Friday, May 26, 2017

Thought from Galicia: 26.5.17

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable.
- Christopher Howse: A Pilgrim in Spain

Life in Spain: 
  • If you don't like bullfighting, this might nonetheless appeal to you.
  • On the other hand, few will like this.
  • Here's The Local's view of the signs that summer is imminent here. Not everywhere in Spain, of course. The paper is southern-centric. (Admittedly the thermometer hit 34 in Pontevedra this week but you still don't see a lot of fans about. We just complain. As we do when it rains. It's a natural place for a Brit to live.)
  • Is it a fine example of good town planning or is it evidence of the survival of medieval guilds? After 8 years of permitting no new pharmacies, the Galician government is to licence 48 of them. One of them will be in my barrio of Poio, where an unlicensed one was forced to close a few years ago. I'd guess that existing pharmacy owners are not happy with this development.
  • It's reported that 25% of Spanish kids can't read a bill. As regards adults, my suspicion is that 100% of them can't understand their utility bills.
  • I've mentioned the greater arbitrariness of life here. Yesterday, it occurred to me that my experience around the appalling Modelo 720 law might be a good example. Here's what the expensive advice I received boiled down to as regards a late submission: We really don't know. In the best case, you won't face a fine but, in the worst case, the fine will be huge. We can't ask the Tax Office because we know we'll get a different opinion from each inspector we ask.

Spanish PoliticsThis - in Spanish - seems to be a sensible analysis of what's happening in the left-of-centre PSOE party. Some folk see similarities with the UK Left but this seems wrong to me. The Left in Spain has already split into 2 parties - the 'Far left' Podemos and the 'left-of-centre' PSOE - whereas the UK Left is still represented by the faction-riven Labour Party. In Spain, the issue now is whether Podemos and PSOE can ever coalesce to bring down the PP party.

So, it seems that Malta is the EU's real fiscal paradise. Not Gibraltar, as Madrid keeps telling us. Or even next-door Andorra, a popular place for Spanish politicians who want to visit their money.

Spanglish: I'm wondering whether el rafting is the same as el barranquismo, or just a subset of the latter. The dictionary has barranquismo as 'canyoning' and rafting as 'white-water rafting'. BTW . . . This might well be one of the few examples of the Spanish term being shorter than the English one. 

I almost feel like apologising to you for doing this but click on minute 1.58 of this video to get the fullest possible measure of Donald Trump. And then put yourself in the position of the (terrified) diplomats to whom Trump proposed his side of the exchange.

Finally . . . Reverting to the speeding fine mentioned yesterday . . . 1. I filled in the payment form on the net. Or tried to. The 'Record Number' (N. Expediente) on the ticket contained 3 hyphens and a full stop/period. I tried 3 or 4 permutations of this before finding out only the numbers were required. 2. Reader Maria has amusingly answered the question about the difference between 69 and 71kph. 3. Reader Sierra recommends having one's GPS on all the time. I'd already decided to do this but, as he admits, given the games El Tráfico plays, it won't be 100% effective. 4. If the concern really was safety, they would, of course, have placed a 50 sign at the start of the straight stretch. Finally, 5. The real irony of this fine is that I went on the N-550 because I had a lot of time and didn't want to pay the extortionate toll for the AP9 from Pontevedra to Vigo. Bad decision as it turned out.

 Last night I dropped 3 bottles of wine at €10 each. Not my week, then.

The lost wine:-

2 x white godello and 1 x red tempranillo. Lovely smell.

Finally, finally . . . . A slightly tarted-up Google machine translation of an article by a disappointed young lady on finally getting Spanish nationality:-

I took on oath on the flag in Spain and it is not as cool as they paint it

I introduce myself: I am Alexandra, I am 23 years old, I have been living in Spain since I was four years old and they granted me the nationality last week. As you may have guessed, my paperwork was long and tedious, including a waiting list of seven more years along with a series of infinite and diverse problems, such as sick leave of the person in charge of my case, who misplaced my birth certificate ... In short, the things of the Spanish civil service. I, at this point, felt desperate, especially when my parents had had their brand new Spanish nationality for two years, which made everything more pathetic, if possible.

Finally, on May 3, 2017, I was given the opportunity to swear on the flag. Although it was true that I had bucked up a bit after seeing the Flickr images of the Ministry of Defense ("Swearing of Civil Staff Flag"), with all those platforms, soldiers, crosses, priests and everything to honor people all dressed up. I was not expecting anything crazy or quirky. I mean, I live in Alcorcón (a municipality near Madrid), not that our courts are a glorious thing. But what I really did not expect is that the facts would happen as I will relate here.

My oath already started badly, fatal, since I did not have to take the Spanish Test because of the continuous delays in my procedures. This means that I did not have to prove my knowledge about Spain, those who had been working for nineteen years living in this beautiful land. Although it is fair to clarify that, despite everything, I know perfectly what the demonym is of those who live in Cuenca (cuencano), or who is the authentic Queen of Spain (Belén Esteban).

Imagine me, excited, after this saga, going to the courts, radiant, makeup on and more or less well combed. Now imagine me and all my illusions going overboard when they took me, along with other people, to a courtroom, with the air conditioning broken and a leak in the ceiling covered with a supermarket cardboard. The official on duty told me to come to her desk to swear on the flag. I was stunned, not even a sad, separate room, nor a flag, nor a picture of the King, nor a Constitution, nothing. Only her desk, surrounded by five other officials working.

So I took a seat, stood in front of a table with cluttered papers and a computer (Windows) very outdated, I looked into her eyes and she asked me with laughter: "Do you swear by the King of Spain and the Constitution?" I could not believe it, why was she laughing? Was it a test of fire to be Spanish? Should not it be a super solemn act? Astonished, and with a grimace of imbecility I snapped  back a timid "Si". She looked at me, smiled at me, and told me she that was it, that I could go.

I got up from my chair languidly, disheartened, and disgusted. All the expectations that society had instilled on me  for my longed-for flag swearing were completely unreal. I do not know, I did not ask for so much, just to kiss a flag and maybe put my hand on a brand new volume of the Spanish Constitution of 1978 riveted with gold threads. Maybe a bit of discretion and solemnity on the spot. Nothing else. It is not as if I intended to play God, just a little show.

In my opinion, it was a rather shabby way of entering as an immigrant into Spanish society. What could have been a good day ended up seeing me leave the courthouse and take the sad line 10 of Metro Sur to leave that suburb.  


Alfred B. Mittington said...

Kindly enlighten me…

What in the world does someone do who 'visits his money'?

Is it something like what misbehaving fathers get to do after a nasty divorce???


Perry said...


Scrooge McDuck visits his gold.


Aurochs! Bull leaping started in Knossos.

Quote: The fresco shows three individuals of debatable gender and a bull with its legs outstretched in the common artistic code for a full gallop.

Barranquismo could mean exploring canyons w/o going boating.

Colin Davies said...

Thank, Perry. Wondered where you'd gone . . .

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