Sunday, 26 December 2010

On laws and awards and other matters.

It’s that time of year when you go out of your way to meet old friends you’ve not seen for ages and ages. That’s just what I did last week. Knowing that my former work colleagues were coming to the end of term on Tuesday and knowing that they are almost all creatures of habit, I set off for the hostelry where they usually have an end of term drink in the early afternoon. And I was not wrong; there they all were, relaxing happily and celebrating the prospect of two weeks without getting up to go to work. It was very good to see everyone again.

It was also very good to be able to have a drink in a smoke-free atmosphere. That was one pub that didn’t seem to be suffering a drop in customers because of the UK smoking ban. And then, probably the following day and certainly for a few days after that, I kept reading about Spain’s new smoking ban, due to come into force on January 2nd. I find it quite amusing that they have decided to “spare” New Year’s Day. People can still go out and celebrate the start of 2011 with as much tobacco smoke as they like.

The next day, however, it all changes. There will be no smoking allowed in bars or restaurants, hospitals or health centres (not even in the doorways), schools, entrances to schools, children’s playgrounds or open air swimming pools where there are children’s playgrounds nearby, nor in bingo halls or casinos. Hotels will be able to keep their 30% of smokers’ rooms but airports and railways stations will lose their smoking areas. And the list goes on and on, including a nicely vague ban on smoking "en todos los demás espacios cerrados de uso público o colectivo". When will they ban smoking in the street?
I particularly liked the report that said that smoking will not be allowed in trains or taxis and not even on the upper deck of tourist buses, despite these being “al aire libre”. Similarly I was amused to read that “Clubes de fumadores” can be created but they must be non-profit organizations and can’t have any employees. Only members will be allowed in and no products can be sold there. Oh, and in prisons and psychiatric institutions there will be special smoking areas. I would have thought that completely banning smoking in prison could be a suitable extra punishment.
Somehow it seems especially Spanish that they have gone from a very half-hearted smoking ban where bars could decide for themselves whether they were smoking or no-smoking places to a possibly stricter ban than in many other countries. There have been some protests about the arrival of the nanny state – el Estado-padre- and an “exceso de proteccionismo”. Opinions are divided on what the effect will be on the hotel and catering industry and there is some discusión of what constitutes a “terraza” and whether one can smoke there or not..

Meanwhile it remains true that Spaniards smoke a lot; around 30% of Spnaish adults smoke regularly, despite the fact that sales of cigarettes have gone down slightly. However this latter fact may be because the amount of rolling tobacco sold has gone up; the crisis has forced many people to roll their own cigarettes.
Another law being considered for the new year in Galicia is the possible intrduction of compulsory school uniform in state schools. This will apparently avoid the problem of deciding whether headscarves, veils and other religious odds and ends are allowed in school. If they aren’t on theuniform list, no point in trying to wear them. It would also allow schools to prevent boys from wearing lowslung trousers and girls from wearing tops which reveal their belly buttons (with or without piercing). This rounds like an old argument to me!

In the meantime some old friends have been in the news. One of Spain’s favourite acting couples, Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem, are about to have their own nativity scene any day now. However, since they have recently been seen at a Lakers’ game in Los Angeles it would seem they have decided the baby will be born in the USA alter all. Pé has had a busy pregnancy, filming the third Pirates of the Caribbean film during which her sister Mónica had to stand in for her for some risky bits of acting.

My hero Alberto Contador, still under investigation for possible use of performance enhancing drugs, has been tweeting or twittering about how positive he feels about 2011 and his new cycling team, Saxobank. He has declared, "el año que viene será histórico".

And, finally, the late Paul the Psychic Octopus, predictor of Spain’s World Cup triumph has won an award, despite being dead. I read in the free paper left lying around on all our local buses that Paul has won the “Dafta”, an award that celebrates the best weird news story of the year. There you go!

Well, we still have an average temperature of around 0° here and I see that most of Spain is on yellow or orange alert for cold weather. So there’s no escaping the cold then.

I just hope everyone has been having a Feliz Navidad and that Santa has brought or the Kings will bring lots of excellent gifts.

1 comment:

  1. Feliz año nuevo to you and today (Dec. 28)is the feast of the Holy Innocents (in memory of the babies that Herod ordered to be killed) so here it is equivalent to April the 1st and people play all the similar jokes on each other.