Friday, April 18, 2008

It’s Friday again. Suzy’s African experience, Elegy, a more feminine Spanish government and other things

Carme Chacón, the new Spanish Minister of Defence.

As I write here this Friday afternoon, it is pouring with rain outside. We have had another week of rain but that, of course, is good news for Spain. So I won’t complain. Suzy who is in Tunisia and was expecting bad weather has been lucky and it seems is quite tanned.

Her trip sounds great; lots of sun, lots of activity, a bit of flirting and of course, lots of culture. Shopping too has been an essential part of the trip and we look forward to being showered with things like nougat, tea and local pottery if she hasn’t run out of money in the middle of the trip! She has done all sorts of “African” things like riding camels and visiting deserts. Today they are travelling on 4WD vehicles and tonight they will be having dinner in a hammam probably accompanied by belly dancing. Anyway, we will hear more when she returns on Sunday.

Oli has been slaving away meanwhile and I can assure you she will finish her 5 year stint at University to get her 3 degrees this Summer. She did have time though to go to the premiere of Elegy, Isabel Coixet’s first venture into Hollywood. The film is based on the supposedly torrid novel Dying Animal by Philip Roth and stars Ben Kingsley and Penelope Cruz which must make a very sensual combination. He is her 63 year history teacher at an American University.

Penelope Cruz and Ben Kingsely with Isabel Coixet.
The premiere must have been pretty important as apart from the Director and Penelope Cruz it was also attended by Spain’s own “premiere”, José Rodríguez Zapatero.

He was flanked by his newly appointed lady ministers. Carmen Chacón is Spain’s first lady minister for Defence. Incidentally she is 8 months pregnant which should not be news but actually is in a country like Spain with such a heritage of male chauvinism. Zapatero obviously wants to change all that as he has also created a Ministry for Equality and appointed Bibiana Aido,who at 31 is the youngest lady Minister Spain has ever had. I think these are great moves by Zapatero who now has more women in his cabinet than men; admittedly only by one person. I do think that Bibiana is going to have a very hard job eradicating or even dealing with the ever increasing issues of wife battering and female discrimination in the corporate world but just the fact that the new Ministry exists at all should put a greater focus on these issues in Spanish society.

Oli and I went shopping yesterday to get some yellow earrings; well that was the excuse. I ended up buying a whole range of linen outfits for Summer from H+M plus a great canary yellow jacket from Zara as well as some lovely accessories from Claire’s. Oli got some stuff too and we came home laden with packages happy and content. Clothes’ shopping is such good therapy.

I also had lunch with my great friends Fátima and Julio at El Oso, one of our favourite haunts. Fátima was my colleague at Motorola and at Nokia and Julio was my great pal at Nokia. Now they work together and I am on my own. When I complained to them that I didn’t have any friends like them at my new job, Julio burst out laughing and said he wasn’t surprised as I don’t go to work very often because I work mostly from home and don't really have the chance or even the need! He is right of course and as my Mother would have said, I can’t have my cake and eat it!

The most important outcome of our lunch was the decision to postpone our trip together to celebrate Julio’s birthday to June and to go to Córdoba instead of Cáceres. We are bent on going to the Hospes hotel which if you take a look here,you will understand why. Ever since we got back from our recent trip to Andalucía, I have been telling Eladio I want to visit Córdoba again and here is the chance.

I must mention too that we had dinner last Saturday with José Antonio, Eladio’s next brother down, and Dolores and their son, my favourite nephew, Miguel. We went to Bice,that Italian restaurant I love so much in Madrid. We hadn’t seen José Antonio and Dolores since 6th January which is unacceptable for such close family. They have just taken semi retirement and it is obvious to all and sundry they are thoroughly enjoying it. Dolores has just been to India with a friend and José Antonio is beaming with happiness over their newly built house in the village of their boyhood, Montrondo.

Tonight Eladio and I will be going to see Elegy. Oli says it’s the best film she has seen for a long time and I respect her judgement. Tomorrow I expect we will be going on our own to our favourite Saturday night restaurant. Guess where? Yes, it is La Vaca Argentina. And on Sunday Suzy will be back and in no time the weekend will be over and then it will be Monday. But that’s life isn’t it.

As a final note in this week’s post I should probably add that I now have the final verdict of my back problem. I was quite lucky to be diagnosed on Monday with a non increasing spondylolisthesis. It does appear, from the CT Scan that the 2 vertebra are now fused or stuck which seems like a stroke of luck from nature according to my doctor. That means that the slipping vertebra should not move any further forward. It also means there is no need for surgery as the surgery itself, as I understand it, consists of fusing the 2 vertebra. On the downside I have to live with the pain and be careful not to carry anything heavy. I am also supposed to lose a lot of weight. That is the worst part of the whole verdict. So, end of story except that I have to be monitored every 6 months just to be on the safe side.

That’s all for the moment folks.

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