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Monday, 30 July 2012


Here's one I did earlier..............

On his travels through the Netherlands over fifty years ago my father remembers seeing hundreds of people on bicycles spilling out of the Phillips factory in Eindhoven. If you go there today I am sure it is no different with statuesque women bearing down on you screaming 'get out of the way' in English. Today in Spain you rarely see anyone on a bike if you don't include the Quebrantahuesos cycle race through the mountains and the kid that told me to 'largate!!' when I wandered into one of the many cycle lanes here. Said lanes were put in place a couple of years ago and can be seen mainly on the outskirts of town coming to a stop as you get closer to the centre. They are also in areas were you will never see a car and can cycle pretty much where you please. The newish motorway has a similarity to the bike lanes too. It is a wonderful motorway cutting down on your journey time and with lots of space for everyone to take over at speed and then it suddenly stops and you are forced onto the old road where most of the accidents happen. As a passenger I looked back and saw the end of the motorway and it was quite remarkable how it's just hanging there, unfinished, waiting for more money to be completed or perhaps planning permission. People tell me it's because after Llerida the land is owned by an Aragonese who is too stubborn to sell but who knows.

On my travels through Nigeria around twenty years ago I remember looking for a phone and coming across some new British Telecom phone booths that were empty inside. I asked the locals what was going on with the phones and they all laughed and said it was probably another scam by the then government to fleece the corporation of money and I didn't doubt them. Later I was told the electricity had been switched off by the power company NEPA ( Never Expect power At All/Again/Always) who had then gone around asking folk for money to put it back on again. The Spanish often make the Nigerians look like amateurs when it comes to fraud and scams, with airports up and down the country including Huesca, with no planes and no one coming or going but people still working in them. The ongoing domestic drama continues with a certain woman called Fabra who told the unemployed and/or the Socialists to go and fuck themselves. When you look at her father, Mr Fabra you get the idea who you are dealing with. 'Impresentables'  was how one of the locals here called them both. Fabra, is the type who says things like 'if everyone thinks I am a warlord then so be it, I don't care what anyone thinks'. You can't take these people anywhere, they will always show you up. The dad has a statue of himself at the gateway to one of the closed airports in Castellon. A statue of a plane stuck on its head. Gaddafi would be pleased.

I have found myself at marches lately but I do wonder why I am there considering I can't vote for any of the politicos who have disgraced or are disgracing themselves. It leaves me feeling like an innocent bystander caught up in the melee. It's lamentable that I feel a lot of my kvetching over the years was dismissed due to various reasons the main one my not being from around here.

So with a slow hand clap here is an advert that is enough to drive one to drink. If we all drink alcohol free beer, take our grub home in a doggie bag and cycle everywhere because 'hey! Gasol is doing it!' we might live in a better world.

Sunday, 15 July 2012


'What possessed you to write the above words?' you might ponder if you had found them on my desk. Well I asked myself the same question and then remembered why you must always take a pen with you on leaving the house. Paper can be found anywhere, usually napkins, beer mats or backs of hands but a pen is essential if only to avoid annoying other folk at four in the morning who really don't want to know why you need to write down that hysterical or important thing your beloved has just said. You might end up with Blue Sky Peach scrawled up your arm and not know what it means ( I'm told it's a track on an Allman Brothers record) but it will at least be a souvenir of a good evening. If you do find yourself bereft of a pen you can do what I always do and remember things by giving them one word like a tag that will hopefully remind you of the nonsense of the previous night the next day. However, you must write these words down as soon as you get in otherwise you probably won't recall even those words especially when alcohol has been involved. So it was when I woke up this morning to find the above words carved into the first piece of paper I had found.

Fine, you're able to remember what it was you were worried you'd forget but realise you have complicated it all by writing under each word other words that spell out in this case, 'selling shit behind Steve's back'. How does this tie up? Then it all eerily comes back that you told H that unlike most people here you had no fear of the Chinese and their economy and was reminded of this every time  you threw anything broken and with the words Made in China written on it into the bin you also foolishly bought from them. The one  that had the bottom fall out of it which now stands as just a frame of a bin with a plastic bag inside. A kind of plastic bag accessory or perhaps a metaphor for the bottomless pit of Chinese shit the world seems to be subjected to. I added that I wasn't enamored by their selling techniques either which if my local Chinese shop owner is anything to go by involves snorting phlegm down the back of his throat while he tells you he has everything except the plastic sun visor you want for your children's school play. I mentioned to H the chairman of Mercadona Juan Roig felt the Chinese have a work ethic that the Spanish don't have, one that involves effort. This riled and offended many hard working Spaniards and people looking for work. Roig thinks the Spanish should imitate the Chinese and that the Spanish no longer pick oranges, with many having the same attitude to graft as those back in the UK who don't want to work alongside Poles picking cabbages but complain all the foreigners are taking the jobs. My conclusion is the Chinese are better and quicker at turning out shittier shit shite than the Spanish but until they, the Chinese that is, can get a million people to turn up at one of their fiestas ( San Fermin, Pamplona, 2012) they won't have that edge and attraction the Spanish have. Spain may have to come up with other concepts and adapt but if they sell anything it is by showing the rest of the world how to enjoy life.

And Jobs? This was Henderson telling me he would love an I-Pad but worries that he might end up divorced, giving up his job and food ( 'just give me water') while he spends the rest of his life messing around on the thing. He said he imagined Steve Jobs designing it and when he had run out of ideas he decided to facilitate other people's ideas in the form of apps keeping all of us busy and then every six months launch the next generation with a zillion more things we never asked for or needed, in effect saying, 'here you go, you got that one, well here's another one!', 'spend the rest of your life sorting that one out!'

What about the hands you wonder? H often asks me at what point do grown men, particularly Spanish men start putting their hands behind their backs when standing. He has hit that low point and I must admit I  found myself doing it too at a recent presentation of awards we both had to attend. He said he tried to put his hands in his pockets but this being Spain and hot he felt uncomfortable and clammy around the old feelers. He tried to fold his arms, no good, and then in front, not good at all he reckons, especially for a man as the hands reach cock and ball level. The worst for him was when he let them hang at his sides ( not his cock and balls I might add) and so it was that his hands found themselves behind his back. Solucionado! Can't see them, out of the way, they've gone now! Ole! Problem solved! Let's move on....