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Monday, 21 December 2009


I left the bar last night and could hear loud techno/dance music which seemed to be coming from a truck which had been parked or rather, as most things here are, wedged between a tapas bar and a chemist's. The music was quite pleasing in a sort of let's get drunk and dance the night away to music we wouldn't normally listen to. It was what I call a perfect moment as a small child went whizzing by on her scooter and an even smaller kid cocooned in pink started to dance to the music bellowing from the truck. One of those brief moments when everything in the universe seems to click into place and I am overwhelmed with love for my fellow man.

My love was limited when I heard what sounded like Mercedes dismantling her radiator at six o'clock this morning. Spanish people are made up of larks and night owls and she is the former which I guess I should be grateful for. Piti seems to spend more time with his owner and less time making my life a misery and it is comforting to know that all day the air upstairs was alive with the sounds of grandchildren being bathed, said dog barking in a a relatively normal way everytime someone knocked on the door.

Sunday, 20 December 2009


Not sure about the above title but it might have something to do with being asked why The British are often referred to as 'Perfida Albion' or Perfidious Albion and the only answer I have is that all fascist countries like to refer to us as this to make themselves feel good. Any other thoughts will be appreciated.

So I am delighted with my Christmas present and am writing this blog from a cafe where they don't seem to mind me using my lovely new 'portatil' or laptop. So I can do two of my many hobbies at once, drinking and writing. My main hobby is eating out and yesterday we found ourselves at The Tomate Jamon eating Migas with eggs followed by rabbit and terminating in a pudding which goes by the name 'Torrija' or Torreja'. I can never remember as I am always too content by the time pudding arrives.

So I guess I should thank the Uruguayan government for the laptop present as I convinced Henderson that I wouldn't have to pay for using it in a cafe or public building that had Wi-Fi as said government wouldn't have bought every school kid one and then expected them to have a bill with whatever bastards are over there instead of the ones here, namely Telefonica. I've just got back from Vodafone and they seem to be as expensive and as confusing as the main culprit. they both bamboozled me with offers and suggestions even when I asked for the cheapest and most basic way of getting Wi-Fi for my home. It's like signing a contract with the devil.

Saturday, 12 December 2009


I always look forward to going to my favourite village in the mountains but it can be a dangerous place with all the excess that goes on once I arrive. I don't need any encouragment but there is something wonderful about being in the womb of the valley and nurturing a few 'sharpeners' in a bar at the foot of a waterfall that has recently taken on Niagaran proportions. I must add that Henderson and I are not tourists or 'vacacionistas' as he calls them but are slowly becoming less the 'foreigners' and more part of the scenery in a village that has captured my heart with its river which lulls me to sleep and healthy dose of irascible locals to wake me up. I'm reluctant to let on too much about this place as I don't want too many people hurtling up there in search of something that only exists if the village adopts you.

While I was up there I learnt that the word for goat in Aragonese is craba as opposed to cabra in Spanish. Along with dogs and pigs I do have a certain admiration for this animal and saw quite a few loitering along my walk to the next village. My walking partner and friend Elena who lives and works in the valley knew everyone we passed as well as the names of the herbs and flowers. As a would-be ornithologist I delight at the amount of vultures, eagles and red kites I get to see as well as Gold and Greenfinches. We met a young man who is new to the valley and he works in the national park nearby. He has his own area to look after and for the first time in my life I knew what it was that I wanted to do but had never realised until now. I want to be a park ranger and spend the rest of my working days in nature and at one with it all. We all know this is never going to happen as I am not sure I can spend my cake years years studying for this and then my twilight ones going through my 'oposiciones'. I guess I will have to be a would-be everything for the time being.

Finally, Jeffrey Bernard was asked if he felt drinking interfered with his work and he replied that on the contrary work interfered with his drinking. I wouldn't go as far as this but I did manage to not drink for a day but then found myself at one minute past midnight trying to undo a bottle of Blandy's Madeira Wine which is not easy when you are sober.

Friday, 4 December 2009


There are two things I consider a public nuisance and dentit's ( I rather like this spelling mistake....I will keep it ) are one of them, the other being planes, not stationary ones but ones in the air and which I am not flying. In fact airports could be added to my two main bete noires and possibly dying too. There must be some connection as all result in a fear of. The dentist phobia is unsurprising and I can not be held accountable. Thanks to a certain Dr Gold who told me to shut up while I was being drilled into as a child was bad enough but when he stopped, leaned back, tools in hands and added 'for God's sake how do you think Denis Nilsen got his kicks?' I knew then that singing 'Genetic Engineering ' by X-Ray Spex in my head while under said drill would never save me. As I left my new, female dentist's the other day, storm tossed, on my last legs and waiting for the lift I heard her say 'Dios Mio' and breath a huge sigh of relief from behind the closed door to her assistant who I accused of hurting me with one of the numerous bits of metal she had in my mouth.

Today I found myself in the doctor's waiting room sandwiched between two old women both with that anarchistic spirit that often prevails in older people. There was a man much younger than all who kept asking if he could see the doc before us as he was 'in a hurry'. Nothing gets my hackles and shackles rising and breaking free as a Spaniard who is 'in a hurry'. There is always some chancer who wants to 'go first' as he or she, unlike us, has a life to lead or has the car parked somewhere. It seems I am not alone and I always thought it was the Irish you shouldn't give cause for revenge but these two old ladies stood their ground and gave him a mouthful everytime he got up and approached poor Doctor de Juan who by now was exasperated by this fool asking him if he could be next in line. It went on for an hour and I made sure I chipped in and waved my finger and ground my heels in which led another old woman to believe I was local and then she proceeded to tell me everything about herself including how bored she is with the town and how it is full of old people and how she likes to go down to Zaragoza to get away from all this boredom just to look at the shops and have a change of air otherwise what else is she to do all day apart from read the paper and pop out to the shops? When she went in she took ages and I heard another old woman remark to her husband 'what the hell is she doing in there? Telling him her life story?' The whole experience started to take on a Jewish angle and I felt as I often do here like I was in a Marx Brother's movie. My story took five minutes and I am sure Dr de Juan muttered 'sorry' as I went in and proceeded to talk to me about the bloke pushing in and added 'anyway, does he look ill to you?'

I have realised that the two bugbears above are my main worry but there are loads of niggly ones that I am rehearsing as I get older. The latest involves a chef whose name escapes me but he is French. Raymond Blanc perhaps? Anyway, I am shocked at how the people who appear on his 'show' and who want to be in his life are prepared to be spoken to in that way. 'What way?' you may ask and I find myself in a new position, one that I feel didn't exist years ago and my answer is that it is bad enough being spoken to as a grown up by another adult in a condescending way but it somehow opens an enmity gene when spoken to in this way by a Frenchman, one that I felt I had specially reserved for another of our European cousins and I don't mean The Spanish, who drive me mad but who I will always have more than a soft spot for.

I have to thank Michael Palin for this blog as he remarked the other day not to me but to thousands or perhaps millions of other viewers who found themselves with the unenviable task of sitting through a chat with Alan Titmarsh that he is glad he has kept a diary as he can have a laugh at how he used to be and how he has changed and also reading stuff you wrote years ago
is often precious as so much is forgotten with the advancing years.