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Monday, 9 December 2013


It's been a while since I wrote something on this blog but that's because I've been out. I could and I will write about the food, the wine, the women, the songs, the Pinteresque behaviour of my family, but I feel I have neglected the drama of some of the locals and so an update is in the offing. If you don't know the saga of Mr C and his wife next door or the prophet of doom upstairs then you'll have to backtrack a bit to the old blogs. Mr C, who brought me grief, was replaced by a sporty handball player who brought me wine, but he moved on and a waiter with a puppy moved in. Your woman upstairs left and gypsies are now renting. 

The last episode of Mr C involved him making strange moans every twenty minutes which was nothing out of the ordinary until I went to bed and it continued into the early hours. I knocked on the door and when his wife answered I could see him lying on the floor, face down in a pool of blood. I told his wife as much as I couldn't stand the bastard I wasn't going to let him lie there and was going to ring for an ambulance but she grabbed me and begged me to leave him be. Not content with driving me mad over the years she now wanted me to conspire in his demise by leaving him to bleed or freeze to death. 'They are coming tomorrow', she exclaimed and I deciphered she meant social services. Much to her chagrin I rang 112 and when they arrived they said pretty much the same, that even though he was a pain in the arse she should have called them when he first fell over and hit his head. As they lifted him off the floor he caught sight of H and muttered 'eres un payaso', 'you're a right clown'. That was the last time we saw or heard from him and he now resides in an old people's home in Angues which is too far for him to hop on a bus and haunt us once more. Meanwhile Mrs C had young men coming round in the early hours and while I didn't want to deny her a sex life, her nightly arguments with Mr C were replaced by amorous cries of delight. This went on for several nights and then Mr C's son showed up to cut off the gas and electricity. Along with the waitress from the Rico Rico and various other folk we all tried our best to help but the lack of hot water pushed Mrs C over the edge, into a taxi and back to Brazil. Six months later she appeared again with a locksmith who somehow changed the locks for her and she moved back in for about five minutes until the police came and turfed her out, handcuffed and arrested her and remonstrated with the locksmith for letting her in without proof of her living there.

I tried to get to the bottom of the story, believing all these years that Mr and Mrs C were not legally married and so therefore leaving Mrs C helpless before the law but it turns out they were married according to his son so she would have been entitled to live in the flat but somehow she was paid off and sent packing again to Brazil. However, according to Aragonese law anything bought by a partner before marriage doesn't automatically go to the spouse if the relationship ends in divorce. Apparently each province in Spain can have different laws regarding this matter and if you are a foreigner resident here there are often complicated disputes regarding wills and divorces as Spain expects the resident to comply with the law back in their place of birth even if you make a will here or get divorced here. In any case, Mrs C hasn't been seen since and no one can tell me what happened as everyone has their own version of events.

Meanwhile, yer woman upstairs, Mercedes continued to patrol the streets and community and then Anselmo her husband died. We assume she went back to her village and now the flat has been rented out to gypsies maybe as a deluded idea that we would suffer more living underneath them as opposed to the previous madness involving Mercedes and her dreaded hound Piti the Priapic Poodle. The parties next door continue and I, unable to beat them, join them.....

Tuesday, 11 June 2013


Wine is as good as life to a man, if it be drunk moderately: what life is then to a man that is without wine? For it was made to make men glad.”  -- Ecclesiastes

'Where would you be without me?' -- Him 

'Sober?' --Me

When I'm not struggling to get the wine bottle open ( due to wine elbow) or getting to know the local food and wine I like to catch up on what's going on in the world. It seems the world is getting madder at times and it doesn't surprise me that we drink. Drinking alcohol, or was it hangovers, has been described as a great restraining device on society so perhaps more rather than fewer people should try it, drinking that is. Getting to know a wine and the food that can accompany it is a civilising force and is enhanced by the company of others who get it. So long as we have alcohol society won't collapse but I can imagine a revolution if optics are ever introduced to Spain. Or if I ever have to go back to the UK and be expected to down such measurements. The idea fills me with dread and seems so pointless. A friend here remarked the other day that while he felt all the so-called binge drinking occurring throughout Europe seems to him to be a fashion of sorts, here in Spain he described it as 'tradition'. Spain is a country where most folk don't judge you if they see you drinking wine for breakfast or with lunch or at four in the morning leaving the latest tertulia.

So on that note I leave you with  an interesting link on getting to know the wines of this region.

Monday, 6 May 2013


How do I get rid of these Clicksor adverts on the top of my page??


In Spain when a crime is committed locally and ends up in the local rag the person's name is never published, instead his or her initials and age will accompany the story. The other day I read that a couple had been caught red handed or as the paper put it in flagrante delicto, graffiting if that is the right word the walls around town. What surprised me was how old they were, 31 and 33 according to one newspaper but what didn't was the awfulness of what they had painted. Here is an example. Even the policia is shocked, stunned and amazed.

One of the most difficult things when learning Spanish is distinguishing the feminine and masculine words. Masculine ones ending in o and feminine in a, but not always as in the words feminino (m) and polla (f), feminine and prick in English. This confusion is an endless source of amusement for Spanish people as they crease up and tell me that pajarito is not as I thought, a bow-tie and is another word for prick. The correct word is pajarita or maybe it is the other way round. I have forgotten already. Sometimes pronunciation creates problems. I was trying to tell a friend about a charity called Caritas not knowing the stress is on the first vowel leaving the poor man thinking I was talking about a 'little face'. It works both ways, not just for students of Spanish. There is a famous book to help students of English with their pronunciation called Ship or Sheep but maybe it needs renaming as I will never forget a Spanish friend leaving the chambermaid in the hotel he was staying in a state of shock when he asked for a shit on his bed. In class the other day the word fillings came up when students were asked if they were frightened of the dentist. They all thought I had said feelings so confusion reigned for a few minutes. One student, Pilar told the class she hated going to the dentist and insists he tell her everything he is doing, putting the mirror in her mouth, about to give her the anaesthetic etc but then she added that to make matters worse the dentist has a stutter.

So on that note I leave you with Les Dawson with a song dedicated to our dentists.

Monday, 22 April 2013


Living here sometimes feels like I am in a popular TV programme called La Que Se Avecina which roughly translates as The Looming One or The One that Approaches. It revolves around the residents of a block of flats on the outskirts of Madrid whereas here it revolves around not just the block but the entire town and all the goings on and shennanigans. You know when you have integrated when you go from bit part all the way to cameo appearance. My walk ons have been rather memorable too. The rest of the cast are presently on hunger strike in the town square, in heaven, mental institutions, the old folk's homes, rummaging through bins, complaining on the street corner or buttonholing me every time I leave the house. 

The pedestrianisation is coming on strong and the easing in of the idea seems to be working. I think the council have decided to do it while most people are having lunch or sleeping. Like the blossom on the trees it just seems to have appeared overnight with more and more parts of the town exclusively for pedestrians. There are still lots of people who are not happy about this and lament the fact they can't drive in the centre of town anymore and believe to pedestrianise the main high street will be the death knell for the shops. Walking around the town I can't help noticing that a lot of the shops that have closed down are opening up again albeit with new owners. 

This morning I heard the man next door screaming at his daughter and at one point he kept screaming 'Mimosa' which means the same as it does in English, the name of the flower but also translates as spoilt brat.      
On the subject of language I realise I have been calling my handbag bolsa for the last decade when it should be bolso. Bolsa is usually used for plastic carrier bags and, as H reminds me, the Stock Exchange. 

Lastly, tomorrow we celebrate Saint George, San Jorge. Like the Brits and the ubiquitos tea urn or free sandwiches, we can guarantee some sort of roll and egg thrown in. Here's a link, in Spanish, for anyone interested.

Monday, 4 February 2013


In Spain where you see political corruption, selfishness, all types of fraud plus scheming acts of palm greasing on a daily basis you get so unperturbed and conditioned that it often comes as a shock when you come up against someone here who decides he wants to be a jobsworth,  If you've lived here long enough you find yourself telling him 'come on chum, play the game, look at all the other people triple parked'. You feel there is something unsportsmanlike in his act of doing the right thing. It takes a while to get to this stage but get there in the end you will or you just do as my neighbour said and 'bugger off to Germany'. Sometimes these small displays of seriousness and professionalism present themselves in a minor way like the last person on the last bus who decides he or she needs to sit on the seat allocated to him or her and makes a very tired student get up and move or the bank clerk who decides he is going to do his job correctly unlike his flexible colleagues who have never minded telling you how much is in the phone bill account you have just put money into even though it is in your husband's name as they know you would do the same for them one day. Getting through the day often requires some sort of enchufe, blarney or back scratching and so it comes as quite a shock when someone decides they don't want to play ball and they want to do things correctly for a change. It's a similar sensation to crashing into what you thought was an open patio door. So I can't imagine what it is like for the ruling classes here now that they are hopefully going to be taken to task or perhaps shot by someone who wants to do the job properly, namely a pissed off public with nothing to lose. One thing is parking your car on the skew whiff in front of someone's garage when they want to leave, which usually gets solved by them either leaning on the horn for ten minutes or driving their car into yours as hard as they can to send it on its way, but all this is small scale mercenary behaviour compared to the politicians, judges, big shots and petty tyrants who've lorded it for too long.

Queue jumping is another bad habit I have mastered in my efforts to integrate and since the alternative is being reduced to jelly far better for my health in the long run. Parking on zebras, running people over on the zebras and blaming it on the sun or lambasting them for not wearing a crash helmet while crossing the road I have yet to succumb to, but you can just imagine them, the politicos that is, all scrambling around with the bureaucracy flying everywhere crying 'why did we even think of putting this on paper?', forgetting that is what keeps the country in employment and an obsession that dates back centuries. Well I guess they can all go and fuck themselves, the politicians that is. God knows what is going to happen, nobody seems to be able to say. Yesterday, over coffee at a neighbour's house I said that the corruption was nothing new here and reminded her of Jesus Gil y Gil and she astounded me when she said in so many words that 'yes, but he also helped people, he was bad in one way but he also did lots of good things so the people liked him'. You could say to me, 'but this person must be stupid' but she isn't, far from it, surreal maybe but not an idiot. Where does this leave those of us who took years to integrate and join in the law breaking albeit minor rather than face a lifetime of having nervous breakdowns losing it like Basil Fawlty every time you try to get something done in a normal fashion? I want to believe that the current recession is the necessary cattle prod for some collective soul searching on all levels, the catalyst to help wipe the slate clean but no one seems to know what the next step is and I worry the inevitable apathy will creep back in once things get a bit better. Meanwhile it seems to be choosing to sit back and watch the feathers fly or join in the insurrection.