News, opinion, essays and links for residents and friends of Mojácar, Almería.
This site, started in September 2002, is called The Entertainer Online to continue The Entertainer name, the name of a weekly newspaper started by me in 1985 which ran without interruption throughout southern Spain until 1999 when a three year option to buy was taken by staffers. They never concluded the deal, or paid me, but changed the name when the option expired in April 2002 instead. Que vamos a hacer.
Overview of this site (Sections at bottom of page)
*Rambeau’s Diary – a blog *Freebie-Jeebies® – Some relaxed comment on the local free-press *Fallout – quotes from other sites *National News Certain pieces that catch my fancy *Local News Certain pieces that catch my fancy *Essays: Various input *Links about Spain (see top of page) about 200 useful links, including my other blog Spanish Shilling - *Now ten years old (Dec 2015). *To e-mail me - write to email@example.com. I don't always answer or open attachments.
That Tiny Roar of Justified Rage: The Animal Issue
Tuesday 26 July 2016 - 04:06:19
The Brits are a funny race. Known here as los ingleses (or los guiri or guiris), they may not know much about Spain, or the language or the people, but, By Gum, they certainly know when to feel superior. Yes, yes, the simple swineherd is their guru ('he knows so much about orange trees', they marvel), or the maid, as she turns out a first-rate tortilla; but, in general terms, the Spanish are generally thought to be charming but incomplete, in that condescending way the ingleses often have when referring to foreigners. This opprobrium will be understated of course, except when the subject of animals comes up (the Brits have cornered the subject on animals as their own). 'Is it against the law to break a car window when there's a dog inside?', asks a lady on Facebook... another disapproves of the camel rides on the beach (what do you think the alternative is for the camels?). Anyone who sides with the Spanish on animal issues is taken to have let the side down. Bad enough if you are American or German, but, if you are English... well really! So, as the Spanish people continue blithely with their lives, unaware that their less educated compatriots, who live in small British-heavy communities peppered along the coast, are chided for their silly ways, the British ex-pats must face the fact that their own compatriots have voted to cast them - us - adrift with the Brexit. But enough of that. Aren't the locals cruel to their pets!
After the last bit of the 'Paseo Maritimo' was opened a few weeks ago, running from the Cueva de Lobo past the Pueblo Indalo to the Red Cross building, the next bit to consider would be the extension past the beach bars. Tricky, since the beach is rather skimpy along that stretch of the coast. Yet, rather than wait another twenty years or so to build up some steam, a report today says that work will start on this section of 745 metres shortly. Three million euros have been found by the authorities and the paperwork is well underway. This eventual part of the 'Maritime Promenade' would take around 14 months to build and would have a bike-path, gardens, and a whopping 145 parking spots. The chiringuitos should look interesting after they have been drastically remodelled by the project...
In our small corner of enchantment, we are accustomed to occasional swells and troughs in the local population of varmints. An English-language newspaper recently mentioned the plague of flies which had swarmed out of nowhere, covering the outside in unbelievable numbers. Yet, by the time the report came out, the mass of flies had gone, returning to the usual status quo, which is a nuisance rather than a serious bother. Where did they all go to? Unlike the Chinese, who were reputedly told to kill a hundred a day, no doubt on pain of having their own wings pulled off, we manage to avoid keeping tally, relying on an aerosol spray to do the job. I once bought a trap for flies, a plastic pack crowned with a hook and a cardboard landing area and with a small lump of damp rhinoceros shit secreted in the bowels of the package. A sure-fly success with the moscas. Within days I had about a kilo of dead and rotting flies in my swollen bag, hanging in the arbour. I had to bury the whole stinking mess at the bottom of the garden. A few grasshoppers came along to mourn. One summer we have a plague of mosquitoes; another time – as this year – there don’t seem to be any. We may have locusts, a plague of them stripped Mojácar in 1906 causing a catastrophic famine here, or it may be a simple swelling in the population of fleas, or scorpions, or mice. This comes about either because the particular thing which eats them happens to be in a decline that year, or because the particular thing which the plague eats, happens to be in abundance. Nature will eventually balance things out, saving the environmentalists or the household bottle of insecticide the trouble. At the moment, in our neighbourhood, we are troubled by ants. They are those little ones which like sweet things and, as we found out yesterday, they have a particular regard for Sugar Puffs. A long line of them crossed the floor of the kitchen, headed for the larder. Meanwhile, a rather more obvious line of pieces of cereal was jauntily marching along the other way, out the door and down a hole on the terrace. We are also currently blessed with woodlice: also apparently known as ‘roly polies’. The Spanish ones are nevertheless rarely able to roll into a ball, and prefer to lie on their backs with all of their legs waving futilely in the air as they wait for someone, unknowingly, to pass by and grant them release from this vale of tears. ‘Crunch, crunch yuck!’ as one of the kids said with disgust last time we had the problem with this particularly pointless pest, around twenty-five years ago. But plagues are always a short-term problem, controlled by the natural rhythm of the seasons. With a little patience on our part, we know that even the tourists will soon be gone and we will once again be able to enjoy our evenings without being obliged to wear some repellent. (FromSpanish Shilling, August 2011)
Where do you get your news about Spain? Here's last Thursday's Business over Tapas (sent weekly to your e-mail for 60€ a year). Subscribe here.
Business over Tapas Nº 170
It was eighty years ago this week when the Spanish Civil War began. Eighty years is a long time, but the wounds from this terrible time are still in evidence. Many Spaniards would rather not talk about their grandparents’ experiences, and perhaps it is time to respect their wishes. There is, of course, one thing we must remember – there can be nothing worse than this kind of war, where families and neighbours are pitted mercilessly against each other: often (in 21st century terms) thanks to media manipulation, lies and exaggeration.
‘According to local press reports, Barcelona City Hall has provisionally approved a plan to hit owners of empty homes in the city with a new administrative charge (tasa in Spanish) of €633, followed up with further fines of €286 for every notification issued to owners of empty homes. City Hall will present this provisional plan to the Economy Commission this week for approval...’. From Mark Stücklin’s Spanish Property Insight. Mark notes that ‘...They may call it an ‘administrative fee’ but it’s basically a fine for owning an empty home in Barcelona...’.
The price of rentals has finally stopped falling after 38 straight months says El Mundohere. The article refers to urban long-term rents.
It seems that 6.6% of Spanish workers are lucky enough to be based in their own homes. Better still, if they have an eccentrically designed home-office like the ones featured in an article at Idealistahere. Although not mentioned in the article, the main BoT office, while extremely isolated, does have a large colony of geckos that share the work-space.
Madrid: ‘Award-winning sustainable residential complex offers affordable, energy-efficient homes. ... Modestly priced, the project has succeeded in exploding some of the myths surrounding sustainable construction, while reopening the debate over whether building green homes is a viable option in Spain...’. FromEl País in English.
The PSOE is careful to say that ‘the changes in the LOUA – the Andalusian planning laws – are most certainly not an amnesty for “irregular” houses’. This, as the Andalusian Parliament voted on Wednesday to ‘regularise’ around 30,000 homes built on lots without planning permissions. See here. A brief press note late on Wednesday sent by the AUAN (in Seville) simply says ‘Approved with the support of PSOE, PP and Ciudadanos’.
‘A British real estate agent has been cleared of fraud by a court in Almería after being accused of duping a couple into buying a house on non-urban land in Arboleas. Gordon Condrey, 60, went on trial at the Audiencia Provincial court in Almería city recently...’ From a report posted (as a fragment) by Costa de Almería News.
‘If it lives up to expectations, 2016 will be a record year for world tourism. Right now the number of travellers who went abroad for purely recreational trips in 2015 is a record 1.184 billion. Of these foreign vacationers, Spain received 68.1 million, a figure likely to be overtaken in a matter of months. The latest statistics show that foreign tourists coming to Spain still seek out the sun, flocking to the country’s beaches...’ Taken from an editorial called ‘Cracks appear in Spain’s low-cost tourism model’ at El País in English. Preferentenotes that two leading Spanish journalists have recently questioned the veracity of information found at TripAdvisor! (Who would have thought?).
Agent Travel says that Spain will be one of the European countries most affected by the Brexit. Quoting Moody’s. In 2014, 26.7% of foreign visitors to Spain were Britons.
‘No matter how fast Spain’s economy grows, its government cannot seem to get a grip on its spending habits. This year is going to be the eighth consecutive year that Spain has overshot its fiscal target. Originally, the Spanish government was supposed to get its deficit back below the EU’s sacred limit of 3% of GDP by 2013, from a staggering 11% in 2011. When it became clear during the darkest days of the crisis that it would be impossible, the deadline was extended by a year. A year later, Madrid had made so little progress that it got a further two-year extension, to 2016...’. Taken from the always readable but frequently depressing Wolf Street.
‘The Social Security’s pensions fund is emptying. And this is causing huge alarm amongst current and future pensioners who believe, incorrectly, that “there’s going to be no money left and one day they’ll tell us that there is no monthly payment.” This is completely untrue. In 2009, the pensions fund had a maximum amount of 66 billion euros and its maximum gain was 3 billion, when the yearly expenditure on monthly pensions is over 100 billion!...’. A useful article from The Corner.
‘Spanish lenders close as many as a million unclaimed bank accounts. Despite frantic calls and letters from banking firms in Spain, small balances and in some cases huge sums are likely to be passed on to the taxman...’. Many foreigners have accounts which have not been substantiated. Story at El País in Englishhere.
Wolf Streetexplains the Floor Clauses used by most Spanish banks, how they were disciplined by Spain’s Supreme Court and later by Brussels, and how they have now got out of having to pay anything back to their customers. ‘...Not only will taxpayers have to bail out the banks whenever they run into trouble, stiffed bank customers will also soon have to accept that they have no lawful right to compensation if doing so could run afoul of “macroeconomic considerations.” And with the banks as weak as they are, just about any punitive fine could be construed as posing a risk to the macroeconomic environment...’.
Reuters on Spain’s banks notes that ‘...Spanish banks' bad debts as a percentage of total credit in the system fell to 9.8 percent from 9.9 percent in May and 11.4 percent a year ago, data from the Bank of Spain showed on Monday. Those debts include non-performing loans left unpaid for 90 days as well as borrowings in danger of falling into default...’.
‘Lawmakers on Tuesday picked a close ally of Mariano Rajoy as parliamentary speaker as Spain's acting prime minister cast around for coalition partners following last month's inconclusive general election. Public Works Minister Anta Pastor, 58, got the speaker's job under a deal between Rajoy's conservative Popular Party (PP) and market-friendly upstarts Ciudadanos who came in fourth in the June 26th polls...’. FromThe Local. The two parties also collected another ten ‘secret’ votes – apparently from parliamentarians from within the different ‘independence’ parties (what do they get in return?). This, indeed, gave Rajoy’s candidate a House majority. Could this be repeated to deliver the government to Mariano Rajoy? We may know on August 2nd.
If everything once again goes pear-shaped, the date for the next general elections in Spain is November 27th.
Well, goes the thinking, let’s bring some of the EU agencies currently in London to Madrid. Acting-president Mariano Rajoy, the mayoress of Madrid and the President of the Region of Madrid are all in agreement – and are working on bringing ‘the City of London’ to Madrid where ‘say what you like, none of Spain’s political parties are anti-European’. El Diario reports here. From Yahoo Finance we read that banks must now reassess their London-heavy structure: ‘A JPMorgan banking analyst ... took a look at office rents and capacity in different EU cities, with Madrid coming out on top both for cost and supply...’.
Andalucía is the most corrupt region of Spain, says the General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ), quoted in the far-right Alerta Digital.
Spain’s counterfeiter king was arrested last week for printing up twelve million euros of false banknotes. This was the third time that the master craftsman Juan Pedro González Sánchez from Beniaján, Murcia has been taken by the police. The story at Voz Pópulihere.
FromLe Monde Diplomatique. Title: ‘UK: lost, divided and alone. The Brexit vote was an insurrectionary protest against neo-liberalism, globalism and cultural contempt. It will break up the UK, and split England forever’.
The Seville ABCseems unfazed by the proposition that the ‘guiri councillors’ as it says ‘will lose their positions thanks to the Brexit’. To prove their point, they show a picture of Maura Hillen, confusingly known in Spain by her real name Marie Therese O’Donoghue (vice-mayoress of Albox and president of the AUAN). Maura is of course Irish.
Interviú has an article on the British residents in Spain titled ‘I want to die here’. Well, not now, of course. ‘They are Britons, retired and happy living in Spain’, says the article. ‘They have lived for years in third age complexes that look nothing like the places the elderly Spanish must face. In these ‘urbanisations’, they have their own apartments and services, like a swimming pool, a spa, hairdressers, restaurants, gymnasia, organised excursions, domestic cleaners, doctors and medical home-visits...’. Anyhow, the Brits love Spain, we read, and around 400,000 elderly Britons intend to stay here... and one day die here, thank you very much.
Brexitears: some links at The Entertainer Online for those who don’t want to give up!
Funny letter from a German newspaper: ‘Dear Englanders, we, the Redaktion of Germanys oldest Newspaper, would like to know what you thought have, when you showed the stinking finger to the European Union, Brussels und our beloved Chancellor Merkel. Have you still all candles on the christmas-tree?...’.
FromThe Independent: ‘Britain will not take up its scheduled presidency of the EU Council next year and will instead focus on its preparations to leave the bloc, Theresa May has said. The announcement is the first key responsibility relinquished by Britain in the wake of the EU referendum result...’.
FromSpanish Shilling: ‘While we are all reeling in shock from the ghastly Brexit and the insults from the British Roundheads, a number of local 'please-don't-send-me-home' groups have been set up by the Britons hitherto living peacefully in Spain, France or other parts of the European Union. I'm in one and have joined a couple of others. We need some energy here, as there is no one (no one!) to speak for us or represent us...’.
Lenox asked in a pro-EU Facebook page (here) ‘Seriously - how bad is it in the UK now - tense or life as normal? (I live abroad, so don't know)’. A typical answer: ‘At home the subject is rationed. We all voted remain. But outside, and we are in a 74% remain area, it's like a remake of the Body Snatchers. We aren't sure of who the Brexiteers are. It's civil but tense, apart from the odd racist who picks on someone who looks foreign, like my daughters. But being Surbiton it's limited to 'fuck off home' type comments. I hate what this has done to our country. I feel ashamed to be British’.
Twenty five slides of the Spanish Civil War, which started eighty years ago this week. Found at MSNBC.
Spain imports the worst and dirtiest kind of petrol, says El Diario. A quarter of all crude imported by this country is considered the most contaminating for climate-change gases. This crude comes from Nigeria, Algeria and Kazakhstan.
One business that’s doing remarkably well is the export from Almería of insects used in biological controls. In the first six months of this year 405 million of them went abroad!
A petition to the Spanish Government asking for double nationality for Britons who have been resident in Spain for over ten years. Indeed, it is the front page of The Olive Press!
…... See Spain:
Laujar, the wine-producing town in the Almerian Alpujarras, is celebrating its first equine fiesta from July 22 to 24. Several flamenco concerts and at least 100 horses are promised.
Picking up a story from The Costa Almería News - it seems that the Mojácar Anglican vicar, the Reverend Pauline Williams, has thrown in the towel because some of the faithful wouldn't take communion from her with her being a woman and all. This appears to have made Pauline uncomfortable (and understandably so), and she has now left the area to return to the UK. The British out here are sometimes too much, hey?
More Drills and Rubble for The Village. But, it will be worth it!
Tuesday 19 July 2016 - 15:40:48
The Mojácar mayoress has been busy during her tenure. Besides many smaller improvements (the football field, the many roundabouts and the peculiar old-people's exercise machines on the beach), she has put her mark to three major projects. The first began with the demolition of various buildings in the old town, and the building of an open square up by the church, together with an alarmingly expensive and largely useless underground car-park (for which you have to drive through the pedestrian village), built with Public Money, but for sale to local residents at eye-watering prices. We then had the public lift, to take visitors and residents up the last bit of the hill behind the village. A very useful addition to Mojácar. Then, this year came the 800 metre extension to the Paseo Maritimo (beach promenade). Apparently very popular with the denizens of the playa. Now, for the final project, the demolition of the old 'Mirador' ('viewing point' as it's called). This is the marble terrace with no less than three different sets of tables from three bars (or wait, is it four now?). This viewpoint is above the old police station, library, post office and culinary school. Originally built by an earlier mayor as a three-storey car-park, the upstairs was too steep to drive into, and the whole was too narrow to fit more than a handful of very small Renaults. Now, the building is going to house the brand-new Town Hall (dah Dahh). Announced officially on Tuesday, the two-million euro project will begin with the demolition later in the autumn when only local residents will be inconvenienced. The new edifice will house the new 'consolidated' municipal building (why not build it on the beach, where everyone lives?), the new police station and a public lift. Above, the new 'view-point' will have easy access and the same amazing views (and lots of tables for the four bars). The Avenida de Paris will also be widened by five metres (in some way which remains unclear). The whole project should be terminated by next Easter.
While we ex-pats panic, wondering what will become of us following Britain's alarming decision to leave the European Union, we turn to the idea of double nationality. Perhaps we can get a second passport. Maybe an Irish one. Perhaps a Spanish one. Do they give these out, what do we have to do? There's a petition asking the Spanish Government to start handing out nationality to those who have lived here as residents (presumably on the padrón and with that nice letter from the police under the rules from the Interior Ministry) for ten years. In fact, after ten years (less if you are South American, and much less - about half an hour - if you are a world-class sportsperson), you can ask for Spanish nationality. Go see the juez del paz, speak Spanish, pass an exam set by the judge on your knowledge of Spanish culture and current affairs, and have a police certificate from your country of birth saying that you are a fine upstanding citizen. And then just wait a couple of years. Then, there's marriage to a Spanish national. Apparently they ask you what colour is your partner's toothbrush and so on. Then it's all smiles... and you wait a year. An idea championed by a group called 'Europats' (a webpage in process here) is to seek the creation of an internal European Passport from Brussels. This would allow free movement inside Europe, plus the normal European privileges, would be open to ex-pats and nationals who needed one and would allow people to keep their own nationality and use their passport outside the EU. It's not so far-fetched. The 'Nansen passport' was created and used after the First World War for stateless persons. How to convince 'Brussels' that this could be the answer to many concerns? A thousand mile journey begins with a single step.
If you still have time during your travels on the Internet, especially while diving into the heart of Facebook, and, if you are also in shock from the racists in the UK winning that thing (maybe in the long-term forcing many of us ex-pats back to the Kingdom of Blighty - or what will soon be left of it after the Scots pack their sporrans and leave), then here are a few useful links. Project Remain says it's an 'action site' here. The 48 a large Facebook site for ruffled Englanders. Here. An even larger one: Scientists for EUhere. UK Citizens - Say 'Yes' to Europe based in France for ex-pats here. Brexpats in Spain. Useful group based on the Costa del Sol. Here. Europats: Representation in Europe for the ex-pats. Here. Here's a petition to the Spanish Government (when they get one). It's asking for the automatic double nationality for those Brits who have lived in Spain for over ten years (I know, but this would be easier). A couple of webpages are starting up to defend the ex-pats: ECREU - Expat Citizen Rights in EU. Fighting for the rights of UK citizens in the EU and EU citizens in the UK (based in France). Here. EUROPATS Protecting Expat's Rights In EU Countries. For all European ex-pats. (Based in Spain). Here.
Mojácar is very hot at the moment, hot and steamy. From Bédar on Monday, I could see the smog from the Carboneras power station hovering over Mojácar. Smog is a bit like a rainbow - it's always somewhere removed, but in reality, it can be right over your head. So, hot, steamy and dirty, and the party goes on.
A news-piece from Spectrum Radio on Facebook from Thursday July 7th. 'Five held over sexual assault after first day of bull run fest'. A girl is raped in Pamplona. So far (Sunday at 12.00h), two likes and no comments from the British Spectrum fans. Since and following, Richard has put various reports of the bull runs in Pamplona and the story of the bullfighter gored and killed yesterday in Teruel. Many, many likes and ugly comments from the British readers. Indeed, Richard has felt obliged to ban six cold-hearted monsters from his page already. I wonder - are the Spanish quietly looking forward to this peculiar race of people being obliged to leave soon?