Thursday, December 27, 2007
The limit in the British nanny state is 0.8g per litre (whatever that means) while here in socialist Spain the limit is 0.5g/l and even less (0.3g/l) for neophytes. These limits - one small beer perhaps - are screwing the nation's bars, particularly those which are located away from the cities with their handy taxis, metros, buses and apartment blocks. In the City, you are never more than a block away from a bar anyway. The walk will do you good...
In the countryside, the only way to reach these places is by road. So, either you take a taxi there and a taxi back (for: let's say, a net outlay of ninety euros for two beers and a tapa) or you hitch-hike, or you find some pooftah who will drink lemonades all night, or you don't go. Unlike the City, you see, there is only the one road home, so it's easy enough to catch you...
Make no mistake: the ambitious politician in charge of the DGT - the traffic police - has ruled that anyone over the limit will lose several points on his driving licence (yes, we have a point system now), will be fined a massive amount of lolly and may, if he's had two beers rather than one, go to jail, for Crissakes!
No doubt this power-crazed hoodlum (the description is merely my own humble opinion) has a chauffeur to ferry him around so he can talk on his mobile phone, drink, smoke and play with himself. All at the same time.
The reason (cue some heavenly church organ music) is to stop the deaths on Spanish roads. Actually, about 99.999975% of people who drive somewhere amazingly get there in one piece. However, there are those that don't. Perhaps they kill themselves merely to spite this ambitious apparatchik who, no doubt, would like to be head of the UN one day.
Perhaps it's because the secondary road system is shite.
So, strike the nights-out down at the boozer and make an excuse not to go to the weekly quiz night, the two-for-one night, St Valentine’s Day and, of course, the Carnival. Actually – if you wore a cunning disguise...
Instead, how about a nice steak down at the Argentino's on the beach washed down with a refreshing glass of diet-cola? And if the wine-waiter bamboozles you into taking a glass or two of the House Red, why, you can order a taxi to take you home and another one the following morning to pick up your car. Tripling the cost to you of the dinner.
But wait, I have a better idea. Ring the steakhouse and tell the waiter to cook you up a steak to perfection, wrap it in tinfoil, strap it to the back of his moped and deliver the damn' thing to your door - together with half a bottle of the aforementioned House Red. So civilised.
Actually, I read that an aggressive Spanish TV company recently documented the speed of the traffic tsar himself while in charge of a chauffeur doing thirty cliks over the speed limit and overtaking, without recourse to a winky, on the right (Antena 3). He was probably too busy with his mobile phone to notice.
This past summer, drunk from her success with the smoking issue (you now have to ask the harassed barman to press a silly button before the cigarette machine works), the Ministra de Salud (Hah!) proposed to put a health warning on bottles of alcohol, including wine. Salud, of course, means ‘Cheers’. Apparently she thinks that there are some people amongst the electorate who can read yet who can't think. Aghast (for once), El Presidente Thapo put a stop to this madness. However, between the socialist 'acoso' against smoking, drinking and now sex (yes, they are closing down the principal attractions of the Barrio Chino in Barcelona and elsewhere), to say nothing of their attacks on the missionary position, there is increasingly little left with which to amuse oneself.
Except to count all of the people you know who are now out of business.
Certainly, at this time of year, between the empty hotels, the drop in house-sales and the fear of the local population to be out after dark, the little yellow lights are closing down all over Broadway…
Better stay home and trash some grey-cells on the tele-basura. The brainless TV.
Friday, December 21, 2007
‘Don’t be silly’, I answer automatically.
We live in a town where almost everyone comes from Somewhere Else. Most people here have different backgrounds, different experiences and, naturally enough, different accents.
We didn’t share the same teachers, mayors, clergy or football teams, things which mark out ordinary communities where you may know what someone thinks or is going to say before he opens his mouth. Here, we are a melting pot of Germans, Spanish, Rumanians, Chinese, Britons, Americans and everything else. We all get along since we are a small community and as long as we can be understood. Communication is everything.
However, unfortunately for the English, who are often monolingual anyway, that's not the case. With the English, accents are everything. To hell with what someone is saying, in a foreign language or in our own. If it sounds wrong then we won't engage.
I have either a ‘middle Atlantic accent’, or ‘no accent at all’ or a ‘fruity la-di-da’ voice depending on who you ask. I’m quite proud of it and my English is easy to understand when talking to practically anybody. BBC stuff. You know.
Particularly when explaining something to a German. Nice and easy, Helmut!
I walked into an Irish bar the other day and ordered a Guinness. IRA songs were playing on the music system. ‘I shot a British soljer’ goes one of them ‘straite between de oiyes’. Lovely. The barman asks how long I’ve been here. ‘Forty years man and boy’, I tell him. ‘Why, sure and you haven’t lost yer accent’, he says.
Another time, I meet somebody: ‘how de do?’ I ask. ‘Oh yuss, ‘ow di doody’, they answer, taking the piss.
George Bernard Shaw said: ‘No sooner does an Englishman open his mouth than another Englishman despises him’. How true. And what a shame. My own feeling is, as long as I can understand what someone is saying, we are moving forward. There are some ugly accents, which are those that sound odd to somebody’s ear. I don’t like such-and-such an accent, and perhaps they don’t like mine.
I speak with German friends, or American friends or what-have-you. The subject doesn’t arise. It’s not a subject which overly concerns the Spanish either. They might think I sound ‘inglés’ when I’m talking in ‘castellano’, but it’s of no consequence.
Curiously, the children here often have more marked regional accents than their parents. How can this be? Shouldn’t all of us, in the decades to come, start to create our own homogenised way of speaking? Shouldn’t we become, eventually, something like the two-language speaking Gibraltarians?
We bring a lot of useless baggage with us when we come to Spain. Discriminations, class, accents, regional ideas and so on. Drop them off at the gate.
We can improve our life here - by getting to know our new area, by voting, learning Spanish, watching local television and adapting ourselves to our new environment; by taking siestas and drinking wine; by knowing our way round our nearby cities and by knowing Spaniards – as well as everyone else who crosses our path. In short, we have the opportunity to become émigrés. Better still - our children have the chance to become 'Europeans'. The alternative to this is to act and consider ourselves as exiles – consuming ‘English’ stuff, reading ‘English’ newspapers and watching SKY (television that deals, of course, with a place where you no longer live). That way, you will miss most of what Spain has to offer.
Next time I see that Yorkshireman, I'll buy him una cerveza...
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Friday, December 14, 2007
Christmas is on top of us and in Spain, there are a few amusing differences to what you’re used to. All of the British trappings are now popular with the Spanish, except for Christmas Cake (thank Goodness). Santas waddle around, choirs sing carols and ‘villancicos’ – Spanish Christmas songs – and everyone has a jolly time. The oddest thing here are the nativity scenes which every household has: lots of little Baby Jesuses and donkeys and Wise Men all on a table with caves and straw etc. The other figures include anything vaguely matching, soldiers, cows, men carrying straw and so on, plus a peculiar little fellow sat on a jerry! This figure is apparently a contribution from Catalonia and is called ‘El Caganer’: The Pooper. In fact, excepting the chap relieving himself, they have a ‘belén’, as it’s called, with real live people in Garrucha. Bit over the top, but there you go!
The Spaniards celebrate their version of April Fools Day on December 28th. It’s called the ‘Saints of Innocence Day’ for some reason. Not that you can believe much of what you read in the papers anyway, but on this day everyone makes an extra effort to tell a whopper.
The Spanish are also partial to The Three Kings who show up on Twelfth Night bringing presents. They rumble up our hill in a decorated dumper truck and hand out goodies to the school children. Better register the nippers!
The traffic police are also very active at this time of year, handing out fines and prison sentences with seasonal abandon. You read that right – if you are caught way ‘over the limit’, or driving waaay to fast, they can give you up to three months in the slammer. This is because too many people are involved in horrible accidents on our roads and the politician in charge of the traffic authority is convinced that the motorists are killing themselves merely to vex him! I really think that there is nobody who goes out driving with the intention of ‘offing’ themselves – apart from the so-called ‘kamikaze’ drivers who go up the motorway the wrong way. Anyway, no one uses the roads anymore as we have all taken to driving down narrow lanes at night to escape being breathalised.
The days are warm but the nights are decidedly chilly. So we light the fire to keep at least one room habitable. It’s the tiles, the thick walls, the small windows and the ill-fitting doors and windows which lower the temperature, so the house ends up colder inside than any house in England. Unfortunately, when I carry in the wood, I’m also bringing in whatever has chosen to pass the winter in my woodpile, so, as the fire heats up the log, a few flies wake up under the impression that an extremely fast approaching summer is underway. The other day, a scorpion struggled out of the fireplace but I got him before he got me.
I suppose another small niggle is the water-heater. You either use gas (which often goes out halfway through a shower) or electric as I do. Of course, a shallow bath or a shower means no more hot water for a couple of hours… When people stay, we have to pin up a rota system in the kitchen!
The neighbours are very nice and we’ve just about got them talking English by now (joke!). They have brought us a type of Christmas cake which is made with flour and pork fat, little bits of pig rind and lumps of angelica and other dried fruit. Sort of horrible! Like the sixpence of old, there’s a little tin saint hidden inside the cake so one has to go slowly. Another typical pre-Christmas present around here is a ticket for the famous Christmas lottery which is held around the 22nd of December and gives huge prizes. I’m so convinced of winning that I’ve already ordered a new Rolls Royce! The lottery is usually sold in ‘tenths’ of a ticket, a ‘decimo’, but it still cranks out some major prizes – which are usually all located in the same pueblo. You see them all squirting champagne at each other the following day on the Spanish news.
The telly here is unbelievable. The other day I saw Al Gore’s film about global warming, followed by the eight o’ clock horror film (blood n’ guts everywhere) followed, at ten, by ‘The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe’. Perhaps the television programmers figure that the grown ups go to bed early while the kiddies stay up to all hours! They may be right! The TVs are on everywhere – usually showing football. It can be quite a bother sat in a restaurant munching on a plate of paella only to have everyone roaring with glee as somebody scores against Barcelona.
It’s wonderful living out here and you can do what you want because, Dear Auntie, there is no dear auntie to keep you on the straight and narrow. Some of the Brits here can invent their own past or even use a different name. I mean, there can’t be that many retired colonels from the Guards, can there? Some of the Brits get into trouble – as there is too much booze around here. Nobody lives further from a bar than walking distance so it’s very easy to ‘go for death’ – especially since the measures are huge. Which brings me back to the drinking and driving problem! But there are other temptations too. Couples often split up here and people can find ‘unconventional’ relationships which they probably wouldn’t have managed back in Blighty. The Spanish seem to be rather relaxed about all of this and the country is littered with jolly ‘Gentlemen’s Clubs’ of all description. There is a large number of Eastern Europeans coming here these days and some of them find fresh lives as ‘girlfriends’ with an apartment thrown in and a daily visit from ‘Daddy’. All very odd!
The country goes to the polls next March, so all of the political parties are being ‘extra nice’ (apart from the Ministry of the Interior and its policemen). Election promises are alive and well - both coming out of Madrid and out of our regional capital, Seville, whose ‘Junta de Andalucía’ government is also up for grabs in March. By the look of things, the socialists will get back in again both nationally and regionally, but since I can’t vote in either of these, I’ll be surprised to even get a free lighter.
So Auntie, you must come out and stay next year. You don’t need to bring tea bags or sausages wrapped up in your socks. We can get everything here we want. In fact, with Sky TV, mincemeat tarts, Wychwood Scarecrow Ale, Christmas crackers, Marmite and Ribena all available locally, it’s more English here than in England!
Kind regards, Johnny
Friday, December 07, 2007
I asked my son. He's fluent and knows all the slang. Well maybe there isn't any. Una chica, he says, or una nena, tía, muchacha...
No, I mean slang.
He settles on una zagala. No use. Too modern and anyway, I want a dame not a flapper.
My wife has a go: una zorra. No, that's more of a 'bitch'.
Later, I try my old friend sitting at a table drinking a coffee with his wife. ¿Oiga, como se dice en plan detective una mujer atractiva?
That would be, like in old-fashioned Spanish... he thinks for a second or two - ¡un monumento!
¿Un monumento? I gasp.
Hmm. I stare at his approving wife. I decide that it's the not the ideal moment to talk about palookas.
So me, I'll keep asking...
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Listening to and reading reports this week about the recent slump in Spanish Construction companies stock on the Spanish Stock Exchange and the imminent demise of the Spanish property sector instantly brought to mind the well known quote that I have used in the title. The British press and television coverage has been quick to link this correction to a crash in the property market for holiday property in the coastal areas, (Costa’s), and the dangers for UK citizens purchasing property in Spain. (Association of Multiple Listing Agents. Unsigned. http://www.amlaspain.com/p-spanish-property-crash-art07.html)
Headline: Spanish Property Report
Despite rumours to the contrary, the glowing embers of the troubled Spanish property market look set to flicker back into life with prices stabilising and likely to grow steadily in the future. It looks likely that the negative speculation within the Spanish property market has finally ended, with increasing numbers of Britons still heading out for a new life abroad. (Soltimes P 32 current issue: unsigned)
It looks to me like the loyalty of these publications is towards their clients and advertisers rather than the readers…
Saturday, November 24, 2007
It’s always struck me as a good idea to celebrate the event. First of all there’s a good meal and copious turkey sandwiches to last over the following few days. Secondly, it’s a holiday which doesn’t have much commercial paraphernalia wrapped around it unlike the increasingly bothersome festivities to come. Thirdly, in our household, it’s always celebrated not on the penultimate Thursday of November but on – or near – a much more important date. My birthday.
Thanksgiving is of course a celebration to remember the early American settlers, who apparently lasted a year in some God-forsaken spot on the North East corner of New England. After twelve months of doing whatever one does in such a place, when there is no Wal-Mart nearby and where a few of your neighbours have been eaten by bears, it’s good to mark the anniversary and to invite the rather well-fed Indians from across the Crick.
As long as they bring some food with them.
I think it’s a fine reason for a celebration. I think that all the foreigners who have had the luck or the planning to wash up on the shores of Almería might consider setting aside a special day for just the same reason as those original pilgrims to America once did.
To thank God for their deliverance and good fortune.
Friday, November 09, 2007
Thursday, November 08, 2007
Far fetched or not, in El País today, a story appeared about the contamination of the different power stations and so on in Andalucía and our old friend, the Endesa plant in Carboneras, turns out to be the dirtiest with 3.2 million tons annually of CO2. There are seven outfits that produce over a million tons of CO2 in Andalucía, Endesa leading the way with the Almería plant - to rise to 3.6 million tons in 2009 - followed by their Los Barrios, Cadiz plant at two million tons.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Actually, not so much as one would like. While the old ‘Sacred Mountain’ has never been properly excavated, most of the remains from prehistoric times, when uncovered, have been destroyed as fast as possible. The archaeologists, if alerted from Granada University, can take an agonizingly long time to perform a dig and so, my friends, it’s better to brush the dirt back over it with a large bulldozer.
In more modern times, there are equally few remains of the Moorish town which was sacked by the Christian forces in 1488 or, for that matter, of the town that followed. The sixteenth century castle, described as ‘inmutable’ or ‘unknockdownable’ in a 1928 Spanish encyclopaedia, had disappeared entirely by the late nineteen fifties. Other buildings were purposely dismantled by their owners to sell off the doors, rejas, wood beams and so on, before their departure in search of work and a better future during the late nineteenth and first half of the twentieth century. Mojácar was a place of ruins by 1960.
As we know, tourism brought it back from the brink: residential tourism to begin with, later followed by what the mayoress unfortunately described enthusiastically on television last month as ‘cheap, cheap, cheap hotels’.
This is a photo from around 1950 taken from somewhere below the Castillo. In the foreground on the right you can see the 'Ermita' and, across the Plaza Nueva, Mojácar's first bar - later to become the Indalo Hotel (and then a bar again...). The large blank white wall in the centre of the picture is the side of the old theatre (entrance opposite the church out of picture on the left). the other large building, centre left, was known as the Casa del Cura.
However, the race to make money often means destroying the old to replace it with a modern tee-shirt shop or perhaps a humourous ashtray emporium. In Mojacar, the old Arco de Luciana was demolished about ten years ago (in actual fact, it was just a tunnel under a bedroom next to La Sartén where generations of customers emptied their bladders). We still use this destruction for political reasons. More importantly, the town’s fountain was ‘remodelled’ back in 1987 to general indignation; the ‘Castillo’ was turned into a bunker around the same time (and several thousand-year-old graves were quickly cemented over); the Plaza Parterre, a dull empty square behind the church, was re-vamped by the last town hall (using every form of architecture known to science in its outing); the Plaza Nueva was systematically knocked down in favour of un-typical architecture over the years since 1968; the beautiful theatre went in around 1975 in exchange for some serious tee-shirteries; and of the six ‘ermitas’ - small churches that were built in the fervent times of the seventeenth century – apart from one which is now incorporated into a private house – the final surviving one is, as I write, falling down in the main square.
The Ermita is in private hands and has no protection on it whatsoever. It will be gone by Christmas, I imagine, and the site will soon be taken by another bar, or a tattoo parlour or a pottery shop.
*The Mojácar town hall said on Wednesday October 31st that the owner has been told to repair the building by Christmas. One waits for events.
The Ermita today, October 31st. The façade has already fallen.
There is little remaining of Mojácar’s origins, beyond the narrow streets and the harsh sunlight. The ‘Moorish Gate’ down below the ‘El Torreón’, built in fact in the seventeen hundreds, also has no protection. It could be knocked down by the owner today if he wanted.
The Palacio de Chamberí on the beach is now remembered as an uneasy frontage to a large box-like hotel, while three arrestingly hideous versions of it languish nearby as apartment blocks. Then there is the grove of trees cut down by our ‘ecologist’ mayor three years ago. Other recent improvements include the giant electric pylons marching across the riverbed and the famous view from the Mojácar mirador. From the same viewpoint we can also observe the smudge of grimy smog from the giant power station in nearby Carboneras that hovers over the sea every afternoon: a cloud that, of course, hovers equally over the town. Then there is the neon, the noddy-homes, the scruffy and unnecessary beach-furnishings and the potholes.
Juan Grima, noting the destruction and the disinterest, said that the town church will be a supermarket in twenty years.
Curiously, as the town is killed, there is no concern: only complacency.
Friday, October 19, 2007
Take the new money they have in Britain. Apparently the ‘shilling’ has gone! Dreadful!
Change is usually gradual and, in the world of business, it is better so. The car I bought twenty years ago does – or did – everything the new ones do. It took me places. The new ones might have rear-view cameras and wing mirrors that fold into the car when it stops, but my old car still did what cars are meant to do. Take you places. So, why change? Well, they conk out after a while and a new, or at least ‘less old’ car becomes advisable. But a petulant old buffer like myself might say ‘why do I have to pay for all these stick-ons, like ‘black boxes’ and ‘satellite navigators’ when all I want is a car that takes me places and I know the way to Garrucha anyway?’
But – wait until someone invents cars that run on water…
There are a few industries that have, nevertheless, fallen to obsolescence overnight. You can toss all your old cameras, even the Leicas and the Nikons, because the new cameras of today run without film. These new digital cameras upload their pictures (fifty or a hundred equivalent to ‘one spool’) to a computer where they can be cut, cropped, improved, lightened, highlighted, straightened and reshaped. Take that Fuji!
In fact, the film companies flew into a wall. Agfa went bust last year and poor old Kodak have just announced that they won’t be sponsoring the upcoming Chinese Olympics – the first Olympics since 1896 (the first games of the Modern age) that they haven’t supported.
It must be the very devil if you are in the film business. Demand has gone through the floorboards.
How about those poor sods from Polaroid? They made those wonky cameras that produced an instant picture on a slab of smelly plastic. What was it – eight pictures to a pack? Pictures that faded in the family photo-album. That’s had it. I can take a hundred on my nifty digital camera.
The one that fits in my pocket.
Luckily for them, Polaroid made another product. Sunglasses. Ray-ban may have pretty much taken the pole position, but at least, we still use sunglasses and until they invent some kind of indochromic eye drop, we shall probably continue to do so.
Dear Mum, I’ve just bought these totally groovy Polaroid sunglasses. They make me look like Tom Cruise. Sort of. Oh, by the way, Bertha left with the twins and the ceiling in the bathroom has fallen in. But not to worry. Now I see everything in a completely different light.
So, that’s the bell for photographic chemicals, film and the Brownie. Now, even Hasselblad has gone digital and you can buy their latest machine for just 40,000 euros. It has 39 mega pixels which means you can read a prescription bottle’s instructions if somebody were to hold one up in the air in Barcelona.
Even through the smog.
I’m less sure about mobile phones (I had an unbreakable rubber one – which I eventually caught on the edge of the fridge). My new one rang me up the other day while I was on a rare holiday, to tell me that I was in another country. First of all – how on earth did it know? Secondly, well duh! And thirdly, they are watching us…
Another business that doesn’t look good is the Travel Agency. I buy my tickets on the Internet. I get cheap ones for when I want and how I want. Right there at home. Print ‘em up on the printer. In fact, in a couple of years, proper tickets won’t even exist. So, who needs a travel agency?
Now, even the Oldies have room for hope. A decent camera plus an easy-to-get ticket for a trip. All we need now is to find a destination. You know, just for a change.
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Madrid (the city) had been, as always, good fun. Besides being taken to an expensive restaurant by my daughter who lives in the centre of our capital city, a restaurant that specialises in Peruvian food and is located in the middle of Chueca, the gay district (help! I think the waiter likes me), I also managed to fit in a visit to the FNAC shop in Callao (books in English plus a vast selection of music) and a side-visit to a woolly sock shop.
You see, together with my wife, I was off to Luxembourg.
Normally a trip like this, you want to have an idea in your head of where the country – or, apparently, ‘duchy’ – lies on the map. But who cared about that? It would fall to the pilot to find the place – we’d just sit in the back, as usual by the lavatories.
Luxembourg, pop 450,000 of which 42% are, apparently, foreigners.
It’s lucky that there are so few of us here in Spain – or, at least, so few of us who want to vote occasionally…
The weather was warm and sunny during our six-day visit, so the thermal socks that I had carefully brought were given to the maid at the hotel in the small town where we stayed. She said they were too big for her but that she’d send them home to Nigeria.
We were there for a wedding and a christening so we didn’t feel too lonely, with around 150 friends to help us through the 48-hour jag that the youth of today equate with celebrating. Oddly, I didn’t have much of a headache after I woke up the following day upside down in a ditch. It must have been the quality wines, champagnes, deathly Belgian beers and glasses of cognacs that we guzzled, together with the food.
I know one is meant to write nice things about food in Spain, but, hey, this was proper French/German/Belgiun/Lux food – a darn site better.
Food in Luxembourg is taken seriously. I sat in some restaurants that insisted on five courses before they’d let you go. All of them heavily soaked in cream and brandy sauces. Luxembourg is also remarkable for the size of its portions – rather like America. ‘Super-size me’ being no joke here. On one occasion, with the idea of getting out of the place on my own two feet, I ordered sole for the main course. Sole meunière: sloshed in butter. It didn’t work though - they brought me four of them, plus a side order of chips. This after I’d already consumed a bucket of soup. There were a few Chinese restaurants (‘all you can eat’ places) in town but, while I was working on my third sole, I noticed a party of Orientals come in and sit down at a nearby table. They must have been hungry: they went for the à la carte steaks.
Another tremendous meal – this time rather better – was a steak in sauce plus veg and mash, all cooked and served on a roof-tile, one of those curvy Spanish ones, called a ‘tuile’ in French. There was a metal holder on the table to balance it on. Good though. To get to that particular restaurant, located somewhere in the countryside, you had to pass through the Snug, shouting ‘bonjour’ as a sullen crowd of extras from ‘Straw Dogs’ looked you over.
A fly accompanied us throughout the entire visit. Wherever we went, there was just this one fly, casting about between the serried ranks of forks that threaten every diner or rubbing its front legs in glee on the breadsticks. Our friends, after some discussion, agreed that it must have come with us from Spain, although I christened it Zizi la Mouche. I think I finally lost it at the airport.
To battle the flab, our hotel had an exercise bicycle nailed to the floor upstairs, but I never saw anyone give it a spin.
Those mobile phones are clever. Mine called me up in the taxi and said ‘Welcome to Luxembourg’. Late the first night, a gent rang claiming to be an employee of Sevillana and asking for a modest sum. Oddly, his number was blocked so I couldn’t ring him back. From the police station.
The hotel was comfortable and – despite having to deal with three national languages, which is not bad for a country half the size of Almería – the owners were able to entertain me in English. The town, a small tourist dorp on the eastern border with Germany just over the bridge, is occasionally flooded by the rising waters of the modest looking River Sauer which generally flows quietly enough some ten metres below. When it does flood, around every ten years, there is a brief photo call and then everyone goes out in their Wellington boots and has a huge lunch to forget their woes. We walked across the bridge into Germany, stayed just a fraction under a minute, and then ambled back into Lux. The Germans, for their part, drive regularly over the Sauer into Lux to take advantage of the cheaper petrol there. There are daily traffic jams of German visitors looking to fill their tanks (no pun intended – a German joke is no laughing matter, etc).
Cigarettes are obviously less bad for you than they are in Spain as they are freely sold in practically every shop. The best idea we found in the shops – the supermarkets and so on (loaded with everything those supermarkets: everything!) – was the plastic bags. They won’t give you one, you buy one for three cents, or you bring your own. Fewer plastic bags means less trash on the sides of the roads. Actually, apart from a pair of thermal socks, I didn’t see any trash on the sides of the roads.
There are few if any real-estate offices there. My wife inexplicably goes looking for one every time we stray much further from home than Turre. Perhaps people don’t buy and sell property much in Luxembourg, perhaps it's the thought of having to move all those forks to a fresh kitchen chest, or maybe they prefer to use the pages of the local ‘Der Welt’ (printed in Luxembourgish – a language) to advertise.
The town where we stayed was founded by an Irish monk called St Willibrord who happened to be in the area sometime in 698 looking for a decent lunch, preferably served on a roof-tile. There are now some 5,000 people living there, with much of the town given over to pedestrian streets together with a large square, a monastery, a basilica and a school. Plus, of course, restaurants, tea rooms and cake shops. The mayor, who helped at the wedding, and who always wears a sash so you can recognise him, has another novel way of standing out in a crowd. Whenever he leaves the town hall, a group of gaily-costumed brass blowing musicians accompany him. I saw the lot of them several times making their way grandly down the main street, the mayor looking harassed and the band tootling merrily. ‘Boys, I’m just going out for some cigarettes and maybe a pear brandy, so you don’t… oh, very well then’ dit di diddly de dee..
The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg (or Groussherzogtum Lëtzebuerg if you prefer) is ruled amiably by Grand-Duke Henri, who amongst his other duties, will become the godfather of your seventh child, if you get that far. The duchy (I’ve just looked this up) is exactly 999 square miles or a rather boring number of square kilometres. Much of it, when not dedicated to banks or restaurants, is in fact countryside. The rolling hills, bright green fields (aahhh!) the cows and the dark forests were all very beautiful as I roared past them comfortably ensconced in the passenger seat of several expensive cars.
Next year, I thought San Marino might be nice…
Thursday, September 27, 2007
Today is Tourism Day - the nearest thing we are going to get to 'Foreigners' Day'.
What's your town doing to celebrate?
Monday, September 17, 2007
There are, broadly speaking, three different types of Britons coming to Spain – if you consider this part of the Iberian peninsular as being ‘Spain’ since most towns around here now have more foreigners than they do locals. Three types. The first are those who live here on monies from ‘home’, perhaps a cheque in the mail from parents grateful to hear that you are ‘doing well over there’ and have no thoughts ‘of returning just yet’. More seriously, there are many of us who live comfortably on an income. They typically are retired and have time to travel around Spain, perhaps ‘Parador hopping’ or the occasional shopping trip down to Marbella or Gibraltar or maybe they prefer to spend their time at home, gardening or entertaining. This group, as far as Spain is concerned, is most welcome. They spend freely and they don’t ‘take away anyone’s jobs’. Say somewhere over half a million of them.
The second group is those who wanted to come and live here, perhaps sick of the modern society of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Sick of the dull grind where people grudgingly admit that ‘they manage’ with any apparent enthusiasm for their sad existence. They move out here, perhaps a little younger than the first group, in search of a better life. They will have to work here to live, perhaps a bar or some small business to keep them going. It is this group that attracts the attention of the forum writers. Should we support them or should we prefer the Spanish, they wonder.
I agree that this is a wonderful place to live and if – all other things being equal – a Briton opens a business then we should be glad to help and favour him with our business. Why on earth not? It’s hard enough here – Spanish clients are not generally going to come in droves, the taxes and stock are usually a bit higher and the rules can be a bit tighter. Witness the Brits who took over a bar in my pueblo. They were told they couldn’t use the terrace. A year later, now with local owners, the same bar is spread all over the terrace and halfway into the street.
Furthermore, there is always small teething problems associated with running a business in a foreign country. One evidently brand-new bar owner once asked me how to cook some sardines as his Spanish customer had evinced some interest in enjoying some with his beer. ‘Bloody hell’, I told him ‘not the foggiest’. I feel sorry now – he shut a few weeks later.
It’s a shame when people come out here, full of hope for a better life, with their children and their possessions, only to find that their plan for a small business will run up against indifference, jealousy, obstructionism or other trials. We should support them not just as ‘fellow Brits’ but as people who have made a gamble with life. They didn’t sit still.
The third group, small but always in evidence, is made up of ‘chancers’. They will be running on dry and without any thought to return to their country. They will live vicariously off the rest of us, either cadging drinks, working for a morning painting our wall, or perhaps, coming up with a small con.
However, they too are welcome. It sounds savage back there in Manchester.
Monday, August 27, 2007
The Spanish can really make something out of the oddest materials. Here - essentially - shit.
This is the view of this morning's presentation of the new and improved sewage station which is located in the Media Legua area in Vera. The Vera town hall want to make it larger and more efficient as there are now many more people living locally than there were when this, ahem, water-treatment plant was first installed in 1992. The water saved from the plant to be used for irrigation, golf courses and so on. The mayor came along today to 'plant the first brick' and to make a speech to the effect of what I've written above. Around four hundred people came to this quite surrealistic event - you may see the entrance to a marquee to the left, some cooks and barmen to the fore, some tables laden with linen, glasses and forks in the centre of my picture and that strip at the back is the sewage plant. Which smells like sewage plants do.
The reason for the interest is because the Junta de Andalucía want to build a still bigger sewage station, big enough to treat seven municipalities' worth of doo doo, at the same site. To do this, they would need to string yet another set of pylons and high-tension cables across some fifty different estates and, as the mayor pointed out today, the Junta's plan calls for the semi-treated waters from their plant to be sent down the (dry) River Antas and, uurgh, out to sea! The mayor is an excellent speaker, and in his remarks this morning, he never once criticised the Seville government, yet he gave the impression that they were fiddling in local affairs where they shouldn't. Finally, the mayor said that he had sent a registered letter to President Rodriguez Zapatero about the issue.
Mojácar has its own sewage plant, behind the go-karts to the rear of Garrucha. The other night, with a strange easterly wind, you could smell it in the Micar valley. A suggestion from the Vera mayor, made a few days ago, was to the effect that the Junta could perhaps use the Mojacar sewage treatment plant for its nefarious purposes.
The problem for the future, as a leaflet thoughtfully printed up by the Vera town hall explains, is that with the ever-increasing number of people coming here to live, there will be acute problems of water, sewerage, communications, electricity, services and the rest of it. In the case of sewerage, from Vera's point of view, the Junta's plan would be catastrophic with '24 million litres of brown water running down the Rio de Antas daily'.
Normally around here, sewage water is pumped out to the sea. Yep, 'fraid so.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
It’s probably not very impressive to a reader to know that we have that many subscriptions, but it certainly is to the other editors around here. They have no subscribers at all – who wants to read regurgitated stuff pulled off the internet or to check on old TV schedules?
One of the functions of a newspaper is to find its way into the historical library run by the local community – in this case, the hemeroteca of the diputación de Almería. We are the only local ‘free ones’ you’ll find there.
That’s right – one day some fellow will write his dissertation on us lot.
I was thinking about this again today as I saw some recognizable brand-name stuck within the mishmash of a truly dire looking rag, with a complete lack of form, lay-out, presentation or – probably – decent print run. Yea, yea, I know – it wuz ‘cheap’.
But, with the exception of the Carpet Baggers buying a new Porsche in Stuttgart on the back of their advertisers, the rest of us give you more or less the same deal. Cheaper means ‘less copies’ and no proper writing. Some adverts are going for fifteen euros. What kind of message are they signaling? Pile ‘em high and sell ‘em cheap. No art or literature here. More expensive means ‘better distribution’, ‘more copies’, ‘better sales’. It doesn’t mean ‘greed’ (except for the above-mentioned louts). For local advertising, the distinction is important, which is why none of us gets ‘Lamboughini’ adverts.
If you are an advertiser, you should be taking a vicarious pride in the medium where your business is presented. After all, you are partly paying for its production and costs. And on the other side of the fence, if you like or support that medium, then support their advertisers – choose them first!
I have to raise this subject because it’s getting quite ridiculous. There are more free English language newspapers and magazines, TV listings, phone listings, plus radios, websites, flyers, one-offs and oddities, than you can shake a stick at. All with their sales-crews rattling off numbers, statistics, exaggerations and absurdities. One newspaper says it distributes in Carboneras and Agua Amarga. No. Our two editions are the only ones that go there. We are the only ones that bother to tool up to Mojácar pueblo for that matter. Between our reputation, our distribution, our content and our subscription list, we are the best known and best respected local newspapers around here. We have lived here the longest and know the area the best. We shall be here next month, next year.
Probably still doing the bloody subscriptions one night a month, two or three of us sat on the floor with a bottle of wine and some classical music playing in the background.
Sunday, August 19, 2007
However, it has an ample selection of news channels, with – of course – a full quiver of Spanish newses (trust me on this – they are a whole lot better than any news channel I’ve ever seen in English). The news channels I get include CNN+, which is a full half an hour without interruption collection of national and international news - with almost no sports, chatter, invitations to see the webpage and other trite filler now so popular with the ‘matey’ English news channels. The other main news channel is the national RTE international news, kind of like the BBC. Besides this and the usual terrestrial channels – for if you want Andalucía’s Canal Sur noticias for example – we also have CNN, the BBC, Sky News (Gulp!), the ferociously right wing Fox News, Euronews (in any of about six languages), Al Jazeera in English and, for reasons best known to ‘Digital Plus’, a 24 hour French News broadcast exclusively in English. Someone must watch it.
In the entertainment channels, perhaps the system is weaker than Sky, but there are eight or ten film channels, including (whew!) French, Italian, Spanish and Japanese films since, happily, Europe is a bit less stuck on Hollywood than Britain appears to be. Sometimes in European films, you can’t even guess the ending!
These film channels will show the picture in Spanish or in ‘original’, which is usually English. They arrive on Spanish screens about the same time as they do on British ones, so we are watching ‘Transporter II’ or that peculiar film about snakes loose in an airplane at the moment.
Or perhaps not.
There are some documentary channels, some light entertainment such as Fox showing old Simpsons and new Boston Legals, AXN showing CSI and the insufferable JAG, a SciFi channel, a whodunit channel – pretty much all in English, and then a desperately unfunny ‘Paramount Comedy’ channel showing endless Catalonian sitcoms. We have the usual music channels, plus some latino ones. Cartoon channels, regional channels… Then there is the inevitably staggering number of sports channels.
Spanish television is different from the British, particularly in its lax respect for ‘18’ films, which are shown at any and all times. Good horror at lunchtime and, for that matter, cutesy kiddywink stuff at midnight. No telling.
Hard pornography is shown on weekends after 1.00am – guaranteed cheap, nasty and always hair-raising stuff. Make your own joke here.
There are lots of pay-channels with modern films, sports events and, inevitably, lots more pornography.
Advertising is reduced on Spanish satellite TV, but there is a certain amount between films and as interruptions on the documentary and light entertainment channels, usually advertising (Spain being Spain) condoms, French ticklers, flavoured condoms, KY Jelly and women’s intimate toiletries with a far from intimate flair. Then, we are also shown children’s absorbent lavatory paper adverts. Plus, to be fair, commercials from the Corte Inglés department store and even, occasionally, adverts for cars and second homes on the Murcian coast.
On terrestrial Spanish TV, the amount of advertising renders the whole subject unarguable. Twelve minutes per hour, minimum. A website called Puerta del Sol has this to say: 'If the 266,628 commercials shown by Tele 5 last year were played back to back, they would constitute 58 days of television'.
Coming with the package is the usual box and dish and, of course, one of those useful but silly controls which is soon covered in sellotape. It’s used by us to change the channel, the language and, of course, to switch off the noise during the National Geographic self-promotion advertising.
In my opinion, the choice and quality has gone down, slightly. One film channel that showed black and white creakers, ‘Clásico’, has gone, but, on the other hand, there are two TCM channels. The best documentary channel, Documental, is no more, and its replacement, Odisea, is only broadcast in Spanish or Portuguese. Again, some comedy serials, such as Frasier and Weeds, are only in Spanish.
So, since we don’t want to feel like exiles, living in Spain but with our hearts in England, we use and watch the Spanish system. Is it better? Yo que sé.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Friday, August 03, 2007
Meanwhile, the European Union is committed to stopping the siesta and many multinational companies are now operating in Spain with a ‘nine to five’ philosophy. They probably make their staff sit on hard wooden chairs as well. The bottom line is always the cash. Spain considers that ‘you work to live’ and the Anglos, stiff with their protestant guilt ethic, say that ‘you live to work’. ‘Arbeit macht frei’, as a German philosopher once put it.
I suppose that the Spanish nine-to-fivers experience rather mixed results from insisting on this calendar as, while they may receive business from abroad after the two o’clock watershed, they won’t get many ‘walk-ins’ during those last hours of their working day. It can be quite a nuisance in Madrid when you wake up after a siesta, shower and then take a taxi to some office clean across town to discover that it shuts at five for the day.
Five is hardly a late hour in a country which rarely goes to bed before midnight.
Indeed, much of Spain’s business is carried out over a beer or a glass of wine, either during the leisurely lunch which helps make living in this country such a pleasure, or during the evening, when the office-workers slip next door to the local cafeteria for a beer and chat, perhaps with a client.
The Spanish say that most deals are made outside the office.
Between this agreeable state of affairs and the burgeoning Anglo presence in the business world, the battle lines are drawn.
Movistar, Telefonica’s mobile phone company, appears to have embraced the European working clock – at least, it has taken to sending me irritating ‘peep peep’ commercial messages round about three in the afternoon when I am usually fast asleep.
Another call around three o’clock yesterday came from some English local newspaper that obviously prefers the British work-schedule, wanting to talk to me about an advert I had placed in The New Entertainer. Not to buy something mind, but to ask if I’d like to advertise with them. For this some sales-girl from the Sol Gazette wakes me up…
It ruined that day’s nap entirely; as I was left wondering who else of my clients she was no doubt waking with her ludicrous sales-patter.
The Spanish siesta is an institution that has worked for hundreds of years and is based on the soundest of experience and principals. Oddly, I recently read somewhere that the siesta was introduced by Franco - probably written by some stringer for the telephone company. After all, if the old bastard invented it, it’s OK to give it the bum’s rush and adopt instead those miserable Anglo hours.
Oddest of all is in the erstwhile Spanish town of Albox, where, now re-christened as ‘All-box’ and taken over by ‘los ingleses’ - the British - business hours there are now strictly ‘nine to five’, with some select places running from just ‘nine to two’. I imagine the surviving hoards of locals, fresh from their siestas, casting around after five o’clock for something to buy, somewhere to go.
Saturday, July 28, 2007
...such as http://www.lenoxnapier.com/.
...and if you spell my name wrong - as many people do, then - there are seven combinations of those as well:
http://www.lennoxnapier.net/ etc, etc.
Monday, July 23, 2007
A personal style infused with Mediterranean light. An illustration with a touch of realism inspired by the simplicity of shapes and forms.
Manuel Gallardo was born in 1981 in Los Gallardos, Almeria. He is a self- taught artist and aficionado of photography and sculpture. His works were selected for various art competitions, such as Roquetas del Mar, Lucainena de las Torres, and Vera among others. In June 2006 he was awarded First Prize by the Deputation of Almeria in an open air painting marathon in Los Gallardos. He has exhibited some of his works in the Museum Antonio Manuel Campoy in the Exhibition Hall La Tercia del Casillo del Marqués de los Vélez in Cuevas de Almanzora. This is his first solo exhibition.
Monday to Sunday from 11am to 1pm and 7pm to 9pm
c/Medio s/n (next to the Youth Centre)
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Yup, in Latin they call that table ‘mensa’.
To make things comfortably more complicated, Spain has some regional languages that are been encouraged – or so it seems to me – so as to bring the local politicians into the centre of power. We all know that the Catalonians have ‘Catalán’, the Valencians have ‘Valenciano’ (which is the same as Catalán, but don’t say I told you), the Galicians have ‘Galego’ and the Basques have something that has nothing in common with any other language: it’s called in Spanish ‘Euskera’, while in the Basque country, it’s called ‘euskaldunak’.
Then those living in eastern Almería have something even odder – it’s called ‘English’…
It seems a pity that everyone living on the Iberian peninsular, Portuguese and Gibraltarians included, couldn’t all speak one language, but there you go. In a generation, few people in Barcelona will speak more than broken Spanish, and fewer still of the Galicians will be able to make themselves understood when they take a shopping trip to Madrid.
And as for the Basques…
The other day, three young cousins of my wife arrived to stay. You know how it is; a quick email and they’re on your doorstep the following morning. They were backpacking around Europe for a month before completing their studies in a university in Washington DC. They spoke, of course, American.
Actually, they didn’t, because they were deaf. They signed in American: although they dropped their vowels, invented meanings, used their own slang and were otherwise difficult or impossible to make head or tail of. They signed too dam’ fast and they never stopped. Don’t talk with your hands full, I wanted to tell them at the dinner table. Here, try some of this…
Oddly, you begin to pick it up rather fast – or, at least, your own version of it, even as you wonder exactly who here has the handicap!
Of course, they would write things down for us and were great fun besides. Being energetic young kids, they drank and smoked like troopers and stayed up late with my son and his friends on the Playstation. With fingers like that, said the kids, it’s no wonder they keep winning…
On one occasion during their short visit, three of us: a Spaniard, my son and I, together with the three of them, went out for a boozy dinner – hands and fingers flying – in a pork and chips place on the beach, the other tables staring and wondering who we were, you must try the Licór de Pacharán and so on; and we followed this with a trip to our friend’s house where we drank a bottle of whisky, never stopped talking for a second, smoked ourselves blue and generally partied until dawn. Yet, all the while, you could have heard a pin drop.
The neighbours didn’t bang on the walls, we didn’t shout and bellow as we left round about sun up and the loudest sound would have been my stomach churning.
They went off to Madrid on the six o’clock bus to go to some important international congress of signing as delegates. Several hundred of them let loose in Madrid.
Blimey, that must have been a riot!
Thursday, July 12, 2007
The Hotel El Algarrobico has been built – it’s almost finished – in a national park and is also on land controlled under the jurisdiction of ‘Costas’ the coastal agency where strict ‘no building’ rules apply.
How the hotel got as far as it did – even with the support of the Carboneras town hall (PSOE) – is a mystery. However, it was stopped two years ago by the Ministry of the Environment.
As to what needs to be done – no one wants to get their fingers wet. The price to the government would be at least 50 million euros to expropriate and demolish the installation, plus more money ‘to return the land to its previous condition’ – land which is/was scrub and cliff-face and certainly not worth much to regain.
The Carboneras town hall continues to support the builders, Azata del Sol, and they are trying to put things in order, an impossible task for this construction.
The unfinished hotel at 21 stories and with 411 rooms is considered by ecologists (including Greenpeace) as being the symbol of over-construction, illegal builds, greed and the rest of it. The Spanish Mediterranean coastline, according to the ecologists, has 66,000 illegal constructions, but nothing to compare with the Hotel El Algarrobico.
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Friday, July 06, 2007
This is a picture of 'The Moors Blood', taken on the way between Sopalmo (a hamlet west of Mojácar) and Carboneras. Perhaps this is where the final battle took place between the Moors and Christians all those years ago. Perhaps it's just an example of the rich and varied minerals in the rock hereabouts.
Tuesday, July 03, 2007
Forgetting the Punch and Judy shows, the stand-up comedians and so on, we have: Jazz concert with Blues Stress at 10.30pm on Friday 13th July in the Plaza Nueva. Latin music with Crema y Cacao at 10.30pm on Wednesday 18th July in the Plaza Nueva. Flamenco with Sensi Falan, Niño de la Manola and Gabriel Duré at 10.30pm on Thursday 19th July in the Plaza Nueva. Brass Band concert with the Mojácar Municipal Band on Friday 20th July at 10.00pm in the Plaza Nueva. Flamenco dance concert with Kebanna Company at 11.00pm on Saturday 21st July at the Artisan Centre (6 euros entrance).
Aljama dance group at 10.00pm on Thursday 2nd August in the Plaza Nueva. Friday 10th through Sunday 12th is the Sopalmo Fiesta. Concert with Isabelle Bes (belle chanson) at 10.30pm on Friday 17th August in the plaza Nueva. Municipal dance troupes at the Plaza Nueva each evening at 10.00pm from Sunday 19th August through Friday 24th August with, in order, Marcela, Julie, Alexandrine, Rosa Manuela, Fatima Perestrello and, finally, Gustavo Criado. The Mojácar fiestas will be held on August 25th through 28th.
Monday, June 18, 2007
The money, of course. Here in our local elections, some parties apparently spent quite heavily to try for better results. One pueblo party sent an agent to South America where some fifteen per cent of the entire vote of that town happens to live. In fact, those ‘postal voters’ – people inscribed on the local town hall registry, but actually grandsons and daughters of those who left Spain after the Civil War – are considered key voters in certain local elections. Marvelous, isn’t it. These addresses are only (officially) released to the parties when it is way too late to send out campaign material, but – some people already had those details on file…
There is little doubt that a few years in public office can do wonders for one’s career and this is true the world over. Without any form of corruption, there are still many advantages available to the intelligent councilor.
As certain non-residents over there in Argentina were taking a bank-note out of an envelope and replacing it with their vote, other residents, nearer to home, were being denied their own rights. On Election Day, I was at the polling station wearing my Party-Badge and a few people came to me to say that they wanted to vote but were surprised to find that their names were not on the lists. I can only imagine that other people would have gone to other party representatives with similar complaints. It may just have been a few people involved and a few bits of paper mislaid, I charitably presume, although I later heard that in the Alicante town of Altea, the founder of Ciudadanos Europeos, Per Svensson, was unable to vote. How about those apples?
Even the stoutest defender of pueblo democracy would concede that there was some small manipulation or gerrymandering of votes in certain cases – with troublemakers or critics occasionally – whoops! - removed. In some parts of Almería, the ‘Europeans’ found that their names had been lovingly added to the 2011 elections, where, no doubt, they will one day make a difference.
I have met a few people who were offered money for their vote. One Spanish shop-keeper told me she had been offered 300 euros by the brother of one candidate and a similar amount by the friend of another.
One candidate in my town’s elections is said to have spent over a hundred and fifty thousand euros on his campaign, without obtaining a seat on the council. I personally think his candidacy was nothing more than a ‘red-herring’ to split the ‘foreign vote’. On the positive side, two foreigners are now in local government, Jim Simpson in Zurgena with the Partido Andalucista and Albert Shröter from the PP in Mojácar.
In another town nearby, the postal votes were apparently tampered with. All of the envelopes had been steamed open and the votes that were for other parties thrown into the trash – where they were later found. Judge’s decision: no action to be taken.
Back in my town, 75% of the Spaniards voted, where sadly only 40% of the registered ‘Europeans’ bothered to do so. Under European law, those citizens that had the nerve to have been born anywhere else in the world, like the USA, Ecuador or Argentina etc, of course couldn’t vote in our local elections. Let that be a lesson to them!
There were many reasons why our noble democratic process came under stress; but in the end, even though the route taken was not entirely the one recommended by those ancient Athenians who first put the idea into practice, the system worked and we got ourselves some new and evidently intelligent leaders.
Saturday, June 16, 2007
Sunday, June 10, 2007
Saturday, June 09, 2007
Thursday, June 07, 2007
The Moors and Christians celebrate the story of Mojácar's defeat in 1498 and how the two sides managed to turn the event into a companiable 'draw'.
There will be a medieval market in the Plaza Nueva with animations, falconry, snake charmers and the odd firework.
Friday 8th June. The event starts in the pueblo at around 6.30pm, with the troops arriving (noisily) at the fountain at 10.30pm and from there up to the pueblo, where the opening of the celebrations is officially proclaimed. The six troops ('Kabilas') will then withdraw, around midnight, to their various 'barracks' about the town where great toasts are drunk, great noise is blasted about and festive bands of musicians join in the aimiable bedlam.
Saturday, 9th June. 6.30pm. Moorish troops land on the Playa de Descargador (opposite the Provenzal Hotel) with the merry explosions of blunderbusses. There will be 'a hawking show' (hopefully involving wild birds of prey) and a belly dancing show. A medieval tournament will be staged. Then, accompanied by some really heavy fireworks and explosions, the deafened armies will march towards the Parque Comercial. From 10.00pm, the barracks will once again be opened where great amounts of cheap liquor will be quaffed etc.
Sunday 10th June. From midday, a truly cacophanous number of blunderbuss discharges will be held on the beach as the two armies meet. The main parade - quite unmissable - will take place from the Plaza Nueva in the pueblo, going down the road to the fuente below, from 7.00pm.
Thursday, May 24, 2007
Somewhere, I’d read that if you hold a neon tube firmly at both ends and stand under a 264 million gigawatt electric pylon, like the ones Sevillana are putting up in people’s back yards, the light will pick up the ambient electrical radiation and actually glow.
It would make a bloody good photo, I reasoned, the unfortunate veterinarian lady from the riverbed stood on her roof under the stretch of the giant cables that Sevillana had thoughtfully draped over her home. To say nothing of the massive pylon they had erected just outside her bedroom window. She would stand there like a modern Indalo, her legs slightly apart, her chin raised defiantly. As the vet glowed, just after sunset, I would be ready to take a quite sensational picture.
On the way down from the sierras where I had been ‘on assignment’, the road passes a restaurant outside Turre which is a rather large and modern affair – Madrid money apparently – which sits defiantly under another enormous electric highway once again erected by the omnipresent Sevillana, a disagreeable monopoly whose only interest and loyalty – as proved over the past few months – is to its shareholders. Curiously, the joint, which is large, smart and apparently spreading gently out from the original farmhouse, has no electrical hook-up and has to rely on a generator.
The lines crossing above the locale actually hum and your hair writhes slightly as it debates whether to stand on end under the cables.
A perfect place for my experiment.
I stopped the car outside the door and climbed out with my rod, looking something like a manic Luke Skywalker. Right there, outside the front door, I spread my legs slightly, grabbed hold of both ends of the neon tube and, with a short prayer to the god of idiots, waited to be bathed in light.
Well, nothing happened, actually, and after wishing a good evening to the three or four slightly startled looking waiters together with the cook who had come outside to join me, I put the rod back in the car, fastened the knickers firmly on one end, and quietly drove home.
The cables above the vet’s place, I noticed this morning, are now in full working mode. You can see the air bubble as it touches them. Perhaps the earlier experiment hadn’t worked because the power wasn’t strong enough. These new pylons appear to hold an even heavier charge. I think I might try my neon tube experiment again tonight.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Silly! You're meant to do it at night!!
Let's hope the Luddites' party purse is spent on better things than spray paint.
Friday, May 18, 2007
There’s a certain amount of people (I almost wrote ‘a lot’) who don’t want to vote in these local elections on May 27th - and probably some who would like to vote, but for none of the parties available.
However, there is an increasingly large number who do intend to vote and this is directed to them.
This is an easy, simple and generally democratic way of voting and putting into office the people you trust.
But, as in everything, there are a few catches.
The list of names for the party you vote for is the names, in order, of the candidates from that party. The first hundred or two or five hundred votes – depending on the size of the town and its electorate – will go to the first name on the list, ensuring his place as a concejal. The next number of votes gets the second name in and so on. If you are voting for a particular candidate – a friend of yours or a ‘likely looking chap’ or perhaps even the Party’s ‘token Englishman’, then you had better hope that his name is at the top of the list, because that’s where your vote is going.
Some parties hand out little gifts, lighters or pens or a glass of wine. They may well hand out copies of their papeleta perhaps with the special voting envelope. That’s fine, but don’t be taken in by those few ‘bad-pennies’ who hand out bigger presents. Nothing is free in politics and it is said by the Spanish that only corrupt people vote for corrupt parties and the trick is to make sure that there are more honest voters than corrupt ones.
You can vote by going to the Correos. If you have your vote ready and sealed in the special envelope, then, with your photographic ID, you can vote. Otherwise, slightly more complicated, you can ask to vote by Correos at the post office, receive all of the different papeletas by registered post and return to any post office with your vote (however, only in Spain) before May 23rd.
Most people, however, like to go to the polling station.
The voting process is simple. You go to the polling station (usually the school – in Mojácar it’s the village school up by the old football field at the back of Mojácar pueblo – you can drive up the back road as if to the market). You take your residence card or your passport or any legal ID which shows your photograph. You check your voting table (there are people to help you). You go behind the curtain and choose one paper from the alternatives (each ‘papeleta’ or list will be in a neat pile in the voting booth). You seal your unmarked vote in an envelope and you deposit it in the ballot box.
At the end of the day, the votes are counted and the council seats are apportioned to the parties according to the numerical results.
A town, they say, gets the politicians it deserves. It must be worth everyone’s time to make sure that the best people possible will be asked to serve their community for the next four years.
Thursday, May 10, 2007
No doubt crookedly inclined voters will vote for crookedly inclined parties.
There are other concerns.
Of the 'European' vote, one party has no less than twelve 'foreign' names on their list - almost all Brits. However - none of them speak Spanish. How are they going to vote in the town hall meetings? How are they going to work up there at all? Yes, we need 'Europeans' in the ayuntamiento, to be able to speak English to the public, but they will need to speak Spanish as well to be of any use.
I don't think in a modern Spanish town with half the population being British a 'no comprendo' is going to be of much use in the town hall.
Friday, May 04, 2007
The correct thing to do if you find yourself in disagreement with your party is to resign and allow the next name on the party list to take over your position. After all, the fact that you are in the town hall as a councillor is because people voted for your proposals...
Of course, with the exception of Angel Medina, no one has left their post to 'go home' in living memory, and the entire province is full of 'transfugas' and betrayals as a result.
In Mojácar, of the seven transfugas currently in the town hall, six of them are on various party lists for this month's elections, and lead no less than three of them (PP, PDM and Levante Sostenible).
The PDM (Partido Democrático de Mojácar) in fact, is a good chunk of the current town hall under a new flag. The first three names on it being Gabriel Flores, Maria Asención Morales (both chucked from the PSOE) and, in third place, Jose Luis Cano (chucked from the PP). I can't see this group getting enough votes to put Maria Asención back into power - much less Jose Luis Cano! Or am I guilty of wishful thinking?
So - who is going to vote for a transfuga?
What is he expecting to get out of it?
Later: I read (El Mundo 5 May 07) that the PDM has got its own Brit on the list (at number eleven!). Keith Bradley who had time the other day to offer this quote: '...(in the last twenty years) I had never seen a government as efficient as the one led by Gabriel Flores during the past two years'.
Monday, April 30, 2007
Listas presentadas elecciones municipales 2007:
1.- LEVANTE SOSTENIBLE DE MOJACAR (LEVANTE SOS. MOJACAR) 1 JOSE LUIS ARTERO GARCIA 2 JUAN ANTONIO GRIMA CERVANTES 3 ASTRID SCHRÖDER 4 CATALINA DEL ROSARIO GARCIA GONZALEZ 5 JORDI FERNANDEZ HERNANDEZ 6 MARIA ANGELES RIOSALIDO RAMOS 7 RAFAEL REYES CUADRADO 8 MARIA HERNANDEZ FLORES 9 IAN SUMMERS 10 MARIA ELENA SAINZ DE ROZAS PALACIO 11 MARIA JESUS GARCIA GONZALEZ 12 MARIANO LOPEZ RUBIO 13 MARIA DEL PILAR RIOSALIDO RAMOS SUPLENTES: 1 FERNANDO HINOJO PEREZ 2 ANA MARIA NORIEGA PINILLA 3 FRANCISCO QUESADA FLORES
2.- ASAMBLEA DE IZQUIERDAS (A.Iz) 1 CARLOS SALVADOR CERVANTES ZAMORA 2 SERAFIN ALARCON LOPEZ 3 FRANCISCO MONTOYA FLORES 4 VICTORIA VIRGINIA ANTON HERNANZ 5 PAULINA ANTONY 6 DOMINGO GABRIEL CARRIQUE BELMONTE 7 JUAN ANGEL MARTINEZ ALONSO 8 ROSARIO DUARTE ROMERO 9 FARZIN FARZAN NIA 10 MARIA ISABEL SANCHEZ REDONDO 11 PEDRO QUILES DOMINGUEZ 12 TOMAS CHAMORRO MUÑOZ 13 MARIA ISABEL CULEBRAS POZA
3.- CIUDADANOS EUROPEOS DE MOJACAR (C.E.M.) 1 ANGEL MEDINA CHULLA 2 LENOX SCOTT NAPIER 3 JENNY LOUISE HAYES 4 PAULA ESTEBAN DEL RIO 5 CARLOS SAN JULIAN BLANCO 6 ISABELLE NATHALIE VERONIQUE BES 7 DANIEL WILLIAN NAPIER 8 MAUREEN SYKES 9 ISABEL AZNAR FERNANDEZ 10 ALEJANDRO CUCKSON MARTINEZ 11 MARCELO JORGE SUAREZ-BRAVO NOVAS 12 BLANCA MARIA MORERA ORTIZ 13 ANGEL MIGUEL CIFRE LAPEYRE
4.- PARTIDO INDEPENDIENTE DE MOJACAR (P.I.MOJ.) 1 MAATI EL OUARDIGHI EL IMANI 2 MARIA ANGELES GUIRAL SANCHEZ 3 REBECCA LOUISSE GRAHAM 4 JUAN DIEGO CANO ARTERA 5 MARIA DOLORES HARO REYES 6 JAMES PETER MILLINGTOM SUCKLING 7 LINDA FRANCINE VAN GINDERACHTER DE RIJCH 8 ANTONIO JOSE GALLARDO SAEZ 9 ION VASILE DINU 10 ALBERTO SORO BELTRAN 11 IRENE SCURRAH 12 JOSE FERNANDEZ FERNANDEZ 13 SORAYA EL OUARDIGHI SAEZ SUPLENTES: 1 CRISTOBAL SANCHEZ LOPEZ 2 MARIA DEL MAR GARCIA MORILLA 3 JENIFER GIL BELTRAN
5.- PARTIDO POPULAR (P.P.) 1 ROSA MARIA CANO MONTOYA 2 DIEGO CARRILLO GONZALEZ 3 MARIA LUISA PEREZ LOPEZ 4 ALBERT WALDEMAR WERNER SCHRÖTER 5 ISABEL ROSA MONTOYA LOPEZ 6 SANTIAGO RODRIGUEZ MARTIN 7 GONZALO MOSCARDO PEREA 8 ROSA MARIA MORALES GARCIA 9 ELENA STAN 10 DENNIS GEORGE MORDEN 11 LUIS VALERO GONZALEZ 12 VALENTINA MIR ALLES 13 ISABEL MARIA FERNANDEZ SANCHEZ SUPLENTES: 1 VICTOR LUIS HERRERA BLANCO
6.- PARTIDO ANDALUCISTA (P.A.) 1 DIEGO FRANCISCO GONZALEZ AGUADO 2 PEDRO MANUEL MONTOYA MORALES 3 EMMANUEL AGUERO LECLERC 4 FRANCISCA MORALES CERVANTES 5 ISABEL ZAMORA BARON 6 JOAQUIN FRANCISCO SAEZ SAEZ 7 FRANCISCO FLORES ALONSO 8 HAZEL KAY MCGRATH 9 SARAH MARIA SMITH 10 SALVADOR BECERRA GIL 11 RAUL GARRIDO SEGURA 12 MAGDALENA QUIÑONERO GAZQUEZ 13 MARIA DEL CARMEN PEREZ LLORIS SUPLENTES: 1 JUAN FRANCISCO LOPEZ RODRIGUEZ 2 RAFAELA MARIA FLORES MONTOYA
7.- PARTIDO DE ALMERIA (PdAL) 1 DIEGO GARCIA MONTOYA 2 JOSE MANUEL PADILLA VIZCAINO 3 LUIS GUILLERMO JIMENEZ JIMENEZ 4 JODIE FRANCES ESQUER 5 MARIA BELEN GARCIA LOPEZ 6 MATTHEW JAMES SHATFORD 7 JOHN MICHAEL AMPLEFORD 8 FRANCISCA CANO PARRA 9 DANIEL GONZALEZ LINNITT 10 ISABEL SAEZ CASTRO 11 LIVIU ARMIE 12 MARIA DEL MAR LOPEZ LOPEZ 13 PEDRO ZAMORA BARON SUPLENTES: 1 ANTONIO JESUS PEREZ CARRIQUE 2 MARIA JOSE GARRIDO VIZCAINO 3 URSULA CRISTINE HORCK
8.- PARTIDO SOCIALISTA OBRERO ESPAÑOL (PSOE) 1 PHILIPPE KIRSCH GOMEZ 2 FRANCISCO AGUSTIN MARTINEZ HARO 3 RYMA HUSSEIN EL AHMED 4 LEONARDA GOMEZ BONILLO 5 JUAN SANCHEZ RUIZ 6 JUAN FRANCISCO GALERA MORENO 7 ADELA MARIA FLORES ZAMORA 8 JORGE SIMON ORTIZ CARRILLO 9 ABEL ABARKAN ORTS 10 MARIA DE LOS REYES MEDINA FLORES 11 CARLOS PIÑERO FLORENCIO 12 ANTONIA MARQUEZ GALERA 13 JUAN JULIAN GULLON ALONSO SUPLENTES: 1 JUANA MARIA MARTINEZ HARO 2 ALFONSO ANTONIO VILLANOVA CARRERO 3 YOLANDA ANGELES PARRA RIDAO
9.- PARTIDO SOCIALISTA DE ANDALUCIA (PSA) 1 JUAN ALFONSO LOPEZ RODRIGUEZ (PSA) 2 PEDRO SUAREZ RUIZ (PSA) 3 MARIA LUISA DE LA FUENTE QUAGLIOTTI (PSA) 4 MARTIN ADAN CASTILLO (PSA) 5 SONIA SUAREZ TAMAYO (PSA) 6 ANTONIO CAMPOY PEREZ (PSA) 7 FERNANDO MARTINEZ GONZALEZ (PSA) 8 AURORA RUIZ MARTIN (PSA) 9 IGNACIO LOPEZ DE LA FUENTE (PSA) 10 MARIA LUISA LOPEZ MATHESSANZ (PSA) 11 JUAN JESUS JIMENEZ DE LA FUENTE (PSA) 12 GILDA RAWSON FERLUGA (PSA) 13 JOSE FRANCISCO NUÑEZ MARTOS (PSA) SUPLENTES: 1 ERNESTO OBRADOR IBAÑEZ (PSA)
10.- PARTIDO DEMOCRATICO DE MOJACAR (PDM DE MOJACAR) 1 GABRIEL FLORES MORALES 2 MARIA ASCENSION MORALES RAMOS 3 JOSE LUIS CANO RODRIGUEZ 4 GINES TORRES FLORES 5 SUSANNA EMILY HALL 6 MIGUEL GARCIA CAMPOY 7 JOSE MARIA RUIZ FLORES 8 VIOLETA RUEDA GUAREÑO 9 CONCEPCION LUGARDA GUILLEN TORRES 10 ESTEBAN ANTONIO DUARTE GONZALEZ 11 KEITH BRADLEY 12 SHIRLEY ANN ALMAN 13 YOLANDA PATRICIA PARRA NIEDERHAUSER SUPLENTES: 1 SALVADOR DOMINGO VIVES LOPICCOLO 2 LINLDSAY MCBRIDE 3 DIEGO QUERO GARCIA
11.- GRUPO INDEPENDIENTE POR ALMERIA (GIAL) 1 DIEGO GARCIA MONTOYA 2 ANGEL CORDOBA BLANCO 3 WIELAND CLEMENS ECKLER 4 JUANA CASTRO FLORES 5 CRISTINA SANDU 6 JAMES MARLIN BRYCE 7 SARA SIROLLI 8 FRANCISCO ALACID MELCHON 9 MARIA JOSEFA IBAÑEZ GARCIA 10 FRANCISCO JAVIER SERRANO FLORES 11 JORGE MANZANARES PINO 12 DAVID BELMONTE CORTIJO 13 CONCEPCION CARRASCO GUTIERREZ
12.- IZQUIERDA UNIDA LOS VERDES- CONVOCATORIA POR ANDALUCIA (IULV-CA) 1 FRANCISCO RUBIO SANCHEZ 2 JOSE LUIS LLORENTE PEREZ 3 ALEJANDRA LOPEZ SEVILLA 4 AINA KUCINSKIENE 5 JOHN GRAEME STEWART 6 MARIA DEL PILAR RAMOS MARTIN 7 INDALECIO RUEDA GARCIA 8 NICOLAS LUQUE VILLEGAS 9 EUSTAQUIO ARCOS MUÑOZ 10 MARIA IBARRA GALERA 11 AMPARO DIAZ RUBIO 12 SERGIO GARCIA PASTOR 13 JAVIER DE SAGARRA CHAO SUPLENTES: 1 ANTONIO JOSE VILLEGAS GIMENEZ 2 EVANGELINA MUÑOZ PERAL
13.- MOJACAR NUEVA (MN) 1 ENRIQUE JOAQUIN GARCIA MAURIÑO LORENTE 2 RUTH GREEN 3 JAVIER SORIA DIAZ 4 MARY ELLEN PATRICIA WESTON 5 ROWLAND STEPHEN BEECHENER 6 MARIA DEL CARMEN MALDONADO LOPEZ 7 DENISE JANE GROOM 8 DONALD WILLIAMS 9 EDMUND PATRICK MCCRORY 10 BARBARA JOAN BIRKS 11 JEAN PATRICIA BANNER 12 DAVID BRACE 13 EILEEN MCCRORY SUPLENTES: 1 MICHAEL FRED GROOM 2 MICHAEL WESTON
Thirteen parties - two choices. A modern and healthy European town, or another four years of anarchy.