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Showing posts from April, 2013

Put into mothballs

I learn a lot about the country I live in by prying into the private lives of my students. Sometime last Autumn I asked the inevitable Monday lesson question about what a student had done at the weekend. The young woman in question had spent some time putting away her summer clothes and bringing out her winter clothes. I was impressed. Such order.

Come Spring I asked the same student if she had liberated her summer clothes from their Winter storage yet. A couple of weeks still to go she said.

I was relaying the story of this, to me, remarkable behaviour to another group of students as a prelude to a similar question to them. I didn't get very far. They all thought it was perfectly normal behaviour. They did it too.

Today on Ondacero radio there was a mention of one of their more well known presenters, Carlos Herrera, talking about this very phenomenon on his show last week. Obviously this is a nationwide event in Spain. I'm pretty sure that we Brits don't do go through th…

la Peña

We keep doing flamenco. Most Spanish people are a bit surprised when we mention it. They ask, in a sort of unbelieving way, "You like flamenco?" Flamenco certainly has a strong following amongst the Spanish but I don't think it's exactly popular.

It's not the most accessible music. Suddenly the audience will mouth alé and there will be a ripple of approval but I never quite know why. The words are completely unintelligible to me, well I catch occasional phrases now and then but basically nothing. I don't find myself humming any of the tunes when the concerts over and often, to tell the truth, I've been shuffling in my chair for a while before it's all over. But I keep going back for more.

I told my mum I was going to some flamenco and she said that, to her, it was all just noisy stamping. Certainly people dance flamenco and I have more than one English language student who dances. But my idea of flamenco is not a dress swirling, finger clicking, heel…

The real life is in the villages

We've been busy this weekend. Flamenco, old pals and lots of eating. Last night we went for an Indian with a couple that we met in the UK some years ago. She's Spanish, he's from the UK. We went relatively early and got to the restaurant about 9.30. It was odd, a big pink industrial unit on a small industrial estate in not the most exciting part of the region. The pink building had an elephant motif. There were lots of cars parked outside.

Inside it was humming. Nearly all the tables full. Waiters rusing here and there. The odd word of Engliish floated through the ether. Most of the diners were, like us, slightly pink from the recent sunny days and British. The Spanish member of our group took on minor celebrity status amongst the waiters which lasted the whole evening.

We had to wait a few minutes for a table. We got our drinks. We read the menus. We ordered. As we crunched through the papadums people were leaving. As the waiter handed out the various rices and main meal…


I didn't think it was a difficult question. What do you have for breakfast? It's one of those traditional little questions for English language learners.

Now Maggie often guffaws at those adverts on the telly for beauty products. You know the ones, 83% of all women think that our wonder cream reduced their wrinkles in just seven days. She is sniggering at the low sample given in small print at the bottom of the screen - from a sample of 86 women.

My sample is even lower but earlier this week in a conversation class I asked a group of beginners what they had for breakfast. It isn't the first time I've asked the question and so I wasn't surprised that people drank milk, ate biscuits or considered that pouring Nesquik type flavoured milk on their cereals constituted both food and drink. The next day I used the same question about breakfast instead of the more usual question about what they had done the day before, over the weekend or some such. The difference was tha…

Tripping and dribbling

Maggie's text read that Laurel and Hardy were in our flat. They agreed with us that it was the water heater that was the problem. As I type a different double act are wreaking havoc in our kitchen. There's a puddle of rusty water on the floor, the shelves have been dismantled and jars of chickpeas and jelly sweets are spread across all the kitchen work-surfaces whilst the body odour of one of the men is assailing my nostrils even though he's at least ten metres and three rooms away. One of the great delights of rented property is that someone else will be paying. I reckon the tank alone will be about 450€ without the comedy duos time. It's not really our concern how ham fisted the tradesmen are as long as it all goes back together, more or less as before and that it all works in the end.

It'll be better when they've gone though. For the past few days, the circuit breakers in the house have been tripping at the most inopportune times. Alarm clocks that don'…