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Friday, 30 January 2009

DOGS ALOUD

I'm not sure if I saw our mayor at the exhibiton the other night. I think he might have been astral projected as he wandered around and claimed he wanted to be photographed with 'the lions'. A minor celebrity, he is nonetheless a raving nutter and thinks he is some kind of guru which the town could not survive without. It's probably at that stage where even his family and friends can't get through to him.

The crime 'wave' of January isn't over yet or maybe it's the first time the paper can be bothered to report on what might have been going on all along. Along with the other crimes of late a 'drogueria' or shop that sells everything but drugs was held up the other day and petrol is being siphoned off from lorries as I write. The guy who glassed another during last year's carnival has been sent to prison and to show how far behind we are here, a punch up between some 'skins' and a 'punkie' took place somewhere other than our flats for a change. Such a perfect town for misunderstood youths.

When I was in Britain my chiropracter told me that in Switzerland where she is from there are strict rules about what kind of sounds you are allowed to make after nine o'clock. Hoovering was one noise but there were many others. It sounds like heaven but I can't imagine I would last long in a country which my friend David tells me smells of farts.With all the noise around me here is it any wonder the bells in my head keep ringing away? The garage door has turned into one of those birds you find in Australia which can mimic chainsaws and the like. This door has started to copy the same sort of sound which can be found above my head in the form of Piti and I have started to do a very good impersonation of Herbert Lom in The Pink Panther. Sometimes I start to twitch at the sound of the beginning of a police siren as I can't tell the difference anymore between man's best friend upstairs and the local fuzz.

I am beginning to wonder what I am doing here as one needs nerves of steel to get through the day and this one doesn't always have them. The journey from home to school or home to anywhere always involves or resembles a kind of assault course with various 'hazards' thrown in which today involved a loaded skip being dragged along the road in an attempt to put it on a lorry and a woman with a black bin liner and a very sharp looking brolly pointing in my direction. Cars mounted the pavement while I tried to walk along them, a woman opened her car door onto me as I walked past, a piece of wood came round a corner before the man carrying it, and a bus with a wing mirror scraped my ear don't ask how while I was still on the pavement. That was for starters. The umbrella phobia I have to hand to Mr Hosker my old headmaster who told us a horrific, long drawn out story which started off all 'trala la la la', of a girl who was skipping along merrily, swinging and twirling the old headguard as she went to school, but managed to poke another little girl's eye out by the type of umbrella which now gives me nightmares. All he had to say was that type of brolly was banned from school, he didn't have to traumatise us. This is the same headmaster who enjoyed playing The Liberty Bell, The Monty Python Theme Tune while we waltzed out of assembly or forum. He has a lot to answer for both good and bad.

Saturday, 24 January 2009

FRANK FIELD DAY

I think it was John Cooper Clarke who said that Bolton was the kind of town where if a plane flew over everyone would look up. Huesca is that kind of place where if someone starts digging a hole a crowd gathers. And so it was that I saw a crowd gathering outside one of the banks yesterday not knowing that the hole being dug was by two would be bank robbers who ended up having their master plan thwarted by some rustics with a reputation for being self willed, which for once paid off as they tackled the miscreants with, I gather, great aplomb. One ended up with broken ribs and the other some sort of damage to his face. There seems to be a spate of crimes in this street as it is the same one where a supermarket assistant was threatened and several cafes and restaurants have been robbed this year. Then I learn that four teenage girls armed with a fake gun robbed two younger ones in the park the other week and not far from here four women have had their bags snatched. All since the 'town' has acquired 'city' status it appears, or as others would have it, due to the recession.

The terrible trio, Piti the Priapic Poodle, Tony Blair and our mayor have all been keeping a low profile lately but the mayor was spotted standing next to Henderson yesterday at an exhibition we had been invited to. Despite my words I have no intention of wounding our mayor but Henderson being a man of action was spotted in the chief's vicinity and I found myself shooting across the floor gag in hand just as H was opening his cake hole to speak some words of truth, and consequences were avoided.

On the subject of politicians I wondered if being forced during some party game which politician or politicians I would buy a drink. I decided one of each of the main parties. Frank Field, Vince Cable and Ken Clarke. All because they possess the kind of names that tend to roll off the tongue when you are talking about someone pragmatic, likeable and who you have just seen in the high street, and despite their political leanings you might like to share a drink and chinwag. I know of three I would never buy a drink and that would be David Milliband, Tony McNulty and Caroline Flint who regardless of which party they belong to possess a deluded confidence that only serves to raise my cholesterol. Milliband also makes the mistake of calling Condaleeza Rice 'Condi' in front of millions. McNulty leaves an aftertaste of sweaty, boorish oaf that lingers in my room after I switch the tele off. He belongs in a Bleasedale script. Flint by name and nature is one to watch and makes me wonder if she wasn't a minister she would be a loan shark or debt collector. To be honest, I probably wouldn't truck, barter or exchange with any of them although I like Osborne if only because he looks like a glass of port.

Maybe I should be writing about Spanish politicians as they are just as scary and my other bete noir, Esperanza Aguirre has a vague look about her that silently screams Women on the Verge. She does resemble the wife scorned in the film of the same name. Mariano Rajoy is not attractive enough, either in speech or in looks. What is it with Spanish men and this type of beard? Beards are for people with something to hide or soldiers stuck in a desert bereft of a razor. Or maybe an experiment, like how long can one go without shaving one's armpits?

Lastly, the tinnitus has improved. The ringing has been replaced with the sound of a car left running outside.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

MR MUSCLE...SO MUCH BETTER THAN SPIT.

Thursday is Saint Vincent, another fiesta and no work and all play. I can relate to Saint Vincent as like me he was imprisoned, semi-starved and then commanded to sacrifice but refused. I'm sure a crucifixion was thrown in while they were at it as I have fleeting memories of something similar involving an operating theatre and a bright light. Waking up and realising I was left with wounds like Saint Sebastian was the last straw and suffice to say I would rather throw myself onto Saint Lawrence's barbecue than go back to that hospital. At least I can drink again.

Back to Vincent of Zaragoza. I am warned that there will be another big 'hoguera' or bonfire which will be placed next to the fire station I guess in case of the inevitable. 2,000 natives are expected armed with potatoes but I think these might be handed out which explains why so many come. 170 miles of sausage and lashings of red wine, oil, salt, paper napkins and plastic plates ensure a sea of gleeful faces but not what I call a shindig, and not being one who enjoys the 'group thing' will head off in the opposite direction.

I need to delve more into the "English not acquiring the adult mind' theory as I am seriously thinking it is another one of those things that you convince yourself is right but on a final analisis realise that our European cousins are often the masters of. My other concern is the 'English women are the sluts of Europe' view, and I don't mean the sex, that's another one worth discussing along with drinking habits and who has got the best food. I'm talking dust and mess as opposed to neurotically scrubbing and polishing like there's no tomorrow. At last we pick up the dog shit.

Our community meeting looms and like a future engagement with a plane is starting to make me twitch slightly as I know all the neighbours are right now storing up their hatred and bitterness towards whoever will listen once the meeting takes place, sometime in February. Everyone will scream and shout and say how wrong it all is that someone is still breaking the letterboxes and 'Marcos I will kill you' is still painted on the street door as well as all the other gripes. I will sit there and try to get a word in but coming from a background that would have sorted all the problems out earlier on will end up watching them pretending I am David Attenborough. Most attempts at diplomacy are viewed as breaking the rules as the point of this meeting is to have a bloody good slanging match with yourself and, if they can be bothered to listen, your nearest neighbour. People will drift off into other complaints that the 'Gestor' or administrator will be frantically trying to record. Very little will be done except in the way of steam and moralising and all my solutions will be viewed as mad as that is not how things are done here. I'm trying not to count the days.

Our current 'presidente' asked me the other day what size the strip light that has blown in the garage is. I told him I had no idea to which he replied neither did he and his face said 'well what am I supposed to do about this?'. I found myself telling him to get a ladder and take the old one out, take it along to the shop and ask for the same size. Later on I was in the hallway of a block of flats where there are some fifty flats or more and a women entered and asked me if I knew where some 'fulanita' or Mrs. So and So lived and was most miffed when I opened my gob and told her that I didn't. She looked at me horrified and said aloud 'what? you're not from round here'. I told her 'no, thank God' and turned on my heels. The Spanish are very happy to waste my time trying to save theirs and a day doesn't go by without one of them hindering me or accosting me when it suits them. When they are in a hurry or have nothing to say they will cross the road to avoid you. I sussed onto this a while back and have loads of other examples of their inbred laziness.

So that's all for today as I steel myself for the hoodlums and future civil servants of rural Spain. Happy Saint Sebastain and Fabian.

Friday, 16 January 2009

JESUS IS NOT JUST FOR CHRISTMAS.

Tomorrow is the day of Saint Antony, patron saint of many things including animals, skin rashes and The Netherlands. I'm thinking of dragging Henderson along in an attempt to cure him of his ongoing ailments. I don't think I can take much more of him doing what looks like a Chorea Sanct Viti, or Saint Vitus dance. Twisting and writhing which he passes off as eczema. It's either that or he has got Saint Antony's Fire, ergot poisoning......

So I guess a big bonfire will be built and set alight and wine and some sort of nibble will be on offer probably in the form of a sausage or a baked potato but might be the dreaded chocolate and churros. Just the mention of fire and food will bring the natives out in gangs. In the morning, animals will be herded at the end of our road in the Plaza Santa Clara and get blessed by the priest. Our road used to house many animals and farms but now seems on the brink of becoming the town's answer to Hoxton. Later the tiny chapel which flats have been built around, one of the few relics to be saved in recent years, will open to the public. It is a bit of a sorrowful sight as The Spanish are still not used to saving anything old.

Keeping on a religous theme I noticed a new film club or "ciclo de cine' as it is called here. It's organised by the bishop of Huesca but I can't imagine the films which look quite good will be in the original version. I'm reminded of my comment about foreigners thinking the English have never acquired an adult mind. Maybe it's because all the films are dubbed and fine actors and actresses end up talking like babies in Spanish. I've heard the same said of Americans. Spanish people say Americans come across as very childish in the movies, never thinking it is the dreadful dubber who contributes to this. 'But they are the best dubbers in the world', they tell me...........

Some friends crashed their car on New Year's Eve here, or rather the driver of a bus 'fainted' and crashed into them. The bus was carrying a load of 'religiosas', nuns and priests who claimed Jesus saved them, or so I am told. A bit like the woman who collapsed in the street on her way to the bank with the lottery takings and when she woke up the money was gone.

We'll need more than a miracle for the police to catch the hoodlums who seem to think they can ransack schools, bars and restaurants here. The local shop keepers and bar owners want more police presence and perhaps this is not such a bad idea but I can't see it happening. Someone managed to drive the wrong way down the motorway last week for quite a schlep it seems as the police never found him or her despite receiving loads of calls from drivers swerving out of the way.

Lastly, classes 2A and B as opposed to the reprobates in the year above, gave me hope the other day when I got them to do prepositions of place, in, on and under etc. They had to draw what was under their bed and came up with such wonderful things as nests with legs and socks that fall in love. Right up my calle.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

THE ONLY JEW IN THE VILLAGE

I am a bit perturbed that if I am ever ill again or choose to have a day off there are no teachers willing or able to cover for me if it involves classes 3A and B. I may have mentioned before that they make The Bash Street and Fenn Street kids look like a bunch of bloodless, doe eyed milk-sops so I am quite miffed that no one else seems capable of taking over if I am to be run down or run over in this town. The Aragonese are famous for their predetermination and their children are masters by about the age of three, or in the case of my friend's two year old whose first words were the infamous 'que no'. when he was one. Her nephew when scolded for ripping out a toilet system remarked that the teacher shouldn't poke her nose in his affairs. So I shouldn't be and I am not surprised when a child of seven tells me off for not saying the word 'chicken' properly. Said word cropped up as it does and she told me that it wasn't 'chikin' as I said it but 'chick En' as said by most Spanish folk. Never mind that I have never met a Spaniard who can't distinguish between chicken and kitchen. This is not the first time and involves all sorts of words that I am not pronouncing in the way that they are written. Ask anyone to say Shakespeare and you will get 'shaky spee aray'. 'Hamas Hoyce' is one of my favourites and 'Henry ham es'. I am not bothered about the mistakes at all, this is normal when learning the language, it is the Aragonese pigheadedness that is at times trying. Just another reminder that at this rate I will never be out of work.

I read in the local paper that 75% of people here think the Israelis are to blame for the conflict and 14% thought it was the Palestinians. 10% thought both and 1% couldn't be asked or arsed. About a year ago a friend quiped that he hated Jews. He didn't know why and I haven't spoken to him since he can not come up with an answer. Another mentioned that she didn't like so and so and when I asked her why she said because he was Jewish. I didn't know what she meant until someone else said this doesn't mean he is a Jew but he is mean and tight with his money. Look up the word Jew in a Spanish dictionary and it says amongst other things, stingy. I am not even going to repeat what I hear said about muslims. I am not sure where I am going with this but as someone who doesn't have this particular phobia I feel uneasy being around so many people who seem to hate everyone but pretend they don't.

So before I get depressed at how thick people are and that includes Prince Harry I must dwell on how lucky I was to have had a headmaster who liked to play The Liberty Bell, the theme tune to Monty Python as we filed out of the assembly after attending a forum on Friday afternoons. To have had a mother who never used name calling to insult people and when treated badly or was on the receiving end of xenophobia would tell us to ignore them if we could as 'they'll never have any luck'. Such a sheltered life.......

Now I am desperate to get back on track with something lighthearted and whimsical so what better than to inform all a lesser known fact about Henderson. That he is something like 200th in line to the throne. The Family of Orange-Nassau for God's sake. So we only have to massacre his clan and I can be queen.

I can't even begin to describe the variety show that is my family but I can say that I would have to obliterate less to come up with some true noble blood and am very proud like some Boston terrier of my inbred self importance and owe a lot to my ancestor's scrappy ways. My cousin, once bitten, twice removed who shall be known as cousin Ga Ga for fear of reprisals is often found seated at the dining table asking mental questions to an agitated Henderson. She seems to be a member of the disinterested. The last time it was, 'so what's the weather like in The Netherlands?'

That's enough for today. I started to record a list in my mind of people that other people hate but I love, simply because everyone hates them and I think they are just misguided, the hated that is, but perhaps the hater is too,. Or maybe it is just a mental list.

Sunday, 11 January 2009

CHILDE ROLAND AGAIN.............

It's difficult to believe that this time last week I was fretting over my weight. Anything over ten kilos and I would have to start tossing stuff out of my suitcase to get past the evil Ryanair staff.
Here I am now fretting over tomorrow and the reminder that classes 3A and B are plotting as I write. I am pondering the idea of laying bets that the first twenty minutes will be hell and will involve fights and name calling and throwing of books and pencil cases and balancing of chairs on heads and, on it goes.

I read somewhere recently that foreigners especially the French think the English haven't acquired an adult mind. I like to think this means we are in touch with our inner child or have playful natures but after watching some of the television programmes that I am thankfully unable to get here I realise we are, or rather they are if I wash my hands of them, a nation of guffawing degenerates. I still don't know what dogging means and am baffled at a lot of the language being used to describe men and women.

I don't have many regrets but I wish I had seen a play while we were in London. I also wish I had the courage to ride what is known as a chairoplane in Leicester Square as it did look like fun and might have finally got me over so many phobias. Flying and people for example. We did get to see the latest or the last James Bond film which I loved. Henderson looks like Daniel Craig especially around the gills. A sort of Teutonic, feral type creature known for its unpredictable behaviour.

Last night during a bout of insomnia I chatted with a friend on the internet and although she was miles away in Torquay I invited her for a chocolate and churros at the Granja Anita, a cafe here that deals in this dreadful drink and its fat and sugar laden dip. Henderson refuses to go here as the last time our conversation was drowned out by a gaggle of women all talking at the same time and high on the content of the above aberration of taste. So I invited her to the Juan Sebastian bar instead.

Speaking of miles I wondered about changing the word for kilometres and it doesn't work if you are singing The Who's I can see for kilometres and kilometres or 'guess what? I joined the kilometre high club', or perhaps, 'I'm sorry, I didn't hear you, I was kilometres away'. Too much time and hands I guess.

Lastly, Henderson reminded me that I am still sleeping with my eyes open which just makes me convinced I am right when I say I haven't slept for twenty years. He added that I am still lying in a sunbathing or deckchair position with my hands behind my head and a look of serenity. Little does he know of the traumatic dreams going on. Last night I dreamt I lived in Camden and it was always night.....................

Saturday, 10 January 2009

HEADLINE GRABBERS

As usual I am surrounded by bits of paper, post it notes, paper napkins and other items used to jot down insane ideas born out of boredom or hysteria. I'm thinking of starting a newspaper called The Good News and can't believe one doesn't already exist. I'd like to see Parents Right To Smack and Other Drugs as a headline.

On the subject of news I saw my phizog staring out from one of the pages of the local rag. A girl had stopped me in the street the previous day and asked me if I thought the sales this year were more aggressive than last year's. I thought about how much fun I could have if I told her a load of porkies, like how I had come all the way from England to do my Christmas shopping for next year but one must be careful in a small town where everyone knows you and so it was to Henderson's relief that my mug wasn't accompanied by some mad spiel. I'm glad they got the bit about me being a Londoner right as the Spanish can not carry on with anything until they have pigeonholed you. I'm surprised they didn't ask me whether I was a Catholic Londoner or a Sikh but they probably haven't heard of the latter anyway.

The news here tells me a council worker was arrested when it was discovered he was cultivating sixty three marihuana plants in the council's warehouse. This seems tame compared to the one working for Norwich council who turfed a load of pensioners out of their cheap housing so she and her cronies could move in and reduced the rent.

Still with the news. I am not sure exactly what is happening to the man who claimed he shot and killed the mayor of one of the villages up in them there hills and then said he didn't, that he didn't mean what he'd said and was trying to take the edge off things or something like that. I need to check this one out as it 'aint over yet. I might be imagining the other bit of news but I am sure that whenever the paper mentions unemployment and its rise it is always with the same photo of a couple of men of north African origin drinking beer in a cafe. I have seen a photo of men outside the dole office with the words ' a group of foreigners'. I am sure I am repeating myself but I guess I should be grateful my photo didn't have something similar written underneath it.

There is a Brit who lives in Barcelona who might represent Spain in the Eurovision. I remember being in a bar a couple of years ago and being teased because Britain had come last. The Spanish didn't understand when I told them I was delighted with the result as I thought that was the whole point.

Lastly, and it hasn't made news yet and I hope it won't but Piti the Priapic Poodle has been more than his skittish self today and has been getting worse since we arrived home last Monday and is on the brink of becoming The Dead Poodle sketch. I mentioned this to Mercedes who told me there hasn't been a peep out of him since we've been away, never mind that she wouldn't know as he only howls when she's out and if she did have the balls to ask anyone if he's been up to his antics they would only utter 'noooooooooo'.

Thursday, 8 January 2009

RAZONES TO BE CHEERFUL

Whilst back in the homeland I asked my dad what his neighbours were like now that they live in rural England. He knows all about mine and told me that life down in Dorset is not without its perils. His recently deceased neighbour to the left was Roger the 'raving nutter' who every now and then or rather at any given opportunity would be found behind you like a creeping Jesus armed with his leaf blower. Leaf blowing was his hobby and he would be at it all day with breaks in between where he would sidle up to various folk and tell them not to 'fucking well park here ever again' and worse. He came round my parents with a courtesy letter from the council telling him of my dad's proposal to have a fence put up and insisted the letter was about him and his garden and fence and that he didn't want a fence and wouldn't leave my parents' house till they had to lie and say that yes they agreed that he shouldn't have a fence put up. Behind them is a lovely thatched cottage, the kind that makes you feel all safe and cosy but is inhabited by another fruitcake who somehow managed to purloin part of my old man's garden by digging a trench when he wasn't looking. The previous owners didn't speak for twenty five years due to another land dispute. It makes my effing bleeder and his esposa next door seem like lightweights when I have to listen to them arguing for the third time each and every day.

I don't think I own a pair of shoes that don't squeak, croak or caw. Shoes that were fine in England start rasping and bleating as soon as they hit the Spanish sod. I've even had shoes which not content with the left one making a racket, the right comes out in sympathy. A recently bought pair I have discovered make quite a noise as each heel clomps up and down the alleyways and passageways of our town and like the others draw quite a lot of irate looks from the townsfolk. I think I have imported a new sound that people are not used to or maybe it is just competition.

I'm missing a book which I realised I have left behind at my mother's. The Innkeeper's Diary by John Fothergill. It was an appropriate book and reminded me a bit of The Green Man and I felt transported back to an England long gone. I also left behind the Aubreyesque print and a Mrs Beeton cookbook. The stuffed (sic) butterfly didn't even get a mention as we passed through Stansted's security and took up most of my energy trying to get it back through the hustle and bustle of Spain in one piece.

Now I am back I definitely don't miss the British press and its headlines. I found it difficult to get through the day without getting depressed. Henderson told me not to be so glib when I noticed one day while standing in the Co-Op that I had all the tabloids and so called broadsheets screaming a choice between Gaza, Gazza and Gas.

I've just edited this for the second time as I noticed so many errors. I don't understand why the spell check never works and I am not going to edit again.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

GETTING AWAY FROM IT ALL PART TWO THE HARD VERSION

There's a lot to be said about spending time in the wilds of Dorset with your elderly but sprightly parnets ( mum and dad to me ) without a phone or a computer. Well the phone bit is a lie but it never rang and I forgot it was there. Said parents are still raging against the powers that be and the rest, so dinner was always a delight and thank God they both drink red wine. My mother always a teetotaller has finally succumbed but as I have been saying for ages with all the doom and gloom the British media like to espouse I'm not surprised people drink.

Not having a computer also meant that I forgot that I had to print out my Check and Go pass to board a Ryanair plane quickly and free so getting there and finding out I had to pay twenty quid to take my eight kilos and Henderson's ten of hand luggage that I had fretted over for the previous few days just left me feeling like an idiot. I noticed when I checked my e-mails that Ryanair hadn't sent the usual 'reminder' to print this pass out so I would have probably forgotten anyway but I can't help feeling the whole thing is a con especially when even at the last minute two guys were trying to flog us priority boarding passes for an extra four pounds.

When I wasn't ensconced in the New Forest I did venture out in it and what a beautiful place. It was one of many things that were stopping me from returning to Spain but at dinner I would be reminded that if I come back it won't be long before I am writing letters, protesting and generally getting steamed up about living in what is looking like a weird, dictatorial, neo fascistic, socially engineered island stuck out in the Atlantic. Better to live in a weird, post-dictatorial, post fascistic, couldn't give a toss peninsula with some handy mountains and various waterways to run to if it ever kicks off again.

I can keep going on this one, like the fact that the British high street looks like one chain of charity shops. If you leave Poole shopping centre as I did to escape the melee and possible panic attacks from one of many bete noirs you see the evidence. There are many charity shops here but as I went into various other shops I realised I couldn't tell the difference. Some of the charity shops were more expensive than the regular shops. If you're looking for clothes and you are a woman you could end up looking like a prostitute tramp cum female impersonator. If you took the shopping centres away I think it would be a fascinating study to see what unpredictable behaviour would ensue.

On a positive note, my mother can't fault the NHS where she lives and for further evidence I have to say that going to her chiropractor has given me the will to live. I wouldn't normally write about such detailed and personal pains but I would like to have some historical reference and evidence just to say that the twenty four hour, seven days a week for seven months pain is largely due to a muscular skeletal problemo and can and will be fixed.