Sunday, 20 June 2010

Austerity measures.

This week my husband is playing in a chess congress in Sanxenxo, a small place on the coast near Pontevedra. A number of players from the UK are playing and staying there. They will be able to take advantage of the excellent weather by going to the beach in the morning as they don’t start playing until about five in the afternoon. Very civilised!

There is a small group of Vigo chess players who travel there every day by car. One of these is my husband. We have our little routine when he plays in a congress: early lunch, pack the necessaries – bottle of water, flask of coffee, banana and chocolate for instant energy, earplugs in case the venue is noisy – and walk together to his pick-up point, after which I go off for a walk or to meet up with friends.

Yesterday, as we waited for the driver to get his car out of the garage, one of the players remarked on the fact that there are fewer chess congresses in Galicia this year than last. It’s one of the consequences of la crisis. As small businesses pull in their horns they offer less sponsorship to activities such as chess congresses. Less sponsorship means less prize money means fewer congresses. This led to a general lamenting about chess not being recognised as a sport and the difficulty professional chess players have in earning a living.

Then one of the players said he even feels guilty if he wins a prize at a congress because he may be inadvertently taking that money from someone who relies on winning to earn a living. “Le estoy robando el pan de todos los días – I’m stealing his daily bread.” Well now, that’s a very noble sentiment but does anyone force the professional chess players to make their living that way? Couldn’t they also have another job? On that basis you should never accept a job of any kind because you would be preventing someone else from holding that position. Of course, there is a solution for this noble-minded chess player. He could give away the money and just take the glory of winning!

Someone else who seems to be taking economy measures in la crisis is Princess Letizia, future queen of Spain. I see from an article in El Faro de Vigo that it has also been noted that she has “repeated” her outfits. Some dresses have been worn as many as EIGHT times in public!! What are things coming to? She’s not the only one either. Princesses from the Danish, Swedish, Belgian and Dutch royal families have been known to wear their outfits more than once. Here in Spain Queen Sofía and her daughters have even, by all accounts, shared their wardrobes. That’s very commendable. Many daughters would refuse to wear their mother’s clothes. None of them has gone as far as Queen Margarita of Denmark, however, who is even said to sew some of her own clothes.

Mind you, even though there are reports of the princess setting such a good example, some magazines still comment on the amount of money she spends on clothes: €20,000 a month according to one (unconfirmed) report. She’s clearly not buying HER clothes from H & M then!

Once more on the positive side, Letizia has also been praised for looking extremely elegant at a recent royal wedding somewhere in Scandinavia I believe. Now, that gives everyone something to be proud of while la selección is not doing very well on the football field!

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