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Friday, 19 February 2010


Yesterday I found myself in Zaragoza, a city about an hour away where atheists would probably exclaim 'God is dead' if they found themselves there. I am sure the good people of Zaragoza love their city but it is difficult to find the heart of this strange place. I went on a bit of a wander and I think I may have found it although it was a fleeting moment while I stood beside the cathedral of San Salvador waiting to be saved. This is a city I need to explore more to have anything to say about it. It held the Expo not long ago and evidence of this can be found with its ski lifts, aqua themes and discarded lumps of concrete lying around. Anyway, I timed it all wrong and everything was closed so in a fit of pique I decided to find IKEA with as much stubborness as I could muster from my compadres and ended up on the outskirts of Zaragoza exclaiming 'where have I brought myself?' I must be the only person left in Europe who can't drive and so have no guilt when it comes to carbon footprints but having the IKEA experience has only made me want to learn and burn as many fossil fuels as possible before I die. I was thinking of writing to that Jeremy Clarkson and asking him if that bloke The Stig could teach me. Combined with the lame bus service down in Dorset where my parents live yesterday's experience does make you feel like getting wheels. Anyway, my first experience with IKEA, which let's face it was an attempt to shop away from the petit bourgeoise ones we have here, left me wanting to run back to said dear old provincially squeamish vendors. I can't stand being watched from behind by someone who is supposed to be working while I attempt to scan a bar code and make a financial transaction myself. This was all a failure and I was sent to the back of a large queue with loads of people in front of me who presumably were expected to put their furniture together themselves. It all harks back to the times of knit your own yoghurt and in the end I had a 'funny turn' and left without buying anything. Thankfully this is Spain and I recovered by going to the nearest bar and ordered myself a 'penalty' for once again failing in my attempt to participate in rampant consumerism.

Changing the subject, a colleague of Henderson remarked that he ought to watch Spanish tele if he was ever to improve his dreadful Spanish. 'I hope', I said to him, 'that you told this colleague of yours about the first four or five years here where the choice was flee to the bar or sit through hour after hour of shite that included lengthy discussions on anal sex and or men dressed as eggs being chased around a bullring by a pissed off calf with the mens' families cheering them on'. Men having anal sex while being cheered on by their families probably wouldn't go amiss either. Many a night Henderson would call me away from a decent book to inform me that I 'had to see this', only for it to be some people dressed as skittles being knocked down by an enormous punch bag or worse, Jerry Springer dubbed in Spanish. Thankfully we managed to get a digibox and we can watch the shite that emits from British tele, but it is a better quality of shite and has the added bonuses of Newsnight, Have I Got News For You and a host of other comedy, especially satire like The Thick of It. Sometimes, just to keep an eye on them, I watch Aragonese tele when Henderson is out and everytime I have tuned in there seems to be another programme devoted to that unmentionable, the dreaded Jota, which is, I suppose better than lengthy talks on buggery. It is a song and dance of sorts, something that is supposed to instill or install some sort of pride but ends up not unlike Burns night which Rab C Nesbitt described as 'Nuremberg with kilts'. I would describe the Jota as some sort of gung-ho care in the community with hankie on head. Sadly, there is always plenty of interest in this kind of rustic, hodclopping pastime and one doesn't dare to admit to loathing it as provincial pride is sacred in these parts. I guess I can admit to not liking it as an outsider and someone who believes you can know who you are without resorting to this sort of ridiculous behaviour but also because I was forced to learn Country Dancing as a child, the country in question being England and the teacher a certain Miss Trimble who was authentic 'old school' and whose mission seemed to be getting the youth of that day to be happy while careering round an assembly room chirping 'heel toe, heel toe, off we go, off we go'. It invariably didn't and drove most of us to dubious careers, the fringes or drink.

Finally, I have a confession to make. I am a bird fancier. Of the feathered flying kind. I spotted a Plumstart today on my terrace which may or may not be the one that got stuck in the ventilator a while back and yesterday I lost count of the Red Kites, vultures, storks, eagles and the rest on my travels.


mike the trike said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mike the trike said...

Henderson would be better off sitting in a bar talking with a local and having his dictionary handy. Watching Spanish TV with a group of people sitting around a table all talking at the same time but being able to understand everyone's point of view is too much for a foreigner. However, if you live in a piso and attend the reuniĆ³nes you can take part in this phenomenon live.