Friday, January 18, 2019

Thoughts from Galicia, Spain: 18.1.19

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable.
- Christopher Howse: A Pilgrim in Spain. 
Spain
  • Just going back to the incident of the knife that I had to put in my boot before boarding the ferry last Friday . . . I forgot to say that, as soon as I’d parked my car on the boat, I realised I was now perfectly free to take it out and put it back in my bag. Rather pointing up the stupidity of it all.
  • Which reminds me . . . Yesterday, I had to put my rucksack through the security machines at both Pontevedra and Vigo train stations. And on each occasion I was carrying in my hand both my phone and a large-ish portable battery charger. Rightly or wrongly, it struck me that the latter could be a tin of plastic explosive.
  • Another thing I forgot to add was that, notwithstanding the complexity of buying tickets on the Madrid metro, their cost is very low. By British standards, at least. They’re heavily subsided by taxpayers, of course. One way or another the piper has to be paid.
  • My daughter was very happy with the 12 October hospital in Madrid, not only with the treatment she got but also with the excellent room she was in, alone. I have to say, though - in line with earlier comments - that whoever is responsible for provisioning the toilets is letting the place down.
  • I had one very pleasurable experience in the hospital, albeit a small one. My daughter sent me to buy her a 1.5L bottle of water. After waiting for 2 hospital employees to make their choices - and to stop their chattering - I entered my selection and awaited further instructions. Whereupon, without further ado, a bottle dropped down and a 1 euro coin fell into the change box. Now, that’t the sort of machine one could get to like.
  • Two observations after being back in Spain for 5 days:-
  1. As I’ve said before a few times, I’m never going to get used to people walking across me as if I didn’t exist. Certainly not after 5 weeks in the UK. Where only Spanish tourists do this.
  2. I’ve concluded - perhaps charitably - that the (mercifully few) daft driving manoeuvres one sees on Spanish roads are born of thoughtlessness, rather than aggression. Such as tailgating you and then speedily cutting across the you and the traffic to your right to leave at an imminent exit.
  • Back to winter hats . . . On the streets of Madrid, I noted one chap wearing, not a beanie, but a full balaclava. Oddly, he was also sporting shorts. Must be some sort of (hipster?) fashion.
  • Can it really be true that Spain's economy is so bad that its future depends on setting up a betting industry as immoral as that in the UK and Gibraltar?
The EU and the Euro
  • Here’s another of those articles addressing problems of today and tomorrow, and possible solutions. This time from The Economist. Will the UK stay in and help to address the problems or will it leave and increase them? Who TF knows.
The UK and Brexit

  • The Zeebrugge port CEO says: It's completely unclear what will happen. The chance of a no deal Brexit has increased. The best we can hope for is for more time to be taken. We need a transition period in which efforts are made to strike a deal. if we go to a no-deal scenario, then effectively it is chaos on 1 April.
  • Per Richard North: As the penny at last begins to drop and even the legacy media realises that they're being sold a crock of lies, the understanding of the consequences of a no-deal Brexit can only improve. And while the damage to the UK would be substantial, there is some mileage to be had from the fact that EU-based operations will also suffer. 
  • RN again: It is all very well for Barnier to declare that it’s now for the British government to clarify how the UK "wishes to proceed in organising the orderly withdrawal which it requested". But it is as much in the interests of the EU to help us out as it is in the interests of the UK to avoid falling over the cliff. It is to no one's advantage if this becomes synchronised falling.
The USA
  • I can’t recall if I posted some months ago this review of a book on the rise and decline of American power.  Headed: Great empire, little minds. Fascinating.
Spanish
  • Words of the Day. Catch-up time:-

Finally . . . 
  • I read last week that some Brits regard ‘train station’ as a terrible Americanism, and that it should be ‘railway station’. It takes all sorts.

P. S. As you might have guessed, I swallowed very, very hard yesterday and bought a new Mac laptop. The least expensive. But I still had to take out a mortgage.

6 comments:

Eamon said...

Colin look on the bright side! It won't take 25 years to pay off the mortgage on that Mac.

Maria said...

I'd better put in an order to Jackson's Art Supplies these days. After Brexit they either: won't ship to the EU, or charge two arms and five legs for shipping, which is why I don't order from the United States. Possibly, also, the Book Depository, where I buy my books in English. A hard Brexit will hurt us in many ways.

On the bright side for you, I heard the Spanish government is going to pass legislation to make sure British expats maintain their right to healthcare in Spain.

Colin Davies said...

A wise move, Maria, even if B is a long way off yet, and might never happen.

Sierra said...

Had an overnight at our local hospital recently (hint - if having a fairly-simple procedure and you're not accompanpied by the usual Spanish "family" to take you home, policy is you have to stop overnight!). Room with en-suite bathroom was immaculate - the amount of staff available was incredible. Given that Spain spends approx. the same % of GDP on healthcare as UK, it makes you wonder why NHS has problems.

Colin Davies said...

Maybe Spain's health service charges 'health tourists' and doesnt provide free cosmetic surgery. But dunno really. An expert cciuld easily tell us. Cheaper salaries, of course and better public/private approach (as elsewhere in Europe) plus a much higher percentage in Spain on private insurance schemes, meaning lower demand in the public service. But overall it's because no politician in the uk is prepared to describe its deficiciencies and openly try to deal with the. Fax machines, for example. And excessive admin numbers. You can, of course, get excellent as well as poor treatment on the NHS. As i have, even tho i should really have to pay for it. They have no mechanism for this, it seems.

Sierra said...

Was surprised last week to be given an 8.00pm hospital appointment (checked it wasn't 8.00am!) - however recalling that breakfast was at 10.00am and dinner was at 10.00pm during my recent overnight - just another case of Spanish times are different