QUEL SURPRIS!: Spain's Constitutional Court has unanimously decided that the Catalan Parliament's pronouncement of a motion for independence is illegal. The response from Barcelona seems to have been a semi-Gallic shrug and a 'So what?'. Plus a finger gesture.
SPAIN'S LABOUR MARKET: I can't say I fully understand this creature but I do know there's a widespread view that it's the most rigid in Europe and, say some, the most dysfunctional in the world. Essentially, there's long been a two-tier system, in which older, cosseted workers have rigid contracts, decent wages and great security but younger workers get a pittance and have no security at all. When President Rajoy boasts of 'lower' unemployment numbers (but still higher than when he came to power) he neglects to tell us that over 90% of new jobs are temporary and pitifully paid. Anyway, you can see what Fortune has to say about things here. As the headline says: Spain’s labor rules discourage companies from hiring young people - or anyone, really - as permanent employees.
CAR HIRE IN SPAIN: The Times columnist, Matthew Parris, warns of the trick played by cheap companies who hand over the car with a tankful of petrol/gas. While they might well give you credit for the residual fuel, they charge you an 'admin' fee of as much as €45 for doing so. He tried sucking all the fuel out but was charged 'a whopping fee' for crediting him for the 2 litres he didn't manage to extract.
FINALLY . . . WHO'D HAVE BELIEVED IT: A friend tells me that the blues song I cited yesterday - St James Infirmary Blues - is thought by some to be based on St James Hospital in Tollemache Road, Birkenhead. Less than a hop, skip and jump from where I was born in Devonshire Place. It's also said to have originated in an old (and explicit) English maritime song called The Unfortunate Rake. There's an a capella version of it here. Allegedly, the song also evolved into The Streets of Laredo. In fact, there are numerous derivatives and you can hear them all here. Including an anti-war anthem called The Green Fields of France. You could spend an entertaining hour or more there, deciding on your favourite version of the blues song. For me, it's Clapton and Dr John. Or maybe Hugh Laurie. Or possibly the version by the wonderfully named Fess Williams and His Royal Flush Orchestra. Or maybe that of George E. Lee's Novelty Singing Orchestra. Oh, I dunno. Pay your money and take your choice. Ain't the internet a truly wonderful thing?
And the obligatory foto: The most beautiful and intelligent 3-month-old baby in the entire world. My granddaughter.