Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Thoughts from Galicia: 20.6.17

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

Note: If you've arrived here because of an interest in Galicia or Pontevedra, see my web page here.

Life in Spain:-
  • Spain's driving examiners have gone on strike. This is great news for me as the test centre is close to my home and so every day I have to run a gauntlet of badly instructed learners getting close enough to town to park and walk in.
  • Here's more evidence of the gap between Spain's macro and micro economies.
  • It's good to know I'm not the only one highly irritated by the Spanish tax authorities (Modelo 720) and, in my case, the Revenue department of the Guardia Civil (motoring fines). The Real Madrid football star, Ronaldo, says he's leaving Spain because of the claim he's avoided millions in tax. Nice to have the option.
  • As regards said Modelo 720 . . . . This is tempting fate I know, but things seem to have gone quiet since the EU declared the fines under it illegal as being disproportionate. I don't see any evidence, though, of the Hacienda  paying back what they've already collected. Perhaps they've suspended things pending resolution of the case, in about 10 years' time. If you're a foreigner resident in Spain unaware of this 2012 tax measure, I recommend you talk to a gestor or asesor about it asap. Assuming he/she is on the ball.
  • Here's more on the reconciliation I've cited between Spain's parties of the Left - the PSOE and Podemos. Stranger things have happened. They might even get the centrist party, Ciudadanos, to join them in ousting the PP government. Now, that would be something. Meanwhile, I'm stupified by the universal condemnation of the PSOE leader by newspapers generally regarded as being of the Left. In the UK, the leader of the Left is mercilessly attacked by the media of the Right. Here, the dirty work is done by the Left's own media. He must have upset some important vested interests.

A few years ago, some friends lent me their copy of a brilliant book called Watching the English, by Kate Fox. I'm now reading the recent revision-cum-update and am again finding it hilarious. If you want to get an insight into The Hidden Rules of English Behaviour - many of them truly ridiculous - I highly recommend it. If you're partnered with one of us, it might just save your relationship . . .  In her intro, she cites the famously dubious anthropological study of Margaret Mead. But new to me was that of Elizabeth Marshall Thomas who "wrote a book entitled The Harmless People, about a tribe who turned out to have a homicide rate higher than that of New York or Detroit." But there's nowt wrong with Ms Fox's study. Ruthlessly accurate on the English. About whom a certain Dutchman - in 1931 - wrote a book entitled The English: Are they Human? Answering this himself, he declared that the world was inhabited by 2 species: Mankind and the English. How we laughed!

Here in Galicia, there's still a lot of moaning going on about the demise of the region's only bank, Banco Popular. I have to admit to finding Spain's localism hard to take at times. It's impossible to imagine, say, the residents of the county of Cheshire feeling bad about the takeover of the Cheshire Building Society by the Nationwide Building society. They're rather more interested in efficiency than in local - often corrupt - ownership and management. Besides, as I've said, Banco Popular's ownership wasn't remotely local.

Finally . . .  On the way to the house I used to own in the hills, they put an extra layer of metal at the bottom of the crash barriers on certain bends. This was to stop motorbike riders and their passengers being decapitated when they slid under the barrier after losing control. It seems that not all of our winding secondary roads have been so equipped. Certainly not the one between Cuntis and Moaña:-

A cartoon would be inappropriate today, I feel.

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