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Sunday, July 10, 2016

Never trust stereotypes


The only good thing about the Express newspaper was the cartoonist Giles.  And since he is dead there is nothing at all good about that vile little rag.  However, a cartoon by Giles came into my mind when I thought about what happened to me in the Spanish Social Security Office.
            The cartoon showed a class of worried school children watching Chalky (the death mask looking teacher) writing a pile of reports.  One of the kids is whispering to another, “I hope that’s not my report he’s writing.  He’s smiling!”  A normal reaction to those in authority when they show enjoyment.  If they are smiling then someone is going to suffer.
            So, waiting to hear just how much paper pushing would be necessary for me to claim my state pension via the Spanish system was worrying enough without the person dealing with me smiling a lazy smile!
            It took five minutes!  It was all done on-line and now any inefficiency will be on the part of the British system and not the Spanish.  And the smile on the official’s face was genuine happiness, sharing my delight!
            It is difficult to understand.  If I had (as I couldn’t) pressed my claim in Britain then I would have to have filled in an astonishing document which, in one section, asked me to list all the places in which I had lived with full addresses and dates!  And that was only one section!  Carmen tells me that her application of her Spanish state pension demanded reams of paper to be filled in.  But a Brit, having worked for a short period in Spain and now living in Spain: a few minutes, and job done!
            A sobering thought is that the rest of this swift process can take up to four months!
            I have been entitled to my state pension since last October but I wanted to delay it for a year as you get an extra percentage if you wait.  Brexit has wiped out the advantage of that, by already reducing my pension by more than 10% thanks to the plunging pound.  I need ready money rather than jam tomorrow!  It will be instructive to see when real money makes it into my actual account!  But still, just a few minutes and the administration was done!  Unbelievable!
            And to cap this extraordinary result, we also found a wonderful little restaurant, exceptional value and tasty food.
            The only thing to make the day even more perfect will be to discover that the lottery tickets that we purchased on a day of such obvious propitiousness have turned up trumps and I won’t need the pension!
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