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I’m working in Spain at the moment and so I thought I’d tell you some of my impressions of the place.

Firstly, the weather here has been dreadful. I’m in the Northern province of Galicia and this is apparently normal for the time of year. The fact that London was still holding its pleasant balance when I left has made this seem worse than it is.

The countryside around this town is hilly and dark green. There are palm trees around every street corner, all of them looking garishly out of place with rain-water dripping from the ends of their splendorous branches. The food from the supermarkets is generally wonderful. I’ve become addicted to small breads filled with liquid chocolate. Everything else is rice, meat or fish based. As with any type of foreign cuisine, it makes one thoroughly ashamed to be English.

There are two churches in this town. Both are grand and stylish with tall facades that dip in the centre to allow for statuettes of Mary. My colleague informed me that there are no Protestant venues in the area for which he needlessly apologised.

There are no Mosques, my friends. None at all. And this is part of a national theme. Spain, despite its proximity to the Maghreb, is relatively fortunate in terms of Islamic migration. Less than 2% of the national population profess the Muslim faith and this shows no sign of changing as immigration policy hardens in response to the severe unemployment crisis. In larger cities like Madrid, Barcelona and Bilbao, there are inevitably centres of Islamic worship, but this seems not to have bled over en masse into Spanish rural life. My guide assured me that most of the ‘green towns’ retain a culturally homogenous character and that this is an element of national pride.

There are challenges to this happiness of course. Just this afternoon in my place of work, my co-ordinator was chatting with me in the corridor, when two shady looking Pakistanis wandered in. After noticing the security guard seated near the inside of the door and having exchanged a few brief words with my associate, they walked straight out again, seemingly frustrated.

When they were out of earshot, my coordinator turned to me with raised eyebrows:
“They are after the computers…” he said “We have had many days (sic) of these people coming in here and posing as workers. They sneak into the computer room. This is why we have to employ a security guard. We never used to have one.”

It doesn’t seem to matter where one is in the world. Pakistani misbehaviour is everywhere consistent.

Other than that, I’m rather enjoying myself. This is a splendid part of the world, rich in beauty and spirit. Just don’t watch the television.

D, LDN.

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