Phileas Fogg would have had more luck 138 years ago


IN Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days we learn that on the December 21, 1873 Phileas Fogg disembarked on the Liverpool quay at 20 minutes before twelve.

He was only six hours distant from London. Interestingly 138 years on he could be much less certain of getting to London by rail in just six hours. I was reminded of this when visiting my village bank in Spain.


A simple transfer of just €120 to a UK bank account couldn’t be done; I should visit the recipient’s bank in another town. Imagine the disruption for such a small transaction.

Upon my arrival I am told it can’t be done unless I have a Spanish bank account.

I explain that I have an account with them and the transaction takes place. I asked if a tourist wished to transfer money could it be done.

No. In her opinion a Spanish bank account was required. I bet he could have done so 138 years ago.

No wonder the world’s in a mess.

RUN that past me again; crime doesn’t pay? Nemesio Domínguez is serving a 26-year gaol sentence for shooting to death his wife and one of their children in 1998 in Valladolid, north-central Spain.

Since he committed that awful crime he has received a widower’s pension. With his teacher’s retirement cheques this amounts to €2,400 each month.

Whilst it will be stopped with immediate effect it is doubtful if any of the money can be recovered. The killer now enjoys free B & B for he is on day release and simply goes to the slammer to sleep each night at 9pm; this isn’t a requirement for one week a month.

Of course he will need a good night’s rest after spending the day touring on his powerful motorbike or cruising along VW Passat Coupé. The family of the deceased are still waiting for the €85,000 compensation awarded by the courts.

As one jurist once told me: ‘the law is one thing, Michael, justice is quite another.’

THE definition of an optimist is a person who thinks the chocolate box is the same size as the wrapper. Such cheating is now commonplace and the impudence breathtaking. It amounts to out and out fraud. I recently bought a box of mint sticks in a household name store.

At 8” x 6” x 1” it was bigger than a video cassette. The chocolates inside fitted into a cigarette packet. I wonder at what stage so-called consumer protection bodies take an interest: when there’s one chocolate in a nicely wrapped suitcase?

If Santa dumps the fancy wrapping he will be able to deliver in one trip rather than ten. Frankly I would rather wash sheets in a brothel than cheat and disappoint customers this way.


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