Spanish Politics: Since two of the three party leaders slagged each other off in parliament only hours before they all got together in the Last Chance Saloon to negotiate their tripartite coalition, I wasn't surprised to read this headline in El País this morning: The attempt to form a tripartite pact falls at the first fence. Or words to that effect. Not very promising. The prospect of repeat elections in June has taken another step forward.
Spanish Solidarity: I was surprised to read yesterday that Spain has only taken in 18 refugees in the last 6 months, most of whom came from Eritrea and not Syria. The Spanish people are famous for being more sympathetic and altruistic than most – witness organ donation – so this doesn't really reflect the zeitgeist. Maybe it really reflects the absence of a fully-functioning government.
The Spanish Media: At all levels, this benefits from a great deal of ‘institutional advertising’. Which helps keep an extraordinary range of newspapers alive, for example. But the piper usually calls the tune and the EU has warned Spain about the situation, stressing the risks created by this indirect funding. In some respects, says Brussels, this is at the level of countries such as Romania, Poland, Latvia or Lithuania. Hmm.
Spanish Universities: Here's a list of the best and the worst. Good to see Santiago at number 5, albeit jointly with several others. And Vigo at number 6. That said, the lowest position is 11th. The UNED at 10th is the Spanish equivalent of the UK Open University and has a centro here in Pontevedra. More on UNED here, in English.
Spanish Property Rental Rates: These differ vastly between the most and least expensive cities across this large country. The highest prices prevail, naturally, in Barcelona and Madrid but I find it odd that the Galician city of A/La Coruña is also up there at the top of the list. Even more surprising is that, in the last 12 months, prices have risen most in the Galician cities of Vigo and . . . Pontevedra. The latter is awash with empty flats – whole blocks even – and this defies my understanding. But perhaps prices fell further here than elsewhere over the Crisis years and this is some sort of compensation for that. Anyone got any better ideas?
Spain and Orwell: This justly famous author found his (marvellous) voice here, says this writer.
Corruption: If it ever gets mentioned in the media here in Spain, the brouhaha in the UK over David Cameron's (legal) investment in a Panama fund will surely lead to general stupefaction. But also admiration that the Brits are so sensitive to the possibility of financial chicanery on the part of their political leaders. Amusing but also very serious.
UK Politics: Ahead of the Brexit referendum in June, the government has spent £9.3 million in distributing a 14-page, pro-EU leaflet to 27 million households. This has not gone down well, of course, with those arguing in favour of a Brexit, who can't tap this source of funds. Below is a cartoon from today's Times which manages to combine the separate Brexit and Cameron investment themes, against the background of the wonderful news that a Shakespeare First Folio has been found lying around in a Scottish castle.
Finally . . . Friendships: 'Peak friendship' is reached at 25, says some recent research. Other findings:-
- This aspect of human behaviour is strongly related to age and gender
- Older people spend more of their free time socialising with a small group of family or friends
- Social circles tend to decrease until the age of 45 when the number stabilises for about a decade.
- After 55, there is a steady decrease.
Who'd have thought it?