Thursday, February 06, 2020

Thoughts from Pontevedra, Galicia, Spain: 6.2.20

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable.   
Christopher Howse: A Pilgrim in Spain  

Note: I'm indebted to Lenox Napier's Business Over Tapas for some of today's items.

The Spanish Economy
Spanish/Galician Life 
  • So, the ex care-worker who claimed the pension of a dead patient for 30 years wasn't unique. What a surprise. And this in a country in which you're constantly asked for your ID. Except - it seems - by those who really should, but don't.
  • A quotation - heartily endorsed by me - from Tim Parfitt's 'A Load  of Bull': The 'heart press' – la prensa del corazón –  is a phenomenon in Spain. Some say its origins can be traced back to the harsh repression that followed the civil war, which left few families unscathed, and thus considerable vigilance was required as people avoided giving anything away that might betray them. So a love of harmless gossip – cotilleo – was born, whereby Spaniards gossiped about the rich and famous as they sought escapism from daily life. In a nation that reads, per capita, less than one book a year the 'heart press' comprises the staple diet of a high proportion of Spain's population. 
  • Some 'tapas temples' around Spain.
  • Someone has written to El País asking why English will be retained as an official language of the EU after Brexit. Well, maybe because it's the global lingua franca. And possibly because it's preferred by the majority of EU members. And certainly because it has a lot more to do with Americans than with the departing Brits. My guess is that the writer would nominate Spanish for the majority language, if English ceased to be this. Vaingloriously, I suspect. Surely it'd  have to be German  . . .
  • Talking of English here in Spain . . . some youngsters aren't getting what they deserve. Perhaps their employers think they should - like the locals - depend on their parents for survival.
  • Opus Dei: Still very active, says a German journal under  the rubric: "The Power and influence of the work of God in Spain".  Translation from Mr Google: In the Franco era, Opus Dei was at the zenith of its power. Then the arch-conservative Catholic secret order in Spain grew quieter. However, the various corruption scandals that have shaken the country and have involved members of Opus Dei - at the highest political levels - have demonstrated the influence that the "work of God" actually has to this day - with its approximately 30,000 members, the largest following in Europe. A closer look behind the scenes is difficult. The "divine servants" are obliged to maintain strict confidentiality about their membership and the processes within Opus Dei. They also vow “all-embracing, quick, happy obedience”. Not everyone can do this for a lifetime. The author has met dropouts.  
  • It had to happen   . . . The police in Vigo nabbed a guy on a souped up e-scooter for doing 100kph. With a dog in a box attached to the back of it.
Portugal
  • Our neighbour does a great deal to entice (rich) foreign pensioners to move there. So . . What does Spain do to attract expat pensioners?, asks Mark Stucklin of Spanish Property Insight and answers his own question thus: Nothing that I know of. This is something that's - quite rightly - troubled/irritated Lenox for years. As for me, I've long been aware of the 10 year tax break and have been thinking about a move - against the wishes of my 2 daughters - for 2 years or so. If I were to make it now, I'd only get half the benefit of what I'd have got last year. Though, at a 50% tax reduction, it's still not to be sneezed at, of course. The problem is I'd have to go too far south to actually avoid the sort of wet winters we have here in Galicia. So, maybe Madrid is a better bet for 5 months of the year.
  • Stucklin shares the sentiment with Lenox (and me) of sometimes wondering if anyone in the Spanish governing classes has even given the matter the slightest bit of thought. Indeed, he says, the Spanish authorities seem to go out of their way to discourage expat pensioners from retiring to Spain with their spending power. Take the disgraceful Spanish Modelo 720 world-wide asset reporting obligation as an example of a big turn-off for expats. And the numerous land-grab and illegal building corruption scandals that have ruined the lives of many expat pensioners during what should have been their golden years and have stained Spain’s reputation as a safe place to invest.
  • Still on Portugal . . . The Mayor  of Oporto thinks there should a politico-economic union - Iberolux  - on the model of Benelux. I'm not sure why. We already have the Atlantic Axis.
Spanish  
  • Words of the Day:-  
  1. Salpicar: Splash; sprinkle; splatter
  2. Cuentagotas: (Eye) dropper.
  3. Guiño; Wink  cf. Guión: Script
Finally . . .
  • The lock on the Gents toilet in my daughter's favoured café/bar is still upside down/back to  front:-

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