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Sunday, 20 November 2011


It is voting day today where everyone expects the PP to win with a landslide or a tsunami because 'Spain needs a change' and everyone knows that all over the shop people vote in and then vote out either the Socialists or the Conservatives whichever they believe has managed to mess the country up. This time it's the PSOE to get a chastising from the voters but it doesn't seem that long ago that the public did an about turn and voted for them thanks to some terrorists who fancied a change and planted bombs on public transport. Not only is it a day of reckoning for the Socialists but the anniversary if you can call it that of Franco's death. Spain must be the only country where you can still do the Nazi salute and get away with it and the only place where flowers are left on the tomb of a fascist dictator, paid for with public money I am told. So it will be or has been a fitting day for the right to win

Meanwhile, the Oscences are leaving the crisis at home and heading out for the tapas competition which started last Thursday. The visperas, or the eve of many fiestas and competitions are often started days before just to get as much fun and delight as possible till the real thing gets in the swing. I've also noticed loads of Christmassy things in shop windows and the Eroski is laden with champagne and other delights that you don't normally see till after the Constitution and Imaculada and H reckons this has to do with the recession and not to a sudden realisation that Christmas can start in September as it does in Britain. 

The Spanish get it right when it comes to keeping the kids safe after school hours. Send them straight back there where they can play football before dinner or just hang out in the school with their friends. I walked through one of the schools here the other evening with a friend looking for her daughter and when we had managed to steer ourselves through the numerous youngsters playing football we walked through the corridoors that go beneath the school and found ourselves surrounded by hundreds of kids some playing with counters on the floor or drawing in corners, others swinging from various things they could swing from, a lone girl dancing in a makeshift disco, kids hiding under football tables, others just running and darting in and out of the others. This particular school boasts its own theatre and church and also a cafe where parents could be seen relaxing and drinking knowing their kids were OK.

STOP PRESS: Yes they have definitely won and so far not much drama apart from the following. Somebody super glued the gates to about 37 schools in Zaragoza and numerous schools were painted with fascist symbols. A pregnant woman, or as she was described in the local paper, una mujer en avanzado estado de gestion, was unable to vote as her waters broke and she had to be rushed to hospital. Then there was the vocal, or chairman who had to be replaced as he was breathalysed on his way and gave a pissed reading. Another escandalo was when an auditor of the PSOE fainted and then had convulsions at the urns and had to be attended by a PP mayor. In various parts of Spain the police had to go out looking for committee members who didn't show up, probably because of the numerous fiestas that take place everywhere. In Soria flags with images of Franco had to be taken down from outside schools, and finally some poor bloke in his nineties voted and immediately had a heart attack and died.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Huesca gets a mention in Iberosphere's article on where all the money has gone in the last decade. In most of Aragon you can see evidence of money spent on ridiculous projects like the Palacio de Congresos which translates as an overgrown centre for the arts, so big that it is proving difficult to heat during the winter months and the only highlight was when Tricicle performed there or perhaps when the mayor got stuck in a lift with ex-president Gorbachev. Worse than the Palacio has to be the airport. The signs to Huesca International could give the impression that we have all mod cons till you turn up and there's no sign of life. Then there are all the bits of art spotted as you walk through the streets. Small sculptures peeping at you from behind trees and great big lummoxes sprouting up on roundabouts. I've read that there are villages and small towns all over Spain not just here that went on a spending spree, including one where the police have to walk everywhere as the council owes money to the petrol station that now refuses to fill their cars up. Street lights are being turned off amongst other things and when I asked a lawyer here what he thought he just laughed and said 'es igual' and added that most people were sick of talking about the recession and proved my point that so long as there is grub on the table no one minds who is in power or if the lights go out. It reminds me of the time H, who cooks the dinner and changes the light bulbs asked me what I would do without him to which I replied, 'sit in the dark and eat cakes'.

STOP PRESS: I have just read that there was a meeting of sorts where AENA, The Spanish airport operator reckons four companies are interested in doing their flight training there and hopefully before summer, which year we have no idea, things will come to fruition. This is how most things are done here, lots of meetings and lunch and papers to be approved and finally something gets built only to fall apart or remain empty for years. So, much of the same then. H has had an idea. He is now obsessed with a property tax a bit like the window tax in the 18th and 19th centuries. He thinks any house or flat standing empty in Spain, of which there are millions, should be taxed and the country will be saved. It's hard to say if he is joking as his sense of humour and radical ideas are often blurred. I refer to his outburst the other day that 'death is overrated'. I must say, I was a bit shocked to learn that what I was watching last night was an advert for Co-Operative Funerals. It looked so snazzy and stylish and groovy even. Even in death people are supposed to spend a fortune and look great and go out with a bang. No shrinking violets need apply. Despite the above opinion, H wants to go out to the strains of Queen's 'Don't Stop Me now'. I think for me, the song below will be the choice, but in the meantime, onwards and upwards.

Sunday, 13 November 2011


There is a programme here called Espanoles en el Mundo which tracks down Spaniards who have left their villages and towns 'por una razon u otra', to live somewhere else usually described as a place 'donde todo es posible', or where they can 'cumplir sus suenos'. There is a similar programme in Britain where hapless Brits are followed around Spain where 'everything is possible and impossible at the same time' and where they can 'live out their nightmares'. What is alarming about the Spaniards is that they all say the same thing, that wherever they are now living, be it Burkino Faso or Milan, their life is 'la puta madre'. It's a programme designed to make other Spaniards feel they are missing something and is contrary to the belief that 'como Espana no hay nada', 'there's nothing, or nowhere like Spain', no place like home. Being a proud lot, the Aragonese made a programme called 'Aragoneses por el Mundo' which I believe has since been scrapped but provided a lot of laughs for other Aragonese folk as they watched Fran or Penelope living the Life of Riley in Omsk or Mogadishu. The general view is that anyone who leaves is mad or gay.

On our weekly pilgrimage to the LIDL I noticed a poster on the shop window that asked customers to 'apuntase en nuestra newsletter'. I presume the Academia Real decides whether or not an English word is feminine or masculine but maybe LIDL just took it upon themselves to decide what sex it is. It's the same with  el Prime Time. I suppose the word time is masculine in Spanish so that's why they put el. I've noticed as well that both the CHA/Izquierda Unida and PP/PAR have used similar slogans on their posters for the elections, Sumate. I'm not sure how this would translate in English but I guess it would be something on the lines of 'join us' or 'come with us' to enable change, or else.


When I'm not living in a mad house I like to get out as far away as possible from the town and its mad inhabitants. Recently we went back to the splendid village or rather small town of Benasque, which is close to Catalunya and France. There is nothing better than falling asleep to the reassuring sound of cow bells as opposed to the shrill sounds of the cow who lives next door at Primero D. That might sound uncharitable but try living next door to an animal who has driven her equally bovine husband mad. Dale Farm Latin style. Anyway, Benasque was a delightful escape and we had our fine dining in the restaurant Ansils in the village of the same name although it's also known as Anciles. If you like game and dishes like recao, potage and the fine wines that go with then this is the place to eat. Benasque is more upmarket and cosmopolitan than some of the other places we have visited in the mountains and has the highest ski resort in Spain nearby, Cerler, where King Juan Carlos fell down the steps on one of his visits. H and I were having a coffee outside the hotel Araguells in the sun, when we saw our lovely doctor who stopped to chat. I noticed there were no cars hogging the central streets and saw that on every entrance to the centre the council had put up signs saying no access to traffic except for the bleeding obvious. I think it's like this in most of Europe and most people obey the signs. It was a sharp contrast to Huesca were the 'easing in' is still going on poco a poco with a set of toy traffic lights permanently flashing amber, presumably so folk know that at some point in the future the bollards that are just visible underground will inevitably be up and running and no, you won't be able to crash into them as one idiot did recently when they installed them in the Plaza Lopez Allue.

I know it's a small world and that everyone here seems to be related one way or another but while I was away it was to my horror to discover that the imbecile who painted 'Marcos I will kill you' on the front door to the block hails from the village where we stayed. He had a bit of a reputation as a child, smashing things up that didn't belong to him and stealing keys with aplomb and he gradually worked his way to the bright lights and big city of Huesca where his mum thinks he is doing ever so well. He now lives in a rat infested squat on our street and continues to be a shitehawke.

I do have one regret during my stay in Benasque, that I didn't kick the man I saw hit and kick his dog that he had tied up outside the bar while he had a drink, just because it kept barking and crying. I have made a promise with myself that I will kick if I see this again, but I wonder how much my protesting and crusading will have any effect on the nobheads in this world.   

Wednesday, 2 November 2011


Calle San Lorenzo is the kind of street that if you stick your head out of the window at any time of day you will catch a glimpse of life being performed on it. I did this earlier today and was greeted by the sight of Mr C being wheeled once more into an ambulance with a massive gash on his head, presumably because he fell or was tripped up by his unforgiving wife. She had already called the police, and not me this time, to help her lift Mr C off the floor and then she went to the charity across the road called San Vicente. A man from the charity came to help but couldn't and then wasn't too happy when he was accosted as he left the block by another woman in the street this time asking him where Caritas was as two forlorn Moroccans and their child looked on. He told her in no uncertain terms that Caritas wasn't in this street he was sure of it and if it was clothes or food they wanted then the only place would be San Vicente. She went on and on about how it was definitely called Caritas to which he more or less exploded and told her San Vicente had nothing to do with Caritas. The two Moroccans looked more bewildered and meanwhile all the kerfuffle with cars full of lazy folk who cant be bothered to walk anywhere in this tiny town, screaming obscenities as they tried to weave their way over the pavement, passing parked vans and then scraping the ears of the dispossessed and hungry lining the wall outside the charity. Two elderly men from the charity struggled with a shopping trolley they'd found or had donated and managed to get it off the back of their van but not without a struggle. Then an ambulance came and that was the last I saw of Mr C but I am sure once he has had a night away from his woman and a good meal inside him he will be back to protect his flat from her thieving hands once more.

Things got even more Halloweenesque when M rolled up with P in tow, lurking around the corner again and getting pally with Mrs C, standing outside my flat voices like fog horns, gossiping like Cissy and Ada, Mrs C bemoaning that her gas had been cut off presumably by the crooks who left her the exercise bike and home cinema. M said she, Mrs C, could come and have a shower at hers whenever she wanted, but Mrs C just said not to worry as she was made of stone. Although M is the spitting image of Les Dawson's character it is a bit disparaging to Roy Barraclough's as Mrs C looks more like Vincent Price's Witchfinder General crossed with the red caped dwarf in Nicholas Roeg's Don't Look Now. I can't give them the title of the Gruesome Twosome as that is reserved for my sister and her girlfriend ( more of them at a later date..) I did have alternative nicknames, the Martyr and the bogus good Samaritan but then M falls under both these terms so Mrs C and M they will remain for now.