Tuesday, 2 September 2014

September thoughts!

Suddenly we are almost at the end of our summer. It's September already. You might not think so if you looked at the blue sky and felt the heat bouncing off the walls out in the street. Nonetheless, September it is. As it said on the t-shirt of someone I saw in Pontevedra during our chess extravagance, "Winter is coming". Actually, I think that is going a little too far but that's the way of slogans. But, indeed, suddenly we are running around tying up loose ends here before we head back to the UK. 

One of those loose ends was paying our rent. Because of the difficulties, still unresolved, that we had opening a bank account here, we pay a couple of months rent in advance in cash. (I sometimes wonder if our paying the rent in cash means that the landlady avoids paying taxes and that we are part of the black economy!! Heaven forbid!!) This means that for a few days before payment I run round like a scalded cat visiting cash machines every day and hoarding euros under the bed. 

I was reminded of this when I read in the newspaper yesterday that there are almost €1.7 billion worth of pesetas still kicking around somewhere in the country. Is it really 12 years since Spain converted to the euro? It seems barely believable. I remember being in Mallorca not long before they changed and having a conversation with a number if people who were panicked at the idea of adjusting to a new system. 

They probably needn't have worried. In some places, prices are still given in pesetas as well as euros even now. I wonder how they work out what the modern value of the peseta is. 

I am constantly hearing that life is more expensive under the euro. That may well be so. I am sure that some prices were "rounded up" and even quite substantially so. Mind you, I could also say that life is generally more expensive than it was twelve years ago. So what does that prove? 

In any case, it seems that there are a lot of pesetas around. Some might well be under people's beds. Some will have been stashed away by coin collectors. Others will probably have been lost down long-since destroyed items of furniture and possible been destroyed. There is a theory that quite a lot have left the country in the pockets of tourists, never to return. 

I have the odd duro (5 peseta coin) kicking around but not enough to make my fortune. For those who have huge reserves of pesetas tucked away under the mattress, you have until 2020 to take it to the central bank and cash it in. Get a move on! 

On the subject of currency, what will happen if Scotland votes to go independent. Will they keep the pound? Will the Scottish pound be of different value? Will they be able to spend Scottish pounds across the border? Such a lot of questions! 

The journalist/economist Paul Mason reckons that it is unlikely that Scotland will vote for independence but ... He writes, 

"It probably won't happen. But few south of the border realise how volatile the outcome is. Yes, the polls reflect bookie William Hill's confidence that there's just a one in five chance of a majority for independence – but the variables are bigger than for most political events. If, on the morning of 19 September, we wake up and that 4/1 horse of independence has come in, the levels of shock in official circles will be extreme. The Conservatives will have presided over the break-up of the Union. Even compared with handing Zimbabwe to Zanu-PF, and Hong Kong to the Chinese Communist party, that will be a major psychological moment. 

Even more traumatised will be Labour. The prospect of a majority Labour government at Westminster after 2016 will be remote. The party in Scotland will likely go into meltdown, with a Podemos-style left emerging among the pro-independence Lbour camp, the Greens and the progressives around groups like Common Weal." 

So this is part of the excitement that September holds in store for us!

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