Monday, October 23, 2017

Thoughts from Galicia: 23.10.17

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

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

Life in Spain
Cataluña 1: Just about the only thing that one can predict with any confidence is that Madrid's next challenge will be widespread civil disobedience, especially among Catalan bureaucrats and media employees. And very probably among the local forces of order as well. Cracking heads or even just arresting folk is not going to solve that one.
Cataluña 2: Having now read the papers I see that this resistance is already underway or at least imminent.
Cataluña 3: The number of companies to have 'left' the region now stands at 'more than 1,000'. As reader Maria points out, this very likely reflects pressure from Madrid on operations based in the region.
President/Prime Minister Rajoy: Here's a Guardian profile on this stubborn Gallego, renowned for his preferred strategy of doing nothing until – if ever – he really has to. If that's too long a prospect for you, here's a sort but accurate sentence: The prime minister’s decision to deal with Catalonia as a legal rather than a political issue has strengthened accusations of intransigence and prompted vows of resistance from independence supporters who are planning a peaceful campaign of civil disobedience.

The Bigger Picture: Here's The Guardian again with a view on how the Catalan imbroglio affects the EU. The paper observes that the latter is suffering another existential crisis and that it's the UK's job to help it overcome it. Interestingly, The Times agrees on the existential crisis but concludes it's the perfect time for the UK to jump the sinking ship. Guess where I am . . . 

Meanwhile, here's good news for us Brits resident in Spain. Long expected by some of us, on the basis that we bring a lot of bunce to Spain.

Which reminds me . . . A reader asked if I'd given the NHS all the details of my Spanish residence, his/her point being – I think - that I should not been given free treatment. In fact, I did declare everything and was not asked to pay. Maybe this is because: 1. NHS personnel don't think 'commercially'; and 2. If I had used my EHIC card to get free treatment, the costs would have been billed to Spain. And then billed pack to the UK under the per capita lump sum per British resident that the 2 governments operate. I think.

Driving in the UK. I can't help noticing that drivers here don't need the endless speed signs that one gets in Spain, even on the autovias. This is particularly true of the UK motorways – where there are none at all - but, even on A and B roads, UK drivers are (sometimes) only told Roundabout Ahead and maybe Slow Down, rather than given a rapid sequence of 80, 70, 50, and 40 signs as they approach one. The other thing, of course, is that folk here know how to go round roundabouts. . .

Finally 1: I had a feeling of empathy or deja vu when I read this description from a UK columnist on corporal punishment at home: I am not entirely sure where I stand on this issue. Like most working-class kids of my generation the rod was not often spared in my household, metaphorically or literally. My mother kept a set of canes, left over from a failed vegetable patch, in the kitchen, and used them with some glee and vigour. At school too, I was caned fairly regularly for being an utter arse. He's stolen my recollections! But I have to go further and say I was strapped even in the 6th form of the grammar school I attended, when it was impressed upon me that this was a signal honour as it had never happened before. Except I don't think they used the word 'honour'. As you can see, it all did me no harm . . . .

Finally 2: I went for a follow-up appointment at the hospital today, to check that the antibiotics had worked. Which they have. It was reported recently that NHS medical staff will soon have to ask you what sexual orientation you have, and my pre-prepared answer was going to be: I'm not entirely sure, as I'm only aged X, and have only tried one so far. Put me down as a 'Don't Know'. As it happens, they didn't ask me this, even on the questionnaire they gave me. So I expressed my disappointment on the form and gave the answer I would have given them if they had asked. I hope it makes someone smile one day.

Today's Cartoon:-

A tribute to M Macron . . . .



Eamon said...

Colin as your EHIC is issued by the UK there would be no cost billed to Spain. Being a resident of Spain you would normally be entitled to a Spanish EHIC but the Spanish government has refused to allow that and so the UK has to issue you with one even though you are not resident in the UK. Follow this link

Q10 said...

Colin, You asked what my point was re. medical treatment.

Well, I am certain that as a British citizen with an EHIC card and a British address, had I broken my arm in Pontevedra, I would have been required to pay in Euros. To see a doctor, to have an X-Ray, to have surgery and \ or have a cast fitted. Yes, in Euros, for each of these stages. My EHIC card was not accepted at any stage.

But I'm ashamed to say that at a UK A&E, just about anyone gets "free" treatment, while the queue gets longer and the NHS gets poorer. No criticism of you, you understand, unless you gave a British address. But I notice you do not say whether you did, or did not.


Thank you for directing me towards the Carlin piece to explain your view on the Catalan mess. You believe Catalonia should not break from Spain - I searched through Carlin's 2,341 words for a REASON WHY IT SHOULD NOT BREAK WITH SPAIN, but found none. Just "a love of Spain" and "Catalonia has always been part of Spain" - Meaningless emotional stuff. Can you offer a more concrete alternative?

Given your view of the affair, I do understand your exasperation with the way the Spanish government has dealt with events. Schmoozing could have led to a calmer result I'm sure, rather than the recent high-handed approach, which has led to animosity on each side and further division of opinion.

But maybe schmoozing would have only just kicked the can down the road, allowing pressure to rise and for the lid to blow with even more force in another year or two?

Maybe we now have a clearer understanding of the realities of the game? From which a more realistic future will emerge? Who can tell?

Colin Davies said...

Welll . . .

1. My daughters have received free treatment at the hospital on several occasins without paying and without even showing their EHIC card on every occasion.

2. Yes, I gave a UK address, my mother's. They needed an address and phone number and they used the latter to call my mother and to remind me, through her, of my appontment.

3. I agree that the NHS should charge 'foreigners'. I believe they are tightening this up in this area. I was totally prepared to pay if they asked me to, armed with all the facts. The latter included my inability to have camera shove up my fundament because I was returning to Spain within the 6-8 weeks delay period. They suggested I get one when I got back.

4. Cataluña: Both parties have handled this very badly, the result being a very dangerous situation. What Rajoy should have done is NOT done all the things the PP did vis a vis Cataluña between 2006 and 2017. You can see what these steps are - if you don't already know - in any analysis of the last decade or so. No one is talking of a need to schmooz the Catalans. Merely letting them keep what they had been given and allow a legal plebiscite/referendum which would have established the 70.80% majority opposition to secession. But whether this would be for the length of 'a generation' is unknowable. Vide Salmond and Sturgeon in Scotland. Nationalists - driven by merely resentment and victimhood - sometimes never give up. I have vastly less sympathy for these than those who are being truly oppressed. Most Catalans know that they haven't been. And that secession would be self-harm on a grand scale.

5. I agree that realism might now (slowly) emerge but that no one knows what is going to happen, both now and later. Rajoy might well secure a greater mandate outside Catlaluña than before, thus achieving 'success'. But, in the long term, he might well have guaranteed the very thing he and his party have stubbornly resisted talking about. And, worse, have brought forward by their Madrid-centred, ant-Ctalan measures of the last decade or so.