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Tuesday, 28 September 2010


When I was younger, oh so much younger than today, I used to wake up with a start accompanied by a realisation that I was 26 and still not, what? Prime Minister? Hadn't? Wot? Written a novel? All that loomed before me in those brief moments on arising was the endless throb of eternity and a desire to achieve something of merit during my life here on planet earth. When I see who became leader of the Labour Party yesterday I feel so much better those days seem to be over and that well, nothing matters really, unless you are Ed Milliband's bother ( Ha!) David. The look he wore on his face yesterday was Shakespearean, envious and one that suggested he was about to commit an honour killing. I think he wasn't voted in because he is too much like Tony Blair. The sort of personality that leaves you looking round the room going 'is it me?' He starts every sentence with the word 'look' which immediately harks back to those inane conversations people had with Blair. All this obsession with the two brothers and the recent papal visit just remind me that not much is going on in the world and everyone is just waiting for the next disaster or news that aliens have landed.

On the subject of the pope I recently saw some footage of Stephen Fry lambasting the Catholic Church while that Cringy Worthington Ann Widdicombe sat alongside muttering away at the home truths. I recently fell out of love with Mr Fry but this was him back on form. There should be a new verb, to be fried by Stephen Fry. I'll try to find the link and if I can be bothered will post it here.

On the subject of aliens, tonight I might do what I managed to do last week which is to go swimming but hopefully without the social awkwardness which involved losing my obligatory swim cap and being made to wear one that clung to my head and gave me a choice of two looks, one with my eyebrows pinned to my head or pushed down into my eyes. After struggling with said cap I picked the locker that didn't work and started the ball rolling with various men offering to help. Nothing can be worse for a Brit in swimwear being helped by athletic types all doing their best to work out how to fix said problemo while my clothes languished inside. Modesty is a word that doesn't normally apply to anyone in my family but I seem to have acquired it all of a sudden and finally once I managed to get into the pool I seemed to be dive bombed by policemen dressed in scuba gear and other 'tipos' who don't belong in the slow lane. The cap gave me a headache it was so tight and I lost the key to the locker.Watching it sink to the bottom of the pool I gave a groan of 'for f&ck's sake' only to be rewarded by another apparition in Speedups or whatever they are called, who retrieved it for me. In the ned ( I give up...) I left only to find the locker had 'disappeared' or rather numbers 68 or 89 lockers didn't exist and a life guard managed to locate it as number 45. Sadly these unwanted attentions are no longer flirtatious but of a benevolent nature and golf seems more seemly and pragmatic a choice in my attempts to lead a less sedentary life.

Friday, 24 September 2010


The other day we received a leaflet that told us we could get a free energy saving light bulb by just pogoing along to the Post office to pick one up. Stuff like this usually goes in the bin but in the present climate I am puzzled as to why the government would be promoting this. There is a law in Europe that says that you can't manufacture the old style light bulb so unless I want to sit in the dark I find myself buying the one that saves energy. The leaflet carries the Plan E logo, and those of the Ministry of Industry, Tourism and Commerce and the Institute for Diversification and Energy Saving. I wondered if maybe a light bulb company was behind it and had given the PSOE a donation on condition they bought a shit load of said light bulbs for every household in Spain and then we give our money to the government and they make us think we are getting something for free, like a jacket potato and hot chocolate at the local hop. At the top of the leaflet it says 'cada pequeno gesto cuenta' which I realise is the same catchphrase Tesco uses in its 'every little helps' adverts. Excusing the pun, but can anyone shed any light?

On the subject of leafelts ( ha!) I was handed one yesterday about the impending strike. I've been asking everyone if they are going and the general response is one of apathy which surprises me as this town is made up of civil servants who stand to lose the most if the labour reforms go through. I'll only go if there is a guarantee of a riot which usually happens whenever I find myself marching with others.

A friend back in London was asked last night at an art gallery opening 'what do you do?' to which he replied he cleaned the windows at the Victoria and Albert Museum. If I ever respond to this question from someone who works in the arts I think I will say something like 'and you? photographer? Isn't that something you do when you retire?' I realise I never get asked this question in Spain although a lot of people ask me what the hell I am doing here as they can't believe of all the dumps in the world I should walk into this one. I'm tempted to say I am only here for the beer but the main reason is to get out of the hole of a town and head for the hills. So I tell them I view the town as base camp. Strategically we are in the centre of the universe too.

Lastly, I seem to be neglecting my nemesis, the old mayor, and the new one needs investigating too. It was International day of the bike or something like that the other day and out of all the organisations involved about twenty bods turned up. Overnight, green strips have appeared claiming to be the new cycle lanes. It's on a par with the light bulb mystery as very few people cycle and those that do often have a pious edge like the little girl who told me to get out of the way as I walked along one the other day as the alternative was to walk on a strip of pebbles.There is the other extreme of course which is Amsterdam where you get screamed at by cyclists every time you step out of a building.

Thursday, 16 September 2010


Along with obese people, gypsies, Muslims and the Pope my attention has turned to that other obsession of mine, pavements, or lack of. It also must include the wheelchair access provided in this town which is taken to extremes in the Plaza Lopez Allue. Along the steps that go up to the old quarter you will find what I suppose is a ramp for pushchairs or is it? An accompanying photo is due but in the meantime I am about to experiment with other photos so here goes....

Or is it?

Wednesday, 15 September 2010


I've just finished watching a BBC programme on the Vatican and the Pope and came away unscathed but filled with inertia. I don't know what the BBC was playing at with its sinister music and interviews with altar boys but enlighten it didn't. There was a much better programme on earlier about the Pope's visit to the UK and the preparations and responses needed if he is to survive his trip to what my friend's mother called 'a Godless country'. Later on I read that one of his advisers had remarked that on landing at Heathrow he thought he was in a Third World country. He obviously didn't give the old motherland a chance and would be better off watching an episode of Two Fat Hairy Bikers if he wanted to get even the slightest idea of what this country is all about. Perhaps, despite its faults it is the very country to find God except of course if you end up in a Bluewater shopping centre. He should have stopped off at the chapel at Heathrow. Devoted to all religions and where Henderson and I had a defining moment, an epiphany if you like when we realised we had to stop working there. The airport that is, not the chapel although that wouldn't surprise me if he told me he had.

Getting back to the Pope. Many years ago before I worked at the airport I was involved in numerous 'happenings', theatrical ventures and performances of one kind or another and one was to involve straddling the neck of a friend who was six foot three in her stockinged feet, don a burka and have a vada up The Edgware Road, maybe with a crash helmet for that extra special touch.. Those were more innocent times but we spoke yesterday about reliving our wasted youth and turning up dressed like this, resplendent with Tennent's Extra and start heckling the Pope. We could burn some Jeffrey Archer books while we are at it. Kill several birds by stoning them.

But now I am being childish and the most I could bring myself to do is to burn copies of Tony Blair's latest hagiography. While I was watching the BBC documentary tonight the words 'patron saint of Europe' came up and I wondered if it was him. I've also learnt today that some people who might be a bit timid when it comes to fire have started to move said memoirs to the crime section in bookshops which is a start I suppose but shouldn't end there.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010


We got back some time last week and decided we should acclimatise ourselves by going up to one of the villages in the mountains and it was an excellent idea. No sooner had we arrived and we were being informed of the fiestas in the next village. We've been to them before but in February which is to celebrate San Blas. This one is similar but I am not sure which saint it is associated with but the idea is the same. You turn up at 1.30 in the afternoon nursing a hangover from the night before and do a 'ronda', following a band and entering all the village houses and being greeted with delicious grub and wine from a porron. It's difficult at times to keep up with The Spanish and their high jinks but I managed to pace myself and found myself still tucking into delicacies after most had gone home to sleep it all off. We settled into a wonderful chat with the proprietor of one of the restaurants, Rakel and friends Elena, Henderson and of course various dogs from the village and drank Pacharan till eight that evening and then went on for dinner. It was hard to picture ourselves a week before flying around The New Forest in a rented Vauxhall.

Some lasting memories of Britain seem so surreal now. Programmes where Daily Mail readers ring their hands at the idea of breast feeding in public. It's a programme hosted by people with names like Nick Ferrari and Gloria Hummingbird and other porn stars gone to seed. A comment from Eastenders was overheard from a woman whose husband had killed most of his family for her daughter to take care while on holiday in Spain as 'those Spanish can be a slippery bunch'. Other nightmarish souvenirs seem to be in the shape of shops that sell floral prints which on their own might be deemed quite pretty but together in one room made me feel ill. But, my main concern is how big people are getting. What can they be eating I ask myself every time. This is coming from someone who threatened to drink their weight in vermouth if The Labour Party had won the last election. All 55 kilos of it. I worry I am fat like most people I suppose who like their grub and notice that the fat around their tummy should have an eye kept on it. I am not talking a bit fat or a bit tubby though, people just seem enormous and in such enormous numbers. It becomes an obsession with me. I witnessed people tucking into great portions of food in pubs and then wolf down buckets of ice-cream, skips full of chips, and round off with pints of beer. Outstanding.

Another thing was The BBC's obsession with representing Muslims at every opportunity. Other groups must be so pissed off. Every time we switched on the radio in the car we had rented there was another story about Muslims and most of them boring and unjustified but occasionally speaking volumes. Muslims could become my other obsession as I witnessed three women in burkas being peddled along Oxford Street in a rickshaw. Later that day I saw a young Muslim girl from the top deck of a number 12 bus giving her friend a mouthful. I lip read the words 'where the *uck have you been?' as she took a drag on a fag. She looked as though she was carrying a can of Tennants Extra but as the bus sped off I couldn't be sure. Every other person looked mental as London will always attract those that don't fit in elsewhere and all manner of oddballs and queer hawks took turns in freaking me out and reminding me why I will never live there again.