Direct Debits: You can hardly ever avoid these in Spain, when setting up arrangements with utility companies and the like. Here's how it sometimes happens with insurance companies:-
- They deduct a premium from your bank account even if you've not authorised the bank to pay them in this way.
- They fail to send you a renewal notice in advance of the due date. (Not, I stress, Linea Directa nor Mapfre).
- They take the annual premium from your account without any prior advice. (Generali).
- They do this even though you've cancelled the cover, admittedly only a few days before the relevant date. (Generali).
Tipping: One of the challenges I have in Ponters is gently advising Americans to confine their tipping to 5-10%, stressing this is way above what most Spaniards leave. Needless to say, they're usually incredulous. And some of them are so conditioned they feel it only honourable to leave 20-25%, to the astonishment of my waiter/waitress friends. If you don't believe me, here's El País on the subject, in English. Of course, what these huge tippers don't realise is that Spanish waiting staff - unlike their US counterparts - don't depend on tips. And that, worse, the generous sods are screwing things up for those of us who live here year round. Such is the evil of (non-Spanish) tourism . . . BTW: The custom of doing a runner is known as a sinpa in Spain. Short for sin pagar.
The Spanish Flag: HT to Lenox of Business Over Tapas for this informative video on the history of this. The American pronunciation is way off beam at times but it's still an amusing few minutes. There are also videos on the French and British flags. My impression is that the last of these is less irreverent than the other 2. The Special Relationship??? Or just less to laugh at? Or at least be ironic about.
Prostitution: Another HT to Lenox for this link to a situation which - along with corruption - shames this great country. And for which there appears to be a similar lack of political will to do anything about it. According to the paper - El Español - the sordid business is now in the hands of Romanians and the poor girls are mostly trafficked here by the mafia. Meaning that very few of the prostitutes are Spanish - notwithstanding anything you can read at the back of virtually every local, regional and even national newspaper.
Boozing: I've long been a feminist. Hard to avoid when your wife and your 2 daughters are. But I imagine the pioneers of this movement would be less than impressed to read that equality has led to this state of affairs, as reported in The Times: Teenage girls are emerging as Britain’s problem drinkers and are more likely than boys to get drunk than anywhere else in the West. Always in the van, the UK. Makes you proud.
Global Warming: I find hard to form a final opinion on these questions:-
- Is the world is heating up? (Yes, probably);
- Is it all man's fault? (??); and
- How bad are things right now?(???)
Scientology: Something prompted me to dedicate 2 hours to watching this video yesterday. It's a horrifying catalogue of evil and proof that even intelligent people can both indoctrinate themselves and be indoctrinated to truly ludicrous heights. And, laughingly, pay handsomely for this in the process. Then, of course, there's imbeciles like John Travolta and Tom Cruise.
More Finnish/British nightmares:-