Friday, September 14, 2018

Thoughts from Galicia, Spain: 14.9.18

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. Garish but informative.

Matters Spanish
  • The EU has said that compulsory changes of the clock will end after that of next March and that states will then be free to choose between all the options. Most Spaniards are said to want to have permanent Central Europe summer time but Galicians are said to prefer to go onto permanent British/Portuguese summer time. Whereas the Portuguese want to retain their twice-yearly clock change. A recipe for chaos? At least in this neck of the woods.
  • Both companies and individuals were badly burned several years ago when the Spanish government – having got it subsidy calculations badly wrong – reversed track and not only withdrew subsidies but also hit sun-users with new charges/taxes. Now this government has decided to reverse track again and is trying to lure investors back to Spain. They might be up against it. Especially as the law suits which arose from its last strategic change have, naturally, not be settled yet.
  • The Spanish PM has denied that he indulged in a bit of plagiarism when writing his Master's thesis. This story has a way to run yet.
  • I understand that, after your unemployment dole finishes here – after 2 years? - you can get €430 a month indefinitely. I wonder what checks there are about whether you're actually working 'on the black' and, so, not entitled to it. And whether there's a disproportionate number of people getting this money in, say, Andalucia.
  • Another example of the application of one of the Spanish laws left over from the Franco era.
Matters Global
  • Nice riposte from the British Foreign Secretary to the risible Russian claim that the 2 men accused of the Novichok poisoning in Salisbury were merely tourists: The last time the Russian military claimed to be on holiday was when they invaded Ukraine in 2014.
Matters Galician and Pontevedran
  • I occasionally say that living in Spain means you're occasionally either dragged back into the 19th century or launched into the late 21st century. An example of the former is notaries reading documents out loud to you, while an example of the latter is the efficient way the company which makes periodic car examinations uses the internet for appointments and then, when you get there, gives you a dongle to tell you when to enter one of the 3 bays. Yesterday all this worked smoothly right up to the moment when my dongle bleeped and told me to enter Bay 1. At this point, the driver parked on my left - seeing the guy summoning me - pushed ahead of me. Reminding me that it is Spain, after all.
  • My neighbour, Amparo, has been comparing her electricity bill with mine and that of my other neighbour, Ester. It turns out she's probably on a higher tariff bill than she needs to be. But what's really annoying her is that the company has accused her of being a thief. Her meter stopped working a while ago and they sent someone to examine it and to produce a foto of the meter before and after it was fixed, as if this proved anything other than the thing had stopped working and was now OK. To add injury to insult, they then they sent her a bill for an arbitrary amount. Apparently, there was no doubt in their minds that she'd fiddled with the meter and there was no question of it simply malfunctioning. Amparo is a doctor and had not taken kindly to being accused of being a common thief.
  • Incidentally, the discussion between the 3 of us confirmed that utility bills here are (deliberately?) so complex it's the devil's own job understanding them. And that the fixed charges are so high that Amparo had paid a decent amount to the electricity company even though her usage was recored as nil. One wonders when the utility companies here will be stopped from getting easy money this way - perhaps by real competition - and forced to bias their bills in favour of usage. So that I no longer subsidise folk who use a lot more gas, electricity or water than me. Like the families of Amparo and Ester, for example . . . .
© [David] Colin Davies, Pontevedra: 14.9.18

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