An example of how things can change quite unexpectedly:
Spain is not an easy country to drive in. In fact the British newspaper The Telegraph has simple advice for any British ex-pats contemplating taking their car down to Spain: Don’t.
Why? Because Spanish drivers are, er, creative. Personally I prefer it, but that’s because I’m a creative kind of guy. The Spanish in general are very good at improvising (they have to be in a country where nothing is at is seems), and this applies to driving as well. So forget double-parking. How about quadruple or even quintuple parking?
One thing about driving on Spanish motorways, however, was that they tended to be like race tracks. You didn’t dither, you burned rubber. The speed limit was officially 120 kph, but driving at anything less than 130 was considered rude, frankly.
And I thought this would never change. I thought they way the Spanish drive was embedded in their DNA.
Until the other week the government reduced the speed limit to 110. The idea was to save on fuel, in case the Middle East went completely tits-up.
People were annoyed – it was just another way to make money for the authorities by giving us speeding fines, they said.
The rule came in over the weekend. I jumped in the car and drove as fast as I could as the clock struck midnight: I was damned if I was going to take another attack on the healthy craziness of this country lying down. I didn’t get stopped; I just got bored eventually and went home to bed.
Another few days passed before I drove on the motorway again. And I was immediately struck by how slowly everyone was going. They weren’t even doing 110. Many were sticking at 100, or even slower.
It won’t last, I thought. Give another week and they’ll be flooring it again.
But no. Several weeks have passed, and if anything people are driving even more slowly.
And it’s actually quite pleasant: you get into a more laid-back frame of mind, sweeping along the road like some hippy in a 60s road movie.
And everyone’s doing it. I never thought I would see something like this. In fact I would have bet money on it. But overnight Spain has changed from being a country of speed-obsessed lunatics to a place of karmic motorway harmony.
This is only only on the motorways, mind. This afternoon someone smashed into my car because they weren’t looking where they were going. But we were in the middle of a town, so it doesn’t really count.
Still, Telegraph readers may still have to be aware.