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Wednesday, 28 July 2010


We accompanied a friend to the dole office the other week as we have done for the past two summers just in case he needs us as witnesses to the usual confusion expected at such places. Normally things go quite well and only need three returns with required forms before you get any semblance of normality. The last two years have seen us in a queue of five, mainly North African men and us but this year was a bit of a shock as we had about thirty bods in front and had to wait three hours as opposed to the usual half hour.

Said friend needs to go back to his homeland and told the civil servant this who told him that he would need two weeks to let them know. He told then he was telling them now and they said OK, and let him fill out the form. A week later he told us the postwoman called round telling him he had some registered post and would need to sign for it. When he produced his DNI she, the Postie, told him, 'your DNI is out of date you know, by quite a few years'. He couldn't be bothered to tell her that A this was none of her business and B he didn't, as a European citizen, need said DNI. He had for a split second, thought she had said that he looked quite good for his fifty odd years. On opening the post he saw that he was given permission, signed sealed and approved, at his grand old age, to go on holiday or rather visit his folks in his motherland from none other than the Provincial Director and The Minister of Work and Immigration.

Whenever I go to the Mercadona Supermarket in Perpetuo Socorro, or Perpetual Help as Henderson calls it, I feel as though I have walked onto a Vic Reeves set with the abundance of weirdos, queerhawks and oddballs it seems to attract. I have never been in there without queuing with a gang of likeable cranks. They are not the maladjusted you might run into in Britain and are unlikely to stab you and I think they might just be a mixture of the very poor and inbred. I feel less scared than if I were in a bus queue in Hayes, Middlesex. Why even a man with a huge hearing aid and a toothless grin gave me the eye while I queued. I guess it was the least he could do. Next door is a bar with a rogue's gallery of male drinkers propping up the bar and two elderly women who I imagine are sisters and walk up and down to the nearby LIDL all day spying on everyone.

We've been hanging out at the highly recommended if you get there at four in the afternoon and leave at six when everyone else turns up swimming pool that goes by the name Piramide. It's only three euros to get in and has a bar and is surrounded by trees and birds. It has taken me a while to suss this one out. For years I went to two of the three local pools, all big and lovely with bars but full of people and no room to swim. One of them is notorious for youths who enjoy dive bombing and petting which I think are banned in Britain and the other one is full of fat gypsies who take up so much room but I have yet to be robbed by one as most locals tell me I will if I go there. There was a problem with which swimwear was de rigeur and at my age and shape can still get away with, but judging by the rest I think I have little to worry about for the mo' and rather like the idea that despite what I thought, Spanish people are not as obsessed and into grooming and slimming as some of their Latin American cousins are.

Lastly, and I am still unsure what the hell is going on, but I think the government has stopped the building of a motorway here. I was already told by a local that the other motorway, the one going towards Barcelona will not quite reach its intended destination this end on account of somebody refusing to sell their bit of land that would allow this but now it seems the motorway north is on hold and then I read a road near the village we often visit has seen its workers pack up and go. It has left a lot of disgruntled hotel and restaurant owners who were serving the workers and some have had to lay off their staff now thay are not needed. I'm off for dinner tomorrow so hopefully after asking around five people I will get an answer.

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