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If only I were more like Margaret

Although Maggie must disagree I don't think of myself as being particularly stupid, or thick or even slow to catch on. Nonetheless I often find Spaniards treat me that way. It's a function of the language of course - if you can't speak properly you're obviously an idiot.

One of my pals, who has a sister living in Germany, says that when Germans patronise her because of her abilities with German she speaks to them crisply and confidently in English just to put them right. I don't; I just crumple.

I fancy going to Madrid and I had a look on the railway website to check out the ticket prices. I came across an offer on a limited number of trains with a limited number of start and finish points and a limited choice of hotels. The price though was excellent and there were trains from Alicante to Madrid that would suit me fine.

The offer is through an established train travel company but these particular mini breaks are being subsidised by Central Government to give a hand to the beleaguered travel industry. Consequently the breaks have to be booked at a travel agent rather than on line. So I went to a travel agent.

It all became quite confused. The woman at the agent heard what I said OK and she understood what I said but she didn't know the product so she presumed I had it all wrong.

No, you'll need to choose a hotel before I can give you a price
No, the hotel comes as part of the deal.
Not at these prices it doesn't.

Eventually she got through to the people who are actually handling the breaks. They couldn't help much because their computer system was down (do they still say that in the UK?) but they did put my woman right on the product.

It's infuriating and it helps to maintain my confidence in my own abilities at rock bottom. What I need is one of those Margaret Rutherford courses, I can't imagine her not getting what she wanted or feeling the least uncomfortable when dealing with Johnny Foreigner. Can you?

P.S. Just after writing this I thought I'd have a look at the tour company's website just to check that the break wasn't bookable on-line. The site wouldn't open properly. It turns out it will only work with Internet Explorer. Ho-hum.

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