Here's a headline you're unlikely to ever see the like of in Spain, and not only because it's in English . . ."Rail chiefs could face the sack over rail chaos". It relates, of course, to the problems caused by over-running engineering works on the UK network throught Xmas. As we wait to see, one of the well-paid bunch has been told he won't get his vast 371,000 pounds pre-retirement bonus. Which is a start.
As we approach Jan 1, one group of people fears a change coming into force that day. These are the shopkeepers and restaurant/bar owners throughout Spain who've long benefitted from low rents dating under a control daing back to the Franco era. Thenceforth, rents will be market linked the result will be that many small operators will be forced to move elsewhere. This will allow larger retailers to move in, creating the risk that Spanish high streets will end up looking like those of the UK. Exactly the same. Not all progress is good.
Someone has hacked into the computers of Spain's National Police Force and destroyed files relating to some corruption trials. The culprits are said to be Russian but you do have to wonder. Even if it were down to Russians, who commissioned them?
If you listen to BBC4's podcasts - as I do and will do again when I find my iPod - one thing you'll note is just how many foreign academics work in UK universities, all speaking excellent English. Personally, I feel this is a very good thing. Especially as there's a wide range of accents.
Here's a series of short videos featuring national/regional dancing. I thought they were Galician but am assured they're Aragonese. This being so, I can probably safely say they're both elegant (the women) and a tad camp (the men). Make up your own mind. Note: The computer seems to have updated the same (soundless) bit twice. Am working on it! Perhaps it's because they're now in Apple Quicktime format.
If you know nothing about it, here's a brief summary of the Spanish Civil War.
And, penultimately, here's someone's view of the best vacation places in Southern Spain.
Finally . . . Another extract from the 1942 Guide for Yanks in Limeyland:
Remember There's A War On. Britain may look a little shop-worn and grimy to you. The British people are anxious to have you know that you are not seeing their country at its best. There's been a war on since 1939. The houses haven't been painted because the factories aren't making paint – they're making planes. The famous English gardens and parks are either unkempt because there are no men to take care of them, or they are being used to grow needed vegetables. British taxicabs look antique because Britain makes tanks for herself and Russia and hasn't time to make new cars. British trains are cold because power is needed for industry, not for heating. There are no luxury dining cars on trains because total war effort has no place for such frills. The trains are unwashed and grimy because men and women are needed for more important work than car-washing. The British people are anxious for you to know that in normal times Britain looks much pettier, cleaner, neater.
ALTHOUGH you'll read in the papers about "lords" and "sirs," England is still one of the great democracies and the cradle of many American liberties. Personal rule by the King has been dead in England for nearly a thousand years. Today, the King reigns, but does not govern. The British people have great affection for their monarch but they have stripped him of practically all political power. It is well to remember this in you comings and goings about England. Be careful not to criticise the King. The British feel about that the way you would if anyone spoke against our country or our flag. Today's King and Queen stuck with the people through the blitzes and had their home bombed just like anyone else, and the people are proud of them.
Britain the Cradle of Democracy. Today the old power of the King has been shifted to Parliament, the Prime Minister and his Cabinet. The British Parliament has been called the mother of parliaments, because almost all the representative bodies in the world have been copied from it. It is made up of two houses, the House of Commons and the House of Lords. The House of Commons is the most powerful group and is elected by all adult men and women in the country, much like our Congress. Today the House of Lords can do little more than add its approval to laws passed by the House of Commons. Many of the titles held by the lords (such as "baron" and "duke" and "earl") have been passed from father to son for hundreds of years. Others are granted for outstanding achievement, much as American colleges and universities give honorary degrees to famous men and women. These customs may seem strange and old-fashioned but they give the British the same feeling of security and comfort that many of us get from the familiar ritual of a church service.
The important thing to remember is that within the apparently old-fashioned framework the British enjoy a practical, working twentieth century democracy which is in some ways even more flexible and sensitive to the will of the people than our own.