Saturday, May 03, 2014

Dubai v Spain; 100 years of change; Austerity at its worst; Span is Different 10; Burning issues.

"Is Dubai the next Spain", asks the Daily Telegraph. "Britons" it says "are abandoning their place in the Spanish sun for countries with better work opportunities and more stable house prices – and the Middle East is one of several areas attracting growing numbers of emigrants". Dubai is said to rank no. 3 in the list of places offering a better quality of life, while Spain has sunk to a lowly no. 9. Click here for reasons why. Perhaps I should sell up now. Even if the Dubai government did pay for the article.

Flicking through an old notebook, I found this headline from a local paper - Man argues with customers in a bar, leaves, comes back dressed as a diver and fires a harpoon. Sadly, I can't recall anything about the article.

I also found this sentence from an El País editorial of a couple of months ago - on the attitude of the public towards corruption and the consequential (lack) of political will to do anything about it: If we can put our minds and actions together to reduce road deaths, why not the corruption which corrodes our country? The backcloth is a remarkable halving of road deaths in the last 10 years.

And this table. In each case the first number is 1914 and the second is 2014. So, a hundred years later, for the innumerate:-
Life expectancy: 43 years - 82 years
Fertility rate: 4.6 - 1.3
% of women active: 10 - 53
Maternal mortality per 100 births: 43 - 3
Average home size: 4.3 people - 2.6 people
Population: 20m - 47m
Troops: 225,000 - 123,000

In its desperate search to compensate for the wild spending of the Bum years, the Galician government has hit pensioners the hardest. Having, inter alia, imposed prescription charges on them, it's now announced that the next 3 years will see a pensions increase of only 0.25% a month. Or a measly €1.80. You wonder how they can sleep at night. Possibly because a mattress stuffed with cash is quite comfortable. And leaves no paper trail.

Spain is Different 10:

  1. My antipodean friend, Ian, insists there are more pillars in Spanish underground car-parks than anywhere else in the world. The scratches on the 4 corners of every car in the country would suggest he's right about this.
  2. The Spanish have weaker radar and few antennae than other people. This makes them less aware of others in their immediate vicinity. So it is that, whereas Brits start accommodating themselves to avoid someone coming the way when they are still 5 metres away, the Spanish will do nothing until both parties execute a Last Second Shuffle as they're about to crash into each other. I notice this most when I'm reading while walking and people coming the other way walk right into me. Yes, I know it's my fault but the case illustrates my point that the other person is totally unaware of my existence. Or expecting, until the last moment, that I will perform an LSS so as to avoid him/her.
Finally . . . There was a fiesta of Maios in Pontevedra's main square on May Day. This was billed as something Celtic but I have my doubts. The entrants all sang satirical protest songs and one of these was about plans to erect a new crematorium in the town. The old one has been built 6 years, the words ran, and no one has been cremated yet. Or 'burnt' as the Spanish has it. So to use a favourite 'joke' of my father's - The place is clearly unpopular; no one's dying to go there.

13 comments: said...

Far be it from me to question any of your deeply researched facts, but this gave me pause:

Maternal mortality per 100 births: 43 - 3.

Bad as things were in Spain in 1914, I highly doubt that 43 of every 100 women who gave birth did not survive the experience! They´d have better survival rates if they just caught the Spanish flu...

Diego said...

Here you go, a link to the diver story:

Anonymous said...

Again, Colin, what you present as typically Spanish is a common occurrence in many countries. I would advise you to try a more open approach instead of the "British being British-in-Spain", you may learn something about yourself, rather than broadcasting your own cultural prejudices.

Try these links:

"The Lewis Model of Cultural Types indicates the variations in personal interactive qualities, indicating three poles: "linear-active" cultures, which are characterized as cool and decisive (Germany, Norway, USA), "reactive" cultures, characterized as accommodating and non-confrontational (Vietnam, China, Japan), and "multi-active" cultures, characterized as warm and impulsive (Brazil, Mexico, Italy). Realizing and recognizing these cultural differences improves cross-cultural understanding, and helps eliminate discomfort people may feel if the interpersonal distance is too large ("stand-offish") or too small (intrusive)."

"It is also important to note that the level of personal distance that individuals need to feel comfortable can vary from culture to culture. One oft-cited example is the different between people from Latin cultures and those from North America. People from Latin countries tend to feel more comfortable standing closer to one another as they interact, while those from North America need more personal distance."

"A young Italian couple moved to live to Sydney and were invited to join a social club. Several weeks later three female members complained that the Italian man was making sexual advances towards them ... the men of the club felt that the Italian woman was making herself available sexually ... "

Anonymous said...

As for the underground car parks, it is the same as with architecture in general: there is a "southern continental" style, broadly speaking, and a more "northern" one.

By rule of thumb, the cultural oddities are usually restricted to a certain isle off the northwestern coast of Europe ...

Colin Davies said...


First of all, there is an element of (anti-Brit) irony and parody in what I write. You don't seem to get this. Perhaps I should make it more obvious.

Secondly, just because Spain's culture has elements in common with other Southern European countries (and some Middle East cultures) doesn't mean it isn't different from large parts of the world.

Thirdly, I would have thought it was obvious that I am comparing Spain with Northern Europe in general and Britain in particular, this being my home culture.

All in all, I fail to see your point. Especially if it is that, while Spain may be different from a few other countries, Britain is different from every other country in the world.

Perhaps it is. But I haven't lived in every other country in the world. If you have, I bow to your superior knowledge, of course. I take it as read that you are familiar with the British culture.

Finally, broadcasting my own cultural prejudices, as you call it, seems to appeal to several hundred readers every day. As I may have said to you when you were not anonymous, no one is compelled to read them. Including you.

Perry said...

Anon 10:35 am,

Your "A young Italian couple moved to live to Sydney" story. The Australians of either sex would try coitus with frogs if they get them to stop hopping for long enough. It's in their natures.

That statement is also a parody. You would have to be Anglo Saxon to understand dry wit & sardonic humour. Here is some help.

Anonymous said...

"there is an element of (anti-Brit) irony and parody in what I write. You don't seem to get this. Perhaps I should make it more obvious."

I see, but making it repetitive (the personal space thing) doesn't make this irony and parody any better, does it?

"just because Spain's culture has elements in common with other Southern European countries (and some Middle East cultures) doesn't mean it isn't different from large parts of the world."

indeed, but just because Spain's culture is different in many aspects to the British one doesn't make it unique. In fact, many of the differences are shared with a lot of other non-british cultures. I'm not sure your readers understand this.

" I would have thought it was obvious that I am comparing Spain with Northern Europe in general and Britain in particular, this being my home culture."

But you are not comparing Spain to Northern Europe / Britain. You are comparing the Southern European culture to the Northern / British one. That's what's makes it inaccurate referring to "Spain" all the time. Unless you are being ironic, of course.

Finally, my point is not that Britain is different to all, just that Spain has more in common with other cultures (non-British, obviously) than you seem to think (Unless you are being ironic, of course)

Anonymous said...

Perry, if you were to meet an Italian girl in Australia there would be no room to even imagine that she was making herself sexually available to you. And this is not irony.

Perry said...


Why do you bother to get up in the morning?

Irony is the expression of one's meaning by using language that normally signifies the opposite, typically for humorous or emphatic effect. Ironically, your disclaimer is not!

Anonymous said...

Perry, I wasn't trying to be ironic. I am pretty sure that any good looking Italian girl must feel utter repugnance in your vicinity. Which will make her keep you well off her personal strength. In fact, this might have already happened to an Italian or Spanish or Brasilian or Greek, etc etc, good looking girl in your vicinity, but you being very set in your anglosaxonic ways have taken that defensive distance as a normal one. But rest assure, you are repugnant (even to a man).

Now, can you tell me which part of YOU ARE REPUGNANT you don't understand?

Do you really think I'm trying to be ironic here?

Anonymous said...

oops, I didn't meant "keep you well off her "personal strength", but, obviously "personal space".

My apologies

Colin Davies said...

Or even "well out of".

sophie said...

That is so cute, I would of never thought of that. I am definitely making me one or maybe a few! Lol

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