The Gain in Spain
is greater than the
Stephen Howarth
Just for once, close your eyes, lie back and don't think of England,
think of Spain.

What images does this conjure up?

Perhaps, irresistibly, the first vision is one of an overcrowded
beach. A quagmire of heavy, sweating, torsos. It is so
overcrowded that the only opportunity to see the sun is if the
woman in front has had her ears pierced. A seething mass of
rrnlovely humanity, where every inch of available sand has been
r I,iimed by a dysfunctional family from the grey, industrial
hinterland of North or Central England. A visionary hell of beer-
Nuzzling, English-breakfast-seeking, blue-marbled invaders, intent
on drinking themselves into oblivion or at least acquiring a
'Wrious dose of sunburn. A land of sombreros, donkeys, and
motrammelled lust.

Well, yes but....

The second vision may well be one of an alien country,
populated by unscrupulous, corrupt builders and politicians who
( onspire to sell property to unsuspecting foreigners, and the back
Ir,rlf of the house falls off a cliff as soon as you close the front
door. Or the other image, so beloved of British N programme-
rn,rkers, where some poor couple suddenly discover that they
don't own their own house and a six-lane motorway is about to
be built through their bedroom and they will also be expected to
pry for it.

Well, yes, but...

Another image may be of a sleepy, backward country,
irrliabited by indolent locals who sleep every afternoon and their