Thursday, January 23, 2014

Train crash denial; Ana who?; Self-employed taxes - A success; Political changes; Over-employment; and A load of tripe.

I mentioned that, in the judicial investigation into the dreadful train crash in Santiago 6 months ago, it had emerged that management of the relevant companies had been warned that the curve was very dangerous and that the singe speed signal was ridiculously inadequate. The Boards of the companies have now said they never got this message and blamed the messenger for 'inadequate communication'. After all, he'd only sent his memo to 10 people, including his boss. So far, all pretty predictable. Once again one wonders whether they expect us to believe this tosh. Or just don't care whether we do or we don't.

Ana Botella, you may recall, is the Madrid Mayor who got into a spot of ridicule last year over her presentation to the Olympics authorities on her city's case for the 2020 Games. Well, she's come in for a lot more mockery over the fact that her CV is blank in the brochure issued at Davos about the great and the good attending the annual jamboree there. Some of those laughing argue, with justification, that it's right and appropriate there's nothing on the page as the only reason she's the Mayor of Madrid is that she's married to ex-president Aznar.

With power, they say, comes responsibility and I'll be thinking about that. But, meanwhile, I'll just mention that - no sooner do I highlight the madness of Spain's tax burden for the self-employed - than the government announces it's thinking of bringing in a progressive monthly rate, in line with earnings. The only question arising is - Why are they just thinking about it and not just doing it? Who on earth is opposing the change?

I mentioned that a new political party - Vox - had been launched, situated right of centre. Well, now there's a new party on the left as well - Podemos (We can). According to our Spy in Congress, these developments have together unleashed fear and panic in the established parties, who currently (ahead of imminent EU elections) have no idea how to deal with these threats to their bi-party hegemony. So, is Spain finally changing for the good, thanks largely to disgust and anger at the degree of corruption enabled by the boom and to the pain experienced by the middle and lower classes in the bust? Let's hope so. And let's pray there are more Burgos-type successful popular riots to drive home the message that the days of doing just what you like when you get to power are over. Cue Bob Dylan.

By the way . . . Vox is pronounced Box in Spanish but Bosh in Gallego. A bit too close to Bosch for comfort, I'd have thought.

I have a neighbour who used to hold a senior position in the Ministry of Health. During an English chat yesterday, I was telling her about a Madrid woman I knew who was one of 3 secretaries allocated to a senior official in the Ministry of Agriculture. Having nothing to do, she was bored stiff but staying put until retirement. My neighbour wasn't at all surprised but I was when she told me she'd had not 3 but 6 secretaries - 3 for the morning and 3 for the afternoon. And that it was impossible to get rid of any of them, because of the keep-the-plebs happy legislation dating from "the socialist Franco era". So, the Caudillo was more of a NAZI than just a mere fascist. Must check with my old fellow Christian Brother victim, Paul Preston.

Finally . . . One of the things you can (easily) get in Galicia that's now pretty rare in the UK is tripe. Or callos. Researching something else, though, I came across this foto of my home town in 1900, with the advert for a whole store of the stuff. And I can still recall the butcher's van with great slabs of it visiting our street many decades later. But not now. Thank God. 

Incidentally, notice the abundance of parking in the street. And also note that my (red-haired, Irish) grandmother lived in a cul-de-sac off this street, which though called Seaview Road, certainly didn't overlook the sea. Or even the river Mersey.

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