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Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Finding myself in a smoky bar that goes by the name 27, not just in the middle of nowhere but the middle of the middle of nowhere, surrounded by Spanish men of various shapes and sizes but all jumping and screaming at the television because Zaragoza were playing against what I presumed, not being a big football fan, were Everton, I realised I had finally integrated and no one could accuse me otherwise. Why even the landlady told me she was 'better thank you and isn't it getting cold?' and 'sorry', but she had 'to put the washing on'. After the first four glasses of wine the football began to look the same but I did learn Everton is a player and the opposing team were Xerez or I suppose Jerez which is sherry to you and me.

So our trip to the mountains was once again a good move but we both feel it should be permanent but realise in an ideal world we would like to be able to say 'adios' to either the 'Big City' or the village if either started to get our backs up. The worst scenario would be if we were stuck with a bunch of villagers brandishing anything aflame and having no place to run. At least in the 'Big City' we can get on a bus. Nevertheless, there is a pleasure in the relaxed, unassuming, self deprecating way of life we end up leading every time we go there. I particularly enjoyed the bit with the vermouth whetting my appetite before the lunch which never fails to please. A Michelin star restaurant where the owner prefers not to display the plaque outside for fear she may one day not deliver.

For once there was little noise but I always seem to have an ear cocked and I did wonder at five in the morning if they kept an elephant upstairs. It reminded me of my stay in the hospital when every night someone seemed to be moving the furniture around, namely the bed and stomping dramatically. I later found out the seventh floor is the psychiatric ward.

My cards to Ricky in London have been going AWOL and I am worried he might have my old postie who used to bury the post in his back garden on account of his alcohilism which now looks appropriate as a new word, that of being an alcoholic and nihilistic. Our postie here or posties have been, so far, wonderful, even coming up to me in bars and asking me where they should leave such things as my London Review of Books etc as they don't fit in the letter box. We had to have a special letter box made, by Henderson, as the effing bleeder next door was stealing the post and then announcing it was him whilst travelling in the community lift by telling everyone how he didn't have to pay his mortgage but he could see we still had too. Much of him at a later date as there is only so much time in the world.

Sometimes there is no time to write as one is to busy living it. 'It' being life. Sometimes there is only so much time to explain to a seven year old that the word pink is not pronounced the same as pig. In the end it is better to get them to play the machine game. This can be played in any language and provides hours of fun especially for the long suffering parnet (as they shall now be known) or teacher. Just ask them to imagine they are a machine. I don't know, but the best one was a fridge and the winners that day were six seven year olds where four held hands and the other had to open the 'door' revealing the sixth inside shivering.

Talking of pronunciation, I am worried that some Spanish English teachers are dictating in English as part of their students' lesson. Maybe this explains why nobody understands me when I say pig or pink. This is often the excuse, that the native is not talking 'properly' or saying the words in the way they are supposed to be said.

I asked Henderson his views on American English while he was showering. All I got were the words oxymoron, pigeon, George Bush and the electric chair.

Friday, 24 October 2008

IN VINO VERITAS

A friend of mine gave her son some wine recently while on holiday in Spain hoping that he would be introduced to the pleasures of drinking as opposed to finding out the contrary by getting shit faced down the Ilford Palais on a Friday night. After a small glass he turned to her and said 'Mother, I defy anyone to tell me that alcohol doesn't enhance life' or something like that and I am inclined to be with him on these words of truth. Last night my lips were once again in union with a glass or two and I can honestly say I felt the best I have since coming out of hospital three months ago. Almost as good as the first cup of coffee I could have after being starved for two weeks.A crack team or think tank as they are known, of 400 people came up with five steps to happiness which I like to think I and probably most people put into practice but it is never enough is it? Why not bring the steps up to ten and place a bottle or two at the top. Most of those that reach a hundred ( years, not steps ) are all drinking and my sister who works in an old people's home said they all have a secret stash of sherry somewhere. When the government or someone worries about our drinking habits I often wonder why they are so surprised we drink so much. When Henderson asked me if I thought he drank too much I told him I thought he didn't drink enough and wondered how he copes.

I thought I had imagined it when I saw a wild boar running amok around the town, but I have since read that it had somehow entered the city walls and crashed through the window of a school and was finally shot or tranquilised by the FIFA agent I used to work for.

Apart from becoming a Formula One driver and succeeding in an art robbery one of my other ambitions is to be drunk in possession of a cow as I think it might be perfectly legal. It would be fun to do the same night as shooting a Scotsman in the walls of York with a bow an arrow and getting away with it. Right now I am wondering if it is legal to shoot my fellow citizens in the same way from my kitchen window as they are the reason the government worries over drinking habits. Why can't they be civilised alcoholics like me?

The Spanish are masters at 'having a song and dance'. Not in the the way we would expect them to but with things like opening and closing doors, on being asked the origin of the words bossa nova, discussing the merits of a tortilla they ate earlier, and my bete noir, anything involving hammers. Just the thought of this tool gives me a headache. Tomorrow we are going to the mountains and there is one part called I believe, Cotatuero or the claves de cotatuero which I like to look at from the comfort of a bar that has a nice open fire while everyone else climbs it or falls down. Someone wasn't happy with the silence of the mountain so took a hammer and nailed bolts into and if it takes your fancy you can go up there in your heels and attempt to walk round it on a ledge.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

It looks like we will be going to the mountains as Henderson, inspired by the phone call of a few weeks back regarding the lamb for the slaughter has bagged a hare from one of his pupils and hopes to get Killer Jon in on the act of hanging,drawing and quartering or whatever it is these country folk are prone to do on a Saturday night. I will be out of the way in the bar by the river with a nice Enate as more snow is forecast and it is another dream to get snowed in and be unable to return to the big city and work.

The big city is not quite and needs a couple of thousand more bods to be so. It is a town with delusions of something, but doesn't realise that outside, de fuera, nobody has heard of it and I often wonder if it really exists. I was warned by an Englishman who sold 'quality clothing' from the back of his van around the villages that the big city folk 'think they are sophisticated and cosmopolitan, but they're not'. I am reminded of this everytime I see a photo in the local paper with 'a group of foreigners' written underneath.

I never really knew what the green eyed monster meant till I came here. There is 'mucho envidia' but it is often mind boggling and involves a sense that other people have more, have it better or easier. Sometimes it involves women muttering under their breath at other women who, I don't know, maybe washed their hair and put on some eye shadow or something and had the gall to marry someone who looks a bit 'foreign'.

Getting back to the village, it is often thought that going to a village of a handful of people would be a quiet,tranquil experience but is often the opposite with drunkards slamming their car doors at five in the morning. Last time I was there I was delighted to hear an owl for the first time in my life at a reasonable hour of around two in the morning. A couple of hours later the silence was no more as a lorry driven by a hell driver came tearing through the valley with such a disregard that all the birds woke up and seemed to scream a collective agreement that now was not the dawn chorus. There is a church which chimes forty o'clock and a dog which pretends to be dead in the middle of the road just to piss off the tourists who form a traffic jam and even get out of their cars and give him a bit of a kick but he isn't having it. Once during a holy communion with the kids dressed in sailors uniforms and pretty dresses respectively with fireworks and the rest, Killer Jon was asked by some Dutch tourists what was happening. 'They are getting married, it is a custom to marry them off young in Spain' he said with an irreverent look he is prone to wear. This is almost as good as my friend Albina when asked, told some American tourists that the changing of the guards was a public execution.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

There are great, unexpected moments when teaching a language. Moments like Maria's when poised with a multiple choice of sentence endings to things like 'The house is on fire', went for 'I think I'll have a glass of water'. But there can't be anything more pleasurable than the moment you've been told that a certain undesirable and mini dictator has been ousted from class. The excuse that 'he's still trying to settle in' didn't wash with my 'either he goes or I do' and the latter seems to have worked and the former, well he's gone to some other part of the school to look for a martyr to crucify.

Hopefully we will go to our favourite village in the Pyrenees this weekend to visit our friend Jon who we sometimes call 'Killer Jon' for reasons that might become apparent at some stage or other. It was to Jon that I confessed I would not be entirely happy unless I did an art robbery or some kind of heist. A good idea to start off with would be to steal the bones of Franco or Franco's bones and hold the government to ransom and, regardless of what the government decided, toss the bones into the Atlantic maybe where the Prestige went down.

A woman in a village nearby has done something that would probably not chill the bones of Franco but certainly has spooked me. Just thinking about it could weigh on one's spirits. She's opened a museum dedicated to Barbie. Not like in a film where it was the Klaus Barbie Museum, but worse I think, the doll. She has collected around 700 of them. I hate dolls and think it was first brought on as a child when I found myself estranged form my parents in the doll department in Himley's the Nazi toy store. There is something chilling about women who collect dolls or shoes. If they weren't they would probably be out on some killing spree.

I'm never sure what Spanish people mean by socialism or communism or if they know the difference or if there is a difference here as so many thoughts and words are used in completely different ways to the rest of the world. A visiting economist told the townsfolk yesterday that 'capitalism will prevail as there is no alternative and the 'socialismo real' was a disaster and sunk' although he didn't say without a trace. He should try to have a drink in Bar Rugaca in the centre of town where the resident barman and only communist I know who takes himself seriously would tell him otherwise. I had to stop going to this bar as even telling him I was Irish (a lie) didn't stop him from lambasting me for speaking the language of the 'imperialistas' and the Americans of the north ( meaning the infidels of) were my cousins and the only sad thing about the Twin Towers was the fact that so many of his profession died.

To end, I saw God knows where a headline that asked ' is it OK not to care about Madonna's divorce?' I can honestly say I will not lose any sleep over it and if she wants to do anything worthy she should adopt me and help me fulfill my dream of becoming a Formula One driver and carry out an art robbery.

Monday, 20 October 2008

What to do with the youngsters of today? 'Beat them' said Henderson, but of course we can't and shouldn't, but after the shennanigans of class 3A this morning I think I might have to go armed and build some kind of fortress round the desk in future. I feel sorry for the younger teachers who look like they are in tears at lunch time. At the beginning of term they are all keen and cooing 'que majo' at each child as they go by, not realising the truth about children. They have forgotten how awful some kids could be when they were young and nothing has changed.

I have in my possession a piece of paper handed to me by an Englishman from one of the hotels here which was a laundry price list. You can get your camisas and camisetas cleaned while you're there for around 4 euros. Pity the items were translated into shits and undershits.

Today I read an article which advised never to economise on socks, wine and chocolate. I think I agree and would include any kind of underwear as you never know, especially when wine and chocolate are involved. I would also refrain from buying anything on the cheap in the way of paper punches, staple guns etc. There are a number of shops here which do a brisk trade in shite and possibly undershite. They are always busy and when desperate I have bought a paper punch and it broke the first time I used it. There was a sellotape holder which can't cut the sellotape but manages to cut my fingers which I bought the same day as the paper punch and staple gun and is the only survivor of the three. I used to work for a FIFA agent here and his desk was full of this stuff especially pens that didn't work and he refused to throw them away.

They said it could never happen but Piti and I have sort of become friends. I love dogs, but he is a poodle. When friends stay and they hear him scrambling around upstairs they say 'ah, he can't be that bad, what breed is he?' When I tell them they all look as if they have been dealt a blow and can only say 'oh'. As Mercedes has broken her leg she won't be going anywhere in a hurry so I have offered to take the beast out of a night. So far we have had a rather pleasant promenade and he stays by my side and obeys me in English. Maybe this is where we went wrong and should have given him a bollocking in the beginning in English and not Spanish.

There have been stories in the press about sightings of UFOs and I wondered if there are other forms of life would they bother to come here as they won't be listened to and won't get a word in edge ways. I can just see a higher intelligent being cursing under his breath and ordering another drink to blot out the noise.

On the subject of drink I have made a mistake with my calculations and Wednesday will not be my chance to have a drink just to take the edge off things but Thursday. Hic hic hooray.

Sunday, 19 October 2008

ANA HAS BEEN UNWELL

With the thought of teaching bright and early tomorrow Henderson and I decided to go to the Connemara to take the edge off things. He nursed two and a half pints of Guinness and I a grudge which was not softened by two chilled glasses of Mosto the nation's favourite grape drink. As is his wont we discussed collective nouns with a murmuration of starlings and a murder of crows being my favourite. Pity the class that is probably still not in bed as I write this is a litter of hoodlums who breakfast on bars of sugar and inevitably bring out a reluctant Joyce Grenfell in me. 'No Jorge, don't stand on the radiator while flinging your pencils at Maria's eyes. Please Sergio, take your foot out of Fernando's mouth. That's right Javier put your pants back on we don't want to see your 'pompis' thank you very much. Yes, I quite agree Nico, it is rather rude of Santi to say you are an unbearable, anti-social son of a bitch but try to ignore his boring opinions'.

My first class here with a different sleuth of reprobates started with me being dropped off by Henderson. A rather cherubic child rushed up to me and asked if he was my dad. Later on Henderson asked if I wouldn't mind buying him a bottle of whisky which he said was for his coffee but was probably due to the fit of pique he had on finding out what the kid had said. The whisky in the Aldi was locked up in a small glass cabinet and when I asked the girl on the till if I could have a bottle of J&B she didn't understand and she kept repeating 'Jota B?' to my 'Si, Jota B por favor' until a rather large queue of impatient Spaniards had formed. Perhaps if I had left out the 'por favor' bit she would have got the jist.In the end she shouted what seemed like 'could assistant number twenty nine come and help the half cut English teacher as she is after another bottle' into the tannoy. When assistant number twenty nine came they kept repeating 'Jota B' between them till the queue was by now apoplexic. Number twenty nine got her keys out, went to the cabinet, got the bottle, handed it to a young man in the queue and everyone said 'No! It's for her', and pointed at me. I almost said 'it's for my dad' but thought better of it as the ensuing saga didn't bear thinking about.

I caught a glimpse as I wafted in and out of the living room this evening of one of those fly on the wall programmes dealing with unhappy, disobedient, rude British teenagers. There were two and they had been sent to South Africa to stay with a family and go to school there where they could learn what most people would like to think is normal behaviour. They took the image of whingeing pom to levels I thought weren't possible, the teenagers that is. When people lament the decline of behaviour and respect in Britain they should think about countries like New Zealand where you often think you are in England in the 1950's. Britain seems to have a lot in common with Spain when it comes to that self centred attitude that shocks many people who had some other idea of both countries. It just manifests itself in different ways. The England or Britain of C.E. Eckersley only exists in books and maybe pockets of the English countryside. Elsewhere maybe go and live in Canada or New Zealand but like everything it won't be perfect and you'll find yourself upset about some affront. The Spain of today manages to preserve an almost medieval way of life but is quickly catching up with Britain when it comes to children dictating how teachers and parents should deal with them. We definitely went wrong when we told children they could call teachers by their first names.

Saturday, 18 October 2008

ANA HAS BEEN UNWELL

Piti the Priapic Poodle has resurfaced much to my chagrin at six o'clock this morning. I sometimes think the Spanish do it on purpose. That they are genetically programmed to be awkward bastards with no sense of time, humour or awareness of others. He kicked off just as the strains of 'El Tubo' were laid to rest for another twelve hours. I still harbour thoughts of turning up outside my noisy neighbours' houses with the Drums of Calanda and have a session till our hands bleed just to give them an idea of my plight.

Our mayor seems to have gone to ground or maybe it's because he knows I and others are lying in ambush. His bodygurads ( I like this spelling mistake too, may keep it as some kind of polari, gay slang for those of you not familiar. I've got loads more, my favourite is greta for anything great) are nowhere to be seen either. Maybe like the North Korean leader whose name escapes me, or Fidel, he is ill or dead and the PSOE are unable to tell us.


Henderson has just informed me that he saw a photo of the mayor hiding behind another person with authority during the inauguration of some new flats. Will these be the flats that are designated for people on a low income but often end up being inhabited by those who are not short of a few bob but have some kind of enchufe which gets them around the need to be poor?


On a lighter note, I bought a bottle of Rioja of the Gran Reserva kind in my local LIDL, a shop that the Brits are now flocking to to beat the rise in prices. A year ago a friend of mine back in Britain wouldn't be seen in such a shop but is now beside himself with the excitement of German chocolates, Spanish wine, foie gras and a satellite dish with change from a tenner. The Rioja is sitting there winking at me. We have a date next Wednesday.

After helping my chemist to have more than his fair share of cars, holidays and the like, I still found myself there today after being 'advised' I should get a scar cream for the ugly looking things on my 'tripa'. OK, fair play, don't mind giving him a few more euros if it benefits my well being, or wellness as it is often said here, until the woman told me a small tube that may help to lighten the scar cost 40 euros. There are certain things that you just know you will never do again after a certain age and are quite happy with this. Risk sports, wear a bikini, drink vodka or try to look winsome are just a few but this has to go onto my ever increasing portfolio of things that one's sights are not set on.

I saved this as a draft and so now it is later on in the day or rather two minutes to midnight and I have not long discovered that my neighbour Mercedes has broken her leg. Her daughter called yesterday and said simply 'just to say you can go and visit Mercedes whenever you want', which at the time seemed odd as I know I can go and visit her anytime and thought no more of it. So it was to my surprise and upset that the fall she had the other day has led to this. She agreed that the above sentence doesn't convey the situation and rolled her eyes in that 'don't ask' way. So our chemist is going to make even more money out of us with our 'Spainkillers'.

I'm still having problemos putting the Bravenet counter somewhere on my blog to see if anyone is reading it. Anyone who is and has got a momento could you please let me know.

Friday, 17 October 2008

ANA HAS BEEN UNWELL

Five more days to go till I can have a 'bebida'. My kidneys have had enough of being on holiday and need some of the sixteen and a half kilos of Somontano grape that was harvested this year.

Reading C.E. Eckersley last night with a glass of hot milk, I came across the sentence 'pullulation of verbal novelties' , meaning the reproduction of useless words in English. Eckersley thought the growth of the English language should be halted but if it had I wouldn't be able to tell my friend Fernando that 'no, your dad is not right when he says there are more words in Spanish than in English'. This is one example of when the Spanish will put up a fight, especially the Aragonese, and especially the ones who don't speak another language but are the gold medallists when it comes to knowledge of one.

Having a peep at the Daily Mail would, I imagine, be like peeping into David Icke's mind. So I dared myself today to do the former and was left in no doubt that if half of it is true I should perhaps not go there for Christmad ( spelling mistake but quite like it. Eckersley would be pissed off ). The words shopping,traffic jam, Curry's and meltdown leave me in no doubt that the British are mad. If only for coming up with this newspaper. When I am in the motherland I love to go shopping to get things I can't get here. Stone's Ginger Wine for instance which I never drink neat.

Speaking with a Bosnian friend of mine I was trying to convey the goings on here and she said 'Oh yes, it sounds like my country. Nothing works and no one cares'. Now when I am faced with the histrionics of my colleagues or friends that such and such hasn't turned up or won't be starting on time or at all I think of these words and find them vaguely comforting. Either that or I say, 'come on, you are Spanish, you must be used to it by now, you've been here longer than me' which invites a glare which I have also found to be soothing knowing it won't come to blows or a stabbing.

I still haven't asked the man down the road why he has named his chocolate cum crisp machine '25 Hours' because I am worried he will let me in on something that would be manna for The Daily Mail.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

ANA HAS BEEN UNWELL

We have new neighbours. They couldn't be worse than Mr. 'Yo No' from next door but they seem to have ambitions to emulate him. They are 'punkies'. Not punks. Punkies. Pronounced poonkies. It is impossible to explain to your average Spaniard that the word 'punkie' hardly puts the fear of God into a passerby. It never ceases to amaze me the proliferation of punks thirty years or more after the act. Now having them as neighbours is another reason why 'getting away from it all' doesn't work, unless you go and live in Canada or a cave.

Piti the Priapic Poodle seems to be off the radar these days. Either that or the chap in 2D has wrung his neck. The poodle's, not his own, although I could understand if he had. In fact things seem a little too quite lately. I don't know how long this will last so I am savouring every moment.

On the subject of savouries, there is a shop here called 'Sabores de Ayer' which loosely means 'Tastes of Yesterday', but after tasting one of their 'empanadas' I feel it should be renamed 'Tastes of Last Week'.

Watching the news I became aware of the impending Olympics. I wouldn't call myself a sporty type. I've been known to walk in on a boxing match and ask 'who's playing?'. I almost got my head kicked in at an Arsenal match but they couldn't be bothered in the end being a vague, void lot. Half of them were listening to the cricket at the same time as the match and my crime was to cheer regardless of which team scored. I remember being fascinated with the constant ebb and flow to the hotdog sellers and other distractions and can't even remember who Arsenal were fighting.

I was given a present from my friend Ramon. A first edition of A Modern English Course For Foreign Students by C.E. Eckersley who wanted to 'cover the pill of learning with the jam of gaiety' which is sound advice for any teacher. The book is full of useful information from how to order tea at a ''Corner House'' to why English people send their sons to Eton. I think it is going to be a good read.

Friday, 10 October 2008

ANA HAS BEEN UNWELL

Sometimes I feel our mayor presides over us like Lord Summerisle. Small towns in Spain often have that Wicker Man vibe. There are three other things that are a must, a bar, a church and a crane. I can't find his Lordship in today's Sunday paper which seems odd as he is oft to be found lurking among the various photo opportunities that grace the pages of our local rag.


Walking around town today in Sergeant Howie mode, I couldn't help noticing there was more than the usual amount of imbecilty in the air. A small gene pool and marriages between cousins leaves those of us 'de fuera' meaning 'from outside', or foreigners to you and me, feeling just a tad freaked out, especially when it comes to identical twins. I have never seen so many in one place. It gets weirder when they run a cafe or a shop and they both loom out and ask you if you are 'local', or worse, 'what bra size are you'. There are two sisters who I can't tell apart and found myself asking one of them 'are you sure it is you?' as I only know one of them and thought maybe she was 'the other one' and was just being polite and wondering what freak I could be. As I have said before, Spain is not a country but a state of mind and while I was dealing with the twin situation a midget walked by carrying an oversized carrier bag that was scraping along the ground. On the side of the bag was the name of the shop, 'Tall Girls'. Later on I saw the man who runs a baker's at the top of my road and I have no idea if he is a twin or a midget even as he is always seated in his bakery with his hands clasped firmly under his armpits. He asks 'que hay' when you enter and then uses those hands to pick up your bread. Never again. I think more immigration is needed, not less.

Spanish people ask me how to say 'pijo' in English. This is a difficult one as we have various levels of 'pijo'. If you are not familiar with this word it loosely means snob or posh, but this doesn't really conjure it up for me. In Spain that could mean someone who has the affront to have a shower every day.

There is a shop here that perhaps 'pijos' frequent and which I find myself in for 'research' reasons like the other day when I overheard the sales assistant comment that the rather lovely dress the pijo was wearing was of course 'muy ingles'. The shop in question goes by the name of Adolfo Domingo. Only in Spain would a parent name their child after a fascist. Do Italians still call their children Benito? Perhaps they still do. Franco's first name was Francisco and that hasn't gone out of fashion. As for the shop, they should have just called it Eva Braun's Wardobe.

Lastly, if anyone is still bothering to read this blog, who can tell me if under Franco ( dreadful thought), a Russian salad was called an 'Ensalada Zarina'.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

ANA HAS BEEN UNWELL

With the first flurry of snow up in them there hills I was to be found languishing in the foothills benumbed with our chemist's till ringing in my ears. Only 14 days to go till I can rush down to the nearest supermercado and buy some tastier analgesics in the form of some Somontano or Rioja wine. It amazes me that I have gone without drink for almost three months. You see, it can be done.

I've talked about the idea of 'getting away from it all' and it seems that 'it all' is never too far away. A small town or a village in the mountains will always have elements of a big city, like a horrid, provincial, microcosm, and so it was the other night as I witnessed a young neighbour freaking out on something, two assailants legging it moments later with a holdall up our road and then jumping into a fated, silver, BMW. One of the other neighbours claims he saw them with a knife and the hallway is filled with the smell of spliff and paranoia. Makes a change from the 75 year old in 1D pissing off the balcony, taking all his clothes off and lying down in said hallway for a bit of a kip. And ours is one of the more upmarket 'pisos'.

Talking of upmarket, drugs and paranoia, the dreaded Gran Scala is definately 'on' and will be built in the Monegros Desert in Bajo Aragon. Despite the end of Western Civilisation as we know it, this casino and 'leisure' centre is to go ahead and is unaffected by the present climate as the investors are 'funds and not banks' says the 'chef officer' and 'responsible' (sic) Mark Campbell. So 'gettin away from it all' might mean moving north.

The Dutchman and I have despaired many times over dubbing in Spanish. "Oh, but they are the best dubbers' say some Spaniards when we guffaw over how ridiculous Al Pacino et al sound. One woman told me that she felt English actors where 'wooden' till I asked her how on earth she would know if the voice was some other actor.The best I heard was 'but Humphrey Bogart's real voice is so ugly'. It's an impossible argument until you suggest dubbing Spanish films with English and American actors, then there is uproar. Now the Dutchman tells me that one of his pupils watches David Lynch dubbed in Spanish. Words fail me.

Finally, there are the Dodgems and there are the Bumper Cars. Which one are you? What would it be like if everyone was a Dodgem?

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Today I saw a young man cycling along wearing a T-shirt embazoned with the words 'Bloody Hell' on the back. The Dutchman told me one of his female students wears one with the word 'Available' on the front. I've seen 'Bullocks' and 'Killer Pussy' too. I wonder if British kids are wandering around with 'Que Cojones' written on theirs.

Last night we booked our tickets to fly back to London for Christmas. These things are never easy and we were worried that we had booked them twice as the computer decided to have problemos at the same time. When we rang the bank they had no problem telling us only one transaction had been made and didn't ask for anything but the credit card number. This being Spain we thought we had better check again this morning for you never know and were passed throught to various staff who insisted that they couldn't check for us without a special code which of course we didn't have. At one point we were asked for our DNI and I felt like doing the usual which is to give them my library card number. We gave it but the answer was still 'Que no'. I'm not sure whether giving the DNI gave the man the go ahead to tell us 'Que no' but he did ask if we knew the woman the night before. You know, 'enchufe' as it is called here. Not what you know, for most don't know anything, but who you are 'in' with.

Everything is impossible and possible at the same time. Sometimes I think I am tripping and that our mayor has decided to put LSD in the reservoir. After the bank people we had a run in with some other lot who deal with let's just say, paperwork of some kind or another. It doesn't matter what as it is always the same. It involves being told 'Que no' as you produce every piece of paper you were asked for and then means you have to go up and down to get another one till you finally are told that 'Ah yes, but the date is not correct and this is in pencil and needs to be printed.' Eventually the thing gets done but not before you start to feel like you are on a piece of elastic and find yourself muttering 'please, can I come back now, before I am found dead in another century?'

Something I miss that says a lot about the British character is a good old rummage. There aren't charity shops, jumble sales or car boot sales here as the Spanish wouldn't dream of wearing a dead person's dress or shoes. At least the Dutchman has stopped asking ' What is it, how much and why?' Greasy spoon cafes with Thai food, tea shops and betting shops are also on my list of things to make me feel homesick.

On my way home across Calle Jasmin I saw one of the storks fly down Calle San Lorenzo and straight after a hearse was going in the opposite direction.

I never read my star sign except out of boredom like I did the other day while in the doctor's waiting room. According to the local rag it's dangerous to shower with cold water and I run the risk of an intoxication..........