Back to work after a long hot summer, even in England where I have been for 10 days without a drop of rain, amazing. London, rather than England, does not seem to be affected by the crisis, especially in the City where I have never seen so much construction activity with whole blocks under development and new buildings replacing those only built 20 to 40 years ago.
I saw the Shard, now completed, by London Bridge; impressive, but not my favourite. I don’t know if they expect to recoup the cost from visiting the roof terrace but the view does not come cheap. My criticism of G B has always been that the people seem to be left to their own devices and ignored by the Government. Complaints about energy, utility, transport and telecommunications prices following privatisation are endless. A nice story was a guy who legally purchased an 0871 number and made all cold callers use it. He made about 300 pounds before it had any affect. Naturally the regulators warned about everyone getting in on the act which I find is one of the biggest rip offs around. All premium numbers should be banned. The congestion charge has definitely reduced the number of private cars but London Transport has its usual delays on buses and underground while bus travel seems to take forever. TV seems to be limited to tales of rip-off Britain, property prices, celeb chefs, the soaps and football. An example of a rip-off is the outrageous charging for dropping off passengers at Stansted. It costs 2 pounds for a ten minute set down in the car park. This reinforces my view not to drive to airports. People in Spain had better look out for the PayDay lenders which are expanding their activities. In the UK they charge extortionate rates of interest, albeit on small sums, but I find it wrong that the poorer the client the more the cost of borrowing. Interesting news item to follow up.
The Snowden and Greenwald/Miranda case coupled with Cameron’s refusal to back Obama on Syria has put Anglo-U S relations on hold although the Sun’s headline, DEATH NOTICE, suggesting it is the end of a long relationship, went too far as usual. What makes it worse is France siding with America bringing back memories of how Britain lost the U S colonies. Britain is also upsetting Spain over Gibraltar, which has taken people’s minds off Government corruption. According to a book I was reading Franco missed the chance in 1940 to take it by force, worried about the British military presence. How history is made from «…if only.»
Apart from the terrible events in Syria, the media has been concentrating on the transfer of soccer star, Gareth Bale, from Tottenham to Real Madrid. The sports pages have spent the summer analysing the negotiations between Florentino Perez and Daniel Levy, which finally resulted in a staggering 100million fee. A ludicrous amount for a footballer in a world where money seems to have no reason.
Players receive staggering earnings and pay low or no taxes, thanks to favourable tax arrangements unavailable to the majority of the population or try it on like Messi. Time will tell whether the investment has been worthwhile, although Real Madrid appears to have already recovered its outlay through other sales in the largest annual summer boot sale in the world. Soccer has been transformed into an international market where players are moved around to satisfy the greed of agents and egos of club bosses and transfers and merchandising are now fundamental parts of the business. Players are now little more than mercenaries selling their wares to the highest bidder, and club loyalty a concept of the past.
I see Spain still preoccupied by corruption, which dominates the headlines as the political elite pass blame and continue to shore up the banking sector while attempting to avoid being indicted. I had the chance to go to the Alicante region in the Spring. I was near Benidorm and could not miss spotting the 40-odd storey tower block under construction. I wanted to investigate but did not have time. Pity because the story of the absent lifts from the 20th to 40th floors received a great deal of media coverage. Ah well, another missed opportunity. Did you manage to get the story?
My Ryan Air complaint might have a happy ending. I learnt about a web site, Refund.me, based in Germany. They have realised that thousands of people never pursue complaints due to the hassle and time. They will take on cases if they feel complaints are justified under European Laws for a 15% fee if successful. Definitely worth considering. I will keep you posted.