Saturday, September 17, 2016

Pontevedra Pensées: 17.9.16

LIFE IN SPAIN

Customer Service:-
  • The pet shop came good and handed me my worms yesterday. Not only that . . . As I was walking into town to check if they'd arrived, they called me to say they had. Unusually impressive service. A bonus was a little lecture by a chap in the shop about sand worms. Or, actually, flour worms. What I'd heard of as gusanos de arena were actually gusanos de harina. You'll know this as the Tenebrio molitor. Or mealworm, the larval form of the mealworm beetle. I've yet to find if my legless lizard (or slow worm) will eat them. 
In contrast
  • I had to call the Vigo Honda dealer 7 – yes, seven – times to get an appointment for my annual revision. This was after they'd called me to tell me it was due. The last time I phoned was early - i. e. 10am - on Monday morning when I finally got lucky. On Tuesday evening someone finally called me in response to last week's calls. Or possibly to an email I'd sent them on Monday morning, copied to Honda Europe. When I arrived with the car, the service manager told me I was premature as the car's computer said I still had 3,000k to do. “But it's been a year. And you called me to make an appointment.” Ah, yes, he replied, but you should always go by the car's computer. But they made a decent fist of cleaning the car. Though, as last year, they failed to find the rattle in the boot. But charged me another €25 for looking for it.
Urban Walking in Spain: So, what are the reactions of drivers who almost hit you on a zebra crossing? Well, in my experience:-
  • They raise an arm in apology, or
  • They look straight ahead and ignore you, or
  • The turn their head 90 degrees in the opposite direction, as if something has distracted them.
I wouldn't like to say which of these is the most frequent.

Can Carrying: The management of the relevant and railtrack companies – Renfe and ADIF – have been loudly insistent that the only cause of the recent fatal crash in Porriño was driver error. As someone commented yesterday, this is standard in Spain, where the focus always is – Was it human or machine error. Little attention is give to the operating practices of the relevant commercial operators. So, it wasn't a great surprise to learn that neither company is yet conforming to EU safety norms. Nor will it be surprising if no one is punished for corporate negligence.

THE SPANISH ECONOMY

The latest forecast is for a growth rate this year better than elsewhere in the EU. But there are clouds on the horizon. The German Finance minister is known to have stopped the Commission fining Spain for failing, once again, to keep its deficit below 3% - so as to avoid damaging the re-election prospects of the right-wing, austerity-imposing PP party. But he can't stop punishment in the form of suspension of EU transfers and subsidies. Of which Spain has had an awful lot in the last 30 years. And which the Spanish like to call 'solidarity'. As long as it comes in this direction.

SPANISH POLITICS

N. T. R. The show goes on. Or, rather, it doesn't. The only interesting aspect - since little changes - is the growing evidence of disaffection among the 'barons' of the left-of-centre PDSOE party towards its leader,  Pedro Sanchez. Led by the President of the (corrupt) Andalucian region - the very ambitious Susana Díaz. It would be fascinating to see her attack the PP party on corruption.

THE EU: Is Germany's hegemony over at last? See The Times article below. Probably not. It's all about purse strings. As ever.

LOCAL STUFF

A Great Menú del Día: If you find yourself at the fag end of Vigo – because you're coming or going to Nigran, or you're doing the new Coastal Camino from La Guardia or that's where the Honda dealer is – do yourself a favour and eat lunch in the Bar Xulia, near the Citroen-Peugeot factory in Camelias. Only 8 euros. But get there soon after 1pm. It fills up quickly.

FINALLY . . . What's wrong with this sentence: A French tourist has been detained on Mallorca after she hit and killed a policeman cycling with his son while four times over the drink drive limit. It's case of a dangling modifier, of course. If you can't see it, keep re-reading until you do.

THE GALLERY

More examples of Finnish/British nightmares:




ARTICLE

Europe gangs up on Merkel in migrant backlash

Angela Merkel was fighting a behind-the-scenes battle yesterday to salvage her authority amid an EU backlash against her open-door refugee policies.

At a summit of 27 EU leaders in Slovakia, she met the most hostile reception from her continental neighbours of her 11-year tenure as chancellor of Germany. She was accused by Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, of creating chaos with her welcome to Syrian migrants.
In an indirect jibe at her defence last year of Germany’s open door to asylum seekers, Mr Tusk blamed “political correctness” for delays in closing Europe’s borders, allowing more than one million migrants, including Paris and Brussels attackers, to enter the EU unchecked.

Mrs Merkel’s fightback came as the EU leaders — excluding Britain — met in Bratislava for talks on the future of Europe after the Brexit referendum in June. The issue of border control was at the top of their agenda.

Beneath a veneer of unity, the EU is deeply divided over how to respond to the British decision to leave at a time when Euroscepticism is growing across the Continent.

Everyone is aware of the situation. Britain has decided to leave and there are questions about the future of Europe,” President Hollande of France said. “Either we move in the direction of disintegration, of dilution, or we work together to inject new momentum, we relaunch the European project.”

Following the summit, Viktor Orban, the Hungarian prime minister, launched an angry attack on a “self-destructive and naive” Mrs Merkel and the EU. He said that without Germany imposing a firm ceiling on the number of immigrants it is willing to take in, a “suction effect” would continue to draw masses to Europe. “Something must happen in that respect,” he said.

In an unfortunate metaphor for the EU now, a lunchtime cruise for Europe’s leaders to an art museum had to be abandoned because of a lack of water in the Danube. EU leaders were supposed to discuss the implications of Brexit over a lunch of creamy pea soup with mint, quail ballotine and Slovak wines while cruising from Bratislava to the gallery of modern art in Cunovo. Instead the German pleasure boat, MS Regina Danubia, cruised up and down the Danube for a two-hour working meal. During those talks and four and a half hours of meetings in Bratislava’s medieval castle the chancellor fought criticism of her refugee policy. Mrs Merkel faces difficult state elections in Berlin tomorrow, with her ruling Christian Democrat coalition having to contend with a surge in votes for anti-migrant populists.

Sensitivity over the elections, diplomats said, led Mrs Merkel to attempt to minimise European criticism in order to prevent the wording of a planned EU declaration being used against her. “The word ‘chaos’ was in the text that was presented to national delegations,” an EU diplomat said. “Germany had sensitivities about the word, which was replaced by the term ‘uncontrolled flows’.”
In a diplomatic note before the summit, Mr Tusk urged the EU “never to allow a return to chaos of last year”.

His invitation letter referred to “last year’s chaos on our borders” in a pointed reference to a crisis fuelled by Mrs Merkel’s decision to invite Syrian refugees to claim asylum in Germany.

New images every day of hundreds of thousands of people moving across our continent without any control created a feeling of threat among many Europeans,” Mr Tusk wrote to EU leaders. “They had to wait too long for action to bring the situation under control. Instead, all too often they heard politically correct statements that Europe cannot become a fortress, that it must remain open.”

As the meeting ended last night, EU leaders made a concerted effort to paper over the crack and to conceal disagreement with a rare joint press conference between Mrs Merkel and Mr Hollande.
Matteo Renzi, the Italian prime minister, who is seeking to weaken the eurozone’s austerity rules, appeared to mock the sincerity of the French and German leaders. “I can’t give joint press conference with Merkel and Hollande. I don’t follow a script to make people believe we all agree,” he said.

Central and Eastern European countries were particularly angered that the EU’s initial response to last year’s migrant crisis was to impose, at Germany’s bidding, refugee quotas aimed at sharing 160,000 asylum seekers across Europe by next year.


One year on, the EU has failed on more than 95 per cent of the target while alienating Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, who oppose the quotas because they have no history of non-European or Muslim immigration. After the summit there was agreement to make an EU border and coastguard operational by next month with 200 extra border guards and 50 extra vehicles to be deployed at the Bulgarian external border, which is under pressure.


4 comments:

Eamon said...

In another story from the same online newspaper. "The man, who had not eaten or drank anything for several days, did not suffer any serious injuries."

Franklyn Churney said...

The large subsidies Spain receives from the EU reminds me of one of Top Gear's shows where Jeremy Clarkson is about to drive across a magnificent toll bridge in Spain and upon arriving at the pay window explains to the toll collector that there isn't anything to pay because he'd already financed the building of the bridge with the huge amounts the UK had paid into the EU coffers. Still had to pay.

Anthea said...

I have never taken a car for a "revision" in England. Usually they offer a "service" or, now thatvso many cars have computer elements, an "update". Is speaking Spanish influencing your English? This is a known phenomenon. My sister, long time resident in Spain, has been heard to say, "I don't like that race of dog", meaning "breed" but influenced by the Spanish "raza de perro". Just a thought!

And "dangling modifiers"? Wow! Complicated grammar stuff! And I thought I was a grammar nerd! You must have been studying for your SATs test!

Perry said...

Hell's teeth Colin,

Car troubles? Kidnap a kid, stick in the boot, drive around & let it out when it's located the squeak. That's what they would do in eastern Europe.

As for the inadequate drivers you meet whilst ambulating; carry a ***king great axe & sling it thru' their side window. A typical Merovingian response. Here's one:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0P_8Y7qeyD8

Sometimes, only extreme, self gratifying, pleasurable violence can remove a dangling modifier. Two girls went for a tramp on the Downs, IIRC.

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