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The International Writers Magazine - Our Tenth Year: Spain and its Present

Quo Vadis Spain?
James Skinner

It’s been a while since I’ve written about my present ‘place of abode’. If you use Hacks’ search engine you’ll find many an essay written over the years by yours truly about this country. From politics to anecdotes, from personal experiences to simple short stories I’ve probably touched every subject under the sun regarding Spain. But we live in difficult times and to try to write objectively and with a touch of old fashion optimism is not easy.

In fact, this applies to almost everything for a present day writer, amateur or professional. To come up with anything new except for a ‘state of the nation’ report without sounding gloomy or boring is almost impossible. The world is in a mess. We all know that. Just turn on the television, read the news either in print or on the web or wander down to the local pub and chat with your neighbour and it’s the same old story: ‘The Crisis’. So, to wrap it up in a nutshell I confirm that Spain and the Spaniards are in the same boat as the rest of the world, except for one thing. As Spike Milligan would say, ‘they’re walking backwards to Christmas!’

Here’s a rough synopsis. Unemployment is record high, above all other nations at over 20%, the national debt is soaring way above the Maastricht treaty limits, the housing bubble not only burst but it ‘shat’ all over the place leaving literally millions of people, construction companies and housing estates rotting in the wilderness with a surplus of dwellings nobody wants or can’t afford. But who cares! The Spanish government is having a ball handing out money to everyone. From old dears who cannot take care of themselves to town councils for the repair the roads, from abortion clinics to assist young sixteen year olds who’ve had too much of a good time over the weekend, to the usual unemployed that have now reached the 4 million mark.

The banks on the other hand, although they are rolling in lolly and still making a fortune continue to refuse issuing any credit. ‘If you want to start a little tiny business, go and ask the Government. We’re closed for the season,’ is the usual answer from the country’s financial institutions.

Here’s the hilarious side. Our president spends his time at party political broadcasts with speeches that are no different to those of Peter Sellers fifty years ago, keeps telling us that all is in hand for a bright future and to keep taking the tablets that no one is going to be left in the gutter. He has told the trade unions that they are the best thing since sliced bread and that the ‘champions of industry’ are all a bunch of hoodlums for trying the change the labour laws.

He’s also a great friend of Obama’s, so he says, Bush was a bastard, and is pushing for his ‘Alliance of Civilisations’ program at the United Nations; loves his photo parade at the G20, especially with Sarkozy and Merkel. He wants all Westerners and Muslims to live side by side and live happily ever after. He has the support of Hugo Chavez, Fidel Castro, Gaddafi and Morales of Bolivia. He looks the other way when his Defence Minister announces troop increases in Afghanistan. The largest opposition party is in a mess because of fraud scandals and other dubious activities. It keeps accusing the government of ‘spying’ on them. This came about because the president of Valencia, an autonomous region was accused of laundering money. He couldn’t find the receipts for some suits made by his private tailor! The judicial system is bogged down and up to its eyeballs in outdated cases. The judges cannot find the papers in time to put criminals behind bars so many have got off scott free. One judge is actually chasing after the whereabouts of Franco’s death certificate. He’s convinced the Spanish public that the previous dictator who ruled Spain for 40 years never actually died!

I believe Spain is the only country that has a Ministry of Equality. Every entity, organisation, shop and bar must have an equal number of male and female employees! Men are scum because they continue to be ‘male chauvinist pigs’. Another great comedy act is what I call ‘ministerial announcement confusion’. The Minister of Finance talks about roads, the Health Minister talks about taxes and the Minister of Industry talks about swine flu to give some examples. When the president comes back from his numerous trips he adds more confusion by refuting what his ministers have stated previously.

But let’s revert to the bright side.
Tourism has dropped by about 10% but that is good news because it means less British hooligans. The hotels and restaurants are grumbling, but no problem! They just get rid of their excess illegal immigrant waiters. The shops are worried because sales are down but the government keeps telling them the fantastic news that the cost of living has dropped to zero and that consumers are living the best moment of their lives. So shut up! The kids continue to enjoy the night life over the weekend, boozing to their hearts content. The number of daily football matches on the telly are soaring keeping masses happy in the evenings after they’ve picked up the dole money, and the old retired folk, who incidentally are not yet affected by the so called crisis, sit around in the parks playing cards and dominoes until its din-din time.

Spain enjoys a resurgence of undercover moonlighting employment. Plumbers, electricians, accountants, vendors of smuggled goods, wheeler dealers of all kinds are making mince meat of the situation. No social security payments, no income tax, no bureaucratic paperwork, no receipts whilst life goes on. But the government is not stupid. They’ve come up with a scheme to combat this evil. They’re going to raise taxes; for the suckers who are still able to scratch for an honest living! Ah! But here’s the catch! Nobody really knows what taxes are going to be raised or by how much. That’s the beauty of living here. Life is always a guessing game and you don’t really know what is going to hit you next!
Crisis, what crisis?
© James G. Skinner. October 2009.

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