LIFE IN SPAIN PERSONALLY
Well, said it wasn't going to be a good week . . .
I arrived at the Tax Office in time for my 12.30 appointment and waited 35 minutes to see a chap who clearly hadn't used the advance notice to bone up on my case. But he did explain how they'd calculated the demand, while adding he couldn't do anything about it He recommended I write an appeal and bring it to him to take forward personally. So, a 3rd visit tomorrow, then. A mix of written and oral approaches.
I'd parked my car on the outskirts of town not far from the Tax Office. Returning from a midday tiffin, I found it wasn't there. Not stolen but taken to the pound, I discovered via a call to the company.
I walked 25 minutes under a hot sun to the location of the pound, plus another 15 because the map on their site was inadequate and so I went wrong towards the end; and because there was no sign indicating the presence of the pound either on the street or on the warehouse down a little lane leading to it. So, I had to double back to it, after deciding it couldn't be what it was, and after asking 2 not-too-sure locals where the place might be.
At the office, I was naturally asked for ID to prove I really was the person who'd called, who had the car keys and who wanted to pay the €119 to get it out of the pound. Then I drove back to where I'd parked to check on the claim there was a yellow line on the kerb that I'd missed. Need I say that, at the first roundabout, I was almost hit by a pillock in the outside lane doing a U-turn?
Back at the space, I confirmed my recollection that it was within a box of dotted white lines on the road which signify permitted spaces but, yes, there was also a very faded, patchy yellow line on the kerb which I'd missed.
I drove away trying to convince myself that, because I was normally very careful about parking, the cost of €119 euros spread over 16 years wasn't at all bad. But this was before I got home and noticed the ticket from the local police, tucked under the wiper, telling me I'd also been fined €200 for the 'grave offence' of illegal parking. I imagine the pound operator and the police have a field day at this spot every day of the year - shooting fish in a barrel. Another lucrative trap, in other words. Made all the more effective by the recent conversion of all spots nearer to town into 15-minute-only spaces. All totally legal, maybe. But ethical? Anyway, I'll be talking to legal advisers today.
All in all, the mistake by the Tax Office has cost me not just several hours of my time but also a good deal of money. And the saga isn't over yet. So, it's such a good job I'm totally inured to these little irritations of life in Spain. . . .
And it's only Wednesday morning . . .
LIFE IN SPAIN GENERALLY
Bulls: I think it's safe to predict bullfighting will still be part of Spanish culture in, say, 20 years time. But probably not this sort of thing, which does so much harm to the image of the Spanish outside the country. Of course, it might depend on whether there's still an EU then. Which I also doubt.
Corruption Among Bankers:
Case 1: Bankers and consultants took part in a multi-million loan scam and spent their ill-gotten gains on prostitutes, luxury holidays and expensive gifts, a court heard. But not in Spain! This was in the UK. See this link to the Times article.
Case 2: Black credit cards. And the ex President of the IMF. This time in Spain.
Sefardi Jews: A trifle belatedly, the Spanish government is compensating for stupidly chucking them all out in 1492 by offering them quick and easy - possibly even cheap - Spanish nationality. 'Only' 2,424 are reported to have taken up the offer but I've no idea what percentage this is.
The Labour Party Conference in Liverpool: Here's the scurrilous view of the Times cartoonist on the leaders who are openly but vainly trying to bring back Socialism and state control of just about everything, to the delirium of some members of the party. But to the despair of most supporters:-
Mass Kamikazes?: Sitting in their offices alongside the AP9 autopista, members of El Tráfico were gobsmacked to see a peletón of cyclists racing past their window. They turned out to be a group of Polish pilgrims en route to Santiago who'd taken a wrong turn at a (very confusing) large roundabout on the south of town. Fortunately, they were stopped before any of them could be mown down.
More examples of Finnish/British nightmares:-