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Friday, 30 September 2011


Freud allegedly said that the Irish are impervious to psychoanalysis and having a certain amount of Irish blood I feel I can verify this. The Irish are often out on a different plane of existence when it comes to the overall perception of things and the side of me that isn't Irish worries about the side that is which sounds like the sort of thing an Irish person might say just to bamboozle everyone else but is a genuine concern as part of me doesn't know what the other half will come up with but it certainly keeps me on my toes. In some ways the Irish are like the Dutch, both kind, tolerant and amiable folk but give either of them a drink or a cause and suddenly you are engaged in hostilities. The Spanish, who I don't appear to share any blood lines with but live on top of, underneath or next to seem to be the least bellicose, but whenever there is a cause worth fighting for there is a rush of energy and enthusiasm which quickly burns itself out as soon as lunch or any kind of food for that matter is mentioned. Six months later it appears again but nobody seems to know what happened in the meantime. Like most things in Spain you have to be 'in the know' which really means you ought to be married to a Spaniard. If not you might find yourself standing on the street next to a soltero asking him what the hell is going on as tanks roll by. There was a Facebook page that sprung up a couple of years ago which was meant to be a rallying cry for the pedestrianisation of the streets in this barrio but nothing has been written since it started. It could have moved somewhere else but as I said, nobody will tell you unless you lie in bed with them every night and actually that is no guarantee either. Best to just be caught up in the moment and enjoy the ride.

Being 'in the know' is important if you want to participate in the numerous fiestas which never end here. There is always an abundance of them if you know which village is having them. Here there is no excuse as there are always plenty of posters advertising which fiesta is on in which village and nobody minds if you turn up uninvited. Like the romeros that are so popular here. The Spanish will walk miles if they know there is a sausage at the end of it. I  suppose it is like the English and a cup of tea. Offer this beverage and the English will turn up and do anything. 

I digress. What has all this to do with Freud and the Irish? The Dutch or the Spanish? Well I guess it is about cracking nuts. Sussing people out and as long as I live here the Spanish and the Dutch will always do my head in and likewise I will try my best to cause theirs a spot of bother too. Which leads me nicely on to Telefonica, that company that I am convinced is run by Monty Python. Take the other day and the nice girl employed by them. Without going into too much detail she thought she was multi tasking but really she was just adding to the confusion. Ask a simple question in Telefonica and a big book comes out from under the counter and details are required including proof of who you are. If you don't do this you will not get the answer you went in with but you will leave poorer or in my case dragging Henderson out of the store in front of bewildered shoppers as he raged Dutch style at said nice but over zealous sales girl who just pulled an unperturbed face which said 'tranquilo, no pasa nada', which translates as  'God, I only asked you for your phone number, identification number, proof of ID, what velocity your internet enjoys in order to tell you what the cheapest mobile phone contract would be'.

Having survived this we had to confront a number of roundabouts. If you have wasted so much time with needless bureaucracy most of the day or week you won't want to waste your precious time indicating to your fellow drivers which way you are going or not going as you approach or drive round any of them. Neither do you want to be sitting next to an enraged Dutch man in a twenty five year old Golf.

Suffice to say we won't be getting a contract for the mobile in the deluded belief we might get a better deal on our internet tariff.

Saturday, 17 September 2011


I'm still reeling from the riots I witnessed on my recent trip to the motherland but what has really fascinated me is the Yin and Yang of everything that is wrong with Britain today. I refer of course to the EDL and the Muslims Against the Crusaders. What they have against a soul group is anybody's guess. I suppose I should have started this blog with the line 'are there any Muslims against the Crusaders or anti-Muslims against the Crusaders in tonight?' and add 'you might like to leave now the pair of you'. There's something very disturbing about the image of men with beards and bald men acting like it was the Battle of Lepanto or something. The bit I'm getting at is the inability to shut up for just one minute during the minute's silence on September 11th. God they're trying. I'm beginning to wonder if the two groups are working together, agents provocateurs with a double bluff. Both looks or styles are a bit too contrived for me, like when the police dress up and pretend they want to buy drugs from you. Or Lady Gaga or the Archbishop of Canterbury. No one who puts that much effort into how they look should be taken seriously.

Reeling is one thing but recoil is what I do every time that man Ed Balls appears, looming into my living room. He has a similar sweaty composure as a bloke called Tony McNulty who may or may not have been the Minsiter ( Minister even..)of Employment. I've yet to suss out where our mayoress is coming from. Her name is Ana Alos but H calls her Ana a Los Cojones for reasons only known to himself. Give it time and we will see if she can drag the town somewhere near the 21st century. She may even live up to her name one day.


Folk are up in arms about some crap T-shirts Top Shop had on and have since taken off the shelves. Said T-shirts had the sort of crass remarks I see on  T-shirts here the difference being no one realises what they are wearing like the boy walking towards me yesterday with 'I Still Live With My Mum' and underneath 'Go To Your Apartment' minus the 'Let's'. Not as bad as the mannequin minus the legs and knickers wearing a top that says 'Girls Do It Better' that I saw in a shop window the other day. Of course they do.

A couple of days ago H and I were wondering where we could go and what we could do that was cheap or free and decided to drive up to a lovely river called the Alcanadre which is deep in the Sierra Guara about an hour from here. We like to go every summer and it's lovely this time of year now the kids are back at school and the tourists have gone.There is a waterfall and H said it reminded him of Australia, a bit like a billabong.  It will be the last time we go as there seemed to be a lot of flies about for an area that looks clean and tranquil. Before we left I wandered further upstream and discovered why. The lovely people who have been before us have had a communal shit by the looks of it with toilet roll, wet wipes and excrement and of course flies all along the otherwise pristine river. When we got back to the car there was a parking ticket underneath the windscreen, 200 Euros if you please. Slap bang in the quinto infierno or el conYo de Bernada as my friend Jon likes to say. I shall be notifying the proper autoridades soon to let them know that their nationwide promotion 'La Magia de Huesca' is working. H blames the French.

Back in town the pedestrianisation of the Plaza Lopez Allue has left the shopkeepers there a bit peeved with them saying said pedestrianisation is having a negative affect on their trade. I don't get this about the whole affair. Without the car this town is going to crumble. They are presently building a car park in the centre of town, are using a space that was once occupied by houses as a makeshift car park which needs constant policing, have pedestrianised part of our barrio and yet it is all too sudden or too much for people to cope with. I would like someone to explain how trade is being killed up in the square when I have never needed to go by car. This is a town where everything and everyone can be found within a twenty minute walk. I say everything, I am still waiting for the sherry I have asked for or attempted to order ten times now. I have found a distributor on the internet, the one that probably supplies the shop I am trying to buy it from and I look forward to paying said shop a visit to say ' Y tu Donde compras?' the other promo that attempts to save the town from going under.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011


In George Mikes' How To Be An Alien he talks about people on the continent wearing their best on Sunday and folk in England wearing their worst. I must admit that this is still true at least in my parents' house as I witnessed my father, who is the owner of many jumpers, wearing his 'favourite' with the elbow missing. I thought it might be just attention seeking but judging from the state of his Barbour jacket, the opposite of the ones I see here in Spain, I think it is just the norm with him. British people have a strange dress sense. In big cities people look quite slim and sophisticated but miserable and self obsessed. Go further afield and look around you in the post office queue and everyone looks like they are wearing their pyjamas with a dash of autism. However, I did my own study last night, inspired by my aunt who I mentioned before with her own 'survey' and had a butcher's at the crowds milling around outside the Cafe Centrale here in the centre of town. Admittedly it was two o'clock in the morning and in the rough end of 'El Tubo' and my investigation led me to believe that most people here have no idea how to dress either but in a different way to the English or the Brits. It's still 'Cardiff with a suntan' or maybe Merthyr Tydfil, with the shortest of skirts with high heels for women and the men wear their trousers on the hip with very few adopting the trousers round their arse look which is slowly creeping in. I'm trying to remember my most ridiculous outfit or look from my salad days and I guess it would have to be the amount of make-up I once wore which had some small children telling me I looked like a clown. There is also a fading memory of some Dr Marten shoes that I thought looked lovely with my dress. 

There are a couple of condemned houses on our street and they have been for some time. This didn't stop a family moving in and living there for a couple of years. From time to time as I walked past these houses I would remember that they were about to collapse but when in Rome do as the Romans do, which here means nothing. On Saturday nobody was allowed to walk up our road as one of the buildings had given up and partially collapsed. Nobody was killed for a change, and the latest is that well yes, they will have to be pulled down. I presume they got the family out and the caged birds they had pinned to the side of the walls. It will be interesting to see how many police and fire folk will be needed for the espectaculo. The other day I counted about twenty milling around. I am sure there will be lots of men congregating with their hands behind their backs, the same ones who appear whenever there is a big hole in the road.

Thursday, 8 September 2011


While we were in England I made my mum watch a programme called My Hoarder Mum and Me which took a TV presenter, Jasmin Harman and her mum on a journey or an attempt to get rid of the stuff that clutters up her home, the mother that is. Her mother was quite extreme and had to sometimes sleep on whatever space she could find on the floor. I wonder how many people suffer from what can appear to be a  mental disease and seems to affect loads of people in Britain including my mum and is something I have to seriously keep an eye on. I have always felt it was a fear of letting go, of leaving the past behind where it often, if not always, belongs. My problem is with bits if paper and not writing stuff down in notebooks enough. Henderson calls my mum's house 'the house with the stuff around the edges' and everywhere you look there is stuff from the past she can not or won't throw away. Jasmin Harman's mother couldn't bear to throw away a load of Sindy and Action Man dolls away. Her son threw them on the table and said of their intertwined bodies, ' they look like an orgy!'. With my mum it is our old school books, Christmas cards, stuff that may come in handy one day but generally over forty year's of 'stuff' accumulated and an unbearable feeling of loss if anyone tries to interfere and throw 'her stuff' away.  Hoarding, especially the extreme kind, is not recognised as a mental illness but I think in extreme cases it is. I can never remember a time having a cup of tea with my mum and not having to share the sofa with hundreds of books, magazines, unopened mail and beside me anything from a plastic vegetable rack full of scourers, brushes, bits of twine and other things that won't be thrown away because they are bound to be needed a few days later. It is a trait I have inherited and have battled with and I am sure it has also got to do with a range of things including the Second World War and all its impact on people when they had nothing and had to salvage and make do with what they could find, and maybe superstition, the idea that if you throw away something useless or broken but sentimental, then something awful might happen or you might need it at a later date and the idea of not having it around is too much for some people including Harman's mum and mine. Harman's mother got too distressed if asked why she would need bits of cable she found in the street. I suppose a certain amount of control is involved. When people are asked what they need with the rubbish that surrounds them get annoyed and upset that you are asking and it gets worse if you suggest they get rid of it.

Still on this subject, a friend on Facebook mentioned the most useless thing they owned was an antique monocle which set people off, writing in their useless 'stuff' they can't or won't throw away. Mine included a beautiful pair of Charles Jourdan high heels that I can get my left foot in but not my right. I added that I might just wear the left shoe and don a  slipper on the right. Other useless things include a Biba coat that makes me look like Fagin and a set of forks from the one euro shop which bend when I eat mashed potato. I think I may have thrown the forks away but not after keeping them for a while just to demonstrate to friends the uselessness these shops. I am also haunted by another pair of shoes that have a snow globe of the Eiffel Tower in the heel. This is the sort of madness I left behind in England but for some reason have kept the evidence under my bed just to remind me of where I came from. Nowadays I buy shoes that I wear till they fall apart. women are often obsessed with shoes and there is no denying a beautiful shoe but perhaps that is what they should remain, a beautiful thing to be looked at, not worn. The heel height of women's shoes in Britain is ridiculous and vary rarely seen here. I am talking the type of bondage shoe favoured by Mrs Beckham who will probably be a cripple by the time she is forty.

Monday, 5 September 2011


It's hard to fathom that this time last Saturday we were sitting peacefully in a garden on the edge of the New Forest and now I am off to see the latest Almodovar film, The Skin I Live In. Quite a lot has happened in the last month or so. One minute we are whizzing round the mountains and canyons of the Pyrenees, the next we are flying over the charred remains of the Sony factory in Enfield. The next few weeks I guess we will be asked by our Spanish pals as we ease ourselves back into the life here, 'what the hell happened man?' to which I will reply that when the Brits or in this case, the English do something, they like to do it well. Whether it's Royal weddings or producing the best comedy or teenage pregnancies and thieving, we leave no stone unturned in the pursuit for perfection. The first week in England seems like a bit of a bad dream, like it never happened as we watched agog at our fellow countrymen and women charging through the streets, bored out of their brains waiting for something to happen. 

Other things that I remember from our airing in the motherland are the propensity for religious or God fearing moments especially in the way some folk speak. You only need a storm on the horizon and people start to think it's Armageddon or that if it does rain heavily it will wash away all the obvious sins, or worse, that 'the Gods are angry'. I picked all this up as I went along, listening in on other people's conversations or gleaning info from my aunt, the one who says she likes to do 'her own survey' on the madness of the masses. There does seem to be a constant obsession with money, buying stuff to add to all the stuff you already have and the end of the world. For a nation that on the whole doesn't believe in much they do go on about what's right and wrong and when will there be a decent trial on all of this. Then there's the idea that the sort of everyday horrors that occur in Britain don't happen anywhere else, that the rest of the world or at least the countries people think about emigrating to are free and dancing around enjoying themselves with no crime rate and cheap booze. I was shocked at how cheap the drink is in England and amazed at the news that Torquay is the spiritual home of many a Scots man who gravitate there and nourish themselves on something called Buckfast fortified wine. It's also known as 'wreck the hoose juice' and is said to contain as much caffeine as ten cans of coca-cola. Sounds like the 'Calimocho' the youngsters like to drink here.

Other wonderful things spotted include the still growing amount of people in mobilty scooters puffing away on fags which you don't see here in Spain. Instead you just see dozens of folk in neck braces. People are still growing in the UK and I am as fascinated as the last time I saw them but trying not to stare at the souls stuck in obese bodies, struggling as they stuff their faces with pasties. I'm not surprised there are so many as I meandered through the queue at Marks and Spencer, passing sweets and chocolates of a variety I had never seen before but couldn't wait to get my chops round. Give me a month and I would be catching up with the rest of the nation. The trips to the supermarket lasted hours as I savoured all the wonderful things on offer, half of which didn't get eaten and are now rotting away in my elderly parents' fridge. Here's to the next trip to the 'immense lunatic asylum' that is my native sod.