Monday, 24 September 2012


I like to know what they are up to back in the Motherland in case I ever have to go back there on a permanent basis. It's important to be aware of what I might be dealing with so I brace myself by watching among other things, Downton Abbey which I'm told is very popular with men and women. I can see why as it speaks volumes about the psyche of the English and their class system which still exists despite their protest that it doesn't. It gives a sense of order, calm and strength in our mad world and could work as a substitute for alcohol as it is perfectly anodyne. The last offering was enlivened by Maggie Smith whilst being served dinner by a slave ' Are you really that tall?' she remarked. 'I thought you were on stilts or something'. 

I will have to start using this line every time I see a woman wearing those prostitute shoes that have sadly arrived in the village. It took a while but they are here. The ones that make you look like you have shit or shat yourself. The ones that should only be worn behind closed doors and with a straight face and a promise you certainly will not be going out dressed in them. What is it with these shoes? The shoes our ancestors wore that now give them bunions were quite cute things compared to these monsters. Do they reflect economic times perhaps? Some say we must be grateful that we have the freedom to make plonkers of ourselves and have the photos to prove it but I'm glad the bottom of my wardrobe looks like the aftermath of a stampede in hotter, sandalled climes.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012


Extraordinary things happen the world over. In the USA it sometimes involves a shoot out with many dead or a man trying to eat another man which leaves the rest of the world shaking it's head and muttering, 'only in America'. In Ireland someone will chop down a tree or stare into their breakfast and claim to have seen something resembling Mary Mother of God with everyone else moaning 'Jesus Christ almighty tonight, what next!' In the UK nowadays or at least since the death of Queen Victoria most natives can still be heard muttering from behind their newspaper 'this country has gone to the dogs!' God knows how the average Muslim ends his sentence of disbelief when his fellow men go on the rampage whenever there is a hint that the rest of the world is taking the piss. Nevertheless, I now reside in a country where folk end their conversations of astonishment with 'Spain is different'. These words are often uttered when someone points out that on the news they saw a psychopathic rabbit from Galicia attacking journalists hell bent on a photo and an interview with its owner or the never ending stream of bastards evading the law at everyone's expense or perhaps a tube driver getting the sack, not for getting a blow job from a transvestite while driving the train but the delay he caused passengers when he refused to pay the transvestite and a brawl ensued. So it is with the recent 'silly season' story of the attempted restoration by Cecilia Gimenez of a fresco in the Santuario de Misericordia near Borja here in Aragon.

The Santuario is different. It lacks the feeling of desperation at Lourdes or the dreaded scramble to see the Mona Lisa. A rare calm is felt once you enter the little church which houses the fresco. Nobody pushes or steps in your way. Everyone takes their time to be a witness to this mystery. People float in with a respect and tranquility not often felt in a country where noise is part of the culture. Some feel the need to pose and pull a predictable face but you get the sense that they are aware of their uniform behaviour. Meanwhile others contemplate the image holding it in reverence. We tried to locate Cecilia with the help of a lovely man on the door of the church who seemed the genuine type and only glad that we had come to give her our support. Away from the crowd we found a charming woman who was still in a state of shock from all the excitement, something she had never anticipated while living all her life in that remote and isolated part of Spain. She told us how she had been happily married and adored her husband and how their two sons were crippled and although life was hard she was content until now because she doesn't know what to think. She is dreading the idea that she has been denounced to the authorities and what the outcome may be. The main thing will be to try and rescue the fresco which she told us had been suffering on account of it being painted directly onto a wall which was now damp. Her consolation was the amount of support from all over the world from people who want the image to stay as it is. When we left her home a young woman bounced up the stairs and greeted her with a kiss. One of many who are behind Cecilia all the way. So many young people pay homage to the painting and there are as many that think the world of her too.

Cecilia has achieved something most artists of the 21st century will never achieve. Not fame or fortune but the ability to articulate something about the human condition. Maybe because she invested her heart into the restoration the result is hypnotic. It is easy to dismiss it as the biggest botch job and moralise how the descendants of the original artist must feel which is one of consternation. However, it is Cecilia's version that has struck a chord in the hearts and minds of many and whatever is decided, to keep it as it is or to restore it I wish her all the love and support. 

Sunday, 2 September 2012


Visiting my family in Britain has left me a bit of a wreck as it has been what is slowly becoming the annual holiday in an 'immense lunatic asylum' ( Check out Louis de Bernieres). On my last day there was a woman in the local Co-Op threatening not to pay as she was frightened her money was going to bite her. Later there was a mix-up with the post I was trying to send back to Spain and I think the stamp has been stuck on the sender's address side of the envelope as I was only charged two quid which I didn't question at the time on account of a man behind me roaring at everyone 'whatever you do, don't lost it!!' So I can expect the post to go back to where it came from which should be a laugh as my parents live in one of those places George Mikes describes in his wonderful How to be an Alien. Chapter One, How to Plan a Town. 'Make sure nobody can find the houses.......put all the streets with the same name in the same part of town'. To give an idea to what I am on about my parents live in a place that could be loosely named 2, Riverside Cottage, Seaview, but this is two doors down from another property called 2, Riverside, The Laurels, which shares its neighbours 2, Riverside House, Residential Home for the Elderly, Room 2 which is opposite Flat 2b, Riversdie, off Riverside Close. My package could be languishing in any of them.

Last night I found out Noel Gallagher charges 60 smackers to see him play. I can think of better things to do and cheaper like visit the incorrupt foot of Saint Teresa which  has winged or rather footed its way to Huesca where it will be displayed in the Convent of Barefoot Carmelites, resting presumably on route to Rome. I think the opportunity might have been missed as you could only venerate it at 6.30 during the mass which like the bus in Spain, always runs on time.

I leave you with a neat little number to get you through the day!