26 agosto 2006

La canción de la semana #63

Now for some jazz. One of my favourite jazz musicians is an Argentinian tenor sax player Gato Barbieri. This week's song is Viva Emiliano Zapata!


14 agosto 2006

Spanish Diary

Hi all,
I haven't posted the Dear Diary for a while. There are some chapters still to upload, but here comes the latest. As you can see, Rod is having fun down there in sunny Granada.
Regards to all.

Byron, anís and Spanish cowboys

We left our garage door open again and Byron came to call. No, not the ghost of a long-dead poet but a very large, very live, rotweiler. His arrival was preceded by a loud scream of terror from a visiting neighbour as Byron squeezed through the small gap between her and the car. He was closely followed by Alicia screaming "Byron!" at the top of her voice. Byron ignored her completely and proceeded to explore the garden and pee on every wall to mark his territory. Then he decided to go into the house. "Oh, great," I thought, "Pee on all the furniture as well." and unwisely followed him into the kitchen to shut the door to the rest of the house. Unfortunately this put me between a very large, trapped, dog and the only exit to freedom. I'm not sure if Byron got nervous but I certainly did as 110 lbs of muscle passed by my flabby, trembling frame. He left the garden when he was good and ready and not a moment sooner. I let him take all the time he wanted. At least he didn't decide to take a dip in the pool.
Pam went to visit a local British girl who doesn't drink at all. She was offered a choice of coffee or a glass from an unopened litre bottle of Anis (the Spanish equivalent of Pernod and just as vicious). Pam, of course, chose Anis. Three quarters of a bottle later…Pam came home bright as a button and apparently sober - what a gal - the unfortunate neighbour was by turn paralytic, unconscious, dragged to bed and then closeted in a darkened room for three whole days! The same Brit, surprisingly, asked us along to the local bar to celebrate her wedding anniversary. This time Pam wisely stuck to beer but her mate just chose a liqueur at random from the shelf…and drank the bottle dry! Again we didn't see her for several days but she assured us she had enjoyed herself enormously, had had an upset stomach but had not been sick – a major achievement apparently! When we offered to show her and her husband around Granada she had learned her lesson and took the precaution of swallowing a box of Imodium prior to going out with Pam. A wise move I think, especially as we were gong to try a Chinese meal. This time all went well with no apparent mishaps.
Heard in a local restaurant: "I don't perspire through my legs so they come up in a (sweat) rash." Or, "Yes, we tried paella when we were in Greece."
I was offered a caffeine-free Pepsi Cola light with no sugar and zero calories – what's the point of a drink with all the vices removed? And Pepsi instead of Coke to boot! "Lovely," I said to my host; what a hypocrite I am!
Another time in the bar - honestly, we only go there when we have visitors – there was a great hulking Brit, covered in tattoos with rings or studs in all visible orifices and appendages (and, he proudly assured us, in some that were not visible). During the course of the conversation he said he worked as an "insolvency practitioner". As I know someone with a similar job title I tried to equate his appearance with my degree-qualified relation who works in a highly civilised business environment. It did not compute. Later, we wondered what his job title would have been before political correctness intervened and came up with "bailiff" - as in he enjoys breaking down doors and taking away all the furniture, yep that definition works!
When Pam's sister Mary came to stay I was convinced she would provide an entire Dear Diary all on her own but not a bit of it. She was good as gold and a pleasure to be with. She ate and drank everything put in front of her both at home and in the bars – including an ice-cream on top of 4 glasses of beer, complete with tapas. Mind you…she is convinced she is allergic to eggs after a trip to Scotland some while ago. Apparently the fish she was given wasn't fresh and tasted funny but it was coated in egg and breadcrumbs. Two hours after eating the meal she was ill. Me, I'd have plumped for the fish being off but Mary no longer eats eggs but does eat fish!
Pam took up my offer to teach her how to reverse a car into parking spaces. Rather than cause carnage in the street we went to a plot of open land just outside the village at 07:30 in the morning. The aim being to avoid onlookers as we slotted red broom handles into dustpans, weighted them down with bricks and set them out in a pretty pattern on the waste ground. As Pam set off in reverse for the first time the audience started to arrive and seat themselves on a nearby wall to watch the floor show. She did very well, considering, so a couple of days later we moved on to the square close to our house. We used the Council plastic wheelie bins as cars and not surprisingly gathered another gaggle of interested onlookers. The lesson went really well until one of the locals came up the road with a rubbish bag looking for the communal bins, found them down the street and determinedly moved them back to their proper location. What a cheek, we thought as we sneaked off home, you've nicked our cars. Then we went for broke. We went to Granada airport, paid our 40 Cents for the carpark, and Pam practiced backing into a single gap between two cars as I kept a look-out for Security! The guards saw us but took no notice whatsoever. Result!
Securitas do things differently in Spain; dress code is a bit more flexible. It goes without saying that they all carry automatic pistols but the one I saw wore a gun belt stuffed with bullets. I think they were just for show but over here you can never be sure. If I'd realised the guards were such cowboys I wouldn't have been as confident of commandeering the airport car park for a driving lesson.
Pam has a habit of putting things down and never being able to find them again. One morning she muttered under her breath as she opened the washing machine, took everything out and sifted through it. "What are you doing?" "Looking for the camera," she said, as if it was the most natural thing in the world to do. She eventually found the camera stuffed inside a shoe in the kitchen doorway - where else would it be?
The new British family bought their house from a UK agency with offices in Spain. The first agent showed them the house and told them the price. When they showed an interest his mate turned up and told them that there had been a mistake with the price and it was in fact € 12,000 more. He rolled up to tell them this in a shiny new Porsche 911. I wonder where he gets the money from to run a car like that?
The daughter of the same family is coming over here to live. She and her husband have both already given up their jobs and sold their house in the UK. They plan to put their two children in the local village school. They will need a mortgage from a Spanish bank to pay for their new house. To get a mortgage you need to demonstrate that you have residency and a regular income. They are both confident of "picking up a good job" as soon as they get here but neither of them speaks a word of Spanish. Without papers it is impossible to get an official job…It takes 6 months to get residency. I think they are in for a nasty shock.