Night’s candles are burnt out, and jocund day
Stands tiptoe on the misty mountain tops.
Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable.
- Christopher Howse: 'A Pilgrim in Spain'*
Life in Spain: What has changed?
Driving in Spain
- My first reference to this was in July 2002: Spain's statistics of death from driving are among the worst in Europe, particularly among the young, who have a reckless disregard for safety. Maybe they don't attend bullfights these days. Verdict: Things have improved drastically, thanks mostly to police campaigns and a range of new and ruthlessly applied laws, on driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, for example.
- In April 2004, I wrote: It continues to amaze me how Spanish drivers will quietly tolerate the most flagrantly stupid and obstructive driving of others, whilst getting very irate if you delay a micro-second at the traffic lights. I’m not so much talking here about blocking the road with inconsiderate parking or coming the wrong way down a one-way street. My impression with these [relatively] minor misdemeanours is that other drivers don’t complain because they know very well they would do the same thing if they had to. What I mean is imbeciles who drive down the hard shoulder when there are long delays on the motorway and then signal that they intend to rejoin the traffic when they get to the head of the queue. Without fail they are immediately let in, even by someone who's resisted the temptation to do the same thing. Verdict: Things have improved, in Pontevedra at least, possibly because our mayor is anti-car and has made driving in the city a massive challenge. And where you can still drive, every street is only one lane wide, reducing the opportunities of doing something truly stupid or inconsiderate.
- In June 2004, I made my first of many references to roundabouts: I've decided to stop signalling at roundabouts. This clearly confuses other drivers as, when I signal that I'm turning left, it incites them to rush in front of me. I'm told that this is because they assume that I'm going right round the roundabout and, therefore, the same way as them. So they accelerate to get ahead of me. Better to leave them guessing as to where I might actually end up as this forces them to hesitate. Stop even. The most astonishing thing about this advice is that it works. I will return to this theme tomorrow, with my verdict.
- Meanwhile, here's an entire blog I wrote back then on How to Drive in Spain.
- Yesterday I was approached by someone whom I thought might be a tad 'touched'. He was pushing a bike, trilling on a luminously green set of pan pipes and shouting something indeterminate. But as I passed the rear of the bike, I realised he was an itinerant knife grinder. Of the sort that's been on Spain's streets for hundreds of years. And which I used to see when I was very young in the UK. No longer, I suspect.
- I mentioned yesterday that the virus had slowed down all the country's service providers. But that's not entirely true. Within seconds of making my annual tax declaration to the Hacienda on line on Tuesday, I got confirmation that money was being taken from my account. There's simply nothing more efficient than the Tax Office in Spain. Certainly not bloody Renfe, with whose webpage my Madrid-based daughter has had the usual problems this week.
- Here's Day 9 and 10 of María's Adjusted Normal chronicle. Christian and pagan practices. Very Spanish.
- Another 3 refranes:-
- Faint heart never won fair lady: El mundo es de los audaces.
- Fine words butter no parsnips: Las cosas no se arreglan con palabras elocuentes.
- Fools runs in where angels fear to tread: El necio es atrevido y el danio comedido.