08.05: I'm sitting in a small, single-carriage Renfe train destined for Vigo. I'm in seat 29 and my daughter and son-in-law are in seats 27 and 28. Except we're not, as these seat numbers don't exist. The sequence is 0-24 and then 31-52.
09.02: I'm on the Comboios de Portugal train from Vigo to Oporto, looking for seat 13. In the section of the carriage which says the numbers go from 1 to 15, they actually go from 50 to 64. So I'm opting for number 55.
I guess all this makes sense to Renfe and CP, if not to me.
09.30: We're passing Porriño and I'm baking. Yesterday it was 38 degrees in Pontevedra and today is expected to be about the same. But on this train the heat is blasting up from somewhere around my left foot. And the windows are locked shut.
09.40: We've just been security checked by 3 policemen and then by a drug-sniffing dog. Happily, we're all clear. Though my ever-worrying daughter is now afeared there's a gang of narcotraficantes on the train and there'll be a shoot-out in which we'll all get slaughtered. Or at least her baby.
10.00: Thankfully, the heating has been switched off.
But, anyway, . . . . .
Corruption: The hapless Sr Rajoy has belatedly given way to all-party disgust at the proposing of a tainted ex-PP politico as Chairman of the World Bank. He's told the poor chap his name won't now be going forward for this doubtless lucrative sinecure. Perhaps Rajoy set it all up to show how willing to compromise he can be. So, clever – rather than the obtuse and obstinate he appears to be. Who really knows?
Said Sr Rajoy: In a local paper yesterday, he was described as the epitome of the stubborn Galician who proclaims Todo o mundo vai ao seu, menos eu que vou al meu. Or 'Everyone marches to the beat of the same drum, except me, who marches to mine'. Who could argue? Can the PP party really not afford to dump him before the next round of elections? Or will he tough it out and win, as someone suggested, through nationwide boredom?
National Health Services: These are all difficult to manage, what with one cost-increasing factor after another. Here in Spain, this is one of the competences devolved to the 17 regions, or Autonomous Communities. This results in what would be regarded as an absolute anathema in the UK – a 'postcode lottery', in which the wealthy Basque country spends 50% more per capita on health than poor Andalucia. Galicia is some way down the chart but still has 9 lower-spending regions below it. Yesterday our doctors were reported to be very critical of the decision of the UK NHS to effect open rationing (i. e. delays) in respect of people who smoke or who are fat. “Here in Spain, we prefer to treat the conditions, not the patients”, one of them sniffed. Well, wait until the money gets even tighter, as the population ages.
Employment: Although the overall position is slowly improving – the national rate is now as 'low' as 19 or 20% - September is a bad month for many of those who work in the tourism business. Hundreds of thousands of them are laid off until next May or June. El Mundo reported this week that 333,107 people lost their jobs last Monday alone.
Finally . . . Another of Those Retail Experiences: In a shop dedicated to cameras:-
Do you have an HDMI cable with which I can connect my camera to the TV?
OK. Do you have a USB cable with which I can connect my camera to my computer?
OK. Can you suggest where I could get these?
Maybe an electrical shop.
Is it any wonder people increasingly prefer the internet? And that high street shops are closing?
Are you a Brit Resident in Spain?: And are you worried about being able to retain your rights here but don't yet speak much castellano and don't understand much about Spanish history and politics, etc.? Well, here's the course for you. Maybe.
Finally . . . I'm now in Oporto and once again noting the Portuguese love affair with black estate cars (shooting brakes??). Every one of the 10 taxis outside the metro station was one of these and the streets are full of them. I will pursue statistics on this . . .
Can't connect to my camera. So can't show you the decent size of a glass of wine here in Oporto. So, here's a a foto of my fabulous granddaughter, Gracie, whose first birthday is today. And who - everyone says - looks like her grandfather. Poor kid. It's the eyes, they say. Whatever that means . . .