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Thursday, 27 October 2011


I forgot to write about the big punch up that woke me up the other morning. It's hard enough getting to sleep with Mr C and his strange noises and bananas, but around five in the morning I heard the blood curdling screams of my Ecuadorian neighbours as they engaged in a fist fight with some Spanish girls and boys. It was hard to make out what was going on at first and the usual audience rolled up, me on the balcony, H hanging out the kitchen window and a neighbour further down the road who I often see smoking a fag and staring, bemused at the antics on the most exotic street in town. Two Spanish boys were being stopped by two girls presumably their girlfriends from beating up two Ecuadorian men who were being stopped by the patriarch of our neighbours next door. The girls kept pushing the boys into their car and screaming 'soy yo' to get the boys back to reality I suppose and stop them from killing the Ecuadorians. Once this was established the Ecuadorians broke free and starting slamming the car doors on both girls hands and kicking them. This of course meant the boys now jumped back out of the car to give the men a good thumping. Once again it was all repeated and the girls got the boys back in the car and the Ecuadorians AKA the Oompa Loompas started to kick the girls and punch them with a ferocity I've never seen men do to women. It was looking a bit West Side Story Part Two the Hard Version but then it turned into Fight Club when one of the girls then jumped out of the car and chased the now running Ecuadorian, grabbed him by the scruff of the neck and punched his face about twenty times. I expected someone to suddenly say, 'God, all I said was.....' but I ended up screaming at them all to stop. Meanwhile H was cackling away at the kitchen window, laughing his head off as the car sped off and one of the Ecaudorians looked up at H and said 'senor, can you believe something like this could occur in Espanya?' To which H just laughed even more. Man few doors down with the cigarette just puffed away and turned to go back to bed. 


Mrs C seems to have chopped all her hair off, either that or Mr C has put on her coat and done a bunk. It won't be long before he does this after I found him wandering around our hallway at five in the madrugada a few days ago. I actually found him scratching at my door trying to find a way in or out depending on the way he was looking at it and judging by his view on life he was probably just desperate to get out for a snifter. He's been in that flat of his since March now. Mrs C is as manipulative as 'her upstairs' both of them bosom pals since my falling out over the bloody dog. M comes around to visit Mrs C now that no one else wants to know, with her dreaded canine fiend in tow. The other day she was trying to knock at Mrs C's door with 'discretion', the type of knock that martyrs do hoping  I might be in and fling the door open and have a go at her and then she can collapse in the street later and cry 'look what you've done to me!' for the billionth time. This time it was Piti scratching at my door and I couldn't help wondering what this fatal attraction is. He too is desperate to incur my wrath or end up in a cooking pot. Looking through the mirilla or spy hole I could see the pooch dragging on the lead and M lurking round the corner trying to keep him away with all the strength she could muster. Then H tried to have a go at Mrs C the other night and of course she took advantage and buttonholed him about how fed up she was with Mr C and tried to pile on the agony but she didn't reckon for a Dutchman who repeatedly told her he wasn't interested in her problems and that he just wanted to sleep and she was better off not shouting at Mr C as it was like talking to a plant and that Mr C's brain had gone years ago with the drink. It was quite surreal sitting here listening to the pair of them with their dreadful Spanish.

On the subject of his awful attempts at the langauge, the other day H wouldn't answer the door to a con woman at the door trying to get us to change our gas company. He mixed his verbs up and I heard him shouting at her 'vete, estoy muy preocupado', ' get lost, I'm very worried', when he meant to say 'Vete, estoy muy ocupado', 'get lost, I'm very busy'. On the subject of con women, a con man also called but I told him I didn't answer the door when my parents weren't at home but he manged somehow to worm his way into Mr and Mrs C's and a week later he rolled up, resplendent in fetching bright yellow hooded sweatshirt, not the sort of attire con folk should wear I would have thought, but nevertheless he entered said couples' flat with the details of their new cheaper deal with whatever gas company he claims to be from. He left the door wide open and had a gob even wider and proceeded to bellow and then bring a variety of goods promised when they had signed the deal. First up the stairs to Mrs C's dismay was an exercise bike. When she protested he said something on the lines of the old fella needed to dome exercise. Visions of Mr C on the bike, banana in one hand will haunt me if I let it but it was when the bloke brought up the home cinema that I realised something was getting out of hand. Even Mrs C was heard to mutter 'no, no, no, I don't think so'. She would do well though, sticking him on the bike to exhaust him so we can all get a decent night's sleep and she can watch movies instead of going out on the piss every night.

Thursday, 20 October 2011



I'm still opening bottles of imaginary champagne every time someone on the tele announces the words 'two trillion or three', needed, presumably, to save the euro but who knows. I asked a lawyer yesterday what he thought the rest of Spain was feeling about the 'crisis', what his colleagues were feeling for example and he told me he got the impression most folk were fed up with the recession, sick to death of talking about it but I wasn't quite sure what he meant by that as in this town most people seem quite content so long as they have a meal and a few beers in front of them unless they are Muslim and queueing up outside San Vicente de Paul across the road for food and clothing. Someone left some clothes all washed, ironed and neatly folded in bags outside said charity on Sunday and later some freeloaders who hang out in our barrio and their droogs helped themselves to the clothes and chucked whatever they didn't like or need in a heap on the street. So, on the whole nothing has changed. Most Spanish folk seem a bit perplexed and maybe miffed that what they started in the plazas up and down Spain has taken off around the world although I reassured some friends  that the Spanish had got a mention that they started it all on the BBC a few days ago. Like a lot of things in Spain the indignados and their protest started with loads of energy and enthusiasm but this time has quickly attracted the dog on a string type. My favourite memory of it here was the woman who is supposed to work in the wine shop who promised me half a dozen times that she would order some sherry that I had taken a liking to and months later she still can't be bothered to do it. I saw her several times giving her solidarity to the indigandos when she should have been attending to my alcoholic needs. 

Last night the BBC showed a documentary called Spain's Stolen Babies, an horrific, true story of how hundreds of thousands of women had their babies taken away soon after the birth and then were told the baby had died when really it had been sold to couples who couldn't have kids of their own or to anyone prepared to pay for a baby it would seem. Even after Franco had died the practice of stealing and selling these babies continued up to the eighties. It beggars belief and has scandalized Spanish society. The documentary told how doctors, priests and nuns colluded in this dreadful, heinous crime. It's hard to imagine what it must have been like living under such a regime with no one to turn to when something like this happened. Spain must be the only country that hasn't really addressed its past and until it does it will remain haunted and damaged by what occurred. My only hope is with the young people here who on the whole are fantastic despite not having a rosy future in front of them.

Lastly, on the subject of the indignados, I managed to get caught up in a melee involving thousands of demonstrators, a policeman and about fifty pissed off Aragonese or Huescan folk at a bus stop. I'd managed to miss the bus and there wasn't another for two hours but living in Spain I knew I would be fine waiting in any cafe undisturbed, fully integrated and with food and drink, pretty much like the bods the lawyer spoke about above. Then I went back to the bus stop and with a growing crowd of others waited patiently until a policeman rode up to us ( sounds rather quaint, as if he were on a bicycle) and said that the bus wouldn't be coming this way on account of the demonstration which was by now coming towards us full throttle instead.( The demonstration that up until then I thought were the screams of the bullfight next door). Out of the fifty or so Huescan folk waiting for the bus one quickly took control of the situation and said he, the policeman, had better do something or he'd have another lot of protesters on his hands. The policeman did, what most policemen don't, what he was told. He rang the bus company and then told us he was sorry but they weren't answering. 'You'd better do something' a woman said with a stubborn, fanatical look in her eye which quickly spread infecting me and some others who started to rabble rouse and protest that there were old folk here and how the hell were we supposed to know, no one had told us when we bought our tickets about any diversion. Suddenly someone saw the bus in question and ordered the berated copper to chase it. He did this speeding off on his BMW motorbike and more or less threw himself in front of the bus. He then hailed us all to run across a busy road which was now full of cars driven by insane, pissed off Zaragozans who had better things to do than go on a silly march or wait for public transport. Things like dinner and a fiesta that was still in swing. For a few moments I was planning an alternative, long, stressful route home but quickly and safely on the bus I tucked into the chocolate I had stashed in my handbag for such occasions and within an hour I was back in Huesca. Somehow I can't imagine this happening anywhere else at the moment. 

Tuesday, 11 October 2011


The weather here is lovely and still warm enough to wear a T-Shirt which is why Henderson and I have had a bet on what it says on the front of Mrs C's after seeing the back which said 'UP'. He has gone for the obvious '*uck', but my money is on 'things are looking....'. She was in a buoyant mood yesterday screeching at Mr C on the hour but was a different woman when social services came this morning. While I think of T-Shirts in Spain with English words on them I am still puzzling over the one my pupil was wearing the other day. I think 'You've Aken on the Creon You Dont Liko Ther' might be Scottish for 'Does Anyone Know How to Crack a Nut?'

I woke up on Sunday afternoon looking like I'd lost the rugby to France complete with nasal strip and minus an ear which is the price you have to pay for a night out in Spain. Actually, I wasn't too bad considering the bar we went to insists its clientele ignore the law and smoke like bastards. Just about everyone had a fag, a spliff or a pipe in his mouth, even folk who don't smoke. It got so bad that at one point when we stepped outside to breath a man followed us, lit up a fag, looked at us aghast and said, 'it's impossible in there, I've come out here to enjoy my cigarette'. One of the regulars told me that they, the other regulars, have all agreed to chip in and pay the fine that will go to the owner Pepe if the police can ever be bothered to turn up and give it to him. I've always said this town is like the Wild West and there is a certain admiration for that anarchistic spirit the Spanish have but they are exceptionally stubborn on things that will eventually kill them or maim them. This bar has been in existence for decades and plays the best music. On first sight it looks a bit of a rogue's gallery with people playing cards and smoking drugs but we bumped into quite a few parents of pupils, plus a few bemused pupils trying to see what all the fuss is about and many respectable bank managers letting their hair down as the Euro dies. On a warm evening I've seen small children challenge one another to jump through it's doors, do a bit of a jig to the strains of Led Zepellin and run out laughing.

Saturday, 8 October 2011


Things must be bad when Jamie Oliver is seen promoting what look like traditional British meals he claims belong to him via the Daily Mail. Is there no end to this man? Even herdsmen in the Pyrenees are fed up with 'that man Jamie' he is so ubiquitous. There is another cook on the tele who could get annoying just because his name is Nigel and he only cooks for himself. The reality concerning food in the UK was seen being served in the form of chunky chips, peas and something that resembled meat during lunch with future Big Society saviours on Newsnight last night. If I haven't dreamt or imagined it, these saviours are going to be paid £15,000 once they are trained to go out and tackle the problemos that blight Britain. There was an interview with a Big Society trainer/guru/tszar who looked like a bloke that someone in Parliament might have gone to school with. The one that never quite found his way. After him there was another interview with a vague looking boy from Newham, the type that has worry lines at the age of ten. One of the Big Society folk argued that even though they were all going to be employed they didn't want to appear they were working for Cameron or to be associated with him at all. I wonder if this sort of thing will catch on in Spain once Rajoy gets his foot in the door. In some ways it has already started with some police officers having to walk the streets as the council owes all the petrol stations money and now they refuse to fill up the coppers' cars. 

On the subject of politicians, Zapatero is determined to go out in style. The style of Generalissimo Franco. Zap has set election day for the 20th of November, the day Franco is supposed to have died and Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera decades earlier. So now there is a photo doing the rounds of Franco on his death bed, full of tubes with Zapatero's face superimposed over the caudillo's. It is said that Franco was kept alive on a life support machine, some say in agony, so he could 'die' the same day as Primo de Rivera and now it seems Zapatero will too.

Lastly, I am still reeling from the images of the Duquesa de Alba's wedding. She is difficult to describe but a cross between the Bride of Wildenstein and Jade Goody or perhaps Jordan doesn't even come close. She is one of those women of a certain age who on hearing Flamenco can't resist toying with the hem of her skirt, pulling it slightly higher and threatening us with something worse than dancing. A smallish group of Spaniards seem to adore her with the rest of the nation either ashamed or bemused.

Thursday, 6 October 2011


It's been a while since I wrote about Mr and Mrs C and their shenanigans. Since his fall in the Puerto Rico bar he has been sentenced to live in his home without leaving while Mrs C rants and raves at having to change his nappies and why won't he sign whatever it is he needs to sign so she can get her hands on his flat, sell it and move back to Brazil with the proceeds. A couple of weeks ago I heard them arguing about this and Mr C could be heard screaming 'no! not my flat!' All my calls to the police, doctor's and other related services here seemed to have been heeded but his wife has insisted on 'looking after' him, putting on the usual sob story whenever anyone came to the door. He really should be in a home or being cared for by someone who cares but like most things, nothing works and no one gives a toss. His family don't seem to want to know and in Spain it is often up to the family to take care of people once they are decrepit . The other night I heard him fall, something he had been doing for a while when he was able to go on the piss but continues to do now that he gets a 'chemical cosh'. It always sounds like he takes most of the furniture with him. As usual Mrs C screamed at him to get up and there is usually an argument but this time I heard nothing. About an hour later I could hear Mr C making strange noises but he does this all the time so I didn't think much of it. Later he started again and then when I went to bed I realised it was constant and imagined him wandering the house making these moaning noises. H thinks that Mrs C has been locking him in his bedroom because sometimes we can hear him banging on the door trying to get out. If you say anything to her she says something on the lines of 'look what I have to put up with'. Social services came and said everything seemed fine despite all our assurances things weren't and after years of drama from Mr and Mrs C  I felt there was little I could do until I realised something must be wrong for him to be moaning like that for so long. I knocked on her door and she took ages to answer and when she did I could see Mr C lying face down on the floor which makes a change from him lying on his back in the hallway and in the street for ten years. I asked Mrs C if he had been there all that time since I had heard him fall and she said yes, but to leave him. I said I wasn't to leave him and rang the ambulance despite her telling me not to ring, as the Gobierno de Aragon were coming the next day. The ambulance did come and I told them I believed Mr C had been lying there for hours. Mrs C seems to be losing the plot too as she told the ambulance folk that she had all her 'papeles de ingles' when she meant to say she had all her documentation in order. Henderson told me that while I rang for the ambulance Mr C managed to raise his head slightly off the ground to tell H 'eres un payaso', 'you're nothing but a clown'. His other favourite catchphrase directed at H over the years was 'eres un follonero', 'you're just a trouble maker'. We are both convinced that when Mr C comes to die his final words will be his beloved 'no speak inglish'. Somehow I don't think Mr C will be popping any clogs soon as he is determined, despite the  diagnosis and his woman's desire to have him dead, to stay here in true Aragonese style, in other words he aint budging.