Viva Espana! by Barbara Nadel

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For reasons far too convoluted to explain here, I’m off to Spain for a week in a couple of days time. I’ve been to the country a few times before, but only to Barcelona and only ever on business. This time it’s Andalusia and what could be a very nice jaunt around Granada, Seville and the Costa del Sol. I might even stray into Gibraltar. I’ve even had the odd fantasy about jumping on a ship over to Morocco. Who knows? I’m a restless soul at the best of times but just at the moment this trait is really to the fore. The recession has not just hit the family Nadel it has smashed it in the face and kicked out its guts. Without going into too much detail (if I told you everything I’d have to kill you) this is a work issue and the upshot of it is that I now find myself breadwinning for a small army. Spain was booked way before any of this came to pass and so I have to go because it’s all bought and paid for. I am wondering how long I can make a single plate of paella last and am considering possibly a little light busking. I wonder if you get arreasted for singing badly on street corners in Spain?

But it’s all grist to the authorly mill. Also people in Spain are very angry about the recession at the moment and so there will be an element of ‘home from home’ about the whole experience. Apparently young Spaniards are on the march about their truncated life prospects and quite rightly so. The international financial crisis is affecting the whole of Europe and is eroding hope for millions. We got angry here in the UK at the beginning of the year, although things seem to have calmed down again now, for the time being. But we’ll get mad again here, I can guarantee it. After all, the terrible Sir Fred Goodwin has been back in the papers again in the last few weeks and he is an absolute dead cert to send any right thinking person into a cycle of madness. Sir Fred used to run the Royal Bank of Scotland which he basically bankrupted. However because he’d locked the bank into a legal contract that meant that whatever he did they (or rather the taxpayers once the bank went bust) would have to pay him a vast pension for the rest of his life whatever terrible things he may have done, Fred walked away with £600,000 per year no questions asked. Now we discover (in yet another super injunction revelation) that while Fred was bankrupting RBS he was also allegedly having an illicit affair. Couldn’t give a damn about that except that there is a suggestion that one of the ways in which he attempted to ‘impress’ this woman was by doing very big, very risky business deals with the banks money. Now that is of public interest and, if true, his great big fat pension should be withdrawn immediately. Except that it won’t be.

Anyone rich enough to be able to pay to take our a super injunction to gag the whole world is almost completely beyond the law. They are untouchable in a way that Joe Public cannot even imagine. I can say almost anything about the Queen (God bless her!) but there are businessmen, footballers and ‘reality stars’ in this country who would bankrupt me just for mentioning their names. They’d bankrupt a woman struggling support a family in hard times. What kind of world do we live in? Look for me at the barricades with all the Spanish youngsters.

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