Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Pontevedra Pensées: 27.9.16


Banking: I went to my bank on Monday to make the simple transfer I hadn't been able to make on the internet. The pleasant lady couldn't explain why this had happened but gave me an envelope containing my new username and access code. Need I say that, when I opened it, I couldn't read the former.

The Tax Office: So, I went there yesterday and again went through the security check. But things had changed since my visit there 3 weeks ago. There's now a small waiting room at the side of the large room where the clerks are. Directed there by the security guard, I tackled the machine which would give me a number later than those of the 2 people already waiting. But it wouldn't. The chap at the adjacent desk, once informed what I was there for, told me I had to get an advance appointment. This was something that hadn't been necessary the last time and which hardly seemed necessary now, as the people in the waiting room were outnumbered by the clerks in the main room, who weren't actually talking to anyone. But this is Spain and logic isn't always a clincher here.

Getting the Appointment: So, I went on the net last night and, of course, immediately ran into problems. Firstly, the computer told me the service wasn't available and I should try later. Then, my ID number wasn't in their system. I wish! These problems resolved, I then ran into the usual challenge of which of my 2 names and 1 surname the computer considered my 'First Surname'. Spanish bureaucracy, after 30 years of EU membership, still has to come to terms with the fact that no other European country except Portugal operates the same naming system. But, anyway, after 6 attempts, I finally got an appointment for 12.30 today. When I anticipate further problems in processing my complaint. More anon.


Wine: Here's The Local's list of 10 things you might not know about this wonderful stuff here in Spain.

Corruption: Here's just one of the endless cavalcade of trial reports.


Sunday's Parliamentary Elections: This is a conservative region and it was to be expected that the right-of-centre PP party would again get the most votes. And it duly did, retaining all its seats on the Xunta. But the left-of-centre parties – as usual – split their (larger) total vote between the newish Podemos-based party, En Marea, and the traditional party of the Left, the PSOE. The former did rather better than the latter, meaning big problems for the national PSOE leader ahead of a strategy meeting with his regional presidents. Or 'barons' as they're called here. In fact, the Left got 53% of the vote, against 47% for the Right but it's the PP which will stay in power. All of which will give at least moral support for President Rajoy as the national parties continue to try to work out how to avoid a 3rd stab at a successful general election in December. Meanwhile, it's noteworthy that the Galician National Block got fewer votes than last time and lost one of of its handful of seats in the regional parliament. Here's the NY Times with more details, if you're interested.


Pontevedra's New Museum: As I've mentioned, John Brierley was not impressed by this newish and ugly granite and glass building and felt that he couldn't recommend a visit to it in his popular guides on the Portuguese and Spiritual caminos. For me, the irritation was that they've introduced a security check. So, now there are not 4 but 5 people sitting or standing around the lobby doing very little, as visitors are very few: 2 at the Information desk; 2 at the main desk for recording where you've come from; and now the security guard. Who had the decency to blush when I joshed him about the place now boasting security at the entrance. Ironically - as John later noted - there was nothing in the galleries to prevent us doing whatever we wanted there. Say with a sharp implement made of wood or plastic. But, as I often say, I guess this makes sense to someone.


Not a good week so far . . . 
  • I left some onions to cook slowly in advance of making a curry. And then forgot about them, as I feared I would.
  • The €2 glasses cord that rose to €5 broke after 3 days. I'll be returning to the shop today.


TV ADS: Driven to distraction by an ad for credit checks on Sky, I researched the availability of an ad blocker like the one I have on my computer. And, yes, there is one. I'll now investigate further.


Napoleon: There are some - not even French - who persist in holding him in high regard. Well, there's at least one nasty act he and Hitler had in common - stealing the Ghent altarpiece.


More examples of Finnish/British nightmares:-


Alfred B. Mittington said...

Oh you eternal optimist! Yes, indeed: Spanish and Portuguese bureaucracy both use the patronym and the matronymic to distinguish more or less between citizens (the need for which seems to have arisen when all the Jews and Moors who decided to stay in Spain at the time of the great expulsions, were forced to take real Spanish names, and took the most common ones, ending in far too many Garcias and Fernandeses and Martineses than was anywhere near practical.)

However, the two countries, ever on the look-out for a way to complicate matters and be very different from one another, decided to do things the opposite way. Thus, in Spain, the father's name comes first and the mother's name after; but in Portugal the mother's name comes first and the father's last!

I am sure some day in the near future a continent-wide system will be put in so as to introduce 'our' system in their bureaucracy and their system into the European bureaucracy… And then, of course, confusion will be complete and some people end up with their mother's last name, and some with their father's last name, and some with both or neither…

Possibly Big Brother will then hang himself in despair. Which might be the boon coming from this tangle!


Colin Davies said...

OK. But I simply meant the NUMBER of surnames, not their aetiology. Which is rather irrelevant to the problem with stupid computers. Not to mention stupid bureaucrats. Go back to sleep.

Maria said...

Surnames are a challenge. When our daughter was trying to get into U.S. universities, she went to Madrid to take the SAT test. As we were leaving the center after the exam, I thought to ask her if she had written her name with one surname or both. She told me, both, naturally. I started pulling out my hair. "But in the U.S. only your father's surname counts and that's how I signed you up! The exam will be invalidated now!" We ran back and the person who had collected the exams graciously let our daughter correct her mistake.

Colin Davies said...

Quite a tale, Maria! You were both lucky and smart!

Perry said...


Vis-à-vis the inadvertent cremation of your Alliums. you rap scallion, I sense that bringing your attention to an on-line timer might not be effective, if your ears function at the sensitivity of your nostrils, which failed to alert you to the extinction of your supper.

Nevertheless, here it is, although you'll have to set a reminder to set it 4 the task of reminding.


Colin Davies said...

Thanks, Perry. My phone has an alarm and I'd better start using it.

Sierra said...

As ever, the Brits got into the act - many double-barrelled names are written without a hyphen (this can cause confusion as to whether the surname is double-barrelled or not). Notable persons with unhyphenated double-barrelled names include David Lloyd George (born with Lloyd as a middle name, but self-transformed into a double barrelled surname), the composer Ralph Vaughan Williams, astronomer Robert Hanbury Brown, actors Kristin Scott Thomas and Helena Bonham Carter (although she has said the hyphen is optional) comedian Sacha Baron Cohen (however, his cousin Professor Simon Baron-Cohen opted for the hyphen), and Sylvia Llewelyn Davies.

Also, in German tradition, double surnames are taken upon marriage, written with or without hyphen, combining the husband's surname with the wife's (more recently the sequence has become optional under some legislations). These double surnames are "alliance names" (Allianznamen)

Colin Davies said...

So, scope for even bigger problems when you have both 2 forenames and the 2 surnames. What fun!

Alfred B. Mittington said...

And Harry S. Truman would have even bigger problems, with that middle name of his…


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