Changing Spain?: Up until this week, it looked as if no one in business or the government was going to pay any price for the Santiago rail disaster of a couple of years ago, when 80 people died. Indeed, anyone charged had been released by the judge without trial. One chap had even been arraigned and let off twice. But such has been the public protest, he's finally been charged with negligence. Such is the Spanish judicial system. See here for details.
Some readers might recall my run-in last year with an officious local cop who wouldn't let me park outside a scrap merchant's in town. In a street where people regularly get away with parking outside the bread shop – close to or even right on the zebra crossing. And always with the hazard lights on, of course. To show they're not really there. But passing the bakery yesterday, I noticed a police car parked behind the offenders and hoped the bastard was fining them. But, anyway, this is a long lead-in to the citation of this blog post, where another foreigner here in Galicia vents his spleen, first, at the atrociously selfish local parking and, secondly, at the calvario he and his wife had to endure in getting Spanish driving licences. Scourge of the Spanish bureaucracy as I'd like to see myself, I have to admit I don't remember finding it as bad as this. It seemed a quick and easy process here in Pontevedra, only memorable for the fact they mis-copied details from my UK licence and – for 5 years at least – gave me the right to drive not only a truck but a truck and trailer.
Talking about life here . . . I wonder if other foreigners experience one particular aspect which continues to bemuse me. If so, you'll know that, if like me you read a magazine or do a crossword when you're walking, people regularly walk into you. Even if you've put yourself at one edge of the pavement/sidewalk, leaving enough space for them to pass you. It's as if their personal radar is so poor they don't see you until they actually hit you. Or as if they're so used to the standard last-second pas-de-deux which 2 Spaniards indulge in when they meet head-on that they assume this will happen, even though they can see you have your head down and can't see them coming. It never happens in the UK, of course, because people there start taking avoidance measures a good 3 to 5 metres before they bump into you. Which always comes as a pleasant surprise, of course.
Having quit Facebook without pain, I'd now done the same with Linkedin, a name that took me years to master. Looking back, I can't figure out why I ever joined it in the first place, as I've never used it and have ignored all the emails they've sent me.
Anyone interested in getting a discount from their energy company - particularly Gas Natural Fenosa - should read the comments of the last day or three.
Finally . . . For no good reason, I started organising my library shelves this morning. And came across The Little Green Book: Sayings of the Ayatollah Khomeini. Younger readers might not recall that this was the Shiite cleric who took over the government of Iran after the Shah had been toppled in the Islamic Revolution of 1979. Inside the front cover, I've erased the price and substituted Beyond price. I'll quote from it in coming posts but here's one from the chapter headed Women and their Periods: This basically tells men not to sleep with their wives during these or to pay a fine if they do. But there's a codicil – It's highly inadvisable for the man to sodomise her during this time. On the other hand, if he does: Sodomising a menstruating woman does not requite a payment. No wonder the first line of the Special Introduction is: To anyone reared and educated into the assumptions of western life, these are words from an alien world. But one defended by many Islamic women, it seems. God only knows why. Well, Allah anyway.