Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Week 23

Firstly, an apology to anyone who was taken the time to look at our blog recently and been disappointed: we’ve dropped the ball lately. I promise to resume normal service as of this Friday.

Regular readers will be pleased to hear that I am not a racist any more. I have been listening to a lot of Cannonball Adderley and Miles Davis, and Hitler absolutely wouldn’t have liked them, so I’m back in the multicultural game. As an immigrant myself, I was never going to be all that successful with the politics of the far right.

That having been said, I wonder what Hitler would have made of my recent purchase of a copy of the Sunday Express. Much like the Führer, both the mid-market papers in the UK (that’s the Daily Express and the Daily Mail) are strongly critical of immigration, regularly portraying migrants from Eastern Europe as a threat to the British way of life. Interestingly, however, these two papers are also the only British papers printed in Spain, as they have a market in the large British communities on the Mediterranean coast. Of course, Brits over here are ‘ex-patriots’, not ‘immigrants’, and they have done nothing wrong moving to a new country to enjoy a better quality of life and cushy free health care (the last WHO ranking, in 2000, placed Spain’s health system at 7th in the world, and Britain’s at 18th).

Politics aside, my furtive leafing through the papers at the tabac has uncovered only one with a cryptic crossword – the Sunday Express. At €1.90, it’s also a lot cheaper than the broadsheets, which cost around €4. Before you begin spitting with rage at your screen at the thought of my giving money to the noted pornographer Richard Desmond, who owns the Express along with TV channels like Red Hot Only 18 and Erotika, let’s take a look at that crossword:

Charming foreigner holds object (6). P---T-

A Pole, a charming foreigner? Can it be that the Express’s crossword setter is sneaking cleverly coded liberal messages into that conservative organ? 

Spectators at the marathon on Sunday

I had been intending to write all about how spring has sprung in Barcelona, how the blossom is on the trees, how the days are getting longer, warmer and sunnier - all of which was true until the temperature plummeted and it began snowing heavily earlier today. Will and I have just ventured outside, thinking it would be all magical and festive but the reality is, it's bone-chillingly cold, Christmas was months ago and the ground is like a slushy bathroom floor after someone's had a shower and not closed the shower curtain properly. 

However, this latest meteorological development allows me to indulge in one of my favourite pastimes: discussing the weather. It doesn't matter how much tapas I eat or how good I get at rolling my 'Rs', because I will always have that innate British ability to twitter on about how sunny/windy/hot/cold/muggy/foggy/snowy it is. I check the daily forecast with the kind of anticipation that other people might reserve for checking their lottery numbers and I love to deliver a weather report to Will every morning, whether he likes it or not.

Last Sunday was beautiful, so Will and I took the car out to the Parc Natural del Garraf, a great chunk of wild-looking, mountainous countryside which lies 30km south-west of Barcelona and feels a million miles away from the bustle of the city. It offers sweeping views of the coastline and there are plenty of walking opportunities; on our two-hour hike, we saw nobody else but a couple having a picnic and we heard nothing but the far-off hum of a tractor.

It's times like these when the difference between mine and Will's childhoods becomes apparent: he's a country boy who can identify herbs and trees, while and I'm a suburban type who's better at identifying the best London Underground route from Woodford to Brixton. When Will suggested we forget about the path, cross over some fields and go off the beaten track, I was aghast. But we'll get eaten by cows or shot at by a farmer! I thought in a panic. Luckily, I was saved by a sign telling us that the fields were private property. Ha, country boy! We're sticking to the nice, official path for right-thinking people and there's nothing you can do about it.

 Sunny Barcelona. How we laughed

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