in town to scare off the damned pigeons.


And here's the latest example of what we make do with.


Finally . . . It's not widely known that Adolf Hitler once played cricket, with British prisoners of war during the First World War. Allegedly, he tried to change the rules in respect of leg pads and the hardness of the ball. He wanted to ban the former and make the latter even harder than it was. This was early evidence of his psychotic nature but no one noticed. His proposals were, of course, rejected, after which he bore eternal resentment against the British. With consequences with which we are all too familiar.

3 comments:

kraal said...

Colin, tomorrow night at 22.00 (GMT) on the Discovery channel, there is a programme about the Spanish train disaster.
I read only yesterday a completely new species of owl has been identified in Oman. It has been named Omani Owl. Kev

Perry said...

Colin,

As a boy, Carlos Fabra Careers lost an eye whilst playing with his brother with scissors. He decided to wear sunglasses in public events.

Given his career, a pirate's eye patch would have been a dead give away, but apt, nevertheless.

Cordially,

Perry

Colin said...

@kraal. If this is a joke, Kev, I'm afraid I still don't get it.

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