2 December 2022: Dodgy stats; Promises, promises . . . ; A wordless anthem; Evil Var; & Other stuff

Awake, for morning in the bowl of night has flung the stone that puts the stars to flight.

And, lo, has caught the sultan’s turret In a noose of light!

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable

                 – Christopher Howse: ‘A Pilgrim in Spain’ 

Cosas de España/Galiza

How to get key numbers down.

Says the FT: Spain is not the easiest place to do business. It has good infrastructure and little petty corruption. But its legal traditions—in which it can seem as if everything not expressly permitted is forbidden—and unwieldy bureaucracy can make starting and growing a company harder than it should be. The government hopes that a new law will change that, at least for startups. The bill aims to lighten the load for founders by offering lower taxes, more favourable tax treatment for stock options and other benefits for companies that are less than 5 years old and that generate less than €10m in annual revenue. The law should make life easier for ‘digital nomads’ too. Non-EU nationals will be able to apply for a simplified visa and pay a lower rate of tax while working remotely from the country, provided that their paying clients are mainly based abroad. I think I’m on record as saying, more or less, that cultural norms are so deep-seated it would be folly to rely on Spanish government promises. Least of all those involving a rapacious and unethical Tax Ministry.

Which reminds me . . . How come the Hacienda – which knows about every cent that goes into and out of my (or your) bank account – didn’t pick up on the €12m the mayoress of Marbella has acquired? The Opposition is asking for an investigation but I don’t suppose anyone is holding their breath.

Valencia wins again.

You might have noticed that the Spanish football players don’t sing the words of their national anthem. And you might even have wondered if this was an Iranian-style protest against some government policy. Well, no. It’s because there are no words. Attempts have been made in recent years to come up with lyrics that would please all the Spanish regions. Or, at least, not irritate some of them. All to no avail. Can’t be done. Maybe in 50 years. Assuming all EU-based teams aren’t by then obliged to sing Ode to Joy.

A new roundabout hazard – Being cut up by a cement-mixer not obeying the basic rule about yielding. I didn’t argue with it, of course.

The EU

Oh, dear.  The much-vaunted metaverse is a virtual world of immersive experiences and transhuman avatars but, as the EU has discovered, it can be a real life disaster. After spending €387,000 on creating a virtual world to promote the EU’s “global gateway” development projects, officials hoped to introduce young people to the website with a special “gala” night of “music and fun” . “Are you ready to party?” asked the invitation to the event on Tuesday night. Only a handful of people, appearing as avatars, turned up. The “global gateway” aims to raise more than €300bn by 2027 in infrastructure investment for the developing world in an attempt to counter China’s influence in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. “Beijing must be wetting themselves with laughter,” one diplomat said. “It would be funny if it was not a serious project, and if we hadn’t paid for it all.”


Olaf Scholz has suggested that Europe should go back to its pre-war “peace order” with Russia and resolve “all questions of common security” after the war in Ukraine if President Putin is willing to renounce aggression against his neighbours. In his most revealing remarks on the subject to date, the German chancellor said he would ultimately like to restore the patchwork of security arrangements stitched together during and after the Cold War, so long as Moscow was ready to honour them.

The World Cup

Very sad, of course, to see Germany go out. Ironically, via another did-it-cross-the -line incident, which will give them something new to complain about for 50 years . . . Stop-press: A close friend in Germany says the decision is accepted there and no one is moaning about it.

Ain’t this the truth . . . Sadly we are witnessing the World Cup being ruined by Var, which is taking centre stage rather than allowing us to watch and enjoy the skills of world-class players. I am a strong supporter of the use of technology but sadly this World Cup is being ruined by poor application. I think we have reached the point where we have to ask whether Var should be binned.

The Way of the World

The evil of self censorship


Softbois: Men who mess women around by pretending to be decent and sensible – with all their emotions in roughly the right place – when actually they’re a mess. 

Finally . .

To amuse . . . Frances Campbell-Preston, who had served the Queen Mother, died last week at 104. She was rather naive, at least when young and unmarried. At finishing school in Paris she liked to attend tea dances with French officers but, after growing rather plump, decided she must be pregnant, believing this could happen if you were touched by a man, especially a Frenchman. Her parents sent her to a doctor, who found that she was not ‘enceinte’, merely fond of Parisian pastries. 

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