Monday, 19 February 2018

Bang Bang, I Shot You Down

It must be strange living with guns. People may decide at any moment to whip them out and take a shot at you. Perhaps because they were annoyed at you, perhaps it was just in a moment of excitement. It's also true that you could decide on a whim to pull your own gun out of your holster and shoot back at them. Perhaps go and shoot someone else while you are in the mood.
There are indeed a few people I would like to shoot, when I think of it (and The World would be a better place for their passing) but, since I live in Spain, I don't have a gun. Being British, the best I can come up with is to shake my fist in their general direction after they have passed. This is probably for the best.

Monday, 12 February 2018

Reeling with the Flu-bug

The worst influenza ever known in modern times was ‘the Spanish Flu’ which managed, between January 1918 and December 1920, to infect some 500 million people, of which somewhere between 50 and 100 million mortally. Wiki has the story here. This horrible viral disease, which put life expectancy back by around 12 years during its course, was known as being ‘Spanish’ simply because the Spanish media were not instructed - unlike many other nations still at war - to under-report the pandemic and thus allowed its ravages to hold centre attention.
The version of this which struck Your Servant a century later was a little less relentless, and after nine or ten days there remained nothing that a large meal and a week’s holiday in New Zealand wouldn’t bring right.
I was feeling fairly ill early last week as Walter Drake and I* prepared the editorial for Business over Tapas. Heavy and dizzy. I couldn’t eat and I was to spend most of the following week asleep in bed. I lost four kilos!
There wasn’t much fever and no high temperature. I was told by my nurse to eat Ibuprofeno by the handful (if you are ill, you may not want to follow this course). Indeed, Wiki says that there is no particular cure for el gripe beyond bed-rest. It takes a week to pull round, two weeks for full recovery.
This year’s ’flu is considered a heavy edition and, by this weekend, was responsible for the death of 472 Spaniards.
While there may not be a cure, an ultra-violet light bulb is reported to be a useful anti-viral defence, according to scientists at the University of Columbia. The only problem being that the bulb costs around $1,000 to buy.
One of the joys of surviving the ’flu is the happy knowledge, as one walks about, that while some of you lot may be starting to feel a bit whoozy, Your Servant is in the very peak of health once again (or would be if he could only catch a week’s holiday in New Zealand).

(*An inside joke)

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

The Joke that Wasn't Funny

Leader from this week's Business over Tapas:
There has been quite a reaction to the Sunday Times article about the behaviour of the Spanish – loud, jolly and eat late – written by a British journalist who spent a few years in Barcelona. He has since apologised profusely (reproduced in full here). We can laugh at ourselves, but not so much when a foreigner has a joke at our expense.
There is, of course, plenty of material to be funny about since (thank Goodness), Europe is not a homogenised mass, but a huge collection of regions full of their own customs, charm and idiosyncrasies.
The Spanish reaction to the article can be found in El País ‘The humorous article "How to be Spanish", published in The Sunday Times on January 22nd, angered hundreds of tweeters, who responded to its author, Chris Haslam, with angry messages with the stereotypical vision he offered of Spain. According to the text, we are rude, noisy and take three hours to eat, among other things...’ The article includes a video from El País in English editor Simon Hunter apologising for his British colleague’s remarks (and his essay on the subject, in English, here). An aggressive article on this at La Nueva Crónica here also fails to see the joke. More amusingly, the ABC wrote a piece on the British and their habits (including putting carpeting in their bathrooms) translated into English here. However, the best reaction we’ve seen so far comes from El Mundo, with their article ‘Who the Fuck says that we Spaniards like to Swear?’
The number of jokes at the expense of the British is likely to rise as we approach Brexit: jokes and inevitable truisms, like the departing German ambassador to London’s remarks about the popularity of the recent British films about Churchill and Dunkirk, that ‘...the image of Britain standing alone in the second world war against German domination has fed Euro-scepticism in the UK, but does little to solve the country’s contemporary problems...’. For those who prefer their eggs fried over-easy, here’s The New Statesman taking the opposite tack that ‘As the popularity of Dunkirk and Darkest Hour show, we remain entranced by the story of Britain’s heroic resistance to Nazism and its wartime leader. What are the lessons to be learnt? And why must we keep looking back?’
In Spain, Sir Francis (!) Drake is a pirate; in the UK, he is a hero; in Germany, they’ve never heard of him.

Friday, 2 February 2018

Padrón News

According to the INE, the statistics agency, Mojácar has been most successful in its culling of the padrón. The figures from 2013 were 8,360 souls. By December 2017, this had shrunk to just 6,630, a fall of 1,730 people in four years. We are now 25% smaller than the next door sea-port of Garrucha (growing and currently at 8,666). The Town Hall has been removing absent, dead and lost people from their lists (most commendable, if slightly unsporting), while failing to encourage new settlers to register. Aren't we selling lots of homes through our real estate offices? Perhaps this remarkable shrinkage of the population is down to the political worry of the foreigners all suddenly waking up and voting for some alternative to our current administration (and its yearning for 'family tourism') in the next local elections.
But fear not - we don't have a champion, and we probably (thanks to Brexit) won't even have the right to vote come May 2019.
Towns get services and funding and licences based on their size. Mojácar now, with less citizens, can expect reductions in money, nurses, teachers and so forth.
As we know, the town shoots up to around 25,000 in the summer, but still with services for just 6,500.
Here, since we are on the subject of populations, is an interactive map taken from Business over Tapas showing every municipality in Spain - its extension and population. Mojácar (at 72 square kilometres) has a density of 88.5 per km2 and an average age of 47.75 years old.