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Thoughts from Pontevedra, Galicia, Spain

Random thoughts from a Brit in the North West. Sometimes serious, sometimes not. Quite often curmudgeonly.

Thoughts from Pontevedra, Galicia, Spain: 18 November 2020
18 November 2020 @ 10:20

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'*  

 Living La Vida Loca in Galicia/Spain

There are a lot of pigs in Spain, meeting the need for the many fine pork products on sale here. The story/myth has it that pig breeding rose grew when offering pork was seen as a good way to establish whether converted Moors really were no longer Muslims. Anyway, this article suggest pigs aren't always well treated on Spanish farms. As someone who worked on such a farm during my school holidays and swept and hosed out pens every morning, I'd just add that it's hard to keep pigs pristine clean.

When I moved to Spain in 2000, there were almost 50 banks operating here - many of them 'savings banks' under dubious political management. Each had high urban visibility - albeit sometimes only locally - with several branches manned by staff numbers way above levels in the Anglo world. What a change. As of today, there are only 5 banks and this will fall to 3 when BBVA and Sabadell and Caixabank and Bankía complete their mergers. Inside the banks that remain, it's also a different world, with far fewer of the desks which allowed customers to have a face-to-face chat without prior appointment. Both branches and ATMs have fallen in number. As, of course, have interest rates. But fees and commissions are again on the rise. Not the best demonstration of customer service ever observed. Years ago, I joked it wouldn't be long before fee-inventive Spanish banks charged you merely for breathing the air in their branches. Time to resurrect that exaggeration?

Here in Galicia, Abanca has gobbled up all the other local banks and is now seen as a Galician champion, an image it relentlessly projects. It's true that it operates primarily in Galicia but but, in fact, it's ultimately owned by this Venezuelan chap -  Juan Carlos Escotet.

I wonder why Pontevedra’s closed retail outlets are often replaced by dental surgeries or plushly fitted-out opticians. Not to mention jewellery stores. Good for many laundering, perhaps.

María's Riding the Wave - Day 3:  

The Way of the World

Authoritarianism is a form of government characterised by the rejection of political plurality, the use of a strong central power to preserve the political status quo, and reductions in the rule of law, separation of powers, and democratic voting. The political scientist Juan Linz defined authoritarianism as possessing 4 qualities:

1. Limited political pluralism, realised with constraints on the legislature, political parties and interest groups.

2. Political legitimacy based upon appeals to emotion and identification of the regime as a necessary evil to combat "easily recognisable societal problems, such as underdevelopment or insurgency".

3. Minimal political mobilisation and suppression of anti-regime activities.

4. Ill-defined executive powers, often vague and shifting, which extends the power of the executive.

Anyone spring to  mind?

Nutters Corner

Christian Right activist and conspiracy theorist Mark Taylor, the guy who said last month that criticizing Donald Trump is an affront to his faith, is now saying that anytime Trump talks about a potential COVID vaccine, he’s really talking about arresting Satanic people-eating pedophiles.

Finally . . .

The wit and wisdom of Dave Barry: In Spain, attempting to obtain a chicken-salad sandwich, you wind up with a dish whose name, when you look it up in your Spanish-English dictionary, turns out to be "Ell with the Big Access". . . . Perhaps not his best.

 

* A terrible book, by the way. Don't be tempted to buy it, unless you're a very religious Protestant.



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