So, Spain finally did it and won the European cup. And deservedly - if nail-bitingly - so. Easily the best team in the tournament. Needless to say, today will be an ‘unofficial holiday’. Re-watching the highlights on British TV, I had to smile at the exuberant comment that it didn’t matter now whether one was Castilian, Basque or Catalan; all were rejoicing in the nation’s victory. My elder daughter had earlier called me from San Sebastian in the Basque Country to tell me the bar she was in was as quiet as the grave. The other amusing thing was reading English reports posing the question of what the national team could learn from Spain’s approach to the game. Under a bloody Italian manager renowned for his defensive mindset!?
As I’ve said before, Spanish reports of football matches seem to me to be superior to those in British papers. One reason, I guess, is that a lot of stuff gets written, so the chances of some it being great are higher. Anyway, I like this summary from El País’s Ernesto Valverde:- You can be a simple champion or a worthy champion, even a brilliant champion or a dubious champion. What is more difficult is to be universally regarded as a champion, both within and without your own country. Spain is this sort of unanimous champion, only infrequently recognised by the football world. The team’s play has been the best, the most lucid, and the most brilliant - above all, at key moments – that’s to say from the quarter finals on, when the demands and the pressure are at their greatest. Suffice to say that Spain won her last three matches without conceding a single goal and always attacking. This gives you a good idea of the side’s brilliance, highlighted ultimately in a great final, against a Germany which, come what may, is always to be feared in important matches. And I also enjoyed this ad from the beer company, Cruzcampo:-
They said we were small,
But we defeated giants.
That our anthem lacked words,
But we have written history in letters of gold.
That we would choke in the quarter-finals,
And not make it to the final.
But, if the past was black,
We have stained it red.
As some readers will have twigged, it was always unlikely that I would deliver on my promise to post Spain’s Negatives today. Inappropriate in the festive atmosphere of today and ungallant, if Spain had lost. Wednesday?
I guess we all find it easy to understand why English is not called Londonese. Or Sussexese. Or, indeed, anything other than English. I say this because a writer in El País today made the point that it’s wrong for the Spanish to call their language Castellano and not Español. Apart from being technically incorrect, it makes it easier for ‘nationalists’ on Spain’s periphery to disassociate themselves from a language associated with another part of the country, as opposed to one associated with Spain as a whole. Fair point, I think.
The UK insanity of police checks on anyone and everyone who has anything to do with kids is even greater than I thought. It turns out that “the Criminal Records Bureau check is not transferable, requiring some people who volunteer for a wide range of activities to have two, three or even more. One man has had to have five separate checks - one for being a teacher at a secondary school, another for teaching voluntarily at a primary school, a third so that he can run a Cub Scout pack, yet another because he sings in a church choir and a fifth because he is the voluntary licensee of the church club”. Why would anyone bother to volunteer for anything now? Except paedophiles who don’t yet have a criminal record. Perhaps the whole scheme is actually a fiendishly clever way to catch these. And maybe pigs really can fly.
Of all Spain’s provincial capitals, Pontevedra is now said to have the cheapest new flats, going for an average of €1,484 per square metre. Followed by Badajoz, at 1,527, and Lugo [another Galician city], at 1,547. This has possibly got something to do with all the huge flat blocks which have been constructed in the last three years here. And which have yet to come on stream. So prices may be lower than this next year.
I popped into the HQ of the Rias Baixas tourist board to see if they had any new leaflets or brochures for this summer. I came out with 64 of these, weighing 3.5 kilos. Or 7.7 pounds. They were a delight to carry the mile back to my car in the 30 degree midday heat. But I’m ready for just about any question now.