Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Thoughts from Galicia,Spain: 14.3.18

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.

  • Spain's infamous 'Gag Law' (Article 578) has come in for some stick both from Amnesty International and the European Court of Human Rights (here and here). But any revision is only likely to come if the very-right-of-centre PP party is ousted at the next general elections. The hapless but stubborn Sr Rajoy doesn't do change. Or much else.
  • I can't pretend to understand the Spanish education system as a whole, or even the arguments/developments over homework. So, I don't know why (some) parents are demanding nil homework over the Easter holiday. Perhaps they've seen that the Finnish education system tops the tables without any homework at all there, and feel at least part of the model should be adopted here.
  • Spain's prestigious – but largely government funded – think-tank, the Elcano Royal Insitute, has come up with some ideas for the resolution of the Gibraltar issue, taking advantage of the Spanish leverage gained via the Brexit development. I can't see any of them flying but I could be very wrong. Click here and here on this.
  • Spain and Japan are reported to have the worst sleep patterns. Interestingly, one of these has a reputation for hard work, while the other is famous for placing a premium on fun. I leave you to figure out which.
  • Talking of work . . . It's regularly said that the reason Spanish workers have the longest hours in Europe is that folk stay - pointlessly - at their desks of an evening in order to impress (gullible) bosses. Here's something on this issue. Essentially, overtime is not worth it for most employees. Not a huge surprise.
Life in Spain
  • Back to service levels, bad and good. . . .
  1. I called Línea Directa yesterday to ask why they hadn't replied to my email of 2 weeks ago about the measly amount they'd proposed to pay me for a new central heating pump. I got no answer to this question and, worse, they refused to budge on the payout. Reluctantly, I've concluded that I have to admit defeat and move to a company which has an office in town to which I can go for Spanish-style face-to-face discussions with new-found 'friends' there. Where I'll also talk about moving my car insurance next week from Línea Directa. I guess I shouldn't be surprised that customer loyalty over 17 years means nothing to the latter.
  2. On Monday evening I called a carpenter I hoped could fix the runners in my chest-of-drawers (una cómoda). He berated me for not calling him again after I'd called him 2 weeks ago and he'd called back but failed to get me. This is in line with the standard Spanish view that, if you don't call again, you're not really a serious potential customer. In other words, the onus is on you, not the product/service provider to take things further. Anyway, Tito arrived bang on the dot of 3pm, as promised, and turned out to be a jolly chap with one vast stomach and about 6 chins. He informed (an unconvinced) me that the metal runners on the drawers weren't available in Spain but he could fit some wooden ones. So we agreed on this, carried the cómoda and shelves downstairs and out to his van, and then chatted for 20 minutes about Spain and the negative impact of tourism. When he drove off, I returned to my kitchen, to find the scarce remains of the chicken in peanut sauce I'd put on – at the highest heat - just before the doorbell had rung. . . .
The EU
  • The Selmayer 'scandal' rumbles on, with few folk believing it will change anything. Junker and co aren't terribly interested in the opinions of others. Even, they say, when he's sober.
  • Last October, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin were reported to have entered a 'suicide pact'. If one of them was forced out, the other 2 would go. Well, now there's only 'Mad Dog' Mattis left. For not much longer, I guess.
  • The end of Tillerson's (alleged) 'adult' restraint means, say some, that 'Trump can now really be Trump'. Oh, frabjous day!
  • I've heard numerous management styles described over the years. I wonder how Fart's could be summarised in one word. As for the man himself, I currently favour jackass.
  • Russian state TV: If you carefully consider who benefits from the poisoning, it's the British. Simply to fuel Russophobia and so to justify an international boycott of the World Cup in Russia. An excellent special operation! YCMIU. But doubtless this will be swallowed whole by the populace. After all, it might well be true . . . That's the beauty of fake news.
  • Pre-order now your copy of my forthcoming Pilgrims' Guide to the City of Pontevedra. Special rates for readers, of course. I figure it'll be easier to make money this way than by setting up a massage business for the 100,000 weary pilgrims expected to pass through in the Holy Year of 2021. As I said to the man himself last year, I just wish I was John Brierley and could sit back and watch sales of his (excellent) guide to the Portuguese Way soar in line with massively increased numbers. Without the need to pay for any promotion. Not that he does sit back, by the way.
  • The impressive Stephen Hawking sold 10 million copies of his book A Brief History of Time. Which means there are at least 9, 999,995 people out there who never finished it. Or even got past page 10. What an achievement!
  • Meanwhile . . . I've belatedly added a dongle to this blog which allows you to sign up to receive it in your email every day. Enjoy!
Today's Cartoon

Colin Davies, Pontevedra: 14.3.18


Maria said...

Some Spanish parents claim homework shouldn't be given because children don't have enough time to play. Read: I don't want to have the bother of making sure if the kids have done their homework because I just want to sit and watch Sálvame, and, it gets in the way of a week's vacation on the beach in Canarias where I just want to lie in the sand with minimal interaction with the little beasts. That's one take, the other is that children should play and have a good time, there'll be time to learn responsibility when they grow up and think the world belongs to them.

The carpenter is now going to make or buy expensive wooden runners and charge you an arm and a leg.

The name for the type of management Trump favors is bankruptcy, moral and financial.

Colin Davies said...

Yes, Maria, I know that Tito is going to do that. I just regard it as a 'guiri tax'. You can't expect to be both a guiri and live in the pijo bit of Pontevedra without having this happen to you regularly. . . . Really, I should leave everything to my very hard-nosed neighbour. It might well be her way of paying back the money I lent her that, in Spanish fashion, I'm never going to see again. See p. 161 of Tim Parfitt's highly amusing A Load of Bull'

I rather get the impression that you're even more cynical than me. Presumably a returned emigrée . .

Alfred B. Mittington said...

Your take on Mr Hawking's book is an interesting - and probably true - one.

However, may I remind you of a scholarly enquiry done in the 80s among people who had bought, or received as a gift, the infamous 'Gödel, Esher, Bach' - a book not only lousily written but even more incomprehensible to ordinary mortals as 'Brief History if Time'? The pollsters asked the owners of this behemoth book if they had finished it. And the result was that 100 % if them had finished it....