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Sunday, 27 March 2011

While watching the events of yesterday I had a creepy feeling of deja vu and now realise on awakening this morning and looking out of the kitchen window at the evidence of a good time had by all, why. The riots in London resemble an average Saturday night out here. In fact I would say the Spanish could give the Brits a lesson in civil disobedience and criminal damage. I am quite used to seeing the recycling bins burnt to ashes and grafitti sprayed  willy-nilly by the youth of today here and so my fellow brothers and sisters back home look like a bunch of amateurs. Nevertheless, every generation should have its moment of excitement if the alternative is to stay in and watch Ant and Dec and down troughs of Coca-Cola..The memories of my  incendiary youth need a nudge now and then as do Henderson's whose arrest in Trafalgar Square some decades back need a little kick his way. The BBC reporter outside Top Shop in his gung-ho underpants, was creaming them at the excitement of it all, and while no fan of Sir Phillip who owns Top Shop I am sure I heard this reporter say the words 'this is Jew to....' Later the same journalist got an earful of beer from a bloke who thought what he was doing was cool so generally everyone got what they wanted. Meanwhile my own efforts at competing with Sir Phillip with my shop Top Wank have failed miserably like most of my stabs and cracks into the world of business.

Talking of H, he told me the other day that the Japanese had already rebuilt a road that had been destroyed by the tsunami while back in Britain Telegraph readers are so fed up with the state of their roads that they have started taking photos of potholes so they can get vent their anger. The roads here are in such a state that I thought I might send the Telegraph readers some photos just to make their day.The last I heard on the pedestrianisation of our barrio was that about 21 companies were vying for the job of doing it. Then today I read that the bar owners are not happy with the idea as what with the no smoking ban an' all they are losing enough money already and don't like the idea that the workmen might up tools and start the project now when money is to be made owing to the good weather. 'Can't you do it in winter?' they ask. It won't be interesting to see what happens unless the mayor has the balls to say 'I'm the boss here and we do it when I decide, that's why they call me the mayor'.

STOP PRESS!! just found out the council says the plans for the above will not be put back despite the bar owners grips and work should start sometime before May........

Monday, 21 March 2011

THE DOG, MR C, ME AND YOUR MOTHER

Henderson and I have given nicknames to the various bods that litter our lives like the man upstairs who will be for ever known as 'Takes All Sorts' on account of him trying to steer the VERGUENZA away from us all and towards the aptly named 'effing bleeder/c*nt/clever bastard AKA Mr Ceresuela. There are others but I was thinking of renaming Mercedes as Reuters or maybe the Herald and Piti can be the Prophet of Doom. Perhaps they have names for us too. I like to think they wouldn't overstretch the imagination and so I guess I am known locally as the Supergrass or perhaps Nark or Snitch but it's probably more animal inspired but I am glad that bitch translates as cabrona.

I've escaped with my life once more from the clutches of death or the community meeting as it is more commonly known. I was the first to arrive and no one else came for forty five minutes and then when they did it was the usual gripes about Mr C and his wife. I told everyone what I was told by a lawyer, the gestor herself and the police, to keep reporting him until he either sorts his life out or ends up in prison. No one wants to do this as this would involve a certain amount of work and was proved when the gestor asked one of the residents 'why didn't you call the police?' when we heard the story about Mr C during one of his more boring momentos letting off a fire extinguisher and coating everything in a fine blue powder. He must have plenty of money to burn as he is running up quite a tab for the community and no one seems to mind but me. Isabel Upstairs, with her request for glass to enclose her terrace was met with nods of approval, about the only time we have had the chance to do something good in nine years. I have come to the conclusion that like most things in life if you want anything done then you must do it yourself which is why I didn't even mention Mercedes and her dog as no one will follow my example by denouncing her as well as that would mean standing up and picking up the phone. Mercedes' daughter did come, right at the last minute and I had been there for two hours already so wasn't in the mood. I was a bit perturbed in case she was there to have a barney with me about the bloody dog and her mother, but I felt well prepared to deal with all of us and in any order. Mercedes' daughter's husband is a psychiatrist I believe so I thought I might ask her if he could treat me for my nineteenth nervous breakdown owing to Piti and his owner, her mum, but all previous displays of sarcasm etc might get confused and they might not believe me. In fact, like a lot of things here, I shall never really know what anyone thinks or feels as the point of view is constantly changing by the minute. 'Takes All Sorts' wasn't there thank God as he is a great example of Spanish inconsistency.Roll on next year.

WHEN I'M CLEANING WINDOWS

In answer to Freud's question 'what do women want?' I would say,like Neil Young, it would probably be a maid, but don't tell a Spanish man this as I did the other night or you may be told 'that's not very feminist' to which I replied ''OK, a butler then' but that glib remark didn't wash either. Being glib, ironic,sarcastic, witty or God forbid using an understatement, will often leave you feeling like you have died on stage and put more than a dampener on the evening. I often have second thoughts before I tell a joke or tale for fear of what my friend's daughter calls 'The English joke, the Spanish silence' or worse when the penny finally drops and your listener starts dissecting your joke or story. For a Brit everything is a joke waiting to be exploited, for a Spaniard everything is an accident waiting to happen, Getting back to feminism, perhaps Freud should have asked 'who should do the cleaning?' I did the cleaning once and then realised I would have to do it again and again and again like shaving or breathing.

Living here means we can walk everywhere but on our weekly pilgramage to the LIDL we have the luxury of taking our little car, Poo as she is affectionally called ( how unfeminist but heh, scatologist will do?) and although the journey is short it is full of hazards so obvious that it often feels like it has been set up. The short journey involves driving up wonderfully named streets like Calle Jasmin, Danzantes, and reminders of folk who used to exist like Ramon J. Sender and Ramon y Cajal. They would, flowers and dancers included, dance on or turn in their graves if they could at the sight of locals dithering on opening a car door when another car approaches or park on a zebra crossing just as a woman crosses it with a huge perambulator. I'm thinking of asking the mayor to rename one of the streets after Darwin.

BLAME IT ON YOU SUNSHINE, THE MOONLIGHT AND THE BOOGIE

Living in this village is like being famous or how I imagine it would be if everything you do, wear or say comes under scrutiny. At the moment I am minus photographers but the gangs of gypsies and muslims I battle with to get out of my door of a morning are a refreshing alternative. Yesterday I passed Mercedes and astounded myself by saying hello. She wasn't too happy with this and gave me a mouthful. I thought I might tell her at tomorrow's community meeting that if this is a competition to see who can make the most noise, she will win. I also want to ask the gestor if she wouldn't mind letting the neighbours know that it isn't very becoming to toss various bits of shit out the window willy nilly as well. Should be interesting. Henderson is adamant that she, Mercedes won't be there but I am not so sure but any sarcasm or witticisms will all be in vain so I might just agree with everything she says. 'Yes, I know, I am MALA and have a certain amount of VERGUENZA'. Another neighbour Isabel has said she will go as she would like to close off her terrace but needs permission. She asked me kindly if I would vote for her to be able to do this and I almost wept with relief that I have one normal neighbour.

Apart from being stalked, blasphemed and accused of heinous crimes I have found the time to attend a friend's exhibition where we were expecting the presence of the newish mayor Luis Felipe. I was rather worried when H said he would tag along as he hasn't 'introduced' himself to this mayor yet and when we arrived and found out the old chieftain wasn't there it was at least a crumb of comfort. The exhibition is about three cities, ours, Olot and Tournefeuille and the connections we have with each other and it kept H bemused for about an hour especially when he found some earth and rocks from the three towns lying on the floor waiting to be kicked or stepped on and maybe that's why there wasn't any free booze or cake.

I was informed yesterday that the moon was full and at its closest to the earth in a long time so I felt the need to celebrate. We found ourselves in Bar Rugaca and then Herve where we were greeted by drunks singing. It's why most nations have national anthems, so you have something to sing when you are pissed. These blokes looked like they had been looking after sheep all week and had been let out by their wives to what H calls Las Vegas. Later in another bar, Juan Sebastian, I think I saw what could have been the wives. You can always tell when folk have been 'let out', it's something in the way they move.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

MAGIC MOMENTS

When I am not being harangued by my Ecuadorians neighbours or coming home to Mrs C and her husband's histrionics I like to play the part of bon viveur or vivant or perhaps Epicurean or is it epicure or sophisticated alcoholic even?  If I am honest, the only thing keeping me here apart from the love of a good man is my stomach's love of fine wine and good food. I can recommend any number of restaurants this side of the Pyrenees and one I enjoy going to is the Herve with its old school waiters and delicious traditional cooking. There is a wine here I like called the Reino de los Mallos and goes very well with the hearty fare they serve up at Herve. Another joint I found myself in the other night is the Juliana which is the cheaper sister of Tres Torres a Michelin star restaurant which I still haven't been to on account of the price.We went the other night to celebrate the return albeit brief of a Huescan boy who now lives in the States, Atlanta of all places. Home from home or at least a step in the right direction after his sojourn in Oklahoma. I think he is still shell shocked but then so am I but for different reasons.

On entering the school today I noticed that every classroom has the latest plea from the mayor on the lack of civilised behaviour in town pinned on its wall. In it he asks that a minority of the towns citizens ( ha! where does he live??) are making life hell for the rest of us and  for God's sake can you just treat the place you all claim to love so much ( Huesketa.....a love and desire for this town ) with a bit more respect? Well, words to that effect.  I need to get a copy to stick on the door downstairs, the one that had 'Marcos we will kill you' graffitied on it not so long ago, but it won't be long before someone pulls it down or writes stuff on it like the time my friend Lola pleaded with her neighbours to not throw cigarette butts on the floor of the lift or let their dogs shit in them, I mean the lift, not the butts. She told me everytime she tried to 'educate' her neighbours they wrote things like 'we don't live under Franco anymore you know' or 'who do you think you are? The army?'I saw a similar plea the other day from the president of another block of flats politely asking for neighbours to control their dogs of a morning so as not to wake everyone by their incessant barking and someone had written all the swear names under the sun on it. Sometimes I think the whole town should be served an ASBO.

Just to recap, the last time the police came for Mr and Mrs C they were told in so many words that if they called the police out again they would go to prison or be arrested, the pair of them. Latest tactics of Mr C is to stick toothpicks in the door lock so Mrs C can't get the key in the door on her return from taking out the rubbish. Ole!

Monday, 7 March 2011

WHO ATE ALL THE PIES?

Micky Quinn was apparently the inspiration for the above song. He was a footballer and a bit on the large side I suppose. I wish I had a picture of him eating a pie that was thrown at him during a match. Anyway, pies, what have they to do with my little excursion down to Zaragoza to see the bright lights and big city? It seems that there is a new policy in shops like Corte Ingles. Whereas a few months ago, weeks even, you could have a varda around said emporium with out any hassle from the bods that work there as they are too busy having a fag or a chat amongst themselves ( just as I like it, leave me alone) they have appeared to have introduced a selling policy. I would have loved to have attended the workshop or seminar where this new fangled thing was introduced. As I tried on a coat in peace a woman materialised and told me she was Marisol and at any moment I could be helped by her in any way I liked. She then stood there staring at me as I looked at myself in what I think might be the only mirror in the store. She said the coat was really 'cute', not a word I like to associate with myself at this age. You can't do winsome after thirty, unless you're the Queen Mother or your valet is gay. Then she started picking at the fluff that had gathered all over the coat and seemed to be on all the coats like a sort of mistletoe invasion. This put me on edge and I took the coat off and told Marisol that I would be looking at an awful lot of coats that day and she then ran off. About a few minutes later another shop assistant spotted me in the changing room trying on another coat and wafted towards me with a worried look, that look that I must have worn when I had the misfortune to have a Saturday job in Russell and Bromley in Brent Cross Shopping Centre and the fuhrers there jackbooted their way up and down making sure you implemented the dreaded 'SEVEN SELLING POINTS'. I told her there would be an awful lot of coats coming my way and better to back off now while the going was good and she responded in a delightful way and said 'you're not from here are you?' 'No.' I said. 'I am from Huesca'. Which I believe I am although not originally of course as that would imply an awful lot of psychological problems too numerous to mention. 'Huesca?' she argued. 'Well, originally London, but, yes, I live in Huesca now'. She then went on to say how she loved London and it was one of her favourite cities and I did something I have never done in my life. I didn't want to know. I realised that people here don't really want to know anyone or anything outside their family and close friends and I have become used to this and developed my own defence system and here was this girl being very sociable and friendly etc, and I had turned into this monster from the provinces. If she had accosted me nine years ago it would have been a different story but this small town and all its insecurities has rubbed off and I was appalled at myself.
Anyway, a short while later someone called Vanessa popped up behind me and suggested I bought the litre version of what I was holding as it was more economical. 'But I don't know if I will buy this one' I said. How to get it wrong once more. I'm thinking of becoming some sort of so-called 'sales guru' just to give them a helping hand.

SHOULD I STAY OR SHOULD I GO NOW

Despite everything being in walking distance here I was thinking of learning how to drive. I must be the only person in town who doesn't and it's a real problem here with folk driving their kids to school, the school being the one round the corner and people driving into work when the furthest away you could ever be is at the most, thirty minutes walk. I was put off though when I bumped into a colleague who told me she decided to do the theory in English as she thought it would be easier. It isn't and she said the translation is appalling and she is constantly having to ask what each sentence means. She is from Egypt and is still in that bemused state most foreigners are in when they land here.

A comedian, Ed Byrne I think, said that women should never ask a man what they are thinking about as women don't realise man's capacity for thinking about nothing. Or if they are thinking about something it is usually something on the lines of imagining they are a spy. Yet I often have these imaginings too. Henderson and I have already worked out various escape routes if it should ever 'kick off' here. The fact that we both had the same thought, that things could ever 'kick off' here and thought about which direction to run means we are truly meant for one another. I'm not sure though if I should be troubled or honoured that H asked me if I would like to go to Libya and fight against Gaddafi, and that I have even run this thought through the old noodle. He won't be happy until there is a statue of us somewhere in honour of our part in some dictator's downfall. 

THE A TEAM

I read recently that the Brits consume more beer than anyone else in Europe, 500 pints a year if I remember rightly. My first thought was 'is that all?' Then  I read that Spain has overtaken the Brits in the consumption of cocaine as opposed to being neck and neck in this race to get totally mashed. It comes as no surprise. I am always shocked at the amount of people who take cocaine back in London but every weekend here you can see it too, the worst being a young couple snorting it off the bonnet of some car. It used to be so much cheaper and safer and fewer deaths when there were all the illegal raves pre-24 hour drinking and no one drank alcohol only water and opened their minds and lay in fields tripping.

Yesterday I told a friend here about Henderson's lack of tact which he generally reserves for politicians and men who wear wigs. My friend told me she can't leave her six year old son with her mum, his granny, because she overheard her mum laughing at a fat woman on the tele and calling out for the grandson to 'come here, Franxo and see how gross and fat this woman is!' Then they called out for the grandad to come and see the abomination. My friend came in and saw them rolling around laughing and insulting the woman and she told her mum to stop doing this. Her mum asked why? and she told her why and the mother tutted and said ''Madre mia, you can't say anything nowadays'.

This morning two plain clothes coppers came for senora Ceresuela and took her away somewhere. I think as she had denounced her husband she now has to appear in court, who knows. Apparently the police came three times yesterday and I guess they are all getting fed up with this ridiculous scenario. I heard the copper say to Mrs C that she should just split up with Mr C but where would she go? She needs that flat and this has been the plan all along, to drive him mad and out. My initial interventions were received with verbal abuse from Mrs C but now she is the 'victim' despite her battering her husband and haranguing him till the early hours.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

ONE DOWN TWO TO GO...

Mr Ceresuela (77) was arrested tonight. When I came home about five this afternoon there was a police car outside and I thought 'it can't be'. How many times will they come? Is there a limit to these things? When I got to my door I saw the policeman who came about Piti the Priapic Poodle on Sunday and he gave me a look that lasted for less than a second but it said 'Yes, we are here again'. This look seemed to include an embarrassment too. Not UNA VERGUENZA but close to it. Like he was ashamed that he had been called out for yet another dickhead. The dickhead in question was Mr Ceresuela's wife Paquita (73). 'She isn't really his wife you know', the neighbours have told me, which I think must be some other kind of VERGUENZA but nevertheless she has been living with him and breaking his balls for the last nine years so yeh, you could call her his wife. They went off somewhere and then Henderson told me they had come again the day before but as it happens so often he couldn't be bothered to tell me. When I got home later I saw a weird blue powder on the floor in the hallway. We have since figured it to be the contents of the fire extinguisher but we have no idea of the saga that went on while we weren't there to witness it. Maybe Mr Ceresuela spontaneously combusted if there is such a thing and the policia put him out.

Tonight the cops were called again and this time plain clothes came and I heard one of them demand from Paquita, Mrs C, to tell him if she wanted to 'denounce' her husband or not. She started to go into some long winded story and he kept saying 'no, listen, do you want him arrested or not?'. In the end she succumbed and old Ceresuela was carted off by the two plain clothes in what Henderson described as a meat wagon that only had one headlight working, and then they took Paquita off somewhere too, and Henderson noted that that police car's back light wasn't working either. She has since been back and gone out again, to the disco probably to celebrate, but like Mercedes upstairs, without a problem now what will she do? perhaps she will get a dog...............

Yesterday I pointed the 'newish' mayor out to Henderson but I wish I hadn't 'cos he said, 'Wow! Hasn't he got a big head?'. I told him 'you can't go round saying these things you know', but he just continued in Spanish, 'que grande tu cabeza no?' and went on to laugh and say things like 'Que cabezon eres eh??!!' I dread the day I find myself in a similar situation with the present mayor as I did when I had to run across an art exhibition we found ourselves in at the diputacion where Henderson was about to launch into some tirade against the last mayor Fernando Elboj and I got there in time to clamp my hand over H's mouth before he ridiculed another poor soul.