LIFE IN SPAIN GENERALLY
Drivers v. Pedestrians: Here's a funny thing . . . I've cited the zebra-crossing-risk several times and implied that Spanish drivers can be very inconsiderate. Against this, I've found that, when I cross a busy road where there's no crossing and stand in the middle, a proportion of drivers will stop to let me finish crossing. Even where there's no island in the middle of the road. This is particularly true where there are pedestrian lights and the light is green for drivers but red for pedestrians. Maybe it's a reflection of the Spanish admiration for rule-breakers. Unless they're gypsies, of course.
Consideration of Others: I've also suggested this is not the most prominent of Spanish characteristics. Here's an example I saw in a supermarket carpark yesterday:-
Since the car was there for at least 3 hours, my guess is it belongs to the supermarket manager.
Bureaucracy: Yesterday, two of my friends – one Dutch and one Spanish – complained to me of this. The former sent me a list of ridiculous demands made by an office in Vigo which annually checks whether he's still a good parent for the 14 year old Ethiopian boy he and his late wife adopted 10 years ago. It makes for some reading. As it happens, I had my own clash with bureaucracy yesterday . . . I went to the Tax Office again, to deliver my written appeal against their fine for late payment. Stretching things a tad, I calculate there were 26 steps to this process, starting from when I arrived at the building:-
- I enter the offices and pass through security for the 3rd time this week
- I proceed to Room 2 and to the desk of the chap I spoke to on Tuesday
- As he's not there, I go behind the screens to find him at another desk.I tell
- him I've brought the letter of appeal, as he instructed, and offer it to him.
- He tells me I have to take it to the Registry and they will pass it to him
- I leave Room 2 and go to the Registry
- I seek a ticket from the machine, even though there's no one there except the guy behind the Reception desk.
- I get the ticket and ask him what next
- He tells me to go out into the hall and wait for my number to be called
- I do so and, as there's no one else there, this happens immediately
- I am summoned by voice to Desk 20 in Room 1, where there are, in fact, only 5 desks. And no other 'customers'.
- I wait for the clerk to stop talking to her colleague
- I hand her my letter
- She takes it and removes the staple
- She replaces the staple with a large paperclip
- She records something on her computer
- She asks me if I have a copy of the letter
- I say that I have but it's at home
- I offer an envelope or a sheet of paper for her to stamp or whatever it is that proves receipt
- She says this won't do and she has to put a sticker on a copy of my letter
- To my surprise, she doesn't send me away but goes to the machine and makes a copy
- She returns to her desk, asks her colleague for a stapler and staples the 2 pages together
- She then places a yellow sticker on this copy of my letter.
- She gives me the letter with the sticker on it
- I think to myself “I can surely take that off and stick it on the original copy I have at home”.
- I don't say this out loud but thank her and leave.
The PSOE Party: You have to laugh. The Andalucian Presidenta who's doing a good impression of being as ambitious as they come, has pronounced that the leader she's trying to oust – Pedro Sanchez - should have the country as his first priority, the party as his second, and his own position as very much his third. Needless to say, she's offered herself as embalmer of the party's wounds she's largely responsible for. In all this, she's being assisted – for reasons which aren't obvious to me – by the discredited ex President - and fellow Andalucian - Felipe González. Who has publicly accused Sanchez of being a liar and a deceiver, inter alia. We now await to see if a scheduled party congress and a leadership election take place shortly. As with Jeremy Corbyn in the UK, Sanchez is thought to have the support of the membership at large. So the rebels are out to stop this election taking place. Such fun. Only Leftish parties can commit hari-kari so effectively. Something, I suspect, to do with each group thinking it has both the moral high ground and the best electoral chances. By the way, while this is going on, the Catalans are moving towards a referendum on secession next year. Whatever Madrid says or threatens.
But, anyway, here's a range of Spanish views on what's happening in/to the PSOE.
Corruption: Given the sums of money at stake, it was only a matter of time before tales would emerge of skulduggery in high places. As they have done recently. And then there's the current Barroso saga. Which makes it rather a bad moment for Brussels to tell Spain how disgusted it is about corruption here.
Banking: Here's yet another article on the crisis. I have to admit/boast that I'd already had the thought that these developments would reduce the chances of a continental bank - post Brexit – replacing London as the world's premier financial centre. To be perfectly honest, I fell over laughing when I read that the capital of this astonishingly corrupt country was pitching for the biz. As if! First prize for chutzpah.
Flights to Galicia: I mentioned recently there's be some Monarch flights next summer. This rather assumes there'll still be a Monarch airline at that time. Reports yesterday and today suggest this might not be the case. You might want to hold off advance bookings. . .
Rail Accidents: It's reported that the relevant train and track companies had been warned that the risk at the bend near Santiago where 79 people died 2 years ago was 53 times higher than average. And that the train which crashed at Porriño last month was being used to check whether a points problem of the previous evening had been solved. Nonetheless, I don't expect to see any corporations or company executives in the dock for negligence. Contrast the Alton Towers case in the UK this week. Here it's always some poor individual's fault. Preferably a dead ex-driver who can't defend himself.
Gmail: Has anyone discovered how to easily give a response the same label as the incoming message? As far as I know, the only way to do this is to give the original message a label; draft a reply; remove the label; and then add it back as the label for the reply. This works but it seems bizarre it has to be done. If you don't do it, the reply has no label.
More examples of Finnish/British nightmares:-