Spanish Economic Growth and Jobs: While President Rajoy naturally bangs on about a 2015 growth rate of more than 3%, the rest of Spain wonders when the benefit of this will trickle down to them. The unemployment rate is still staggeringly high, at more than 22%, and - as I've pointed out in the case of Pontevedra - the retail scene remains devastated. House sales are on the increase but the hundreds of thousands(even millions) of empty places around the country are now regarded as unsellable in perpetuity. Hard luck for the banks, which own most of them. As one commentator puts it: Millions of Spaniards are scraping by on benefits, family handouts or working cash-in-hand as they wait for the apparent economic rebound to create the million jobs the government has promised for 2014-2015. Experts say these jobs are being created but that many of them only last a few days. One in every two eligible workers under the age of 25 is out of work. Some are even saying Spain will be back in recession next year. Gloomy times, then, despite the superficially healthy state of Spanish society. The paseo must go on.
Catalan independence plans: Don Quijones is not too impressed by the threats of the Spanish financial community about the risks posed by this. Writing from Barcelona, he provides this rationale for his scepticism and for his overview that: These latest pronouncements from the masters of Spain’s financial universe – like just about every new escalation in Cataluña’s tit-for-tat conflict with Madrid – are all bluff. But, as any two-bit poker player knows, bluffs can backfire. They can quickly get out of control and can even have the opposite of their desired effect. When all bets, he says, would be off.
The UK/EU Relationship: Dr Richard North - a eurosceptic if ever there was one - is a frustrated man. He's immensely knowledgeable on this issue and is tired of reading that what he's told his blog readers months or even years ago is suddenly being treated as 'news' in the UK media. The latest example is that Cameron won't be able to agree any sort of deal with Brussels before the 2017 deadline for a UK referendum on staying or leaving. I sympathise for the man. Dr North, I mean. Not David Cameron. He's made his bed and must now lie on it. With the emphasis on lie, of course.
The Evening News: There's a ding-dong taking place in the UK because the BBC plans to put their News program out at the same time - 10pm - as the other main channel, ITV. This situation would bemuse the Spanish. As far as I can tell, there are 5 or 6 stations there all offering up to an hour of news at 9pm. Meaning 5 or 6 very glamorous women, of course. So, it's not all bad news
Finally . . . Just before I left Spain for my UK jolly, I realised I'd once again left my Panama hat somewhere. I may have done this in one of my regular bars but, if not, I do hope it's not significant that all my Spanish friends laughed when they saw I'd written my name and phone number inside the thing. As did someone in the Prado years ago when I asked if they had a lost-property office.