Talking of smoking . . . at lunch today with Spanish friends, I asked one of them whether she was going to continue doing this now that the food had arrived. Her reaction suggested she felt it was ruder of me to say this than it was for her to smoke while I ate. But, if I’m right that the basic rules of Spanish life are Have Fun and Live and Let Live, then there’s a certain logic to this view. I should have let her do what she wanted to do with her life, even if it adversely affected mine. Which philosophy underpins individualismo, I guess.
Here’s a surprise news item – “It was World Anti-Noise Day on Wednesday, an event generally ignored in Spain, the country considered to be the noisiest in Europe.” It looks as if the sound of any media report was drowned out by the ambient noise. Also very logically.
The list of eminent people calling for structural reforms in Spain grows longer by the day. “Now the EU has joined the calls suggesting a later retirement age or a reduction in pension levels to ensure their future.” President Zapatero shows no sign of changing his obdurate stance and insists that “The worst is behind us’. Optimism is, of course, a fine virtue. But a strategy . . ? Is anyone giving him a rough ride on the TV? Or is government control proving effective in this regard?
Many thousands of people around the world do die each year because of ‘flu. Several thousand hospital patients in the UK do die from infections caught there. But these aren't considered newsworthy. However, billions could die from the new variant of swine 'flu so the world is in turmoil again. As Simon Jenkins says in The Guardian today, “We appear to have lost all ability to judge risk. Risk aversion has trounced risk judgment.” I occasionally say the attitude to risk is rather lax here in Spain but sometimes I’m tempted to conclude this is better than a mad, headlong rush to the other end of the spectrum. Where, as someone else put it, “People seem helpless in navigating the gulf that separates public information from their daily round. They cannot set a statistic in context. They cannot relate bad news from Mexico to the risk that inevitably surrounds their lives. The risk of catching swine flu must be millions to one."
Ah, well. Where’s me face mask?
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