Thursday, April 05, 2018

Thoughts from Galicia, Spain: 5.4.18

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.

  • Can it really be true that the Spanish government has arrested the HSBC whistleblower so that it can swap him for 2 Catalan politicians currently in Switzerland? We wait on events. Meanwhile, Don Quijones writes on this here.
  • HT to Lenox of Business Over Tapas for this: At around 400,000 copies, the four main dailies -  El País, El Mundo, ABC and La Razón - now print, between them, less copies than El País alone was printing just ten years ago.
  • Reader María tells me that her daughter's ñecturers in the university of Santiago are all right-wing. This would be truly incredible in the UK, where they're all reputed to be far-left-wing Corbyn supporters. What does this tell us, I wonder.
  • Here's another funny thing . . . As you can see here, the number of eurosceptic MEPs in Brussels has soared, while remaining a minority:-

 So, fourteen countries have eurosceptic MEPs at Brussels, while Spain (inter alia) has none - out of 54. I can think of 4 immediate – and well rehearsed – reasons for this:-
  1. The EU is very strongly associated with democracy here and with the emergence of Spain from the dark, miserable Franco years, to become a full member of the European community of nations,
  2. Spain has been the largest beneficiary of EU funds
  3. The money has been not just easily obtained but also free – a long-standing Spanish cultural objective,  and
  4. The epidemic of extremely sticky fingers amongst Spain's political and commercial classes.
BTW . . . Did you clock how many eurosceptic MEPs France has?

Life in Spain
  • My car has been in the body shop for almost 2 weeks and looks like being there at least another one. Tired of battling the wind and rain up and down the steep hill, I called my insurance company to request a courtesy car. The first reason for not obliging me was that I didn't ask for it 2 weeks ago. When I retorted that this struck me as totally illogical, I was told that I couldn't have a car as I'd made two claims. When I pointed out that this was in 18 years and that the company had made a huge profit from me, I was told that, as the claims had been in the last 2 years, the rules precluded a car. So . . . since my insurance expires today, I had little choice to accept defeat on this. But it is surely another example of inflexible short-termism and they'll have to come up with a massive offer to keep me in 12 months't time.
  • Incidentally . . . Before the guy at the other end could talk (and pretend to be helpful), I had to provide 5 pieces of information 'for security purposes'. Because, of course there's a high risk that some impostor will call them on my phone to renew my policy. What was it Warner said about no one here taking risks?
  • He did say that no one here ever takes responsibility. And that's exactly what's happening around the poor contingency preparations for an accident at the Cathedrals Beach on our North coast, where falling rocks in a cave recently killed a young woman. And as happened around the tragic train crash in Santiago nearly 3 years ago. Not very edifying.  
  • More here on Fart's ludicrous campaign against Amazon. Not that the latter is beyond criticism, of course.
The UK
  • Impressively – except perhaps to reader Perry – tabloid readership has been falling, on line as well as in print. And the BBC is now biggest provider of news for Brits.
  • The imminence of regional elections can only mean one thing . . . Promises of new infrastructure initiatives and 'firm' dates both for these and for existing projects such as the AVE high-speed train link between Galicia and Madrid. One can only assume that some voters are still taken in by these.
  • Being without a car and living the top of a steep hill, I decided to look at on-line purchasing. So, I turned to Mercadona, in my opinion the best supermarket here for customer service. So, imagine my disappointment to have to abandon the effort after 5 failed attempts to input my address and post code. Turning to the site of a local chain, Froiz, I had no problems at all. Explanation? No idea. It's how things are here . . . Así son las cosas.
  • Which reminds me . . . I tried again yesterday to get an appointment in late May with the anaesthetist, prior to a minor operation then. Once again the computer said No, advising that it couldn't go beyond mid May. I was reminded of my very first visit to a dentist here. When I asked for another check-up appointment in a year's time, the receptionist first stared at me dumbfounded, then laughed and finally explained she didn't have a diary that looked that far ahead. But she probably did have a horizon beyond that of the hospital's computer.
  1. In the latest edition of of the British satirical magazine, Private Eye, an entry in their Pseuds Corner refers to Preston and Chantelle. These appear to be contestants on Celebrity First Dates and so (in)famous that they're identifiable by only their forenames. O tempora, O mores.
  2. Far be it from me to disagree with British institution Sir David Attenborough but needs must. He averred on something yesterday that the tenrec was unique to Madagascar, but it ain't. I saw them myself years ago in the Seychelles islands. Specifically in the Vallée de Mai. But maybe they've died out there . . .
© David Colin Davies, Pontevedra: 5.4.18


Colin Davies said...

Maria, pls re-send. Clumsy finger on small print of my phone . . .

Lenox said...

I went on behalf of a wealthy Brit to the bank last week to enquire after a property that they had on their books. Could we see it please? Well, the bank had passed it to another bank - the Bankia. So I went there, could I see it please. Uh, it's held by another office in the nearby town. Fine, can you call them please. No answer from the second Bankia. I'll call you when I hear from them says the employee. Three days later... the wealthy Brit has returned to the UK.
Me, I wonder whether Werner under-reported the inefficiency of the banks here...

Perry said...

I don't read the MSM. I read writers.
These are my sources.

Light relief.

Maria said...

I mentioned responsibility here always falls on the dead man/woman or the simple driver, as in the Alvia case.

Some time ago there was a fire in the center of Oviedo. A firefighter lost his life battling it. The family sued the city, mentioning complaints at the time that there were few firetrucks available for back up, that the water pressure was low, and that there were few hookups for the fire hoses. The court recently ruled that the firefighter's death was his own responsibility for entering the burning building. That means the family doesn't get paid by the insurance nor by the city. It also means the city doesn't have to spend money fixing the water system nor hiring firefighters nor buying firetrucks. If the family starves, so what? It was the firefighter's responsibility that he acted as he had been trained to do.

Perry said...

During 2018, the Ministry of Development is planning to spend €923m on the Mediterranean Corridor programme to create a 1 435 mm gauge route between the French border and Algeciras, including the provision of dual gauge, new construction and improving rail access to ports. Further work on the high speed line between Madrid and Galicia in northwestern Spain has been allocated €757m, while €661m is to be spent on extending the high speed network to Asturias, Cantabria and the Basque Country.

Where is this money coming from?