On the surface Spain looks fine. I hear all the time about unemployment, I know lots and lots of people without jobs. There are loads of empty shops, I see the evictions on the telly but I also see the crowds of people out for the fiestas, I go in bars bursting at the seams with people eating their way through mounds of tapas and, even if the sales figures are dire, the cars on the road look new enough.
It's difficult to tell. One thing though. A few months ago I started to see a couple of blokes collecting the cardboard boxes that the shops leave outside for the dustbin lorries every night. Armed with a Stanley knife they cut the boxes down and piled them neatly onto a trailer that they had built to tow behind a bike. They were able to get a prodigious amount of card on the little trailer and I supposed that they would go to weigh it in somewhere. I rather admired their grim determination to keep going.
A couple of weeks ago there was an old Transit type van blocking the entrance to our underground garage. The man moved the van quickly enough after a couple of gentle horn toots but I noticed that he too was collecting card. Since then I have noticed tens of people and I do mean tens of people sorting through the big rubbish containers. Their level of organisation varies but all of them are after the paper and card.
Apparently it's considered to be a crime. The rubbish doesn't belong to them and the Town Halls don't like it because it is cutting into their income from recycling. That seems a bit hard to me. It's not exactly stripping copper cable is it?