Banana competition threatens, Fuel shortages threaten pumps and airports, etc.

TODAY’S PHOTO : Thanks to Alan … Porto Moniz, well to be more accurate it’s the bit of Porto Moniz that everybody knows best.

Main News : source : Diário de Notícias 11/6/2008

In a very thin online newspaper, the front page is mostly taken with a footie photo again, but skipping that for now:

Bananas produced in Madeira are under threat after Ecuador complained about controls affecting pricing were affecting their market share and competitiveness. The complaint was upheld, and it is believed that the decision will hit European banana producers badly as their prices could be significantly undercut.

Other News : 

Truck drivers striking in Portugal and Spain (over fuel prices) are causing Portuguese petrol pumps to ‘dry up’, with the situation expected to worsen over the coming days. Both Galp and BP admitted that they had several petrol stations without fuel. Already the situation is affecting supermarket supplies, with shelves emptying, and the impact on the economy of Portugal overall is a big concern. Any dry pumps here yet?

Also airports are being hit by shortages with refilling suspended in Lisbon, although no flights have yet been cancelled (presumably they fill up in their destination airports). Lisbon airport is now only refuelling for military, state, and emergency purposes as they say they have only 3 days supply remaining, and normally would expect 60 tankers to deliver every day.

If you are following the football, you probably already know the result of the Euro 2008 game between Czech Republic v Portugal, but just in case we won 3 – 1, making Portugal winners of their group and going forward to play the second place club in group B in the knock out stages.

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Pe.ter Roy – Madeira the flo.ating dun.gheap.

I finished reading the book yesterday, and this is my opinion.

For those who are not aware of the book, it’s about an Englishman who came to live here in 1998 and had a house built. According to his account, everything that could go wrong, went wrong, and he ended up leaving 5 years later with a view that everything and everybody Madeiran was just bad.

Whoever asked the question on Tuesday why did I want to have anything to do with the book on the blog … you probably now know the answer. Right or wrong (and there is plenty of each in the book) people want to talk about it. It’s paints an image of Madeira that is unfair and detrimental in so many aspects, and that  seems to be intentional and almost punitive. It was not my wish to give PR or his book any publicity, and that is why I did not give the title of the book on Tuesday, so it wouldn’t be found by the search engines.

Mr Roy is clearly disturbed, and if his story is true and unembellished, then to some point I can see why. The book is not particularly a book about Madeira, it is a sketchy autobiography with a difference … it’s is about all the bad things in his life, Madeira included. Whilst here he had so many problems that he wrote off Madeira as a dun.gheap, developed a siege mentality, and was so obsessed with vengeance that he wrote a book on the subject which will certainly not make him any money (which is probably why he wasn’t concerned about a ‘polished finish’ ie. layout, spelling and grammatical errors). It’s also notable that wherever Mr Roy lived, he attracted problems, and in reading the book there seems to be no balance in his life between good and bad events.

I actually agree with him on many points and have experienced many of the same problems, albeit mostly to a less serious degree … those problems mainly stem from businesses, government, law, and bureaucracy. I have no doubt that these organisations are often motivated to stitch up decent Madeirans and foreigners alike, the difference being which race gets stitched up the most. It is inbuilt and almost genetic in old Madeira, and it seems to be encouraged and even facilitated by greedy bosses, politicians and civil servants. Anyone who feels that there is a real democracy here is sadly mistaken, and deceit and corruption is still a way of life. I have a friend here who was a party worker with the PSD (ruling party), who resigned because, at election time she was told that when canvassing votes from pensioners to tell them that if Jardim’s mob wasn’t reelected then they would lose their state pensions. The PSD win here every time because of the overwhelming ‘football club’ mentality (that exists in every country) … you just don’t change the traditions and family values here.

Anyway, getting back on track, PR has done the decent individuals and families of Madeira a complete injustice, by generalising about Madeiran’s as a whole. In particular where later in the book he says that as soon as he stopped spending money, his Madeiran friends and neighbours didn’t want to know him. In my experience we are talking about one the friendliest and most helpful races I have come across, but that’s at a personal level. I don’t live in Funchal (and nor did he), and of course life is different in the big city, but my Madeiran friends here out west don’t care if I have money to spend or not, and if they did their reaction would be to try and help out if I was in trouble. In the early days of moving here we had problems with the tax office, our lawyer, our home, utility companies, customs … all of which were resolved through decent local people who offered to help us out, and who would have probably been insulted if I had offered payment. My story would fill a book for sure, and I know other foreigners here who have equally good or even better relationships with their neighbours, that they now call friends. That probably only happens to those who come here to integrate. If you want to live here and spend the rest of your life as a expat, fine, as long as you don’t complain if the locals don’t make the effort to integrate into your culture. True lifetime expats also have the wonderful gift of blind ignorance about the real issues on Madeira, and hence probably won’t be reading this blog today, hence I have no fear about saying what I have.

Many other points in the book are also totally misleading. To pick on one … At one point PR refers to the weather … four months of continuous rain. We all know that Madeira has micro climates, but to claim that is probably sheer exaggeration, and totally irresponsible without making it clear that in general Madeira has a temperate and wonderful climate. If he choose to live high up in a wetter part of the island, that is his choice and to give the impression the whole of Madeira has a crap climate is very wrong, and potentially harmful to tourism, immigration, and the economy here.

In summary, it’s an interesting read, but should be taken with a very large pinch of salt. If you believe that life here is a chore, then it’s probably right up your street. If you take the view that things are just different and not always necessarily wrong, then you will probably side with me.

Anyway I could go on all day, that’s my opinion and tuppence worth for now. Hope I haven’t bored everybody to death.

www.madeira4u.com

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6 thoughts on “Banana competition threatens, Fuel shortages threaten pumps and airports, etc.”

  1. OK. It sounds a fair review of the book. I still think there are better uses for paper and my time.

    On the PSD comment, 'The PSD win here every time because of the overwhelming 'football club' mentality (that exists in every country'.

    Again if the PSD had been doing such an appaling job over the last THIRTY years I think some of the voters might have spotted it and altered their voting preferences just as voters are now doing in Britain.

    It just sounds like you are saying the Madeiran people behave like blind sheep when voting and are a bunch of 'uneducated thickos' that do not understand what is going on on their own Island.

    On the subject of Crisiano Ronaldo I believe he will go to Real Madrid next season.

    He is a wonderful player who has just had his 'golden season'. I don't think he can ever match or surpass 42 goals, league title, European Cup and countless awards in one season again.

    The easiest thing in the world is to say 'I am staying at Manchester United next season.' But he can't, not when there's £300,000 a week up for grabs.

    So he will do what his Mum wants, take the money and run all the way to Madrid.

  2. I agree with what you are saying about the implicatins in the book although I have not read it.One of the most annoying phrases I hear is 'In England we do it like this' Well we are not in England and those who live here and constantly compare everything to how it is in the UK perhaps should perhaps head back. Of course things are differant but I can honestly say,some areas of UK could learn a lot from many of the Madeiran ways and procedures. Like yourself, some of our best friends here on Madeira are local and their kindness and hospitality is second to none and the few 'bad apples' are much less in proportion to those in UK.
    –Josie

  3. Spot on Josie. When in Madeira do as the Madeirans do.
    People should stop the comparisons.

    One of my most annoying pet hates is anyone who CHOOSES to move to Madeira and then starts to grumble and moan about the island.

    We have to fit in and adapt to their ways, customs, traditions etc.

  4. "Madeiran people behave like blind sheep when voting and are a bunch of 'uneducated thickos'" – definately not my words, nor what I implied. Certainly tradition and family values play a large part, as does ignorance, as does political spin, bribes and lies, and the 'better the devil you know' mindset. And that is no different in many other countries. For example poverty and social welfare are still far too low on the government priority list, but the disadvantaged people and groups have always known it to be that way and are not expecting any change if they change their vote. People are gradually getting wiser, and other parties are gaining some ground, but that gain is being spread out amongst too many political parties to have any real impetus for change.

  5. I WISH I NOT GOING TO UK TOMORROW.
    Any comparisons I ever get to make are tinged with regret for the state the UK is in. Madeira is on the up in the long term, can anyone say the same for the UK.
    Cheers Der I hope you sort your Blog problems. Thank you for all your hard work and friendship.
    Alan & Jan

  6. I WISH I NOT GOING TO UK TOMORROW.
    Any comparisons I ever get to make are tinged with regret for the state the UK is in. Madeira is on the up in the long term, can anyone say the same for the UK.
    Cheers Der I hope you sort your Blog problems. Thank you for all your hard work and friendship.
    Alan & Jan

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