May 2010

If you're a sucker, as I am, for kitsch Euro TV, then you won't have missed last Saturday's Eurovision Song Contest, from Oslo. This year's high-tech super-extravanganza of Euro-multiculturalism and, er, singing (worldwide audience: 120 million), was remarkable for two main occurrences, especially from the point of view of an English person living in Spain. The first was Jimmy Jump (for that is his name)'s stage invasion during the performance of the Spanish song.
For those of the glam jetset crowd who still have the money to party, Marbella (where else?) is the place to be tonight. Summer is “officially” launched in the internationally famous coastal resort this evening, with the much-anticipated Grand Opening White Party at Nikki Beach, another spectacular of Nikki-style extravagance, elegance and world-class entertainment. Entrance is strictly by reservation or invitation only, and guests must adhere to the strict white dress code. It's another world out there.
If my posts at the beginning of the year tended to be about the weather (more specifically, the endless rain), lately they are dwelling on the state of the economy, and the government's handling of it, namely the public sector pay cuts. It's unavoidable - sorry. The crisis is affecting everyone, especially those who are en paro, funcionarios (5% pay cut) and health service personnel (9% pay cut), saving 37 million euros this year.. Also, state pensions are being frozen.
New buildings in cities, particularly those as historic as Seville, are always very controversial. Even in more modern metropolises, such as New York, the design of a contemporary edifice can provoke reactions as much emotional as cerebral - for example, Freedom Tower, Daniel Libeskind's 541-metre building which is currently being erected in Ground Zero. This is, and will always remain, a sacred place for New Yorkers, scene of such dreadful carnage. I visited it a few years ago, and felt moved by the atmosphere of the place.
Last night, news came in of the first "evacuations" from this year's El Rocio pilgrimage. The Hermano Mayor of Triana was among four rocieros taken to hospital suffering from dolencia cardiaca. A few people were kicked by horses too - all par for the course, with the combination of vast amounts of two and four-legged attendees, and extreme heat.
While I am a great believer that surveys are just space fillers for lazy journalists (30% of women don't think their husbands help enough around the house - shock, horror; 52% of men don't get on with their mother-in-law - well, who'd have guessed it?) - I am as guilty as the rest, because today I'm going to tell you about a new survey called "Global Happiness". This particular column-filler - sorry, survey - used a "happiness index" to rate how content 12,500 people in 16 countries across four continents were. The results are hilarious.
Following a British election campaign without British TV is a frustrating affair - no TV debates, no vox pops with people on the street, no declamatory rhetorical orations from the would-be PMs. Thank god for the internet - Radio 4 online, Youtube, not forgetting, of course, the lifeline for homeworking expats like me, that is our friends' comment on Facebook ("Gordon Brown-pants", "Brown-stained Britain", and my personal favourite, "Flush Gordon").
I'm not talking about the armed forces here. No, the four million-odd people in Spain who are now out of a job. For those of us who are unaware (I can't believe anyone who lives in Spain hasn`t heard), the numbers of unemployed in Spain hit 4,612,700, or 20% of the population, in the first three months of this year.