In the words of Alanis Morrissette, isn’t it ironic? Here we are celebrating the birth of a child 2000 years ago who was born to a poor family, and the Spanish government are in the process of taking away the ‘baby cheque’ for new arrivals born into similarly poor families.
If you know of someone who is heavily pregnant and due any day now don’t be surprised to find them chugging down curry, riding up and down in cars with bad suspension on bumpy roads and clearing out the local Farmacia’s stocks of castor oil. If you can deliver your bundle of joy by December 31st then you will still receive a rather tasty handout from the government of 2’500€, but after that? Sorry, no dice. Apparently gynaecologists have been hearing many pleas for birth inducement and tales of hardship, and we can only speculate how many midwives will not be able to tell the time when it comes to births on New Year’s Eve. Imagine delivering your baby one minute past midnight and knowing you’d missed out on enough money to keep your family going for a couple of months. (To pile irony on top of irony, by the way, not only did Sir Elton and David became proud fathers, Alanis also became a mum on Christmas Day).
Then we also have the old-new problem of bills: energy charges are about to ramp up another 10%, it is cold in Mallorca right now and babies need to be kept warm and cosy. I have a friend who works in a soup kitchen in Palma, she’s told me about more and more Spanish people queuing for food, whereas before it was more likely to be immigrants from South America or Africa who needed some help. It’s all looking a little bit bleak isn’t it? How can we turn this around and make 2011 a year to look forward to? I’m a great fan of resolutions, but I won’t bore you with my (very predictable) resolutions, although having just spent some time in the wilds of France I can tell you that the ban on smoking in bars will definately work much better in the North of Europe than in the South. It’s far too cold to pop outside for a grouty round here, so I predict lots of people will either a) give up smoking all together or b) go into business as patio heater sales people and make a fortune.
It’s a bit of a sad way to end the year I think, and it looks as if we will all have to find new ways to survive and keep going in the next one. Sticking together, being inventive, working hard and keeping a smile on your face sounds a bit ‘jolly hockeysticks’, but I honestly don’t know any other way of doing it. But, hey, if you are pregnant then congratulations, and let’s be honest, when you’ve just given birth to your brand new baby would it even pop into your mind that you’d missed out on a handout when you’d just won the lottery?