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Showing posts from June, 2010

Out of town for the summer

We're off to the hill station. Too damned hot in the city over the summer don't you know.

Maggie finishes school today, the term is over. The children have been on holiday for the past week but the staff holidays don't start till July 1. They end on August 31.

So, for two months it's goodbye to coffee at Bar Fran just a hundred metres from home, goodbye to intercambios with Lourdes, Carlos and Miguel, goodbye to popping out on foot to Mercadona for the food, to the kiosk for a newspaper or to tobacconists and banks within a stones throw. Goodbye to public transport, Corte Inglés, well shops in general really, and to museums, exhibitions and the cinema. Goodbye to water pressure and an unfailing power supply as well.

On the other hand it's hello to a bit of peace and quiet, hello to plenty of space, to home comforts and a decent sofa. Hello to lots of our compatriots too and I suppose there are a few shops and bars in Pinoso only a ten minute drive away.

So, for two…

Eshtop im!

I'd been to one of my language exchanges just before the match with Portugal. I wasn't able to get home in time so it had to be a bar. Fortunately it was a bar with a copious supply of cheap brandy.

It  looked like a scrappy first half to me, but what do I know about football? The second half seemed much better. In those last ten minutes, the ones where one goal doesn't seem like anywhere near enough of a cushion, we were one up. The bar was on tenterhooks. Every time the Portuguese had posession the tension mounted. Stop him, stop him! I mouthed into my brandy. Maybe I was louder than I thought. I noticed the Spanish man sitting at the table to my left staring at me.

The Portuguese pushed forward again. ¡Eshtop im!, ¡eshtop im! shouted my neighbour.

And they did.

More fun on the number nine

Riding the Nº9 is often a diverting experience.

Today an older chap and I were waiting at the stop together. When the bus came he told me to get on first. As he boarded the bus the driver told him something that I didn't catch. She'd said nothing to me. Anyway, half way around the route the bus parked up at a stop and the driver and a friend of hers who seemed to be on the bus for an extended chat got out to have a fag. From the conversation between them and the two other passengers I realised we were waiting for someone in a wheelchair. There must have been a phone booking.

The man in the chair turned up, he paid his 35c fare and his carer said they were going to a place way off the normal route. The driver checked where the rest of us were going. We went to the stop for the bloke in the chair first. I asked if I should get off, "Of course not, I'll get you there," she said, and that's exactly what she did.

Buses that carry wheelchairs are obviously dead sta…

Whizzbangs

It's San Juan tonight, the celebration of Midsummers Day. In Alicante and, apparently, round these here parts too the way to celebrate is to light bonfires and set off fireworks. In Spain fireworks aren't usually Catherine wheels, volcanoes and traffic lights - they're things that go bang (petardos) and things that go high and then bang (cohetes.)

We've just been to the flicks and walking home the streets are exploding. In every garden, park and bit of waste ground there are youngsters, sometimes supervised by their parents, setting off bangers. On the bigger bits of waste ground there are bonfires. The disregard for safety is either refreshing or outright stupidity depending on your point of view.

It all got a bit busier around midnight and the participants became older teens and young adults. As I sit here typing, there are lots of explosions coming from every direction but most noticeably from the waste ground where I habitually park my car. The motor is now in a m…

Football (again)

It's rather good having "dual nationality." All the Spanish World Cup games are on the terrestrial channels so we were able to watch Spain win, but fail to demolish Honduras as they should have, in the comfort of our own living room. The bulk of the live games though are only available on the equivalent of Sky Sports. Today, to see England play football  for the first time this competition, we had to go to the local boozer where they have subscription TV.

Unfortunately it wasn't so straightforward. We went to the bar I use a lot. They have stickers all over the place to say that they have the subscription channels but it was a lie. Drinks in hand at 4pm some soppy B movie came on - the bar owner apologised profusely, they didn't have the right package. We drank up and went to the next nearest bar where England were in full flow. We weren't exactly welcomed and there was a moment of doubt when a regular customer wanted to see the USA/Algeria game which was on …

Tittering along

Last night we went to the Mandarache shopping centre where they have been advertising turns on Thursday and Friday evenings for the past couple of weeks. Nice to see the place a bit livelier than usual. There were tables all over the square where a slightly confused waiter provided us with cheap brandy in tumblerfuls and weak but expensive mojitos.

The act was a woman comedian. She did one of those things that comedians do, she talked about commonplace things and events but pointed out their ridiculous aspects. I understood maybe 20% of the gags. I was pleased with myself; 20% isn't bad as a language score given the circumstances but what pleased me more was that I recognised the situations she was ridiculing, the adverts on the telly and the people she described. Spanish culture slowly but surely seeping in through the pores.

It's goals wot counts

So we saw England muddle to a draw and Spain lose despite controlling all of the game except the bit that mattered. No shouting in the streets here, just mumbling as they left the bar.

Corialanus, Hero Without a Country

You presumably know the film. All star cast headed up by Gordon Scott, made in 1964 I think.

Last night, at the local archaeological museum there was a free screening of this quite remarkable Italian film dubbed into Spanish. It was free so we were there. In fact we were the only people there when the film began at its advertised start time of 9.45pm though there may have been as many as thirty in the audience as we sneaked away after thirty minutes of wobbling scenery, hackneyed script and wooden acting.

Good idea though with a museum based on a Roman necropolis screening a film with a Roman plot. Maybe they'll have something a bit better next time.

Horse muck and frilly frocks

Today was a local holiday in the region so we chose to pass some of our day watching a procession of horses and carriages in La Aljorra.

I generally try to keep clear of the fore and aft of horses. One end has a tendency to smash jaws. The other, I'm sure, like camels, goes for the occasional disembowelling. As I mingled with the crowd taking snaps I was very aware of being too close to the dangerous parts of horses. There were horses everywhere, more than you could shake a stick at, of every shape, size and colour.

Yet again I found myself wondering why there was so much Andalucian influence in a Murcian event. Flat hats, fancy hair styles, flouncy frocks and high grey striped trousers in every direction. Maggie tells me that it's because there was a lot of immigration of Andalucians into Murcia. I reckon it's because the Murcianos like to dress up and Andaluces do it with a certain panache.

Funny humps and knee pads

On the way home we passed a sign that read race circuit so we went to take a peep. Maggie says she has told me about it before. Amnesia, I've always suffered from a touch of amnesia - often mingled with a banging headache.

There were just a few bikes practising. We both noticed that there was not a single poster advertising any forthcoming events at the circuit. Can you imagine that being the case at Donnington or even Snetterton?

The Fortieth of May

Today, June 9th, is the Fortieth of May. For Spaniards it's like St Swithins. The weather today is supposed to signpost the weather for the summer. It was sunny spells and warm here but the TV news was full of torrential rain and low temperatures all over the country. My pal, Mr Crawford is touring Northern Spain at the moment. He said, using slightly more expressive language, that it was raining heavily where he was, in Lugo.

Tools downed

We have a strike in Spain today aimed at civil servants and local government employees to complain about planned salary cuts and freezing of posts. To be honest it doesn't seem to have had much effect. Maggie hasn't come home from school, the arts centre was open, the buses are running and there were the usual crowds of Ecuadorians and Morrocans outside the Town Hall. Reading the press it seems to be pretty solid in some parts though with the Unions claiming 75% on strike and the Government 11%.

The sign says "closed because of strike"

Back on the phone contract

The last post mentioned trying to change the details of the phone contract on the website. I tried several times. Someone who moderated a project I did at College about homelessness described my work as tenacious; a word I've used ever since to describe myself. Maggie, sticking with Hemingway in the "there's always a better and shorter word" sense tends to the word stubborn when describing me.

Anyway the website said no and continued to say no. It worked in that infuriating way where you complete the whole form then press the button to save changes at which point it dumps the lot and makes you start all over again. By the end I'd learned how the Movistar database deals with our, rather vague, up a track with no street name and two possible post codes, address. I went back to the shop to get them to change the address on their reseller's database which I can't access.

I spent 20 minutes explaining our address over and over to the young woman in the shop w…

Trinity is still my name!

That printer doesn't work, and the other one's broken. Rather a subtle difference to my mind but that's why I signed, on some sort of digital pad, the contract for my phone without seeing it. My father would have been cross with me.

The phone shop sent me the contract by email and I read it yesterday for the first time. No problem with the details of the contract but, despite having official documents to copy from, despite careful explanations on my part, despite writing out the name of the village, the town, the postcode etc. the shop assistant recorded on the contract that I live in Alicante city, on a street called Culebrón and my postcode reflects that address.

I have tried to change the details on the Movistar website but, characteristically, it reported an error over and over again. Spanish websites often don't work.

They made a big fuss last year about everyone registering their mobile phones. It's an anti-terrorist measure they said, not an infringement of …

Buying a phone

I washed my mobile phone, inside my jeans pocket. Afterwards it was cleaner but it didn't work.

I've been with a telephone company called Movistar for years, from a time before we lived here, on a pay as you go card. Movistar have never done anything bad to me but I liked the look of a company called Yoigo. So I went to the Yoigo shop.

I was told that the phone I fancied would be 179€ rather than the advertised 49€. The price was the same if I wanted to keep my number or get a new one. The 49€ only applied if I wanted to move from a contract (rather than prepay) with another supplier to them.

I decided at first that 179€ was too much so I abandoned the idea but overnight I changed my mind and went back. This time I was told I would have to wait a couple of weeks for the number to be transferred and they wanted to charge 10€ more for paying with a credit card. I said that I would leave it.

I went to the nearest Movistar shop and got the phone I wanted and I kept my old number a…