Thursday, 17 August 2017

Brexit News

Half of the British think they are cleverer than the Europeans. 
Unfortunately, it's the stupider half.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Strange and Frightening Headlines in The Weenie

Churning through the dribble that is printed in the Almería incarnation of The Weenie as I generally do, I give you here their last few front page main titles.
A paper which, presumably, is meant to encourage visitors and promote both the area and the businesses within.
What do these headlines have in common, I wonder?
Today's effort is 'Drug-fuelled Frenzy. Man Arrested For Assault'.
The previous weeks follow below:
'Gang Warfare. Gypsy Turf War spreads'
'Dead to Rights. Fire Killers locked Up'
'Up in Smoke. Cannabis Factory Shut Down'
'Text Horror. Serial Child abuser Held'
'Deep in the Red. Provincial Debt Nears €500 Million'
...and so on.
It's not as if there's much of any news about Spain inside, after all. 

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

A Zebra Crossing is just a Travelling Donkey with Stripes

Driving quietly home from the beach (I try and get my stuff done by 10.00am when the traffic  gridlock and road rage begins), I was behind a truck and a few cars by the time I had got to the Fuente de Mojácar. The truck was stopped at a zebra crossing to allow a pedestrian his right to cross the road. Operating on the principal of 'everyone's gotta stand somewhere', the old fellow was looking placidly at the line of vehicles before remembering his manners and waving the truck forward. By the time I reached the crossing, several cars later, he was still there, gazing into space, perhaps remembering other times, when there was only a few donkeys and underpowered motorcycles clogging up the road...

Monday, 31 July 2017

Always Nice to Leave: Always Great to Return

Two weeks holiday in Portugal has made a pleasurable break from Paradise. Spain is a wonderful place to live, but a short time away can help put things in better perspective.
Certainly, our first day back in España (I went on vacation with my Spanish companion Loli), we watched the Noticias de la Primera on the TV. A woman wearing an alarming-looking heavy gas mask and a protective suit spent the first ten minutes of the news reporting the referendum in Venezuela – a story that oddly hadn’t appeared of much interest to the Portuguese news channels. But here, we are subliminally reminded of the threat of Unidos Podemos each time the fiendish activities of the mad chauffeur from Caracas is featured on the telly. Don’t agree? Whither Turkey TV time with the equally mad Erdogan?
Lisbon was full of tourists of course, and the Portuguese speak English, French, German... but never Spanish (much to Loli’s indignation). We ate well, took a trip around the city in a tuc tuc (Spain is missing a trick with these little three-wheeler cabs), listened to some Fado and bought endless fridge magnets and tee shirts.
And the obligatory bottle of port, of course.
Unemployment at 9.8% is relatively low in Portugal, and jobs are often posted in the windows of shops and restaurants. In general, the government seems rather more on the ball than the one in Spain, with an offer of ten years tax-free to any foreigner who wants to buy a house and take out residency.
We met Colin Davies, who is a fellow blogger, in the dramatic city of Oporto after taking a cheap local train ride up the coast from Aveiro where we had been staying. Colin writes about Spain from his home-base in Pontevedra, Galicia. He introduces his daily posts with a quote that I like: ‘Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable’. So true.
Coming back into Spain (no passport control, no customs... just a sign saying ‘you are now in Spain’ - suck on that Brexiters!), we stopped for lunch in Antequera, Oh, the noise! It’s good to be back, I shouted to Loli, who was sat next to me stirring a decent cup of coffee.
Yes Darling, she bellowed in return, patting my hand absently.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

People are People Too

We are often guilty of putting ourselves in the imaginary position of the dogs and the cats here, or even the bulls. So many pious remarks about how they are mistreated, or tied up, or end up facing a matador in his suit of lights. It’s a rare community that doesn’t have an animal protection society staffed by volunteers and we even have a political party, the PACMA, which currently enjoys the support of around 300,000 voters.  Animals are without a voice and perhaps they need more protection, and a champion to defend them. Especially those poor superannuated hunting greyhounds.
Yes, maybe these are important points to raise, and perhaps it is true that the Spanish tend to have a different viewpoint from our own. We can even feel superior to our neighbours about our elevated care and love for our ‘four-footed friends’. We shall post something on Facebook about this, right away!
This generosity of spirit, however, is rarely extended to the African immigrants that walk among us, unseen.  Most of them will have arrived here, in search of a (slightly) better life, having overcome the most terrible ordeals and threats. Many of them will never make it to the shores of this country, but will be drowned or murdered or incarcerated in the attempt, crossing first the countries of North Africa, and second, the Mediterranean sea.
Those who do manage to arrive in Spain may end up with a horrible job in the plastic farms of Almería and Murcia. Some others will be given trinkets to sell on the beach (the ‘looky-looky men’) or in the cities (the ‘manteros’) – with their produce lying on a sheet with string holding the four corners – ready for a quick getaway. They’ll sleep in squats, or in highly priced apartments, ten to a room. Maybe they can send a little money home to their families.
The police don’t like them much, and the shopkeepers don’t like them at all. However, a squab of hope, or at least dignity, comes from an association of these manteros in Barcelona, which has launched their own brand of clothes, called Top Manta, with ‘...the logo made up of two waves: one represents the materials used, the other the perilous maritime journeys many of the sellers undertook to reach Spain...’ (The Local here). We say: ‘Good for them’!

Saturday, 8 July 2017

The Things They Eat

Someone on Facebook was missing some item of British food. I was reminded of a story of my Dad's.
They had bought a Mercedes and were heading out to Spain to live, once and for all. The Mercedes didn't like Spanish petrol and limped across the country at around 50kph, with ratty old Citroens and Renaults overtaking them with a gleeful squawk from the klaxon every now and again.
The boot was full of tined turkey in sweetcorn sauce.
Our friend from Middle Wallop had been in the turkey business for many years and in 1966 he decided with his brother to take the empire a step forward by introducing tinned turkey.
He was flat broke within three months.
When my parents announced they were leaving the UK for good (coincidentally, the morning after they had left me in my boarding school), our friend pressed several boxes of tinned turkey with the sweetcorn sauce, unlabelled, into my father's doubtful charge.
'There'll be fuck all to eat in Mojácar', said the friend with a certain logic.
So, after a ferry crossing to Calais, the customs officer beckoned to my father.
'Ouvrez', he said, waving imperiously at the boot of the car.
'C'ést quoi ça?', he said, pointing at the boxes of unlabelled merchandise.
My father wasn't much good at languages, but he was game: 'un gran wuzzoh para mange', he answered.
The customs officer, stumped by this answer, called for a can opener.
On opening the first tin and viewing the contents, he burst out in English - 'Sacré bleu, you Anglais will eat anything'.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

The Mojácar Foreign Department

(Following on from a post a few weeks back: Spanish as She is Spoke), I am glad to see that the mayoress has put a Brit in charge of the Mojácar Foreigners Department.
Not as elegant as it could have been done, perhaps, since Lucas is a 'non-aligned' councillor for the Grupo Mixto, but, By Jingo, we do actually have a Brit drawing a wage from the Town Hall of Mojácar.
'Scuse me while I swoon in amazement.
Lucas Mayo was raised here by his step-mother Isabel, the daughter of Jacinto Alarcón, the wonderful old boy who turned Mojácar around in the sixties from a hill full of ruins to what it is today.  Lucas is, of course, totally bi-lingual.
He runs a gestoría on the beach, Gecko Services (ph 950 475 949), and has the knowledge and experience necessary to do the paperwork which our friends the Spanish are so partial towards.
Lucas became a councillor when the head of his party (Gas Station Diego), disillusioned to have not won the last elections, quit with his Nº 2 on the very next morning following the vote. Numbers 3 and 4 of Unión Mojáquera 10 were catapulted, much to their surprise, into Public Service.  Lucas became an Independent in early February of this year (here) and has supported the majority PP since then.
The current Mojácar Town Hall (nor most of the previous ones, come to think of it) has not been known for handing out many favours to the giant non-mojaquero population (around 60 to 70%) so, we are pleased to see that we finally have someone in The System.