Monday, May 23, 2016

Ponters Pensées 23.5.16

Iberian Culture: ‘The Iberian peninsula during the Middle Ages was a cultural, linguistic, and religious crossroads where Islam, Christianity, and Judaism were in constant contact. This lecture explores five examples of what this world looked like through its literature, drawing on Arabic, Hebrew, Latin, Spanish, and other Iberian Romance languages’. Listen to the lecture here. BTW – I've deleted the definition of the Iberian Pensinsula from the above quote. I assume it was directed at US readers, as the speaker hails from the Univ. of Oregon.

It Will Surely Happen One Day: I'm on record as saying it should be blown up, so I was pleased to hear that: An advocacy group for victims is demanding the exhumation of Gen Francisco Franco from his tomb insisting that Spanish taxpayers should not be paying for its upkeep. More here.

Driving in Spain: The Points System: In contrast with those countries where you gain penalty points, here you start with 12 points and then progressively lose them as the various police forces – now essentially branches of the Tax Office (Hacienda) – find reasons to stop and fine you. Often under their power as investigator, prosecutor, judge and appeal court to fine you for being 'distracted' at the wheel. For example, by turning your head too far. Or having your elbow on the open window frame. Having had this happen to me 6 times in 15 years – against none in the previous 30 years – I feared I'd have only 1 or 2 points left on my licence. To my great surprise, it turned out to be 12 - largely because the computer hasn't caught up with my latest heinous offence of wearing (disconnected) earphones. As far as I can tell, you get your lost points back after 2 years. Which is handy. If hard to understand. It does seem to mean you have to be a bloody reckless driver over a short period of time to lose your licence here.

The ID Obsession: I've mentioned that I finally called Amazon Spain about the invoice for a 'free' e-book. Before getting to talk about this, I had to give them every conceivable bit of information about myself that they could possibly have in their records. Apart from my dental details, as I recall. No one seemed to ask why this was necessary in addition to the order number.

The European Central Bank: There's a coruscating article from Don Quijones here, in which (s)he points out that: For the ECB the only Europe that counts, the Europe that they’re frantically conjuring figurative rabbits out of hats to keep in tact, is a Europe of giant, failing banks, bloated, debt-laden corporations, and a deeply flawed single currency. . . . The ECB operates under a pitch-black shroud of opacity. Despite engineering monetary policy that has radically redistributed economic risks and rewards throughout the Eurozone, the ECB has not the slightest veneer of democratic oversight. No one really knows what is going on. Spain’s caretaker government just sold €3 billion of 50-year bonds at a yield of 3.45%. The issuance was over-subscribed by €7 billion. This is a mind-blowing turn-up for a country that four years ago needed a bailout to avert financial collapse. It is also a resounding testament to the power of central bank policy to turn economic reality on its head

Galicia: They Get There in the End: I read yesterday that the 3 separate tourist agencies in the city – regional, south-regional (Rías Baixas) and municipal – are to be amalgamated, after many years of separate operation. One positive result will surely be the removal of the kiosks that can tell you everything about one area but nowt about the others. Now for Galicia's 3 small 'international' airports? As if.

Finally . . . You Couldn't Make it Up Dept: The Vatican's anti-Gay therapist, Monsignor Tony Anatrella, is suspected of having sex with his with his patients. See here for more on this sad tale.

Talking of religionists . . . .

And now a treat for you . . . My friend Eamon in La Coruña recently told me of a bizarre - and worrying - experience. I asked him to write it up and here it is:-


I put a deposit on a flat here in A Coruña in 2002 and my wife and I moved into the flat in 2004.

We were the first to occupy the building and gradually more owners moved in. It wasn't exactly finished because we had no heating. Everything was electrical so we had storage heaters. But Fenosa refused to connect them because we needed a sub station built into the building to handle the current. Not only that, Fenosa expected us to supply another building as well which was nothing to do with us.

The builder, a local man, was quite friendly but I began to see his other side and he was just another crook on the take. I told him before I was to purchase the flat that everything would be above board and I was not going to get involved with any of the black money syndrome that everyone seemed to partake in. Fine, he said, as he took my deposit.

The building lacked a water pump to give pressure for the flats on the fourth floor to the sixth. The building was supposed to have a meeting room but the builder didn't put a door in for access and was keeping it for his own benefit. He put in a false floor/ceiling in the garage and from there he had access to the meeting room. The sewer pipes blocked up and flooded the garage and from there the water etc. entered the portal where the walls were lined with lovely timber. It all got wet and buckled. He refused to repair the damage and the insurance inspector tried to tell us there was a natural spring under the portal floor which was causing the damp so they would not pay out. I

In the meantime we refused to pay €6,000 of the flat price till he got things sorted out with Fenosa. The community hired a lawyer to deal with all the problems this involved but it proved to be waste of time because in the end we sorted it out with the help of a notario. It took a year to do that by the way, so the first year was freezing in the flat.

When it came time to do the escritura the builder kept calling me reminding that he wanted €20,000 in a plastic bag which I would bring to the notario's office on the day of the signing. The night before the signing the builder and his wife turned up at our apartment at 11 pm to remind me about the black money or else there would be a lot of trouble for me. I said don't worry I understand everything. But I turned up with a cheque to cover everything at the signing and no plastic bag. The builder's wife started screaming and carrying on, while waving the cheque saying it was not legal. The notario told her to shut up and sit down as everything was legal. They were now short €20,000 in hidden cash so you can imagine the language used at me. All the owners turned up at the same time for the escritura, a couple with their plastic bags in hand. I noticed the notario went to look out of the window a few times during those exchanges.

The garage in the building does not belong to us and is the builder's private property. He applied for an "vado"[a ban on parking in front of the garage], claiming it was under the ownership of the community of residents. When I was vice president for the community in 2011, we received a letter in error from the town hall demanding payment for the vado. We went to the town hall to discover he had forged my name to get it. How that can be done here is a wonder, considering they are so keen on your DNI identity card.

I went back and removed the sign. A busybody saw me doing it and called the builder who turned up with his wife and son and spent a good half-hour shouting up to my apartment from the street because they couldn't get into the building. They called the police who turned up and charged me with theft. They didn't seem too interested in the son's threat to cut my throat after I let the police into the building. I explained that I was legally, according to the initial application, entitled to take the sign down which belonged to the town hall and it would be returned there. You can't talk or reason with the Policia local as they are just not with it.

So far I haven't heard from the courts but everything takes forever here. We ended up having the rotten wood in the portal replaced with marble at a cost of €3,800 and we also had to install the water pump for the other flats.

The water supply pipes in the road are too small to service all the apartment buildings in the street and so are the sewer pipes the Romans put in at the time they were building the tower of Hercules. The town hall sends out a truck every couple of months to flush the pipes. You will be pleased to know that we cut a hole in the wall for the meeting room and blocked his access from the garage by bricking it up. We put in a door and decorated the interior of the room which is very nice.

I still have to keep my eye on the builder's son because he turns up every now and then to check things in the garage which is rented out to owners of several motorbikes and one car.

By the way, it is impossible to cancel a debit card at the bank on behalf of my wife who is bedridden with Alzheimer's and has no idea of anything around her. The bank manager says she must appear in person to cancel it and I shouldn't worry about it because the answer is not to use it. Good advice considering they are still charging me for the privilege of having it in my possession.

I would love to tell you about my experience about getting registered on the padrón [town hall register] but it is just not worth reminding myself of the trauma.


Sierra said...

You left out the best bit regarding driving licence points:

If you have had a driving licence for three years plus, you are credited with 12points.
If less than three years, or if you have got your licence back after being banned for having lost all your points, you start with eight points.

After three years of "no penalty points loss" driving, you will receive an extra two points to your credit. After that, each three years you will receive one point up to a maximum of 15.

Colin Davies said...

Thank, Sierra. I'd forgotten that. If I ever knew it . . .