If Franco Could See Me Now!

My week has fallen into place and I'm now more or less accustomed to the outrageous nature of my daily timetable, although somedays I'd rather splay out asleep on the sofa than pretend to be interested in the stilted mutterances of whichever Diego or Clara is in front of me.

Maybe that was overly harsh. They're mostly lovely, with only a couple of boredom-preachers.

The weather is starting to carry a chill in the mornings and at night. During the day however the sun is still strangling the air and the metro is still a holiday destination for inhabitants of the Inferno. Indeed whatever the weather is outside, the Madrid Metro maintains its Hadean climate all year round...probably to make the most of tourists and their precious sweat. Whatever the weather decides to do or be, I went and bought some new clothing at the weekend just to be prepared.

NOTE: El Corte Ingles is the John Lewis of Spain, on steroids, much bigger and with a view to enveloping you into its wonderful labyrinthine bosom. I went to buy a shirt. Bought the shirt. I went to the basement level where the supermarket is housed to buy a bottle of wine. Bought the bottle of wine. I then went upstairs and was promptly spat out on some random street that I didn't know.

El Corte Ingles is one of those to-big-for-its-own-good shops.

"Hey! Hey you! Hey, Customer!"


"Come in"

"No, no it's ok, I only need a notepad"

"I've got notepads"

"Well, ok then"

"Have you packed your suitcase?"

"What?...no, no I haven't...what are you talking about?"


(Sucking noise - think space vacuum/space shuttle door opening - then silence)

Cut to black -

"What the hell just happened?!"

"Enjoy your shopping? Get your notepad?"


"You spent a long time in me didn't you?"

"That sounds weird"

"But you did..."

"I hate you"

"Come now, I'm full of treasures...you can't have been bored"

"I didn't have mobile reception"


"My family think I'm dead, I've lost my job, I've been wearing the same clothes for three months and I've contracted a stress related illness!"



"But, but look at your shiny notepad"

Stupid shop, but nonetheless impressive. And to its merit, it does have everything.

Another quick thing about the Spanish people I'd like to point out are their paradoxical manners. They are at once the most blindly rude people and inspiringly altruistic people. It's not normal.

Since starting my time in Madrid I've noticed those cheeky Spaniards up to their old tricks - you may, if you did read it, remember this from my last blog - of standing in the way, walking slowly, not being conscientious of where they are both biologically and physically in the world, and generally being the largest arse-based pain imaginable. However the other day on the metro I saw a glimpse of their Jekyllien side - I'm coining that word by the way.

I was standing by the door at one end of the carriage. At the other end, on reaching the station, the doors opened and a blind man entered. A woman then instantly shot to her feet and, without even a flicker of 'look at me I'm such a saint', guided him to the seat she was nestled in just moments ago. Another woman then got out of her seat to give it to the lady who previously just offered her seat to the blind man. Outstanding good manners! I've also noticed this time and time again with people of a certain silver-topped aged. People practically fight each other to be the first to give up their seat.

It filled me with a warm glow, like a single candle offering an iota of warmth in a frosty Victorian room. However the candle was soon extinguished as the mass of tanned-bodies once again clustered around me, seemingly hell-bent on not allowing me to move at a productive pace. The paradoxical buggers. They are like inverse Marmite - you love them and you hate them.

I am also about to embark on a tapas restaurant mission: to go to and document/review as many different tapas restaurants/bars as I can. Not in one night of course. I have already been given a list of as many as 20, 25 different places by one of my students as a kind of starter pack. Must remember to keep exercising as well though...

Not really much left to report. Got in at 7:30 this morning from a house party, still hoping people will come to visit me, and am still waiting to find out if I am permitted to come home for Christmas.

Pips and toodles to all!