Wednesday, 31 October 2012


Is it the X-factor? Strictly? The Jimmy Savile Roadshow? The Jimmy Saville Row Show? No it's none other than the relic of Don Bosco in a supine position. It appears to be his body but is only his right arm accompanied by a look-a-like of his entire body. The relic is doing the rounds via 134 countries before it settles in his birthplace, Italy. He will be received at the top of my road with some folkloric act and then after the mass he will be paraded around town till he stops at Maria Auxiliadora. Don't ever doubt that this is a Catholic country. Despite the Halloween celebrations at the school this morning many of the children told me they would be going to see Don Bosco. Who he? you may well ask. He was a Catholic priest who set up a school for boys in Turin based on three pillars, reason, religion and loving kindness.

Today I had one of those moments when you know you have integrated. I went to buy a lotto ticket and got into a bit of a debate with the man who sells them. He asked me if I wanted to buy the 'hokair' ticket and although I guessed he was saying the Spanish version of the English word Joker I found myself chatting away about the hokair without agonizing and distressing myself.

Apparently, when it comes to starting a business, Spain is one of the most difficult places in the world, ranking 136th out of 185. Somewhere behind Afghanistan....apparently. I could have told the World Bank this several years ago but they would never have listened.

I think my eyesight is going. This morning I thought I saw my neighbour propping up the bar wearing a checked shirt he often wears but on closer inspection I realised it was a jamon with a tea cloth draped over it.

Tomorrow is Todos los Santos and I made a point of buying flowers not only for the dead but for me and the rest of the living.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012


When I was growing up people used to call the police in London the filth or pigs or Babylon or maybe the fuzz or rozzers or even 'evening Cunstable'. Nowadays if I wanted to start a riot here in Spain all I would need need to do is walk up to a policeman and tell him his mum is a prostitute. Nothing riles a copper here more than those words hijo de puta. Tell him his horse is gay or he is an imbecile and he might agree with you but saying his mum is a whore will definitely get the feathers flying. At most riots you will hear those three words shouted and see coppers losing it and beating the nearest person they can get hold of. A good friend shouted from her balcony at two policemen to stop giving her brother a parking fine and they completely ignored her. When she screamed the equivalent of 'your mum is a slag' they went mental and she was arrested and ended up in court. She was fined but told the judge it was worth it just to call the police those dreaded words and at fifty euros she wouldn't mind doing it again. En fin.....  judging from the following video I remember why I never, ever spend summer in my barrio. The Aragonese are famed for being strong willed and here the police, plebs, party goers and rogues give as good as they get.