Saturday, October 26, 2013

Noisy TVs; Station blight; Sr Fabra; Washing black money; Gibraltar fun; Ponters Haggling; and Becorz yur mine.

Yesterday, I had a coffee in a 'sports' café. This designation seems to mean 6 TVs in a relatively small place, each tuned to a different sport. Midday yesterday, though, only 3 of them were on but, when I switched off the one above my head with my TV-be-Gone, I hit the motherlode and all of them went off at the same time. All the efforts of the waitress with her zapper and me with my secret weapon came to naught. I felt a tad bad that she then had to call out the técnico but all's fair in the endless war against Spanish noise. And I was the only person in the place.

Talking of virtually empty locations . . . I walked through Pontevedra station this morning. Apart from the one offering junk jewellery, all the shops are closed. As is the multiplex cinema which used to give life to the complex. True, there's a Games place and a Chinese buffet restaurant but, at 2pm, there wasn't a soul in either of these. Devastation. No wonder the car park was empty.

You may recall earlier mentions of Sr Fabra, the man who's won the national lottery 7 times and who was responsible for, inter alia, the less-than-useless airport at Castellón which is adorned with a statue of said Sr Fabra outside it but which has never been blessed with any planes or passengers. Well, Sr. F has enlightened us all about this: "You just don't get it" he's reported to have said - "This is an airport for people, not planes". In other words, it's a tourist attraction. Well, I'll go to the foot of our stairs, as my grandmother used to say.

As of now, Sr Fabra is in court for the nth time. He's never been successfully prosecuted to date - maybe he has friends or knows where the bodies are - and his arrogant and disdainful attitude to the judge this time suggests he's pretty confident of getting off the hook yet again. A sort of poor man's Berlusconi, I guess. Without the sex. As far as we know. Would he take his sunglasses off for this, I wonder?

Until this week, I had wondered how the lottery-money-laundering scam worked. It's pretty obvious really. Someone with money to clean gives you a premium on the prize of your winning ticket and then claims the prize. So, the first thing you do if you win is not tell your friends and relatives (who will all want some) but call someone whose name begins with, say, F and ask him to buy it from you at 150% of what you've won. Maybe offshore. Then you keep schtum. And visit Andorra several times a year. Or perhaps Gibraltar, if Spanish allegations are true.

Talking of Gib, you'll recall that the Spanish government stopped the export of Spanish sand and stones to the Rock. Naturally, Britain's oldest ally Portugal was only too pleased to step into the breach and supply the stuff by boat. So, the only losers? The Spanish companies who've lost the profit on this business. Well done, Madrid. By the way, I can't say I was surprised to read this week that the Spanish Foreign Affairs Minister - Sr Motormouth Margallo - hadn't had any experience of diplomacy before he took on the job. Two years later, he still hasn't. IMHO.

Dining with friends in Veggie Square yesterday, we were approached by an African lady with the usual junk jewellery but also one of those table-mats-that-turn-into-a-fruit-bowl things. I'd already bought one at €10, so I was rather knocked back by her opening bid of €35. When I told he I'd already got one for 10, she reduced the price to €32. So I politely suggested she peddle her wares elsewhere, whereupon the price plummeted to €12. I bought it (for my daughter) at this price, on the belief it was bigger than the one I had. But it isn't. Hey ho. Mustn't grumble.

Finally . . . Cambridge University has been researching how Spanish students get on learning English. Among their findings is that they spell the word because in 27 different ways. Almost as many as my Oxford graduate daughter, who was off primary school the day they did spelling. More here. On the Cambridge research, I mean.

PS: If you're an affronted friend of my daughter's (I know she doesn't read my blog herself), this is because she included me as an unsympathetic character in one of her novels. Or she didn't.

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