Wednesday, 14 March 2012


Last night I could hear hammering upstairs around eleven o'clock and can only conclude that it was Mercedes adding another nail to the cross she has to bear. Talking of crosses, it is only a matter of time before I head for the hills to escape the Pointy Hat Brigade, the KKK, AKA the Pentitents coming up the road to get me, H and any other Jews or heathens lying around. I'm interested in religion, theology and  history but lines need to be drawn when up against the Catholic Church.

I always know it's International Women's Day here in Spain as Suzanne Vega and Tracy Chapman get their yearly airing on the local radio.After last night's community meeting I would like to think that the few neighbours who could be bothered to turn up left with no doubt in their mind that this woman, meaning me, is not to be walked over or dismissed ever again. I hate these meetings and I stood my ground over several things knowing that the others are quite happy for muggings here to take the flack as no one wants anything to get in the way of their wonderful time. There was a box of paperwork from last year that needed shredding or burning and at first I didn't understand what the problem was as the reactions seemed to be a bit over zealous with the ensuing pushing and shoving away of said box by various neighbours across the table as if it were a bomb. Jesus from upstairs ( flat 1D not heaven) finally gave in and said he would take care of it. 

I've been wondering at what point did British newsreaders and politicians start to say 'our country' as in 'today in our country there has been...'. I know they didn't say this ten years ago in the UK because that was when I first came to Spain and I noticed that Spanish newsreaders and politicians would say 'hoy en nuestro pais ha sido.....'. which I thought was jingoistic or maybe patriotic. Back in the UK folk would say things like ' ....difficult times for the country'. So when it started I am not sure. Feel free to comment.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012


I have noticed that a certain type of Brit feels guilty if they feel they are enjoying themselves. Eating a nice meal or drinking expensive wine often has to be justified. There also seems to be two types after the age of fifty, the drinkers and the non drinkers. The non drinkers are often people who have had to attend AA because they have had a problem with alcohol and the rest seem to have mellowed when it comes to their drinking and drug taking and are now capable of having their wine and drinking it. I guess it doesn't matter so long as you know what you are doing.

Guilt is a funny thing and here in Spain it doesn't have anything to do with enjoying yourself with food and wine. Guilt is something dragged out when someone has done something you feel is an injustice and they look back at you and say 'y tu?' which roughly translates as 'and you? who are you? You are not perfect'. I suppose it is better to be accused of being another law breaking individual. In Britain if you knocked on someone's door and asked them if they would mind not playing the same song by Whitney Houston a hundred times a day or if they would mind not parking on your lawn with the engine running you would probably get stabbed, so here 'y tu?' is something you just have to put up with. When Spanish folk try to do the 'y tu?' number on me I often feel like telling them to forget it as I am Jewish and I don't do guilt but I know this will be met by a perplexed look and then a seething, confused anti-Semitism. Likewise, if a Brit tries it on when I have had too many Riojas I like to tell them I am a Catholic or better, that I am Spanish and I couldn't give a toss.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012


There is grafitti all over town but one that has caught my attention of late is anarquia o muerte.  I'm not sure whether it presents me with a choice or a dilemma. I'm assuming it was painted by the same hand that  scrawled banqueros a la hojuera' (sic), which roughly translates as an invitation to throw bankers onto a bonfire  ( hoguera)or burn the bankers. My favourite up to now is Dios es gay, God is gay, which sparked a debate in this household as 'that must be a good thing surely?' Who knows what goes through the minds of the rebels of Huesca. We concluded that most of the warnings written on the walls around town can be attributed to Bruno, a young man who is predestined to damnation but whose mother thinks he is 'doing ever so well' during his Sabbatical. He is 'in' with some other tough guys who remind me of two particular characters in a Jacqueline Wilson book for children, Prickle-Head and Pinch-Face. I've decided to name two of the ones in our road, Bath-House and Rent-Boy. Their 'look' is a bit too well thought out. A contrived mixture of bovver boy, punk and a hard man you might imagine works in a garage across the road.

Apart from skinheads and punks one can see many West Indian, Anglo Saxon and Black American youth sub cultures dotted around town. It's difficult explaining to pupils who think that having rastas ( dreadlocks ) being a Hippi ( which could mean anything here but generally requires shit catcher trousers and rolling your own), a Punki ( a mix of the above but maybe more facial piercings), Freaki ( difficult to explain but doesn't mean Freaks in the way it is used in English), Heavies ( liking Ramstein, a German Industrial metal band named after the air disaster, but probably never being aware of Deep Purple) and of course Hip-Hop (sung in Spanish) all have their origins somewhere else. If you are of a certain age you can guarantee a good night out with plenty of bars playing Los Rollings ( Rolling Stones) and Rubber (sic) Plant and if you are younger and keen for it you can get off your Facebook and seriously mashed up in the Monegros desert to the strains of Carl Cox and Busta Rhymes.

Every Thursday there is a special tapas promotion. You get a decent tapa and a glass of red wine or a beer for just one Euro. It doesn't take much to get the locals out and about and last Thursday saw them pack the bars in a state of frenzy not seen since Jueves Lardero, greasy or fat Thursday or what Anglos might call Pancake day which falls on Shrove Tuesday. On that day you can queue for hours for an oily sausage with the intention of giving up something for Lent. Judging by the wine glasses and other souvenirs of a good evening during the tapas night Lent seems to be only obeyed by children seen wearing a woollen ribbon round their wrist to remind them not to indulge.

Sunday, 4 March 2012


It's a strange emotion when you are able to open a bottle of champagne and send a wreath at the same time but I think that is what I will do later once I am sure Mr and Mrs C have gone and that I am not imagining their departure. If there are lessons to be learnt then number one would be that sometimes you have to appear to be a heartless bastard. H is already considering buying their flat but I've told him only if he gets the place exorcised.

Over a lovingly crafted meal in El Origen last night I had to listen to ten Spanish friends argue with H over who, politically, is to blame for the current state of Spain. I've had the same conversation several times with various friends and between the screaming and shouting every time Aznar's or Zapatero's name is mentioned it is always interesting to listen to the deathly silence and then grudging murmurs of agreement as they conclude that Germany or someone de fuera is going to be calling the shots from now on. It's great fun to sit back and enjoy whatever is on the menu and listen to folk bemoan the current situation while they drink the finest red wine and eat quality food that is locally sourced and would cost a fortuna back in the UK. I'm not sure the term chattering classes exists in Spain because everyone here has an opinion and you are going to listen to it, all of you and all at the same time. 

A couple of times we have made a joke about how we will go and see The Artist in the original version but it has been met with blank faces. We finally got to see it last night but not before we were subjected to a badly tuned radio station blaring out sounds in Sala Numero 4. Nobody seemed to mind and H and I thought we were just being uptight as usual to the unnecessary noise on full blast which I presume was being played in case someone  freaked out once the silent film started. I wasn't sure what to expect of this film but it was not so bad and if you haven't seen it don't read on because at the end I realised the actor couldn't act in the talkies on account of him being French. I wondered if this goes amiss with Spanish folk as no one here knows what a French person sounds like, and thank God the end of the film where the actors get to speak isn't dubbed in Spanish. If so, once more the Spanish are left perplexed at the punch line. 

Later we went for Chinese and made the mistake of not asking for the rice to be accompanied by the meat dishes. Rice seems to be served as a starter here and then your chicken in black bean sauce or whatever arrives twenty minutes later. The waiters keep checking to see if you have finished your rice so they can bring your meal. Later we went to the Rico Rico bar which has become our local of late as a refreshing change to Babi the Communist barman in the Rugaca and his crazy but nice clientele and their amazing way of doing my head in. The woman in Rico Rico seemed delighted with the news about Mr and Mrs C and at one point asked me why I hadn't bought a shotgun and got rid of them before.