Sunday, April 22, 2012

The King said sorry, shopping at Ikea, lots of football, a wedding and other things

My beautiful daughter Suzy, dressed to go to Caju's wedding on Saturday

Hello again,

It is Sunday afternoon again and it’s time to write my blog.  I am writing at my desk at home whilst everyone seems to be taking a siesta, that most noble of Spanish sports.  When I say everyone, I mean the whole family; Grandpa, Eladio and both girls.  We all had lunch together for the first time in a while which is always a pleasure, but especially so on a Sunday, the day of the Lord as it is often called.

The week has been so, so;  good in parts, like the story of the Curate’s egg, a quote my Mother used to use a lot and which I like so much.  I wrote about it once in a post which you can read here. Ah, and here comes the illustration again, from that most English of publications, Punch.

An expression we use a lot in our family comes from this picture called "True Humility" by George du Maurier. It was originally published in Punch in 1895 to illustrate the "curate's egg" joke. The conversation goes like this: Bishop: "I'm afraid you've got a bad egg, Mr Jones"; Curate: "Oh, no, my Lord, I assure you that parts of it are excellent!"
On Monday we woke up to the news that Argentina had seized the Spanish oil firm Repsol, or rather 51% of the shares of the branch called YPF they have in that country and which was legally bought from the Argentinian government many years ago.  It has been in the news ever since and is the topic of most conversations at work and at home.  Much echo has been made of this illegal measure by Cristina Fernández, the country’s President, in the world’s press.  I’m not sure how things will work out as right now the European Union is supporting Spain and will be taking measures in reprisal for the outlandish mode in which this happened.  Time will tell, but the gesture will do no good for relations between the two countries, both immersed in their own financial crises.

Cristina Fernández de Kirchener, President of Argentina

Tuesday was not the best day on the home front and unfortunately I have to censor myself here as, however transparent I am, some things I cannot put into writing for all to see.  Tuesday was not a good day for Real Madrid either who lost to Bayern Munich in Germany in the Champions League semi final.  It is only to be hoped that they play better on their own turf in the return match this coming Wednesday.  Who knows they may meet either Chelsea or Barcelona in the final, although Barcelona lost to Chelsea too in their semi final the next day.  That was the beginning of this week’s football for me, as I was subjected to watching or trying to watch three matches.  Eladio likes football more and more and the only alternative is go and read a book on my own which I think is a bit selfish and antisocial.  That evening, to cheer me up I decided some comfort food was in order and went to get a McDonald’s meal for us all to eat whilst watching the match in the lounge together.  I can assure you it was heavenly. But then you know that don’t you?

Tuesday will have been a great day for Massoud Hossaini, an Afgan photographer with AFP.  He won a Pulitzer award, in the breaking news photography category, for his photo of an Afghan girl screaming after a suicide bomb attack in Kabul.  The photo was described as heartbreaking.  You can judge for yourself when you see the reproduction below.  The terrible thing is that Tarana Akbari, the 12 year in the photo is screaming after the attack which saw seven of her family killed including her seven year old brother Shoaib. 

Massoud Hossaini's Pulitzer award winning photograph

And on Wednesday, the 74 year old King of Spain, Juan Carlos I, said sorry as he left the hospital after the emergency operation on his hip  His words were: “Lo siento mucho, me he equivocado y no volverá a ocurrir”.  In English that would be: “I’m very sorry, I made a mistake (was wrong) and it won’t happen again.  You probably know he was apologizing for galavanting off to Botswana to kill elephants on a safari whilst the people of his country are suffering one of the worst crises of their history. This episode has caused much criticism in Spain, a lot of it online and of course the King will have been given the clippings. According to Pilar Urbano, the King and Queen’s biographer, it was the Queen herself, his advisors and his son Crown Prince Felipe who advised him to apologise.

The King when he said sorry!

The apology has been well received by most, with some 70 or so percent satisfied with the gesture.  However more than 50% thinks the Spanish monarchy has been much damaged by the incident and I tend to agree here.  The King was apologizing for the elephant incident but there are other things he should be apologizing for, not least the corruption scandal his son in law Iñaki Urdangarin is immersed in and in which he may well have been involved in himself.   What is much more latent, though, is his ongoing affair with the German princess by marriage, the apparently spectacular 46 year old socialite Corinna Zu Sayn-Wittgenstein.  The King, a typical Borbon, has had many extra marital relationships but this one seems to have broken the straw on the camel’s back for Queen Sofia, his Greek wife,  who for some time now lives a separate private life from the King, only appearing on official occasions.  Up until now the written press had avoided commenting on the “affair” until this week, when the story has hit the front pages of the main newspapers and now the whole of Spain knows who Corinna Zu Sayn-Wittgenstein is.  Next month will be the King and Queen’s 50th wedding anniversary and it has still not been decided how this will be celebrated.  I think it would be a total sham if it was.  In many people’s minds, it is time for the King to abdicate and for his son, Prince Philip and journalist wife, Leticia Ortiz, to take over.  Perhaps that is what was being discussed when the Queen urged the King to say sorry, maybe to save what was at stake, the crown, his crown and future as King of Spain.

The King with his nearly official mistress the German born Corinna Zu Sayn-Wittgenstein

Thursday was a long and busy day.  It was the 1st Quarter results which were published by TeliaSonera at the unearthly hour of 07.30h Stockholm time.  My first mission of the day was to take part in a conference call with the HQ and then agree on the text for the local external and internal releases.  The good news was that Yoigo had reached 3.2 million customers and that is despite the crisis in Spain.  To top that, the best news really was that Spain is now the 4th most important contributor within the group, having bypassed countries like Norway. In the afternoon I went to the office for a very long meeting.  When I left after 19h I gave thanks to God for letting me work from home and not having to face the awful traffic every day.  There was an accident on the M40 and I was not home until 20.30!  1.5h on the road was pretty boring and frustrating I can tell you.

That night I was subjected to football again, this time Barcelona who was playing and would lose to Chelsea.  The TV lounge was occupied with Olivia and her friend Dave watching a DVD, so we had no option but to have our dinner and watch the match in our bedroom.  Oli came in at one stage and thought the sight was quite funny – well it was – and took this photograph.

Watching football in our room

Whilst we were watching the football, Cristina from my events agency QuintaEsencia, a keen reader of this blog was giving birth to her third child, Alvaro who was born in the early hours of Friday morning.  Welcome to this world  Alvaro and congratulations Cristina and Javier.  Cris later sent me a photo of what she called her little "doll´.  I'm not very keen on babies, but he looks absolutely lovely.

Cristina's new "doll", baby Alvaro born on Friday morning

Friday was very busy and pretty productive too.  In the Morning I had a date at El for a live online interview with my boss.  I love these kinds of interviews because you have to be fast and on your toes and come up with frank and imaginative answers to the questions posed by the readers.   It is pretty exhausting too but I think we did it quite well.  If you can read Spanish you can read it here and let me know what you think.

The El Mundo newsroom on Friday morning

Then we had to rush back to the office as we had another interview, this time on the telephone with the Spanish news agency, Agencia Efe, about our results the day before.  This was more relaxed as it was with Ana.G whom I have known for years and who is a very professional and extremely decent woman.  

Eladio and I spent the afternoon at Ikea getting everything needed to furnish Susana’s now empty room.  Thursday was officially her last night at home, although her leaving seems to be very gradual, thank goodness.  We spent most of the afternoon there buying a double bed, bedside tables, curtains and what seemed like enormous amounts of bedding.  Of course being at Ikea I had to visit the food store and stock up on lovely Swedish fare, including Ikea’s most popular product of the whole store, “meat balls”. 

The bed we bought from Ikea for the room Suzy has left empty

In the evening I invited Eladio out for dinner, after our walk of course, to La Vaca Argentina.  I imagine no one from Repsol would be dining there, hahahaha.  We hadn’t been for a while and they had changed some items on the menu.  We were delighted to see they had added “salmorejo” to their first courses.  Salmorejo is a sort of thick gazpacho with chopped eggs and ham and it is a favourite with us.  This is what my dish looked like.

The salmorejo we ate at La Vaca Argentina on Friday night
On Saturday, Suzy, who had slept at her new flat for the first time, was off to a wedding in Toledo.  She was going with her beloved school friends, Rocío, Erika, Estefanía, Copi and others to see Caju, the first friend from their class, to tie the knot, marry her beau, called Coti (not sure what his real name is). 

Caju and Coti newly wed on Saturday, the wedding Suzy went to in Toledo

Suzy came back today, Sunday, just in time for lunch with wonderful tales of a great wedding which was fun and creative, so much so that she got to bed at 8 in the morning and came home with little or no voice.  The photo illustrating this week’s blogpost is of Suzy ready and dressed for the wedding, taken from the hotel they stayed at in Toledo.

Whilst Suzy was at the wedding, Eladio and I had to return to Ikea for things we had forgotten the day before.  It is very difficult to go to Ikea and get just what you want.  I think it is designed so that you always leave paying much more than you had ever anticipated.  On the plus side you always come home with delightfully practical and beautifully designed products.  

And yesterday, Saturday, there was more football.  It was what is commonly known in football language worldwide as “el clásico”, i.e a match between Spain’s biggest rivals, Barcelona and Real Madrid.  It was a pretty decisive “clásico” too as Madrid’s winning La Liga depended on it.  That would be no easy feat for Mourinho’s men as they would be playing in el Camp Nou, where they haven’t won since 2008.  This match, as happens more and more, was only to be seen on pay tv which we do not have, so Eladio had to suffice with following it on the radio.  So we missed watching Real Madrid beat Barcelona 2-1 and become virtual winners of this year’s Liga.

A great photo that illustrates so well "el clásico" as posted on Facebook by my Uzbeki colleague, Davron, a fan of Barcelona

The news about “el clásico” now brings me to Sunday and back to the present and nearly to the end of this week’s blog.  It has been a lovely sunny day and we had the pleasure of the company of Olivia most of the morning.  She joined us on our walk and here is a lovely photo of our dogs when they encountered a new friend, a pretty looking terrier who was seemed an equally enthusiastic a canine as our own.

Our dogs Elsa and Norah met a new friend on their walk this morning

Lunch today, as I told you, was all together.  Whilst we were enjoying our meal, Nadal, who is plagued with a knee injury, was playing Djokovic in the Montecarlo Master Series final.  I am pleased to end this week’s blogpost then with the news of the Spaniard’s win against the Serb by 6-3 6-1. For the records it is his 8th win in Montecarlo in succession.

Nadal and most of Spain, happy at his win against Djokovic in Montecarlo today

Well done Rafa!

And that’s all for this week my friends. I wish you all a great week ahead.

Cheers till next week Masha

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