Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Cataluña again; Life in Spain; Death too; Perroflauta pests; Odd arrivals; & An address.

From his horse on the Catalan merry-go-round, the President has slapped down his VP and said there won't be a postponement of the independence referendum planned for November, whatever Madrid does to try to stop it. Presumably, though, he doesn't have the troops to contest a military response.

Life in Spain
  • The Spanish word for 'taxpayer' is contribuyente. Which sounds like a status you'd actually want to achieve - 'Contributor'. A nice euphemism. No connotation of compulsion.
  • Since 2000, GDP here has grown by 64%, while the number of people employed has fallen by 3%. Explanation? Dunno. But it looks like some people got a hell of a lot richer.
  • Unemployment before the crisis of 2008 was at 8%. It rose thereafter to an astonishing peak of 26% but has now fallen back a tad to 25%. Which is being hailed as a triumph by the government. Anyway, this overall number hides the fact that among 'foreigners' the level is above 40%, reflecting the fact that millions flooded here to work in the more-than-booming construction industry, largely built on sand. Rumanians make up the largest group of foreigners in Spain, followed by Moroccans and then the Brits but there's no info on how hard each of these sub-groups has been hit. I suspect not much in the case of the Brits since they're mostly retired.
  • Galicia has more than 50% of Spain's municipalities, reflecting how small many of her hamlets are. As a result, 96% of the 100 most popular village/town names in Spain are in this region. The winner is A Igrexa('The Church'), followed by O Outeiro('The Hill') and O Castro('The Fort'). None of which is terribly imaginative.

Death in Spain
Spain really is the graveyard of civilisations. Down in Castile y La Mancha a site being excavated promises bronze age and Roman relics and, most interestingly, an Islamic necropolis. More info here.

Pontevedra boasts an excessive number (i. e. 1 or more) of what are called perroflautas. These are scruffy, skimpily dressed, skinny young men, always with one or more astonishingly placid dogs, who purport to play a recorder or pipe. The men, I mean. Not the dogs. They are just one of the several categories of beggar who constantly trouble café and bar patrons here. Or those on the outside terraces at least. I said to one of them yesterday: "I saw you in O Vao (= gypsy drug dealing) yesterday". To which he replied: "Could well be. But I wasn't there for what you're thinking." As if. Anyway, here are a few English equivalents of the word perroflauta (lit. 'dogflute'). 'Crusty' may well be the closest in connotation.

As I was parking across the river from the old quarter last night, a battered, white camper van was disgorging 6 men who didn't look at all Spanish. Or even West European. Each of them was holding a plastic bag heavy enough to need regular shifting from one hand to the other. As they walked across the bridge, none of them spoke to any of his colleagues, possibly because they spoke different languages. Or were as browbeaten as they looked. They headed towards the fiesta fairground and its accompanying stalls but I failed to determine their destination or what merchandise they were taking there.

Talking of the fiesta . . . Last night's group for the 10.30 concert was Love of Lesbian. Which was odd as all 5 of them were men. Why it wasn't either Lesbian Love or Love of Lesbians remains a matter of speculation.

Finally . . . I received a book today from this almost medieval address. Could there be anything simpler? If you ignore the complex postcode:
The Thatched Cottage
The Street
BN18 0PQ

House for Sale in Pontevedra

My neighbours are moving to Madrid and selling their lovely house. Lots of pictures here. Brief description: South west orientation. Completely renovated. In a development with swimming pool, extensive green areas, place for parties, excellent community environment. €395,000.

4 floors
322 sq m constructed, 283 sq m usable
5 double bedrooms
3 bathrooms
Plot of 336 sq m
Terrace of 336 sq m plus
Completely furnished
Excellent condition
5 built-in wardrobes
Lumber room
Covered laundry room
Central heating
Private garden

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