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Tuesday, 14 December 2010


Oh dear. I turn my back and look what happens. Student riots, Prince Charles trying to instigate a Green revolution, suicide bombers in Sweden, Wikileaks, man eating sharks, Madoff's son copycatting Damages, what else? Oh yes, my boss starting a conspiracy theory that his daughter, my pupil, doesn't know, at the age of five, any of the colours and numbers in English, ( more of this later, probably after Tuesday when I have to 'perform' for the parents and show them that 'hey, I'm a clown, I'm a teacher, a nurse, a mother, a psychiatrist! It's never good enough is it!! And yes, when your kids go home after an hour with me they will speak Spanish ). Just as I thought it could get better after a nice relaxing jolly week away in the mountains  Piti rolls up today like a whirling dervish in the back of a police car. Henderson was hanging out the kitchen window, one of his many twilight hobbies of late, and asked the policeman if he was here for the effing bleeder next door and the police man said 'no', rolled his eyes and said 'the dog'. Mercedes wasn't in as I could hear the policeman hammering on her door. When he left I heard Anselmo, Mercede's husband flush the loo ( all mod cons here) and told H that I thought A was in and ignoring the P's calls. 'No,' said H. 'That must be the man upstairs on the third floor'. 'Oh, you mean the one you can hear unravel the loo roll before he flushes away. 'No,' I said . 'You will hear Anselmo coughing any second from now'.  Cue pause.... and he did.
So there you have it. Never a dull moment here, there or anywhere. Boredom has kicked in and not content with a quiet life it seems most folk just want to kick off with or without reason. While students in London took it out on the Royals the effing bleeder ripped out all the letter boxes for the upteenth time and it looks like someone has done something with Piti. Maybe taken him off to the mountains and dumped him there but he made his way home, who knows.
Back to the boss. He reckons that his daughter, my pupil, doesn't know the colurs or numbers in English. This is after a year with another teacher, the lovely Hannah, and, I suppose, learning ONLY colours and numbers at school. If heads should roll it should be my boss for this inane remark. What he doesn't understand is that I will tell him after Tuesday's reenactment of what I do in class, that he shouldn't underestimate his daughter as she is a lot smarter than he thinks and that obviously she takes after her mother when it comes to barins  ( brains even) and beauty. I might even ask him if he is sure the child is his, or I might let Henderson get away with that one. Chutzpah goes a lot longer if it involves him. If you think all this is a bit much then you haven't been exposed to the bullshit here. There comes a time when cleaning or working in a supermarket beckons if it means that you 'missed a bit there' or you haven't stacked those right' and the proof is there for all to see. Rock on.

Sunday, 12 December 2010


Christmas looms and mine is already looking Pinteresque. It being spent there rather than here. What else? Well, a certain percentage of Aragonese will, according to the local paper, spend more money this Christmas. Apart from the growing queue of Muslims and gypsies every day opposite our flat I don't see any dramatic effects yet of the current economic situation and last Saturday when we went out to the various tapas bars participating in the tapas competition we had to fight for somewhere to sit down. I have never dived into as many Spaniards graves and am getting quite good at it as the years roll by. Said competition offers a tapa that looks like nouvelle cusine and a 'penalti' beer or a glass of wine. I opted for the wine and Henderson complained about the 'penalti' and gave a torturous look everytime it arrived. If you dont know what a penalti is think what the amount of one large gulpful of beer looks like spat back into a thimble. The only snag of going out before one in the morning is the chance of bumping into your pupils or their parents and by the fourth wine and tapa and glimpses of pupils from 4A and B waving frantically and pulling at their mothers sleeves to say 'look mum! There's my teacher!' I thought I had  better go home or stay for a fifth and start telling the mums 'look! You see what they drive me to!'. At one point one of the mothers came over to say hello and remarked that I looked 'muy guapa' and instead of saying 'thank you' or, 'for a change' I think I said 'I know, it's amazing what a bit of lipstick and half a bottle of Somontano can do these days'. While we were in the first bar, Bar Rugaca, H's favourite and my nemesis or rather the bloke that runs it, I noticed I was finding it all too much what with the local football team Huesca on the tele playing against Elche. I looked up at one point and saw a player headbutt another. At the same time music was playing and a Chinaman had won the entire contents of the one arm bandit or 'tragaperras' as its called here. I often forget this word is feminine and say 'tragaperros' which everyone laughs at as it translates as 'swallowing dogs' but the former surely translates as 'swallowing bitches'.  It was at that point I started to miss the words 'time gentlemen please'.


There are moments here where I think it can't get any better than this. Like yesterday when I did the storytelling at one of the libraries and the usual chaos ensued. Last year I was lucky to have a seperate room to do these stories but this year I am in Perpetuo Socorro or 'Perpetual Help' and there isn't a spare room so it's all a bit hit and miss as to who will turn up and disrupt things. The storytelling in October went swimmingly but yesterday I was that much away from screaming 'for the love of God will someone keep control of their charges!'. I am used to the chaos here but at the end of the session one of the mothers had the breathtaking gall and asked me if next time I could 'speak a bit louder as we couldn't hear some of the stories'. I think she meant shout as this is often the only way to get heard, raise your voice louder than the rest but as I reminded her, we are in a library, not Glastonbury. Nothing, apart from a Spaniard in a hurry as I have said before, get's my shackles rising as a Spaniard who tries to advise me on how to do things, be it teaching English or talking louder. Another mother complained at the noise being produced by the various bods who had come to cause noise as opposed to listen. Then one added 'couldn't you do it with one of those microphones, 'you know the ones,' she described and put her hand up to her mouth to let me know that 'yes, you know, the ones you might wear at the Apollo if you are doing stand up comedy, or at the O2 singing live or yes, in a small library and they can't hear you at the back. Apart from telling her that as difficult as it is to imagine, I am not a clown and despite being able to multi task I am not doing this while reading stories to kids. Next time I do it, in December, I will do a repeat performance of Peace at Last and shout 'THEN MUMMY BEAR WHISPERED!!!' with the help of a megaphone just in case.

While the Spanish are inclined to do my head in with their spontaneous, absurd and intransigent ways, the Brits are starting to rile with their attitude towards the weather. Already obsessed they have this year as well as last, decided to approach the subject with words such as 'treacherous', 'plummeting' and worsening' just to keep people in fear  as if North Korea, 'an evil country' as described by my dad on account of its ability to freeze petrol, wasn't doing a better job.

British chefs have become a bit of an obsession of mine in the last few years mainly for their use of language and the soaring price of their cookbooks. Jamie Oliver has one called 'Jamie Does' which if any of his programmes demonstrate, is ..'f*** all'. Henderson reckons that like Delia all Jamie does is teach people how to warm stuff up. In my latest edition of Woman and Home I am convinced that a certain Nigel Slater has no friends or lover to cook for and spends his time in Viennesse cafes eating apple strudel and confesses to not fearing a death with a fork in his hand while I misread it as one in his back.