Purveyor of Bollocks to the Crowned Heads of Europe
Friday, 20 September 2013
Reaping the mountain harvest
My friends up in the mountains of Spain are custodians of this rare and ancient 'threshing table', and because it is perfectly circular and flat, they tell their 8 year-old son that it is a UFO landing pad.
They don't know how old it is (I promised to do some research on them but have not done so yet), but since there is no crop within miles that requires threshing these days, I am guessing that it is extremely old.
It was pointed out to me when we went walking to pick figs. Their land up there is absolutely covered with figs, almonds, prickly pears, olives etc., and within five minutes, we had picked a bagful of delicious figs which would set you back about £40 in any British supermarket.
The last time we were there, many wild boar wandered around the hillsides (and came to drink at night from their swimming-pool), together with hares and rabbits, but the extreme poverty in the area means that most have now been shot by the locals who are struggling to put food on the tables for their families.
A few weeks before we arrived, a much-loved man in the hamlet had hanged himself because he had lost his job, could not meet his mortgage, and his wife had left him along with their children. A few weeks before that, another man hanged himself for similar reasons. Both had been paying off their contributions for about 20 years on houses bought at boom-time (at inflated rates for British and German buyers), but because they had failed to do so for one week only, they were told to get out of their homes by the bank.
I met a young, jobless man up there who subsisted by growing and selling marijuana. He had left school at 15, and had gone straight into the burgeoning construction industry. When the crash came, he found himself without a job and unqualified. He now plans - when he can afford it - to put himself back into school for a year in order to qualify for a course in teaching English as a foreign language - a process which will take about 4 years, if he is lucky.
He said that if he were sent to prison for selling weed, he would go with his head held high and would ask the judge if he should have gone down into town to steal to stay alive, as many other young people now do. There is no state benefit system for anyone who has been out of a job for 3 years, and to get any money at all from the government, you have to work for 1 year to qualify for it. There are - as I said - no jobs.
Down in town, many menial jobs - as all over Europe - are taken by Eastern European migrants. My young friend does not resent them for this, but only says that they should be paid the same rate as the locals, not the pittance they get in preference to Spanish workers. That, at least, would put everyone on an equal footing so that the job market would be truly level - like that threshing-table.
I know I keep saying this, but those global banks have so much to answer for, even to the tragic deaths of countless people around the world.