Sunday, June 26, 2011

Summer is here, remembering Aunty Gloria, Raoul Wallenberg, “righteous among nations” and going to see Elsa.

Not so little Elsa aged 1.5 months.  She's coming to live with us in July

Hello again this very hot Sunday afternoon
Summer officially arrived this week and as you know, the 21st June is the first day of the summer, or the solstice, and is the longest day of the year.  Wimbledon is in full swing and palgued by rain whilst we are in the middle of a heat wave and the days are long and stifling.  I get up early and enjoy the cool of the morning.  The afternoons are the worst and when the sun is just a bit less hot, we go and sit in the shade on the grass by the pool and read our books.  This week Eladio took his first bathe.  Olivia and I, on the other hand are bathing every day. We then have dinner earlier at just after eight and only then, as the sun is going down, can we dare out on our walk. Norah now comes with us as she is a lot better and needs the exercise.  When we come back it is still light at around 10.30.  We then return to the pool, me to cool off again with a short swim and Eladio to dangle his legs in the water. We then go to our room where we have previously set the air conditioning to cool it before we arrive and watch the television on our huge screen until we fall asleep.  That is the way we combat the heat; there is no other way.
The week has been busy after our trip to Brussels.  I have been occupied with preparations for this year’s Yoigo summer party.  It was going to be in Ibiza but now is in Madrid.  I have, however, not abandoned the Ibiza theme as we will all be going dressed in white and will set up our own “Pacha” discotheque. 
This year's Yoigo Summer Party logo
On Tuesday, the day of the solstice I was terribly busy but had to set aside time for my routine gynecologist appointment.  The good news is that I now have a clean slate and so does Suzy.  I have to take these things seriously as my Mother died of breast cancer.  There is a lot of cancer in my family but if I’m lucky I will have inherited more of my Father’s genes.  At 92 he is in a perfect state of health and mind with none of those awful afflictions which often strike the elderly.  He is giving Russian lessons to Manolo (Fátima’s brother and the person who is giving us Elsa, the Labrador puppy) and seems to enjoy them thoroughly.  My Father always was a good and vocational teacher and I’m happy to see his knowledge being put to use once again.
Wednesday was my busiest day, part of it to be dedicated to a film being made by the Association of Spanish Communications Directors (Dircom) about a day in the life of 5 communications directors, including myself.  I had breakfast reading an interview with Cinco Días (a Spanish business daily) which I had organized and which had taken place on Monday in the office.   Publications of interviews are the highlight of my job really but you never know which way they will go. Inés, a journalist I knew well in my Nokia days, did a great job understanding Yoigo’s role in the so-called “price war” in Spain.  You can read it here.
Soon the Video crew arrived at my home ready to film the stereotype of a day in the life of a Spanish communications director (get up early, say goodbye to small children, hit the traffic, arrive at the office, talk to their secretary about the day’s meetings, meetings, arrive home late at night, say goodnight to children, etc, etc) only to realize that my days are quite the opposite as I mostly work at home, do not have small children, nor a secretary and organize my own time and that above all I do not distinguish between my personal and my professional life.  I look forward to the finished product which will be shown at the up and coming annual convention.  I will not be attending unfortunately as I would love to see my counterparts’ reactions to my very different sort of day to theirs.  The crew filmed me reading the papers and talking on the phone in the kitchen, in the garden with Norah, working at my desk in our study, showing them my books and talking to Oli by the pool where she was working and finally pretending to have to run off to a late night meeting after an urgent phone call.  Unfortunately when they were filming that part I realized Eladio had taken my car.  I tried to ring him but he had left his phone at home. 
Even worse, I really did have to run off to the office after the filming for a meeting with the sales department about social media and had no car.  Thankfully Suzy drove me to the nearby shopping centre where Eladio and my Father were doing the weekly shopping.  After a short telling off, I grabbed my car from Eladio and rushed to the office.  Thankfully I wasn’t late as I hate not being on time.  Punctuality is a trait in me I have cultivated over the years.
On Wednesday night I went to do the tasting for the dinner and took along Eladio and his brother José Antonio.  They are no great food connoisseurs, so it was up to me to decide what was good, what was bad and what needed changing, as they, of course, thought everything was ok.  In the end I changed absolutely everything and we will have to go back tomorrow night for another evening of tasting – not good for my new Dukan figure.  The location we have chosen is perfect for an Ibizan party. It’s called Las Lagunas de las madres and is a natural park with two lakes, so we will be able to do everything outside.  But more about the party next week when it’s over and I can reveal all the surprise activities being prepared for the occasion.
Las Lagunas de las Madres where our party will be held.  Wonderful place
I just told you I had breakfast with the newspaper Cinco Días, but I did not tell you that Wednesday morning actually started with a few tears.  As I was having my coffee and reading my emails at about 7 in the morning, I saw a comment on my blog.  Amazingly it was in reference to my blog postabout the air crash on the island of Krk, in former Yugoslavia in which my Father’s sister, my beloved Aunty Gloria, and her family all perished.  This is the comment I read which had my hair stand on end. Unfortunately it is anonymous.
"Masha, I found your site whilst looking for some info on the Krk aircrash as my husband's 17 yr old sister was killed on that plane along with the entire family of the friend she went with. I don't know what to say other than the tragedy has never left. At age 18 he had to go out there and make arrangements with an older sister to bring her home. I never knew her but we hope one day to go out and find the memorial to those who died. It was strange reading about it in your blog".
I burst into tears when I read it and that is how Eladio found me when he joined me in the kitchen some minutes later.   I know he understood as he has often caught me shedding tears over the years for Aunty Gloria, Uncle Derek and my dearest cousins Jacqueline, Michael and Antony.  As the person writes above, the tragedy has never left us either.  How could we ever forget something so tragic?  They died on the 23rd May 1971, just over 30 years ago and I will carry them forever in my heart.
Aunty Gloria who perished in that air crash with all her family.  They are forever in my heart.
Thursday and Friday were a bank holiday in Madrid.  Suzy went off to Santa Pola with Juli and they seem to have had a grand time.  They will be on their way home by now. I have asked for pictures but only got one of Suzy on the beach sunning her legs.  Oli will be going there next weekend too and hopefully we will be going sometime in August. It is our little pied-à-terre by the beach where we used to go far more often when we first bought it some 12 years ago.
Suzy sunning her legs at the beach in Santa Pola this weekend.
Even though it was a holiday, I spent most of it working on the up and coming summer party, amongst other things, and even had a meeting with the three sisters who run my events agency (Cristina, Bea and Gloria).  I love offsite informal meetings with them as these are when our brainstorming works best.  I came away happy with our last minute changes to the party.
When my work was finished in the afternoons I would read my book with Eladio by the pool as I told you earlier. My book of the week is once again about the Second World War, a genre that fascinates me as I was brought up on my own parents’ stories of the war. Even as a child I used to have nightmares about Nazi soldiers coming to our house in the middle of the night to arrest us.  I was born in 1957, just 12 years after it finished.  As I read survivors’ stories it saddens me to know that soon there will be no eye witnesses left.  Their great legacy however are the thousands of biographies written by many and which never tire me.  This week I devoured Alex Kershaw’sTo savea people” about the Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg who saved many jews lives in Hungary in the last year of the war.  Raoul Wallenberg has earned the title of “Righteous among nations” and deservedly so. This is an honorific title used by Israel to describe non-jews who risked their lives during the Holocaust to save Jews from extermination by the Nazis. He saved anything between 20.000 and 100.000 by issuing them protective passes from the Swedish Embassy and placing them in Swedish Embassy property specially bought for this purpose.  When the Russians arrived in 1945, he was deported for questioning and was supposedly killed there in 1947.  The end of his life continues to be a mystery and his parents and family never ceased to try and find him, often with total opposition from the Swedish government who always feared a conflict with Russia.  However Wallenberg lives on as a "Righteous among nations" in the YadVashem Holocaust museum in Jerusalem which we visited last year and around the world in many other memorials.  So moved was I by the book that I have since ordered some of the biographies mentioned in Alex Kershaw’s bibliography by some of the Jews that Wallenberg helped to survive.
Raoul Wallenberg, Righteous among nations for having bravely saved so many Jews in Hungary in the war

In the appendix I read a quote by David Ben Gurion, the ex Prime Minister of Israel where he asks why the people of the countries where the Jews were persecuted did not do more to help.  In essence he wonders if they had been English, French, American or Russian whether the world would have acted in the same way.  I ask myself the same question. I think they would have reacted differently, they would have done more but I don’t understand why.  But I do know that Raoul Wallenberg was one of those people who never thought about race, only about the human race when he risked his life to save so many Jews and in the end died for his efforts. 
On a lighter note the weekend has been quiet.  On Saturday I went with Oli to the market in Majadahonda, one of the best in Madrid.  We hadn’t been for a long time and it was busy.  I went looking for Menorcan sandals for Eladio but they only had them for women.  Of course I bought a pair for myself.  I also got a great summer dress for 15 euros which is perfect for these hot summer days.
At the market in Majadahonda on Saturday with Oli

Today, Sunday, Eladio and I went to see Elsa, the Labrador puppy we are acquiring from Manolo and Susana who live by.  Last time we saw her she was 17 days old and still hadn’t opened her eyes.  Today she is just over a month and a half and already weighs over 4 kilos.  It was a delight to see her and her brother Winnie and sister Dalia and of course their black mother Dunia.  We have agreed that Elsa will be coming to live with us on 19th July, the day we get back from our holiday in the UK.  The girls want to organize a welcome party.  I wonder what Norah will have to say about that. You can see the full set of photos of these wonderful puppies here on Facebook.
Cute Elsa. We can't wait for her to join our family in July

The week coming up is going to be terribly busy and I shall hardly have time to think about our holiday to the UK starting next Friday.  Thankfully everything is already planned, flights, train tickets, car hire, holiday cottage, tickets to the Great Yorkshire Show and even school reunion dinners.  This time next week we will be arriving in Yorkshire from a two day stay in London and will be spending two weeks in the Dales.  It will be another trip down memory lane I am much looking forward to.
 Cheers for the moment

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