30 March 2022: A (long) rant; Ukraine v Russia, A gommeril; Fame at last; & Other stuff.

Night’s candles are burnt out, and jocund day stands tiptoe on the misty mountain tops

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable
Christopher Howse: ‘A Pilgrim in Spain’

Cosas de España/Galiza

Apologies in advance for this rant about yesterday’s series of gnat bites. . .

Life in Spain 1: I’m changing my car insurance provider, which has been a typical Spanish calvario. So far, I’ve made 4 trips to the office of the new company’s agent – one of them to have the car photographed – and today I’ll make the 5th, to get the policy documents and to allow him to copy my car’s official documents. Yesterday, the agent advised me to contact the old company to ensure they didn’t charge me next week. When I asked him if he’d sent the cancellation notification I’d signed in his office a month ago, he said he had but sometimes companies ignored these. So, I called my old insurer, to be told – surprise, surprise – they had no record of cancellation and to be immediately offered a 25% reduction in the premium. When I pointed out the policy had been cancelled, my interlocutor replied he was obliged by the company to do this. He then said he’d email me a cancellation form which I’d have to sign and return immediately by fax, email or snailmail. Having printed out, signed, scanned and emailed both this form and my original cancellation letter, I was notified that each of my 3 emails was too big for the company to accept. So, I then had to go to go to the trouble of posting them to the company at the mail box which seems to be the only one in Pontevedra city, on the wall of the Post Office. As to what would have happened if I hadn’t called the old company, your guess is as good as mine. As it is on the issue of whether said company is dishonest or merely inefficient.

Life in Spain 2: Yesterday morning I picked up some foto enlargements I’d had done. When I got home I discovered the originals weren’t in the envelope, so had to go back in the evening to get them. 

Life in Spain 3: At the picture framer’s – 3rd visit – I was told that what I’d been promised would be available a week ago still wasn’t. No apology, of course.

Life in Spain 4: Wanting cash yesterday morning, I found that 2 of the bank’s 3 ATMs weren’t working and that, at the one that was, the woman there was clearly doing this for the very first time in her life. After waiting several minutes, I decided to return in the evening. When I did, it was to find it was now a different ATM to be the one of the 3 that was working. So, having failed at one of the others, I joined the queue at this one, to (im)patiently await my turn. When the person-with-a-cervix in front of me got to the machine, she turned round and asked me if it was OK if we let a a guy go first because he’d parked illegally and was agitated about being fined. It was all I could do to refrain from telling him to eff off and live with the possible consequences of his offence. But I managed it.

So . . . As you can see, not a great day for getting things done efficiently and painlessly. 

Oh, I forgot to say on Sunday that at the checkout in a supermarket on Saturday morning, an employee asked me to go to another till, where a colleague would ‘help me’. This turned out to be a self-service machine, where a problem with the identity/cost of potatoes, meant that the process – involving 2 employees – took 10 minutes, against the 1 minute my original checkout would have taken. Again no apology for the waste of my time. And then – insult to injury – I had to present the bar code on my receipt to get out of the automated checkout zone. Something I’ve never experienced in the UK.

Maybe I’m easily annoyed. Or am just unlucky. Usually these frustrations/irritations are more spread out.

But there is good news . . . The main item in today’s Voz de Galicia is that the editor of the paper had been presented with the Gran Cruz de la Orden de Isabel la Católica. So, he had a better day than me. And the Ukrainians.

P. S. Life in Spain 5: As I’ve said, I planned to visit the agent of the new insurance company this morning. Since he’d asked me to come before 1pm, I messaged him at 12.45 to ask if he was in the office. Back came the reply ‘No’. So it goes on . . . Spain is Different.

The range of drivers on Spain’s road without insurance is from 6% (Madrid) to 23% (the 2 African non-colonies), with the national average being 9%. An awful lot of cars. Galicia’s average is also 9% but that of Pontevedra province is 10%. In comparison, the UK national average is 4%, down from 8% in 2004.

The UK

Another terrible scandal in the NHS, stupidly regarded by many/most Brits as ‘the envy of the world’. Simply because it was the first, back in 1948.


Near term – After thousands of deaths on both sides – things seems to be returning to the status quo ante, with the Russians supporting separatists in Eastern Ukraine. Though this time openly rather than secretly. No doubt Mr Putin can and will spin this to his gullible/ignorant citizens as a win for him. Easily done when you control all the media and imprison would be truthtellers.

Longer term – The Ukrainian president says he’s willing to have face-to-face talks with the man responsible for the massive destruction of his cities and the slaughter of many thousands of his countrymen. A tough challenge for anyone, I’d say. Never mind a man who’d previously made his living as a comedian. 


The United States needs stronger, sharper and wiser leadership than that provided by Joe Biden. If so, one wonders where it’s going to come from.


A gommeril: ‘A slow witted person’. Actually Scots, not English. New to me.

Finally . . .

I’m guessing my email address has been sold again. Almost 200 spam messages yesterday. Most of the offering me a legal compensation payment.

Fame, at last!

For new reader(s): If you’ve landed here looking for info on Galicia or Pontevedra, try here. If you’re passing through Pontevedra on the Camino, you’ll find a guide to the city there.

One comment

  1. A good way to tell a company you’ve cancelled with them, is to instruct the bank to stop upcoming payment. Then the company will lightly threaten you, and you can point out you’ve cancelled with them. Then the paperwork will be found.


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