Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable.
- Christopher Howse: A Pilgrim in Spain.
Life in Spain:
- I've mentioned a certain tendency to short-termism in Spanish thinking, with minimal thought apparently given to longer-term consequences of measures aimed at protecting existing companies. Or entire industries. So it was with the 'Google Tax' imposed on news aggregators back in 2014. Predictably, this had the effect - especially after Google pulled out of Spain - of damaging the interests of those it purported to benefit - the Spanish media. Specifically, a loss of c. €9m in income for the original news sites. Similarly, government policy on solar heating has been short-sighted and inconsistent. I believe this has reverted to one of support for the nascent industry but - in contrast to nearby Portugal - you'll still be hit with a 'sun tax' if, as a private individual, you switch to solar energy. I guess it makes sense to someone.
- It's claimed that the Spanish don't drink enough water, even where and when it's hot. But they certainly waste a lot of the stuff, per capita use being very high here. Twice as much as in Germany and more than 6 times the UK figure.
- In the 50s, the 3 most popular female names were: Maria de Carmen, Maria Carmen and, of course, Carmen. Need I add that Franco's wife was Carmen and his daughter María del Carmen? Anyway, the most popular female name in Spain in 2016 was Lucía.
- The most popular male name in 2016 was Hugo. Ironically, the first letter isn't pronounced!
Corruption: Transparency International has slammed Spain for its ‘systemic corruption’. 'Few aspects of public life in the country have remained exempt from corruption', it says. Spain has seen one of the fastest declines on the body’s annual Corruption Perceptions Index, sliding 7 points since 2012, now scoring worse than most Western European democracies with 58. “Corruption in Spain distorts policy making and hurts people’s basic rights for the benefit of a few. Just looking at recent scandals gives a sense of the scale of the problem,” said the Chair of Transparency International'. So, you'd think President Rajoy would be only too pleased to address this issue if and when there's a motion of censure against his PP government. But, no, he's said he won't be speaking. But he will allow the party spokesperson and one of the vice-presidents to speak for the Government. Small mercies. Astonishing. Except it isn't. It's par for Rajoy's course.
It's often hard, of course, to understand why fabulously rich people become corrupt. First Lionel Messi and now Cristiano Ronaldo have been accused of corruption here, with latter facing the prospect of a real prison sentence. Not just one below 2 years which avoids incarceration. The standard sentence for corrupt politicians.
Which reminds me . . . You and I would have difficulty opening a bank account in the Isle of Man without the tax authorities wanting to know why. Yet the son of the 'Founder of modern Cataluña' was able to squirrel away there a mere €6m. Born of a 3% commission on everything that happened there. An open secret, it seems. And yet nothing was done until a dumped girlfriend blew the whistle on the greedy family. Hell hath no fury . . .
Is it elitist to be a tad concerned that the UK's Shadow Minister of Education left school at 16, without any qualifications whatsoever? I can't see this happening here in Spain. Where elitism is not yet a dirty word.
The Spanish Language: Google doesn't recognise the word paripé, which means 'a show' and might well be a corruption of the English word 'play'. The dictionary of the Royal Academy doesn't have it either. But this - excellent - site does.
Finally . . . Here in Pontevedra, the good news is that road deaths this so far this year, at 28, are 10 down on last year. The bad news is that 60% of those who died weren't wearing a seat belt.
Apologies if it's a repeat. . .