Spain's judicial system - not seen as awfully trustworthy by many Spaniards - is a thing of wonder. It doesn't, of course, operate on Anglo principles - why should it? - and begins with a Court of Instruction. Under this, a judge decides (over possibly many months/years) whether there's a case to answer, and ends with a long series of appeals. At least this is how it works when it comes to corrupt politicians. You and I might get shorter shrift. In between these poles, the real court case takes place, at a somewhat leisurely pace. All of this is a prelude to a report that one of Spain's most colourfully corrupt politicians has finally gone to jail for 4 years, after 11-14 years of trials, depending on how you calculate things. This is the chap who commissioned the expensive but utterly redundant airport in Castellón, plus a statue of himself outside it. Against all odds, he won the national lottery 7 times. This is both a classic way of laundering black money and also an indication of his immense chutzpah and disdain for the rest of us. Of course, no one expects him to serve 4 years and we now wait to see what the government feels is a respectable period before granting him a pardon. I've opened a book on this.
Here's a funny thing. Spain's educational system is annually lambasted by some organisation or other and her universities do poorly in all international analyses. And yet 3 of the top 10 European business schools operate from here - in Madrid, Barcelona and Navarra. Is this because they're internationally orientated and managed? Anyway, the rankings are based on how quickly graduates progress up the career ladder and how much they earn after 3 years. Spain's graduates do well against both of these criteria. Presumably they also speak English very well, which is not something one could say about Spaniards generally. And her politicians in particular.
The Noise in Spain: For a few weeks before I went to the UK, a chap was breaking up next door's garage floor. Tile by tile. Slowly and noisily. A month later, he's still at it. But today things got even harder to tolerate, when he moved inside to the wall that separates me from my neighbours (Nice but Noisy Tony and the lovely Amparo) and began hacking pieces off it. He did stop at one point but then moved to another spot on the wall. The odd thing about all this is that no one has come round to mention the noise and to apologise for it. Is this because loud noise is not really seen as much of a nuisance here? I mean, in all other respects, they're great neighbours. Did I mention that the knocking starts at 8am - the equivalent of 6am in the UK - and goes on until 8pm? My visiting daughter, Faye, is not well pleased.
So, where's the joke in this? A further 12 cities in Spain will be linked to the high-speed AVE rail network during 2015. Castellón, Murcia, Granada, Cádiz, Burgos, León, Zamora, Palencia, Vigo, Cáceres, Mérida and Badajoz will join the high-speed train system next year. It is, of course, that the AVE will arrive in Vigo next year. On second thoughts, this might be possible for the line down from La Coruña but, as regards the really-required line up from Madrid, it's a pipe dream. Maybe 2020 for this, not withstanding all the projections of the last 20 years.
Here's what we all need - a map of corruption around the world. Given all the revelations in Spain of the last few years, it's surprising that Spain's position hasn't changed. It still ranks way behind Germany, UK and France but ahead of Greece and Italy.
Every couple of years ago, I google my own name - as you do - but something has happened since the last time. All except one of the usual references to a Manchesterchap and his cannabis activities have been removed. Has he exercised his 'right to be forgotten'? If so, how do google ensure that they delete only references to the right Colin Davies? Will I disappear?
Finally . . . Another line from Tiro Lo Blanc (p521):- Wicked is the man who forsakes his friends, since a good friend is like a spice merchant: though he may not give you spices, he will at least give you pleasant smells. And who'd argue with that?
For Richard et al:-
Leaving the Church