Wednesday, 23 September 2009


Today I found a new walk. It's further than my usual and on it I met no one except a river, a dead frog, a red kite, the Milano Real version, a rock left over from the ice age I presume, some magpies, a centipide, snails, slugs and the general 'season of mists and fruitfulness'. It has been one of those fruitful days where you feel you've done everything. Walked, spent time with a good, kind friend, drank coffee, had a row, walked, stood alone and never felt more invincible as you stared at a castle, went back, cooked, cleaned, ate and drank well, took in some culture and education of your own making, did a weird promotional job while standing in the sun, answered the telephone to a friend not seen for a while, taught, learnt, visited someone new, got some more work that should be agreeable, enjoyed your mosquito bites, arranged to meet for more coffee with another old friend, listened, wept, thought, didn't think, wrote, answered, blew yourself away, helped out on a quiz night in another land, got a twinge of Stendhal Syndrome while staring at a photo, and still I haven't gone to bed.

Nunilo has had to wait as I wasn't able to get to the Instituto de Estudios Altoragoneses until today. Nunilo is that. Not Nunila, although the computer at the Institute only recognised Nunila the feminine. If you are lost at this point let me explain that Nunilo was originally a man I met in a bar dressed as a drunken ass. It was carnival and he was wearing a mask of a donkey and he had to keep removing it to have a swig of his beer. He was so nice to me everytime I met him and was always delighted to see me and thought being a teacher was an honourable thing to do. He would hand out strange calendars every year that he had made and they always bore his name and references to The Communist Party amongst other things. Nunilo wasn't his real name but that's what I called him. It wouldn't be difficult to find out as he was well known in these parts. He was famous for being one of the first people from the town to visit The Soviet Union which he did with great aplomb. He got kicked out of The Bolshoi Ballet for shouting hello in true Aragonese style at a fellow villager he had spotted during the show. As he was dragged away kicking and screaming by the security services he was heard crying 'Soy Communista tambien', 'I'm a Communist too'. He later buried a photo of Begonia, a girl he loved, in the snow in Siberia. Henderson in his usual callous way said that in years to come anthropologists will find the photo and remark, 'you see, Neanderthals did have cameras'.

Well, poor Nunilo died a few years ago in a car crash on a notorious part of the road here. Mariano, a good pal of Henderson's wept buckets at his funeral and many others cried 'no!' when they found out the solemn news. I didn't know until later that Nunilo was a twin who was martyred with her sister in appalling circumstances many centuries ago here in this province. There is a well in the old quarter that has an inscription dedicated to the sisters but I didn't know their story very well until recently. The women at the institute were so friendly and helpful this morning when I turned up on my quest to find out more about these two girls.

From what I understand so far it is more than a myth or legend to get us to hate muslims and that there is, if you investigate further, some anecdotal evidence that the two sisters were born to a Muslim father and a Christian mother and when their father died they took the Christian faith but under Sharia Law this was not permitted. This was during the 9th century when Spain was a Muslim country and to disobey the rules and regulations was a brave or stupid thing to do.
It seems the sisters were decapitated and their remains scattered far and wide ending up in Navarra but also bits came back to Huesca and Adahuesca where they were born. Their Saints' day is the 22 of October which will be an interesting day. Santa Agueda or Agatha whose breasts were cut off is celebrated here with puddings and bread in the shape of her breasts so I wonder what bits we will be served this autumn.

Perhaps I shouldn't get started on religious relics, so I am going to happily retire now with all the literature the Institute kindly lent me and report back later.

Saturday, 19 September 2009


Sometimes I find myself telling the kids 'there's no need to shout, I'm not deaf'. Then when I am asking them not to touch something or other I find myself shouting 'are you?' Nobody listens, everybody shouts, even those who can't speak. I was walking along to the dentist's when a man ahead was gesticulating wildly and I soon gathered he was mute and needed me to press the doorbells of a block of flats to let him in as he was keenly delivering leaflets advertising the local paper The Altoaragon. I did the old 'yeh, yeh no problem' bit when he thrust a piece of paper in my face that said 'soy sordo', 'I'm deaf' or 'I'm deaf and dumb' so to speak, boom boom. It was for an instant that I felt compelled to say this to the many people asking 'who the devil is it' after I had rung all the bells needed to get someone up from their siesta and open the door for the poor man. 'Hola, I'm dumb, I can't speak right now, can you open the door please?' Later Henderson told me that the man was the same fellow who rang our bell at three in the morning to let him in to deliver those damn leaflets and Henderson just told him to clear off leaving the poor man to swear as best he could finally giving the finger at Henderson's disgruntled face. I get the feeling the story doesn't end there.

As everything falls on deaf ears I attempted to thwart the advances of the above dentist by asing her if it was really necessary to remove what is left of a tooth I once had. She listened and said that it would be OK but eventually the tooth would start to annoy me and probably would need a yank but for now it would be fine. So I walked away fifty quid better off and a spring in my step. I have decided to keep the money and spend it on my next filling next month. Toothless old hag seems to be the future but one day I will be dead and as Kingsly Amis said 'almost nothing is worth giving up for the sake of a few more years in a nursing home in Bournemouth' and for me that also means teeth. I'm thinking of leaving my body to science like Jane Asher's brain with a list of things I tried to tell them were wrong while I was alive.

The big fat Gypsy is definitely and defiantly back and so is his chair. I wonder if it bears any relation to the old mattress I saw dumped on the side of the road today. When I worked in The Coach and Horses all those years ago, Norman, the landlord, had it in for the sex shop and it's workers next door and when they finally had to close down they left a dirty old mattress leaning up against the door of the pub as a fit of pique I suppose. I can't look at a mattress abandoned anywhere without remembering that sordid day.

Talking of pique, I tried to find out what the Spanish press had made of the recent scandal involving the Formula One driver of a similar name. You can rest assured that no mention of Jews has been found so far unlike some of the articles on the world recession.

Lastly, tomorrow I shall attempt many things. One being my second go at making mincemeat as opposed to making mincemeat out of someone, and the other one is to write about Nunilo and his friends.

Monday, 14 September 2009


The deep depression has lifted and that's just the weather. Listening to the shipping forecast reflects how I feel at times but onwards and upwards. I see our mayor is being asked to explain himself by all the other parties for not coming clean on why so much dope was found in one of the council's warehouses. I saw him on the tele the other night and he looked stoned to the bone so maybe that's why he's keeping schtum.

Along with finding out that Zaragoza has the highest cinema attendance in the whole of Spain I learnt that a new complex has opened there and contains a cinema which will show films in their original version. Hurrah. Not too keen on seeing a Vietnamese film with Spanish subtitles but it's a start. There are sixteen screens and there are 'sesiones golfas', horarios madrugadas if you don't understand and late night movies if you don't understand that. The Scala in King's Cross circa 1986 is still a bit hazy but among the many things I like to do is go to the cinema in the wee small hours of. Along with the bowling alley up in Jaca and the kebab joints springing up around town I will be most contento. A Lidl and an internet connection too. Wonders will never cease. Maybe one day I will find bagels nestling along the varieties of bread that seem to be creeping in.

Not much else is happening apart from the usual. A book on all things underground in London is keeping me awake at night and I've still to get through all the Iain Sinclair books I have been regaled with.

Thursday, 3 September 2009


Thanks to the above I have just made everyone a cup of tea. Or at least I wish I could if you were all here. Like 40 per cent of the rest of Aragon I am suffering from post holiday blues. I misread the article in the local papaer and thought the depression was Aragonese depression but I guess it stretches all over the place and not just here. There is a light at the end of. I got a call and am wanted in the local library to read to the kids so that gives me a boost. I just need to win the lottery or write a film script that would sell well and then I can ship in the folks and friends who are missed.

One thing I did like was the storm the other night. I hung onto the balcony in order to get closer to it and relished all the elements involved. Henderson got hit on the hand by a hailstone. I thought he'd been struck by lightning the way he cried out. My favourite tree took a lashing and most of it was last seen floating down the river that was once our street.

Not much is happening apart from the visual stuff which happens to be an obese gypsy who lives a few doors down and has taken up position on an old chair that he leaves in the street that leaves him looking like a sultan. His entourage seems to grow by the day and will need a sofa soon. The plan to pedestrianise this road has arrived sooner as he takes up most of the space. Long may he reign.

Things have been quiet on the neighbour front and I wonder how Piti is getting on with his 'operation' that he is supposed to be having, hopefully before he heads back here from Teruel in October.

Lastly, the fear and loathing that is the swine flu and all it entails is creeping in here. There does seem to be a big campaign to get the kids to wash their hands and no plans to close schools or vaccinate teachers. It all seems like common sense as opposed to the scaremongering I saw in the British press a while back. However, I did read in the local press that a man, a nurse at the hospital had a severe bout of it and was hospitalised only to find himself alone in a room and only his mum to change the bed linen. He claims the other staff just slid his tray of food through the door before running off. My hayfever has kicked in five months late and everytime I sneeze I get paranoid looks. Or maybe it's me.