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Monday, 11 October 2010


Something has been troubling me today. More than Jeremy Paxman grilling Tory MPs on child benefit, Ken Loach and his 'communist claptrap (sic), and the general unfairness of it all,  I want to know how the Spanish dub Stephen Hawking every time he appears on the tele. I've asked around and most Spanish people tell me a 'normal' voice is used but I find this hard to believe and hope they make their voice sound electronic just to keep up with the general absurdities.

Less troubling is the fact that from Zaragoza to France there is nothing in the way of a shopping centre to buy one's necessities of life in the way of a decent wine glass, a pillow and some bed sheets. There are of course shops here and I would prefer to stay in town and give my money to the local traders but unless there is a shop that I haven't found the only solution is to head to that hive of masochism, IKEA and stock up on things that are supposed to make life that bit more bearable. I could get the things I need locally and pay a fortune or make do with schlock on offer but following the logic of my Dutch father in-law who sent his son miles on a bicycle just to get beer that was a cent cheaper, I schlepped off to the desert once more in pursuit of the above goods. As usual this involved a fit of pique at the till when I picked up one of those large carrier bags that will never be used again and found it to be half the size and nothing fitted in it. Instead of annulling the price or whatever it is they do in most shops in Europe we were told that we would have to go to customer services to get the bag thing sorted out. Twenty minutes later a plastic card was given and I returned to the girl on the till who asked for ten cents more and gave me a new bigger bag. So much for Swedish efficiency. Talking of Swedes there is a saying in Spanish that you can see in the restaurant in IKEA, another beacon for the Spanish to get as much free drink down their Gregories, which says 'Hazte el Sueco!!' This apparently means to pretend not to hear or understand when someone is talking to you. I'm informed that when the first tourists came to Spain in the sixties they came in the form of Swedish women who 'pretended' not to understand the Spanish. Not sure about this one though. Just as I am not sure about the Swedish groceries on offer as you leave the store. It comes in the form of what looks like rations, pickled fish and brown stuff. Anyone who eats this stuff is a degenerate and I can't see the attraction at all yet Spanish people were lapping it up.

On the subject of shopping which is fast becoming my pet hate of the year, I can give one example of why it is so difficult to buy anything here. I wanted to get some perfume that is only sold in one shop in this town and after that, Britain and Japan. The woman who runs the shop wasn't there the other Saturday when I went at half past six in the evening. The following week she told me that sometimes she doesn't open till seven at the earliest and prefers to stay open late, even till nine. I should have known this and am surprised she opens at all as most shops don't on Saturday afternoons. This all leads onto some adverts that have sprung up all over town which just have the words 'Y tu? Donde compras?'. 'And you? Where do you shop?' I have a sneaking suspicion it will be followed up with more adverts trying to persuade us not to go trundling off to France, Zaragoza or Barcelona to get our wares. In answer to their question I am afraid I will be shopping on the Internet from now on when it comes to goods and as for clothes, Saville Row or something like it beckons.

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