Friday, December 05, 2014

An admirable Spaniard; Walter Mittty at large; Healthcare; Grandparents; Mind your Vs and Bs; & Crib crappers.

I cited the other day the corrupt politician who'd, inter alia and for reasons known only to himself, commissioned a useless airport in Castellón. This is Carlos Fabra, of course, and he's now languishing in a (luxury) gaol north of Madrid. I was reminded yesterday that, back in 2008 and well into his trial(s), President Rajoy pronounced him ‘an exemplary citizen and politician’. Exemplary in what way, one wonders. Though that's pretty clear now, I guess. Augmenting his bank account.

Another person I mentioned the other day was Walter Mitty. Here in Spain, his latest manifestation is in the form of 'Little Nicolás', a 20 year old who managed to insinuate himself into various events involving senior politicians and even the royal family. The government is now pondering prosecution, while the man himself is making all sorts of unlikely claims about what he was doing and at whose behest. Judges are said to be 'baffled' by him. The rest of us are merely amused. And intrigued.

While, as in other countries, Spain's wealthy have got richer as a result of La Crisis, the tightening of others' belts proceeds apace. One area of retrenchment has been the public healthcare budget, where Spain has made cuts 3 times larger than the EU average. But the government hasn't slashed benefits to dependants of the disabled, essentially because these payments fell foul of the economic downturn and were never implemented in the first place. As elsewhere, the government has thrown the burden back from the state onto the family.

Talking of family assistance . . . Back in the UK, 2/3 of grandparents now help with childcare and/or contribute to the costs. This has more than doubled in last few years and may now be approaching Spanish levels. Here, life couldn't proceed without nearby grandparents. Especially if both parents work. That said, chicas to look after your house and kids are much cheaper here than in the UK, reflecting supply and demand, of course. So they tend to be a middle class commodity, rather than a luxury. Or maybe that's just my street.

Spanish is essentially a phonetic language. But there are a couple of bear traps. Both C and Z are pronounced as TH (at least in most of mainland Spain) and both B and V are pronounced as B. So you'd think there'd be little call for either spelling lessons or spelling bees, that blight of young Anglo lives. Especially in the days when the teacher caned the back of your legs when you made a mistake. I mention this because last night I watched a film whose subtitles featured Bamos instead of Vamos. Twice. And then I saw a comment on Facebook which described someone as a Pavón. Checking on its meaning on the net, I also saw it written as Pabón, perhaps because it isn't (yet?) in the dictionary. So maybe spelling lessons would be a good idea, after all.

Finally . . . The head of Spain's brand new (socialist) Podemos party - which may or may not win next year's elections - has achieved the accolade of being made a caganer. These are the figures of defecating notables which the Catalans put in their Xmas cribs. Your guess is as good as mine. Jesus has not yet opined on the custom.

For Richard et al:-

Sunday breakfast. Note that the (currently slim) bride/wife has a 'full English', while the groom/husband . . . doesn't.

An extra: My kitchen table, shared with the artist in residence . . . .

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