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Monday, September 26, 2016

Swim to forget?

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It is a reflection of the uniformly depressing nature of the ‘news’ nowadays that gaining an empty lane in my swimming pool for the whole of the duration of my metric mile crawl is enough to make me feel that not everything is ill with the world!
            I am still trying to get my head around the fact that Galicia, for the umpteenth year in succession, has elected a majority government of the criminally corrupt PP (Spanish Conservative) party!
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Given the welter of adverse publicity showing clear maladministration throughout the PP organization it takes a particularly strong peg to block the nose from the stench of corruption to actually vote for such an undeserving bunch.  But vote they did and they have thereby promoted their president to be the most likely person to take over from the walking joke that is the acting president of Spain.  God help us all!
            The Basque country voted as it always does for parties who loathe the politicians in Madrid, and we get ever closer to the break-up of Spain.
            Enough.  Disgust with the present political situation is becoming an idée fixe with me and I am aware that I am repeating myself, and powerless fury becomes boring after a while.  Although I can vote in local elections, I have no say in national ones and I can not take a direct part in the changes that are essential if Spain is to develop from its long post-transition malaise.  Frustration does not even begin to cover what I feel.

Self-interest is always more refreshing!  I have had a message on my phone telling me that my state pension has achieved a “resulta favorablemente” and that I will soon be getting something by post telling me the “resolucion”.  I am not sure what this means as my pension is going to be paid by the UK and the few years that I worked in Spain are not going to make that much difference to how much I get.
            The whole process of getting my state pension has been interesting one.  The initial application form for people claiming from overseas was horrific in its demanding detail.  A panicked phone call to the UK revealed that, if you have worked in Spain, you have to apply via the Spanish social security system and not via the UK.  Given the propensity for revelling in pointless bureaucracy in this country I was, to put it mildly daunted.  The reality was a delight!  It took about five minutes with a bloke in the local social security office and the administration was done!  Unbelievable!  I dully received a notification for Newcastle that things had been processed and I am now waiting for the cash!  I will be interested to see what the Spanish system has to say as I had assumed that everything was done and dusted.  As far as I am able to work out, I think that the work that I did in Spain gives me an extra quid a week: not much, but I’d rather get it than pay it.
            I fear that the lurking missive from the Spanish state is more likely to be about taking money rather than giving it.  If you live abroad then your state pension is paid to you in toto with no tax deductions.  At this point the omnipotent hacienda or Spanish tax people take an unhealthy interest and demand that it be taxed by them: not unreasonable as I do actually live here!  
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Resultado de imagen de new duke of westminster          I will try and empty my mind of the numerous graphic instances in the recent past (vide The Panama Papers) where many of the rich and famous in Spain have taken to heart the notorious words of Leona Helmsley who said, “We don’t pay taxes.  Only the little people pay taxes” and have done everything in their power to ensure that none of their hard earned cash (!) goes to the taxman.  As a teacher who has been ‘taxed at source’ for the whole of his working career I feel that I occupy the moral high ground when it comes to the payment of taxes, and certainly on a higher plane than the new Duke of Westminster who has paid a laughable amount in death duties and I am sure will continue (legally) to pay the absolute minimum of tax, resulting in a retired teacher (e.g. moi!) paying a higher proportion of his income in tax than a man who owns Belgravia – among other choice chunks of London!
            Ah well, one mustn’t be bitter as it only shortens one’s life and affords merriment to those, like His Grace, above!

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My new phone (complete with un-exploding battery I trust) is now set to be delivered in the first week of October.  I have bought a charging station; a case, and extra memory for it already and so, quite apart from the horrendous price of the thing, I am now left with a further investment that will be nullified if I decide that I have waited long enough and cancel the order.
            To look at my frustration from another point of view, I could retexture this enforced period of waiting as a Zen-like meditative interlude of delayed gratification.  Which is good for the soul and is, of course, entirely foreign to modern expectations – and therefore I will be practising a dying skill.

At this time of the year, the weather can be gauged by the degree to which the foam cushions on the sunbed have dried out.  Although we have not had a great deal of rain during the day, we have had theatrical OTT storms during the nights, and the intensity of the sun during the day is sometimes insufficient thoroughly to dry out the material to the intensity of ‘bone’.  Today, for example, I have had to turn the mattress upside down on the terrace to allow the sun to do its work.  I was confined to plastic chair to lounge about a bit.  In fact I have just checked and the mattress is almost dry: it should be perfect for a little light sunbathing this afternoon!  There are advantages to living this close to the Med!

Tomorrow I go to the third of my classes in Spanish here in Castelldefels.  I am, it has to be said, dreading the experience as I fear that I will be way out of my depth given the extent of the knowledge of all the other people in the class: they seem to approach the use of verbs with delight while I am like some medieval cartographer inscribing “Here there be dragons” over those parts of a sentence which allow it to make sense!
            I shall, however, give it a go and see if I can survive and, as one friend has already pointed out, it will be an invigorating experience for me to be the inarticulate one in a language class for once in my life!  I only hope that there are revealing pictures in the textbook that we are due to be given tomorrow!

Life really does have a relentless quality that is both exciting and intimidating at the same time!



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