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Wednesday, 28 April 2010

LOAD OF BOLLARDS OR WHAT'S THE STORY?

They seem to have sorted out the pedestrianised bit of Huesca. There are new 'pivotes' or, as the local paper said, 'also known as 'bolardos', or Bollards'. The paper added that everyone had some form of entering the street if need be and that a remote control was available amongst other things. Another street was quoted as being a disaster when they tried to pedestrianise it as people made copies of the remote control. There seems to be an element of not wanting this to work but finally everyone seemed to be happy and understood the idea and I could imagine the Mobility councillors face when he added that although this was a new thing here 'it already exists in other cities.'


There are several words in Spanish that I can count on to embarrass me. The Media in Spanish is I believe, Los Medios but somehow I always say Las Medias which is the same as saying The Tights. The other one I have to watch out for is The Bill or My Account which is La Cuenta which I often forget is feminine and call it El Cuento which is the same as asking for your Story at the bank or in a bar. I almost forgot I get Apuesta, a bet, mixed up with apuesto which means a handsome elegant man.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

YOU DON'T REALLY KNOW ME DO YOU?

So I guess we are now the evil ones as most of the neighbours avoid me or don't speak to me. Funny that, you'd think they would thank me for getting the beast to shut up seeing as they all moan about it at the annual meetings and behind Mercedes' back. No cojones you see. They didn't reckon on dealing with anyone with Irish blood I suppose. Never give an Irishman cause for revenge and don't think about it with an Irish woman especially one who boasts Jewish and Gyspy blood and is married to a Dutchman.

The latest ( first?) road to be pedestrianised is a tiny little one that runs down the side of the casino.The other day I saw that they had finally put in a pivot to stop the cars going down it and a set of bijou traffic lights. It was a joy to walk down and not worry if a car or van was about to ram you up the arse, clip your ear with its wing mirror, or poke your eye out with its aerial, especially on a cold day. I bumped into and spoke with a lawyer I know who has his office on this street and he was bemoaning how only the residents who have a garage get to have a 'key' to open the pivot and drive through. It is a tiny road and he lives two minutes away so I asked him what the problem was as he doesn't need to drive to work and he said 'but you are on the police's side!' like I am even more of a fascist than the neighbours imagine. 'No', I said, ' I don't understand what your problem is. You don't need to drive to work, so why would you need a key to get into your road? You walk to work.' He said, 'Yes, but what if I have a client in a wheechair ( sorry, gone a bit Scottish on this one...) ?' 'Well, I said, then I guess the council, not the police, as they only enforce the 'law', you know, the one the council, or government makes and then everyone does their best to break, should give you all a key and then once a year when your client turns up totally impeded, you can come down and open the pivot and let her come in by taxi or however she gets from A to B. God knows how she will climb the stairs though as you don't have a lift but never mind, and by the way, have you seen Calle San Lorenzo lately?'. ( Pictures should be provided soon on the third world UNESCO status state of the road we live in...). When I told Henderson later he calmly said 'he's a lawyer, he sold his soul years ago..'

So, the big complaint from the folk from Calle San Jose de Calasanz is that the folk with garages get the key and not the rest which I did agree was a bad thing and would be easier if they all had a key so they could get in if need be, you know, anything to get them to shut up and feel less victimised etc. Then today I read in the paper that they do all, neighbours and business people, have access to this pivot thingy and can open it but that this is easier said than done as the council have decided the best way is to give your mobile number (?) to the police, show that you live there or have a business and you will be able to open the pivot and so all will be able to get in regardless of whether they have a car/garage or not. The problem is that it doesn't work ( meaning it is already broken but also when it does 'work' it, well, doesn't if you know what I mean....) and people who don't have mobiles will have to get one and people who give permission to others to park will have to give them their mobiles and on it goes. So you see, there is a God and nothing works and no one cares, least of all me, muggins here, who has realised after a very long time that it doesn't pay to get involved.

There will be a new mayor by the name of Luis Felipe. I feel it might be a fresh start. Let's see.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

DONE UP LIKE A KIPPER TIE

If I have understood correctly, our mayor will be replaced by someone else up to and for the job and people are already suggesting someone from The CHA, the Chunta Aragonesa Party. I don't know how this works as the mayor is with the PSOE, the Socialist Party. I agree with a lot of what The CHA say but I am not Aragonese and I get the feeling you have to be from round 'ere to feel more than welcome. I might be wrong and perhaps they could adopt me as one of them.

There are only a matter of weeks to go before I end my stint at San Viator School and I am thinking of doing a mini 'Huesca You've Got Talent' which is something I feel I have been threatening to do for a while. Next week is Aragon Week and there will be some mention of Saint George who is the patron saint of Aragon and Catalunya as well as England, Ethiopia and others. The children have managed to get to a level where they won't starve to death if they ever find themselves in a foreign land where Spanish isn't spoken but English probably will be. There is a term here called 'Huesketa' or something like that which kind of means people vow they will never leave Huesca and are devoted to this town and all it represents and nothing else matters and nothing else is worth mentioning. There is still a sense that the war zone that is the big wide world beyond isn't and need not be of any importance to people who live here. Sometimes I envy them their loyalty and love for their little village but then I remind myself you can feel like this towards the whole universe.

On the theme of Hicksville, a 'they do it on purpose' event happened on the way back from the Big Eroski. A car waited for us to pass even though there was plenty of time for the driver to pull out as is de riguer here and we were cruising along at a snail pace. He then pulled out and followed us for about three seconds and I mentioned to Henderson that this was odd behaviour and perhaps he would now have to overtake. As soon as I said this he did. It's that kind of unpredictable yet predictable behaviour here that does my head in. A few seconds later a pedestrian who was waiting to cross the road and was miles away from colliding with us decided to put on an act and feign hysterics by deciding not to cross the road until we passed. The whole of the short journey is littered with hazards almost as if they had placed there to test your mettle.

Henderson rang Mercedes and said he was about to ring the police as enough was enough after four or five years of listening to that bloody dog. I rang the police and five minutes later Mercedes was running up the road shouting up at our balcony 'que verguenza' which I suppose means 'you should be ashamed of yourselves' when in the rest of the universe this would mean 'I am ashamed of myself and my bloody dog, please forgive me as I am so embarrassed' but alas by ringing the police I or we are now the baddies. The police came about three minutes later and Anselmo her husband was by now coming up the road as they obviously realised I meant business this time. The police had a good old chat with Anselmo and I began to get worried that they might be related and I would be even more of a bad guy. Eventually, after about twenty minutos, the police came to my door and asked what the problem was. I told them 'look, I don't want to fight with an OAP, but her dog is driving me round the bend and and no one wants to do it, you know, tell her to get it to shut up, but this can't go on, and could you please at least have a word with her or I will call again and you will have to fine her'. They did this and even downstairs I could hear her defending herself and telling them that only we had a problem with the dog and how she never left it more than five minutes anyway, and the rest. Unbelievable really and I hate the way that if you call the police or complain or simply ask someone to pipe down you suddenly become evil and colluding with the proper authorities. That's not how I see it. If I had known better I would have called the police five years ago but I realise you can be two things here. A dickhead or a complete bastard. As long as the dog shuts the fuck up I don't care if they are my 'friends' or not.

I forgot to mention I managed to get the Skype up and running on my laptop and have now participated in an exhibition back in London by having my mug shot taken by a friend via this system. The end result actually looks quite cool and I am delighted to be a part of this 'happening'. It's also reassuring that with technology I can at last not feel alone and can connect with like minded folk as the supplies are running out here.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

LET'S PARTY LIKE FRANCO JUST DIED

Or another cause for celebration could be the mayor has decided to abdicate, step down, vacate office, leave his sinking ship, run for cover or whatever it is you do when you owe everyone money. There is rumour that he is ill which wouldn't surprise me as he doesn't look himself of late. He is often quoted as saying no one else could do his job which doesn't inspire but I am sure there are loads of people who can't wait to take on the challenge of getting this town to work.

I found a scrap of paper with some references to the smoking ban in Spain and it said what looked like ' a panel of serious men......24% of bars....6,800 will close when the law is put in vinegar..' I think that last bit might want to read vigour. Underneath I had written 'el tabaco.....es sinonimo de libertad'. Alongside it I had written 'Jesus is coming down the road on wheels, all mod cons here you know....' I think I am going to frame this little vignette and have a laugh in ten years time when I'm still waiting. Then again, the more inert I become the more likely it will kick in. Start holding your breath.

Monday, 12 April 2010

TITLED

Henderson said I shouldn't write about the badlands of home in case it gave our Spanish cousins ideas. That was just before I read that some arsehole round the back in Avenida Danzantes, Morris Dancing Avenue, had gone along with a screwdriver scraping everyone's car in the early hours and was found by the police sitting in someone else's van brandishing tools after a neighbour called to alert them. I guess it's this or Coronation Street.

On Saturday I went with a friend, Puig, to Zaragoza and she was lamenting the lack of signs and directions on Spanish motorways and streets. She claimed she never got lost in England. We were trying to find the IKEA after I told her of my last attempt at shopping there. We followed signs for miles then there were none and it was a guessing game. We finally saw it which is not difficult as it looms out at you on the desert landscape and then we saw lots of big white arrows pointing every ten feet or so to what we could already see. The best bit was when went to another shopping centre and followed directions to get off at exit 321. I called out the exits 318, 319, 320 and of course 321 didn't appear so we dived off at 322. I managed to get most of the things I needed as I have decided I would rather fall to pieces in Swedish warehouses than shop from those bastards back in Huesca. The shop keepers there don't want anything bigger than Eroski because they fear it will put them out of business when what they still don't realise is everyone now goes to London or Zaragoza to do their shopping on account of not wanting to pay a fiver for a mug and for being treated like one.

In the Heraldo de Aragon newspaper they wrote a small article on Nick Clegg's wife who happens to be Spanish and how she isn't traipsing around after him like, and I quote, I believe from Newsnight, 'a soft toy with a pulse', or like the women in the 1950's who had to cook dinner for their husbands' boss. It didn't seem to mention that dragging their wives everywhere with them, the other two political lightweights I mean, is meant to grab the female vote. It also didn't mention that annoying trend of shortening people's names like Sam Cam, or Bo Jo or Go Bro. I was just drifting off after lunch when I heard a BBC reporter say 'The Labour Party have launched their manifesto, innit'. Later the BBC South reporter definitely said Fuckingham Palace and there was more outrage while I watched Country File the other day when John Craven said kite as in the bird and the word kike came up in the subtitles. But the best was when I heard someone say 'if you'd like to grill a candidate live on TV......'

Sunday, 11 April 2010

!

The Spanish are Anarchists in general but I have recently found out that they are arsonists too. They are described as pyromaniacs as there doesn't seem to be a word for arson in Spanish but pyromania is different to arson. Over the weekend all the rubbish and recycling bins were set on fire and I have discovered that this is something you do for a laugh down in Zaragoza too, especially if the bins are near a police station. I suppose I should be grateful really that they haven't started to shove petrol through one another's letter boxes as they do in Britain but they will. Sadly, like a lot of negative aspects of the USA and Britain, it follows you.

I haven't commented on Mercedes and Piti for a while and forgot to mention the episode down the 'ayuntamiento' or council where I finally got the info on noise levels and dog behaviour. To cut a very long one short, after ignoring our pleas to do something about the dog we caught her going into the lift and presented her with the info and she went into one about how it was all our fault the dog was like this and if we call the police we will have to pay the fine. She added that no other neighbours complain ever about the dog and its antics and in fact everyone is allowed to disturb everyone else so long as it is in the daytime. Everytime we gave her the photocopy she threw it on the floor and said it was all lies as she had spoken with the Police and they had told her she was in the right and the dog could howl till its heart was content. I feel I am turning into Michael Palin's character in a Fish Called Wanda, stutter included.

I've mentioned that if you want anything in Spain you had better not want it and then maybe it will turn up. I rang the travel club this time with a couldn't care less attitude and managed to order a lovely Bosch vauum cleaner and got it in just a few days. I realised that like the answerphone services in Britain ( is that what they are called??) you have to keep pressing 'for all other services please press...' to get to speak to a human and it worked.

Regards the 'filter' we had put in. The neighbour who goes by the name 'takes all sorts' asked me again what the hell was going on with the water. I am usually a good judge of character but I can't work out if he is taking the piss or not. I keep telling him we have cleaned the 'filter' and therefore the problem can't be that so, well, what could I say to him, the man is old enough to be my father for Christ's sake. Later I saw him again and he told me that the youth of today had set fire to the bins again and he said it almost as if it were my fault but maybe that was because I was still reeling from Mercedes' comments.

It all ends well when I made another discovery. That The Turin Shroud is called "La Sabana Santa' which, when translated comes out as 'Holy Sheet'