Blogs in this series

Life in Culebrón is a disconnected series of pieces about the banal and ordinary of everyday life in an inland Alicante village seen from my very British perspective.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Doing business

I'm sometimes a little scathing about our attitude to Spain and our failure to integrate. We British are a pretty big immigrant group in Spain but unlike the other groups who generally have to use Spanish to survive we don't. English is so all pervasive that we can get by. It's possible to keep well away from the mainstream of Spanish life by reading a British newspaper, watching British TV and living a British life surrounded by Spain. We're also generally pretty rich. I don't mean that everyone lives the life of Reilly but, unlike the majority of Ecuadorians or Moroccans, many of us have sufficient money to live a reasonably comfortable life without having to work. Plenty of us do work and plenty of us are strapped for cash at times but generally, and generalisations are generally untrue, our wealth keeps us out of the labour market and so away from the integration that comes with working life.

Where there are largish British populations other Britons set up businesses to cater to their needs. Pinoso has a surprisingly large British population for such a small and unremarkable town. Amongst our ranks are builders, plumbers, carpenters, mechanics, electricians, gardeners, saddlers, dentists, hearing aid specialists, IT consultants, beauty therapists, translators, teachers, estate agents, men with vans, hairdressers, masseurs, artists, cleaners, ironers, party organisers, web designers, magazine publishers, writers, musicians, catteries, kennels, charity shops, bars and cafés.The list is pretty long. If there's a potential market one of us will have a go at exploiting it. Obviously a big plus factor is the language. So much easier to deal with someone you can communicate with easily.

But it can't be easy. I haven't seen the population breakdown recently. The stats can be a bit misleading anyway. Pinoso shares a border with other local authorities in Alicante and Murcia and each has their own British poulation but, geographically, some of the villages which fall into other jurisdictions, have Pinoso as their natural focus. So if Pinoso has around 400 to 500 Britons on the council register there may be a few hundred more within striking distance. It's still not a lot of people to sell your product to and in order to keep your head above water you need to be shrewd. Lots of businesses just don't make it.

On Friday night I went to see a play put on by a local, British, Amateur Dramatics group. It was held at a big restaurant cum bar complex in one of the outlying villages of Pinoso. As I was sitting there it struck me what a well organised and innovative business it was and although it is aimed principally at Britons the place seems to attract a good number of the home population too.

So, for once, instead of being nasty about our failure to integrate I wanted to highlight the inventiveness, tenacity and bravery of my compatriots.

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