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Monday, 25 April 2011

KKK V AKA

In the lead up to Easter I found myself doing something I never do at home which is watch Spanish tele. Time spent having a coffee or vermouth in a bar here is always with a TV or two playing different channels, a couple of slot machines with sound effects, music blaring out and all this being matched by men and women with gobs on them arguing over the football. I looked up at one point and saw the Copa del Rey as it is now known in English, being dropped from  the top of a double decker bus in Madrid and run over. About half a dozen firemen rushed to its rescue, gave it a quick lick, a few knocks back into shape and handed it to the bus driver. Nevertheless, I'm feeling 'cada vez mas', or more and more estranged from the culture back home what with the impending wedding an' all. In contrast to what is going on there I find myself here, fleeing the pointy hat brigade and propping up the bar with four old gaffers watching Bob Esponja or Spongebob Squarepants as he is known in the western world. It was Spongebob that raised the alarm so we went off to Casa Frauca, the best restaurant in this valley, where we ate chiretas, a type of Aragonese haggis, shanks of lamb, chocolate bizcochos and apple dessert and drank a newly discovered wine called Lalanne and still had change to carry on.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

FRANCIS VAN DE BERKA

Back in the mother country there is nothing I'd like more than to see the Muslims Against the Crusaders have a punch up with the English Defence League and have Harry Hill as compere. Looking out of the kitchen window last night and seeing Jesus, once again coming up the road on wheels accompanied by a load of folk covering their ugly mugs with a pointed hat and other creepy masks, I wondered if Spain will ever entertain the idea of banning the bhurka or the monarchy and if and when they will start banning things like Los Moros y Cristianos, a big punch up in some areas of Spain between blokes dressed up as Moors and Christians and attacking one another. There are as many Muslims and more defenders of the patria living here than Britain but they don't seem as sanctimonious except the pointy hat lot once a year. Henderson tried to prevent me from filming them all last night as the Messiah was wheeled out again across the streets of Huesca. His argument, H's not the Lamb of God, was that they, the pointy hat lot, don't need any encouragement but I think he was just jealous of the attention I was giving them.

On the subject of flying or perhaps burning flags and wondering if you need an anthem to sing when you are drunk, I am wondering whether or not to ask my Irish boss to give me the day off on the day of the royal wedding. I have a rather pathetic paper Union Jack somewhere and failing that there are some Union Jack oven gloves that Henderson burnt in a fit of pique. I like to tell visitors they were burnt by some Muslim neighbours which along with my pointy hat lollypops I leave lying around to put people off coming again. It's good to have some ammunition in case of unwanted guests. My mum likes to leave hundreds of books piled high on any available sofas and chairs. Samuel Becket refused to switch the light on till his insufferable arrivals would have to leave or sit in the dark.

I was asked yesterday for help in translating a sentence which goes something like 'La musica de Augusto Alguero es uno de los hilos con los que durante decadas se armo el tejido simbolico de EspanYa'. Quite often what sounds poetic in Spanish sounds ridiculous in English and if we talk about the fabric, or tejido, symbolic or otherwise of England or Britain it is often in a negative way, usually to do with something from abroad, and which has changed the fabric of society forever.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

FIGHT!

Henderson told me that they, the local TV station probably, were filming the soon to be pedestrianised square which incidentally is named after Alfonso el Batallador, which seems quite fitting given the constant battles fought in this town, including the one I had with Henderson in said square this morning after he was nearly run over on it and then threatened to kill the driver. Lots of arms and hands were raised and weird tribal noises uttered from both parties but these acts of aggression made me turn and retreat as there is nothing more ungallant than two men shouting at one another before noon.

It seems the timing is perfect. We have elections coming up and now our old mayor Fernando Elboj has gone to resume his job as senate down in Madrid, I am at pains to who I should vote for. Anyone aware of Harry Hill would know there is only one way to find out but having seen Luis Felipe, the present mayor ( PSOE) walking along the streets minus the bodyguards Elboj needed, I am quite enchanted. In fact Felipe had a gang of women around him the other evening which is in sharp contrast to the hordes of men in black that SenYor E needed. I will never forget the day Henderson lambasted them all for parking outside our garage with their bullet proof BMWs. There is a snag though, as I haven't received my polling card and dread to think of the scenario in search of one. Alternatives to Mr Felipe seem to be the CHA, or the Izquierda Unida but I would need to go and have a chat with them soon.

Regarding the PP, I saw a young girl with quite a spring in her step being followed by three men who seemed to be acting in a way that suggested she had robbed someone. Then I turned the corner and found myself on another square where someone had put out high tables to drink some coffee. I didn't know it at the time but the PP candidate Ana Alos had put the tables out and was having a chat with the locals and someone, the girl presumably, had made off with her mobile. Wonders will never cease.

CUNCTATOR BY NAME

We had  lunch with Rosa, at her wonderful 16th century house with good company, fine wine and conversation and a fantastic rip into the pen pushers and powers that be that hold this country back and kill off any talent. From education to the buffoon who looked me up and own the other day at the local council because I had the affront to ask him about the whereabouts of my fifty euros said gobierno owes me from December, they all got it in the neck. Our voices and laughter echoed round the village and across the fields towards the Pyrenees. Later, a wind of the mistral type, probably the cierzo, reminded me of ghosts and now I know where the expression 'put the wind up me' comes from. It is a peculiar wind, making you feel like a storm is coming but there are no clouds or sign of rain. The sky was clear with so many stars, the view you get when you are near the mountains. We wondered about the previous inhabitants of the house and the village too, so Henderson suggested to Rosa she bury a plastic box or container in the garden so someone would find it in another five hundred years and know a little about her. Much later when we were clearing the table and Rosa was stuffing corks and other souvenirs of a good evening into an ice-cream tub he remarked that maybe that was a better idea, to leave a time capsule full of red herrings just to confuse the future archealogists.

Despite the unreasonable behaviour of bureaucrats and other arseholes whose role on this planet is to try us, the Spanish have retained a way of life probably unlike any other country in Europe. I really don't know what century I am going to wake up in and once you realise this and try to accept it, it gets easier and you have more fun, recognising the surrealness of everything. It is a country full of time capsules, with towns and villages a world away from the one you might see in San Sebastian, Bilbao or any of the major cities here.

There seems to a lot of crime locally but not as unnerving as the chilling stuff you hear back in Britain. I should be reassured that some maniac addicted to fags robbed the tobacconist round the corner of 3,000 cigarettes or the romantic thief who stole some poetry books from the vitrine outside a bookshop here have nothing in common with the freak back in Britain who went around raping old people for twenty years. Instead of the Daily Mail there is Spanish TV, but as scandalous and bizarre as it is I am convinced Britain is full of murderers you are not related to. Henderson doesn't agree and says these things happen everywhere which I know is true but I am still convinced Britain has more than its fair share of killers and weirdos only being outdone by the States. Maybe there is an argument to keep bull fighting.

On a more trivial note, the pedestrianisation was said to start 'in days' and I did see a topographer on the square last week. Then they said it would start tomorrow, Monday but in today's rag it says, due to a meeting tomorrow, work is going to be put back till Tuesday.

Monday, 4 April 2011

LA PAZ

Mr Ceresuela had been quiet lately. The last I saw of him he was being bundled into a taxi by his lovely lady wife but then nothing. I thought about searching the obituary pages but Henderson told me the wife told him Mr C was in the Sacred Heart Hospital having fallen over for a change in the Puerto Rico bar. Apparently she had told everyone who rushed to his aid to leave him be as he is always falling over. I met the builders who work downstairs from us and have their offices under Mr C's balcon in the Tomate Jamon the other night and they said they would rejoice if Mr C was dead and his bloody wife too as they were sick to death of him spitting on their heads as they arrived for work, and the rest. No love lost there then.

Meanwhile Mercedes is still ignoring me but vibing me out as la Mala, the ruin of her life as now she has to sort the dog out. Seems to me that it is perfect. The dog is delighted as he is now with her a lot, she is with the dog and surely happy as what's the point of having a dog or a kid if you never see it? And we are happy as we aren't being serenaded by its howls during our siesta. Surely a result? Not saying hello or having some peace and quite for once?

COUSINS WITH COUSINS

To get British people out protesting takes some organising, a number of placards boasting wit and ingenuity, steel drums, trumpets and kids on shoulders and perhaps the opportunity to smash a few things up but in this town it is in the shape of a sausage. Chorizo was given out last Saturday to entice the locals to hopefully go on a bit of a rampage to protest against the cuts. It also alludes to the word 'chorizo' or crook, a way of poking fun at the greedy capitalists who are taking us all for a ride. While about a hundred folk turned up for the sausage and pretended they were upset by the state of things the rest took to the bars and restaurants. Likewise, I turned the corner in pursuit of more than a banger and was greeted by the feeding of the 49,900, with folk out en masse withought a care in the world. Crisis? What crisis? Or maybe it's just that other philosophy, the one were you eat today and starve tomorrow. Hours earlier a crusty had stopped me in the street and asked for my opinion on the state of things and would I like to write them down as part of the protest to which I replied I thought the bankers should all be lined up and shot but was anyone prepared to do it? I suggested we make placards of Fred Goodwin being spit roasted. She looked a bit ruffled to say the least and fork in the air I left her to pursue culinary delights.

For a small town loads of stuff seems to have kicked off lately. On Sunday morning some gypsies gave someone a bit of a pasting. So much so that he ended up in intensive care. It's still not clear what happened but the gypsies were arrested and while walking up the high street this morning the family members were seen congregating outside the court house and across the road waiting presumably for the verdict.This same morning two men were being tried for an attempted robbery a couple of years ago here in the BBVA where the customers rained chairs down on them in their pathetic attempts at a hold up, firing a gun off in the process. Their excuse? That they are unprofessionals as they have never quite pulled a crime off but have a string of efforts behind them.

This morning I saw some men roaming the plaza which is in danger of being pedestrianised. They looked pleased with themselves so I presumed they were the 'winners' the folk who will get the contract to turn the square into a haven, a leafy glade were a tapa or two can be taken without fear of death by dangerous driving. I read in the paper later that the job should begin in the next few days.

Finally, when Henderson finds himself in a queue he will often protest by bemoaning to anybody within earshot that only Brits and Russians will pass the time patiently doing this activity. Last week he found himself in one at the CAI bank and stormed off but not before he vigorously tapped an idle bank worker chatting to some pals and bellowed that said worker 'had customers'. Today the very same bank worker rushed up to me, who had been instructed by H to get into one of the various queues forming around the bank while he waited strategically in another, and asked if I would like to be served. This was a bit of a result as H thought we may never get served again what with everyone being related to one another here except us.