Sunday, April 01, 2018

Thoughts from Galicia, Spain: 1.4.18

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.

  • Here's a Catalan's caustic view of recent judicial developments. Including the Orwell quote: During a political pogrom in Spain, it is most dangerous to have the ineradicable English belief that 'they' can't arrest you unless you've broken the law.
  • Good news if you have an electric car that you're driving from Madrid to Valencia, or vice-versa.
  • Even better news if you're a police dog in Madrid 
Life in Spain
  • At the end of a lunch with friends yesterday, they engaged the waiter in a 10 minute chat about his home-country, Mexico. As he was the only person waiting on table, this meant all the other customers went unattended during this period. None of them did summon him but, if they had, I'm sure he'd have immediately responded and they'd have been perfectly happy with this. Perhaps not for the first time, the thought struck me that this is how customer service often is in Spain – reactive. The onus is on the customer to demand service – to phone to check if the ordered goods are in, or the computer has been fixed, or the car repaired, or if a house matching your criteria has been found, or if your insurance claim is being progressed. As I think Werner points out, as better service hasn't been experienced elsewhere and since Spanish expectations are lower, this state of affairs is not often complained about here. It's just how it is. The devil takes the hindmost. To be positive, it does build a high degree self-reliance. Perforce.
  • I'm slowly getting a better idea of pensions here. Entitlement to one is a right under the Constitution and there's a basic state pension of c. €480 a month for everyone, regardless of contributions. Then there's a slightly higher but also non-contributory pension that might reflect family circumstances. These are the 2 pensions which the government is about to raise by 3%. Finally, the contributory state pension can be €700-860 per month for 14 months, or a max of €12,040 a year. Against an average per capita income of c. €23,000. Knowledgable readers should feel totally free to correct me on this.
  • Donald Trump has done such a good job making America great again that nobody in their right mind wants to visit it any more. Tourism has experienced a so-called 'Trump Slump', with international visitors decreasing significantly since Trump took office. Now, it seems, the Trump administration is intent on putting even more people off visiting the country. The government’s latest bright idea is to ask basically everyone who wants to enter America for 5 years’ worth of their social media history.
The UK
  • Don Quijones on a British scandal: Earlier this month Theresa May said there was no place for “serious criminals and corrupt elites” in the UK — an absurd statement given that London’s Square Mile has been home to almost every major global financial crime and scandal of the last ten years, including Libor, Forex, the London Whale, and rampant gold and oil-price rigging. And for years the City of London has been the place where the world’s richest gangsters dream of stashing or laundering their cash. According to the British government’s own National Crime Agency, “hundreds of billions of US dollars” are laundered through banks in the United Kingdom every year. . . . The UK’s government’s latest threats of a crackdown on illicit funds entering the market should be taken with a healthy dose of skepticism. More here
  • A Brit resident in Spain, Jason Webster, has written an interesting book – Guerra – about his search for more information on Civil War events and sites. In this, he refers to Galician retranca and seems to agree with the Royal Academy's definition as Intención disimulada, oculta. My impression is that here in Galicia it more often refers to the sense of humour – akin to sarcasm, irony – practised most often on (gullible) 'foreigners' from other Spanish regions. Again, I'm open to correction. Incidentally, Webster's odyssey results in some of his rosy-hued views on Spain being abandoned. As the review puts it: The more Webster unveils of the passions that set one countryman against another, the more he is led to wonder: Could the dark, primitive currents that ripped the country apart in the 1930s still be stirring under the sophisticated, worldly surface of today's Spain? Like me, Webster's not a fan of the Valley of the Fallen.
  • A few pertinent questions, from Cataluña. Which might influence you answer to Webster's query about modern Spain under the PP governments of the last 40 years  . . . Perhaps Brussels, as well as tackling Poland and Hungary on right-wing attitudes there, might also have a word with Madrid. As if.

© David Colin Davies, Pontevedra: 1.4.18


Alberto MdH said...

Regarding the contributory pensions: I though that the upper limit was a little beyond 2000 net euros a month, but this link says that there is no such limit:

Maria said...

This page has the minimum pensions, which, unfortunately, too many perceive because they simply don't have enough years of employment, or their employer (so many years ago) didn't deduct from their pay what they should have. The maximum of all the pensions is also mentioned in the "tope." Needless to say, this is what all the retired ministers and presidents receive, even though they have beautiful consulting jobs for the companies they helped out while in office.