Saturday, November 29, 2008

Hello to economic reality and go home please

Spain is even more in the economic toilet than Britain, which is saying something. Property companies and estate agents are going tits up by the day while unemployment is rising at a rapid rate.

Hence on the front page of a local free paper the other day was a story about how Spanish people are now accepting all the crap jobs they previously left to the Columbians, Peruvians and so on, such as cleaning, nannying, portering, washing up and so on.

And inside? An advert from the Spanish government explaining the new voluntary repatriation scheme for unemployed legal residents from outside the EU. You get your dole money paid (40% on leaving and the rest when you get back) and the right to come back three years hence.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

We have a winter

After two very mild ones, it's damn chilly and there's been lots of snow in the Pyrenees where the ski stations have opened two weeks early.

The chestnut and sweet potato sellers, who did no businesses last winter, are having a great time of it. And the Christmas lights, always an understated delight, have been switched on.

Nobody's got any money but .... it sure looks nice

UPDATE: hue hail storm

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Goodnight Vienna

All I know about Vienna and I heave learned from The Third Man, very definitely one of the greatest films ever. 

And for my first two days there I learned little more, spending much of it inside the very splendid Grand Hotel (and everything you think a hotel called the Grand in Vienna might be, it is, all brocade, grand rooms, gold taps, kaffee and kuchen etc).  

But the taxis I took through the wet and the grey showed a city straight out of Third Man country, all wrought iron balconies,  smart shuttered shops, large dark front doors and spired sloping roofs. And the two hours I got to march round the centre were delightful, through the parks, the magnificent Burghof, past shops selling Loden and a million coffee shops, including the wonderful Demel where the obligatory sachertorte was purchased. 

It must be time to see The Third Man again. The clip above is the scene where Orson Welles is finally seen for the first time,  on a dark street corner as a pool of light falls on him briefly, and is possibly the greatest scene in cinema. Ever.