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Problems in the community

One of my students arrived in the classroom long before the others. He lives in a small development with about 20 houses. He is the only Spanish family, all the other houses are owned by Britons. I'm sure this is excellent for his English.

Most housing within Spain belongs to some sort of community of owners. Our house in Culebrón doesn't but that's because it is completely self contained. We share facilities with nobody. The same isn't true of our flat in Cartagena because here we share the front door, hallways, stairwells, the lift, the façade of the building, cleaning costs etc. etc.

My student is having some trouble getting his British neighbours to share their burden of the community costs for maintaining things like the street lighting and the gardens. He wanted to know if we don't have to pay for water or electricity in the UK as none of his neighbours wants to!

Nobody turned up for a while to the class so we covered lots of ground - water rates versus water meters standing charges, the Local Authority Community Charge etc. We also talked about the British mistrust of bills without proof, problems of shifting Pounds into Euros and our grudgingness to pay equal shares when we don't consider that we got a fair share. My main point though was that he should understand how lost we Brits can be with systems that we didn't grow up with and that we don't quite understand particularly when the information is presented in impenetrable Spanish.

Meanwhile, back in our underground garage we have a cat. It's been there for days. I've tried to shoo it out, to entice it out and to give it the means to leave of its own free will. I can't get the little bugger out though. I'm now concerned that it will die. So, today, as I left the building I took it a few cat biscuits and some water.

When I came home four hours later there was a notice on the garage door. It had lots of capitals, whole sentences in bold text, a very official looking red stamp on it and everything. It was signed by the Presidente of our building. Basically it said DON'T FEED THE CAT.

Funny ways we have, us Brits.


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