SPAIN WITHOUT THE SPIN & MORE
Perhaps I become more cynical as age advances; the myth that Spain is welcoming I no longer buy. For many there is a touching romantic hippy-like devotion to Spain. Me; I am here for the climate, lifestyle and low cost of living. I live with reality, not because all Spanish welcome me here.
To their credit the Spanish have a rich and unique culture; contribute much to literature, many art forms; exceptional soldiery; they have a colorful history. On the downside, protectively tribal they don’t integrate with Europeans. They welcome tourists but don’t themselves do tourism or learn languages. On home ground they can be intolerant of non-Spaniards. The Spanish translation for intolerant is conquistador; you didn’t mess with them.
The Spanish Foreign Legion preceded the French Foreign Legion. Their battle song is; ‘We are the Sweethearts of Death.’ I would rather fall into the hands of a Gurkha than a Spanish legionnaire. The Spanish Civil War was unique in its senseless viciousness and atrocity; that was to fellow Spaniards. My father fought in it, my mother was a warm friend of La Pasionaria.
The English are not to be sniffed at when it comes to war and plunder but are bronze medalists compared to Poles and Spaniards. Of leading European powers between the 12th Century and 1925 England struggles into third place with 56% of its time spent at war. Poland at 58% gets silver whilst gold medal Spain has been at war 67% of the time. Germany, including Prussia is an also ran at a niggardly 28%.
Sunglasses are a common spectacle in Spain; so are rose-tinted spectacles. How often I hear the refrain; ‘the Spanish are so welcoming.’ Well they would be if you enter the restaurant with a fistful of dollars. Try them in an environment where cash isn’t changing hands or is not their cash; there’s your true Spaniard, warts an’ all.
Spanish bistro owners are known for two prices; local and ‘tourist.’ Straight lawyers as rare as hen’s teeth; most local government functionaries barely function and do so with appalling bad grace. Corruption is rife; the postal service doesn’t deliver; their broadband is slow-band.
Notorious for racist chants at sports events they don’t do non-Spanish relationships. I don’t know a non-Spaniard who has dated Spanish crumpet, let alone married one. I heard of one Brit who did so. They have kids and he’s gone native but still referred to as ‘the foreigner.’
Friends of mine came here as a young family in the 1970s. Had kids; school yet have never been invited into a Spanish home. Many tell you the same thing.
Many Spaniards owe their livelihoods to EU generosity, tourists and northern European retirees but are reluctant to show appreciation. I’ll give them a tip; don’t criticize a farmer when your mouth’s full. I am not anti-Spanish; I am pro-reality. Being transparent is the best way to achieve mutual respect and harmony for both Spanish and non-Spanish.
BOOK PUBLISHING: ONLINE OR CONVENTIONAL
As an author’s ghost-writer I am often asked my opinion as to which is best; conventional book publishing or publish online; Amazon-Kindle. There really isn’t a contest between the two; it is like comparing a typewriter with a laptop of 45rpm record with a CD.
If e-readers are not familiar to you imagine an ultra slim book with page sized screen and small keypad you use to order books and read them. Turning the page is a fingertip’s effort.
If you are a writer you have three options. If you publish conventionally, using your letter of introduction and synopsis you can spend months looking for a publisher who might show interest. They might publish five titles each year; focus on established authors; most won’t even open your letter. In the event you strike lucky you receive 10% of the cover price in royalties.
Option two is do it yourself. You take delivery of 1,000 printed and bound books. You now have to sell them shop to shop. After publishing, marketing and distribution costs; not forgetting the retailer’s 33%, you will be lucky to get 20% of the cover price.
Your third option; your book is now written: I refer it to my partner who takes over from where my ghosting leaves off. He provides an appropriate cover and pulls it together so it is e-reader ready. Within days it is available for the world’s book browsers to buy and read.
You and your book now have its own beautiful website; wonderful pictures of you; book cover, synopsis, your sales pitch for the world to see. The internet does your packaging, selling and marketing, delivery; it takes and makes money. Your outlay has been my modest ghosting fee plus the €250 for online publishing.
Some will buy it but even bestselling authors cross their fingers and say three hail Marys. The maximum profit is 70%; the rest goes to Amazon, which is only fair. You can decide on both the cover price and profit. Do not expect to sell at the same price as retail. One of the reasons e-books are popular is because they are cheaper. A conventional book might set you back €19.95; online €9.95.
Many drop the price on the principle of stack it high and sell it cheap. The math adds up; 1,000 copies at 95c are better than 10 copies at €7.95. The object of the exercise is to quickly get those sales in. When that starts to happen you go on the ‘buyers also bought’ grade; this fuels sales. You will even get book buyers’ reviews. You can cheat; I am not into moralising but you have to be careful. Amazon chucks cheats out. Go on, get typing!
SPAIN: LIFE’S LIKE THAT
There was bad news, more bad news then a happy ending for an amorous Madrid chemist. His work ethic towards female staff certainly lacked ethics. After much unwanted lip kissing, stroking their thighs and butts, making suggestive invitations and hair stroking, the pharmacist was heavily fined and put in the slammer for 3 months. The ruling was overturned; he should have been charged with sexual abuse, not harassment, which carries a lesser sentence. Good news; he couldn’t be tried twice. He was freed.
I was unaware that Spain’s Popular Party (PP) has a Citizens Abroad Council; a body delegated to manage the affairs of expatriates. Its president, José Manuel Castelao, has come under fire for saying at a meeting; “The laws are like women; they are there to be violated.”
His approach to democracy isn’t any better. Invited to explain his non attendance to register a vote he retorted: “You have 9 votes, just put down 10.”
One would think that the conditions set out for a European bail-out of Spain’s banks would call for parliamentary debate. Not so fast; Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy pulled the plug on that one.
Buoyed by his success in jack-booting democracy into the deep pile carpets of parliament on bank setor bail-outs he is now set to refuse the right to debate future EU bail-outs for Spain’s economy. Other EU nations like Germany, France and the Netherlands can discuss Spain’s inancial need but not the Spanish parliamentarians. Aren’t you glad they replaced Franco’s Spain?
Michael Walsh – International Journalism
Europe Broadcaster Commentator International Radio
Awarded ‘Writer of the Year’
Michael Walsh Mobile 0034 662 067 490