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Sunday, 21 December 2008

So other 'Englishy' things so far have been a visit to Blackheath to have tea and cakes and on to the observatory in Greenwich to sniff in some history. The view from here of London is one of my favourites along with the view from Richmond Hill, the first beautiful one I saw as a child. We looked for Goddard's to have pie and mash in Greenwich but it seems to have closed down so I will have to find out where the others are. I hope the one near the Angel hasn't gone. I miss soup so I have been dining out on this and being overwhelmed by the different foods on offer especially in the markets. Rummaging is a must and so far we have bought an Aubrey Beardsleyesque ( if there is such a thing ) print, a magnifying glass and a butterfly. How did we live without them?

A visit to the local park with our friends' daughter was such a treat. More tea and cakes in the park cafe and no sign of any graffiti. It's a pity the journey into London on Friday was marred by the sight of so much rubbish everywhere stuck in trees and along the roadside. Farmer's markets, duck ponds, squirrels, Waitrose, Victorian and Edwardian houses, more pleasantries are being soaked up and there's more tomorrow...................

Saturday, 20 December 2008

We are back in the motherland and the first thing that hits me is the amount of times people say sorry or offer pleasantries. It just makes me want to kiss them all. The other was the madcap journey from Victoria to London Bridge in an attempt to get to Blackheath. An hour and a half to get across the river and a reminder that as much as I love my home town I will never live here again unless I can have chauffeur. There is also no point trying to get everyone onto the transport system. There is no more room as this was proved when a girl tried to get on the train yesterday armed with a guitar and proceeded to assault us all including a pregnant woman with said instrument

Arriving late to our friends we did that thing called having fish and chips which will last us for another year. It's so nice to be here and I look forward to doing more 'Englishy' things in the days ahead, like an early night for a start...............

Thursday, 18 December 2008

STEAK AND COCKNEY PIE

I carve ( crave too ) peace and quiet and wonder why I settled for a country unable to sort out its inner and outer turmoil. So it is much to my chagrin that I appear to be going deaf. This would seem to be a blessing but it has arrived in the form of tinnitus, something I have always had and blame on a very loud nightclub circa 1989. The ringing was always going to be a part of me and I often wondered if I would be crooning 'do you hear bells baby?' in my old age but it has now taken a sharp turn and only amplifies the sounds of classes 3 and 2 both As and Bs. I hope this is just another phase.

I know among others two Basques who have names that I can't help pronouncing with a cockney accent. Aynoa and Imanol. If it is too difficult to work out it sounds something like 'I know 'er' and 'im an all'.

Talking of cockneys I will be back in olde worlde London towne within the next 24 hours or so and wonder if I will have time to write this blog if I am to attend all the shindigs I have been invited to. It is going to be a struggle to find the cafes of my youth as it seems the majority of them have gone. The New Piccadilly, Norrman's ( spelt like this ) in Bayswater, The Polo in Soho.
I think The Maison Bertaux next to The Coach and Horses is still there and I have made a pact with the devil that I will not be parting with my money in any rip off coffee houses.

Last night I paid Mercedes and Piti a visit to warn them I won't be here for couple of weeks and feel free to make as much noise as they want as if it would change anything. The tele was on as it always is in her household and I found myself watching a watered down Spanish version of Jeery ( another one I'm keeping although it is too obvious and I can't be the first...) Springer. In fact it was quite civilised considering the subject matter. Ranging from transexuals to men with what is known here as a 'micropene'. Little Hampton I think we would call it. I did ask Mercedes if she thought the people had any shame and she said the whole village would know and couldn't imagine the consequences. Anselmo, Mercedes' husband looked on aghast and when it was all over he said something on the lines of 'anything goes nowadays'. I wanted to say that I had seen it all before but I had to remind myself where I am and how Spain has certainly caught up with the rest of the world when it comes to what used to be known as the fringes or freaks of society. All this at eight o'clock of an evening and I hadn't even had my dinner.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

GET AWAY FROM IT ALL

As the title suggests one would think that coming along to Aragon would solve some of the dilemmas of modern life. Going back in time sounds wonderful. Sometimes it feels like thirty years and others centuries. Middle ages even. Yet I find myself being followed. It is often subtle but sometimes it might present itself as it did the other day in Zaragoza in the form of a calender. A crowd had gathered at the entrance to Corte Ingles, the big depratment ( quite like this, not going to correct it......) store that makes me feel as though I am in an upmarket version of Daniel's of Ealing circa 1969 at times despite the omnipresent Tommy Hilfiger and his ilk. Not one for crowds I still managed to glean the gist of what was going on. The bomberos or firemen of Zaragoza had decided to strip off and pose in a way that can only be appealing to gay men or women who haven't got a clue. The furore that it created just made me want to run the other way. Maybe towards Africa. How long will it be till it tracks you down there? You'll be living in a cave and your only companion will be a calender of the firemen of Dakar.

On my list of things to do or set up I have also launched one that includes names of shops. For men there should be a clothes shop called Top Wank and its sister shop Stating the Bleeding Obvious. It is only a matter of time.

As Friday looms I have to start telling myself that a plane will need boarding and hopefully without any of my usual paranoia and muffled histrionics. If I had my own way we would walk everywhere or failing that go by train. As we have limited time and one of the things Henderson has his own way with is getting on that plane and enjoying the speed and take off with such glee that it only adds to my existential angst and confims that I am not of this world. Once back in the native sod it will be interesting to see how the 'and there's worse to come' attitude will affect us as we find ourselves cocooned in people's houses. I want to see how many days I can stand before I start begging everyone to go for a walk.

Monday, 15 December 2008

A RIGHT PAIR

Somehow I survived the warzone that is class 3A/B. I have developed some new tactics to lessen the shell shock I often find myself experiencing as I close the door on that chapter of the day. A few deep breaths and mutterings and I can usually put it all behind me. Having a coffee afterwards I did see a woman, a very fat woman, wearing a top of some sort with the words Come As You Are written across her chest. On entering the flat Piti started howling at the moon and the effing bleeder's wife next door put her tele on full blast. I realise I haven't mentioned the bleeder and his esposa much if at all and daren't as it opens up a catalogue of mind boggling events that nobody would believe. This is the chap who flew down the stairs head first in the Da Vinci bar, spent five months in intensive care and once out went straight back to said tavern. A true Aragonese. Would do it all again.

Meanwhile, I realise we will be off this Friday to the motherland. This invokes joy and a certain fear of green and clouds that soon passes. In Nigeria they have a word for foreigners or white folk when they arrive. Oyibo. Oyibo has landed. Like an alien. I feel like this whenever I go back to Britain. You see me wandering around supermarkets staring at all the products in awe. I also do really annoying things like refer to DVDS as videos. Much to the chagrin of younger folk. It's like calling the radio the wireless which I still do.

On an even more trivial note and revealing more about our relationship I've just remembered I also know the word broekhoest in Dutch which means a 'trouser cough' or fart to English speakers. Whilst idling away the hours I have also come up with two more programmes, Just a Clue and I'm Sorry I Haven't got a Minute. If I haven't mentioned it before I would also like to see a programme called Who Wants to be a Multi-Millionaire? Or in the case of Madoff, Who Wants to be a Multi-Billionaire? The first will involve some sort of taster and the second will take place in Spanish streets to see how many people will stop and waste their wonderful time. The last will surely be held at gunpoint.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

I hope this isn't going to be a once a week blog. There are no excuses as I am not bereft of anything to say or write about. There are lots of excuses like I was too busy drinking or watching the Montreal Comedy Festival or chatting with friends over coffee or visiting those with children and being dragged up and down a hallway five floors up by a one year old with the vim and vigour I don't recall ever having but must still possess as he kept me at it for two hours.

Meanwhile, I pondered my failings in my Dutch lessons with Henderson. I realised I have only learnt the words ' I love you', 'a lot', 'can I have a beer please? 'very nice' and 'towel' which if looked at from a perverse angle says a lot about our relationship. A bit like peering into the contents of someone's shopping basket and seeing they are buying washing powder and a bottle of gin.

There is a very nice friendly man who sells me phone cards on the cheap and he remarked the other day that I was 'muy tapada' which I think means I was well wrapped up on account of the cold. I dearly wanted to utter the words, again of my father, that involve a monkey and balls, but didn't know the word for brass at the time. Henderson, whose Spanish leaves a lot to be desired knew the word of course. Can't string a decent sentence together in Spanish but always knows how to say obscure words.

After chatting with a friend whose 10 year old daughter's answer to the credit crisis is to get rid of money altogether, I thought I might start bartering for things. You know, I'll do a painting if you sort out my teeth. I've also got a plan for old age that if things get desperate, which they might as I have no pension plan or savings, I may embark on a life of crime. Perhaps in the Netherlands where I hear their prisons are very comfy if things go awry and at least I would have a roof over my head. In fact, I think every single person over seventy should just rise up en masse and start fighting back one way or another till it gets so out of hand the police give up. Why should it be just the young who get to toss Molotov cocktails?

Monday, 8 December 2008

HAMMER HOUSE

Yesterday Henderson and I went for a meal in the little restaurant across the road called Vicor. As we were the only ones there, the chef came out and introduced himself and reeled off the menu del dia. After settling for migas and then steak we got stuck into the mystery of where the aborigines in Australia came from. Henderson says that according to Bill Bryson 25 people would have been needed to populate the place and as it was at least 60,000 years ago, 30,000 years before any humans took to the sea, how the hell did they get there? I'm a bit miffed that nobody has come up with an answer especially the aborigines. Is there something they are not telling us? Later the waiter approached us and apologised for the lack of other diners and I decided not to tell him I was delighted that they had all buggered off to the mountains or decided not to eat on account of the credit crisis. It meant a smoke and histrionic free meal.

While on the subject of histrionics it does seem eerily quiet here apart from a few wails from Piti the Priapic Poodle who shall be known as PPP. It is unusual and brings on that feeling when you find yourself muttering 'what are the kids up to?' and then finding them silently making a casserole out of your best jewellery and mud. I am sure if I look hard enough I will find a troupe of Spaniards huddled in a corner with a sack of hammers.

Yesterday was Saint Ambrose who as far as I can tell is the patron saint of bees and candle makers. As a baby he had a swarm land on his face and they left some honey which his father saw as a sign of a greater spiritual calling. I was told that as a child, a neighbour, a delightful old lady on a par with Margaret Rutherford, approached me as I wheeled my pram and asked if she could have a look at my dolly. I said of course, but she was rather shocked when she saw I had filled the pram and packed it down with mud and worms. I rather like the idea of having a saint for prams full of anything but dolls and babies.