Saturday, August 01, 2015

Saints, virgins and sinners; Corruption coverage; Rapacious banking; Ref. Books; Ponters rebranded; & Hunting,

Every person and every organisation in Spain has a patron saint. In addition to hundreds of these to choose from, there are dozens of Virgins as well. The Guardia Civil went with La Virgen del Pilar, the Virgin of the Pillar. We all know this now because a court in Spain has ruled that the (military) police force must stop taking donations from a brothel (Eros) in Navarra towards its celebrations in honour of the lady. Brothels, prostitutes, holy virgins . . . Only in Spain?

It's impossible to keep up with the major corruption cases going through the Spanish courts. Or to remember all their names. I'm not even sure I've read about the Púnica case before, even though its said to involve a Who's Who of senior politicos in previous national and regional governments of the right-of-centre PP Party. Plus an "endless list of Town Hall" occupants. Strange to relate, the government TV channel opts not to mention the proceedings. We could be in Russia.

In the Bad Old Days of a few years ago, the Spanish banks charged you outrageously for everything except breathing on their premises. And they competed by offering you such things as crockery, pots and pans and cheap towels from Portugal. Then times got better. Charges and fees disappeared and the lure for new customers was a gift of 4-5% on moneys transferred to them. Things are now returning to normal, as the charges and fees reappear. Trying to withdraw €600 from an ATM yesterday, I was advised it would cost me €27, or 4.5%. So I tried another bank and was told it would be a mere €2. Knowing I'd be passing my own bank, I declined even this. What next? Something like the huge amounts the Spanish banks used to charge for transferring your money to them from overseas? Or for closing your account and moving your money elsewhere? Who knows? But they can get very creative when they decide customer loyalty isn't something they're interested in. As opposed to simple extortion.

Years ago, my elder daughter told me Spanish reference books didn't go in for indices. I didn't really believe it and I'm sure at least some books must provide one. But not the Mitos, Ritos y Leyendas de Galicia I just dipped into yesterday, prior to giving it to an ex-beggar-turned-entrepreneur who now wanders the old quarter of Pontevedra offering second-hand books. And looks a lot healthier for it. Anyway, there's no index in said book and I'll now have to go and check a host of others.

Talking about Pontevedra . . . Since the main reason I go down to it is to take a glass or two of wine and the accompanying tapas dishes, I've decided to call the place Tiffintown. Some readers may recall that I actually live across the river, in Chickentown. Or Poio, as it's known locally. In the parish of Pijolandia. All hate mail should be addressed accordingly. Which reminds me . . . I placed an order for una tortilla de Sr Colin yesterday but they'd run out of ginger. Impressive, no? 

Finally . . . There's been a lot of fuss about a lion killed by a dentist. Unless you reside in a cave, you'll be aware of this and of the, shall I just say, 'remarkable' reaction to this event. Personally, I'm ambivalent about hunting. I've done it all my life. More in some countries than in others. I've never been very successful but things may be about to change. For I've bought this week a weapon which I think will help me massacre large numbers of my usual quarry. I'm pleased to say it's British made and not as expensive as I feared it might be when I saw it in a shop. It's called The Buzz Clap-a-Fly swat and consists of a pistol grip and two arms which end in two large hands and which can be fixed open. You pull the trigger when a fly is between the hands. Most pleasingly of all, I've just determined that it works. Though I've had difficulty getting the head off the fly, so can't show you it. You'll just have to take my word. It costs €3.50 here and I'm thinking of buying a shipload to take to the UK in September, to sell at 5 quid a throw. The only drawback with this plan is that it's already sold there for 3 quid. Or 2 quid even. Back to the drawing board then.

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