Sunday, August 26, 2012

Home again and a quiet hot week in August, our 29th wedding anniversary, the stories of Julian Assange and Lance Armstrong, the sentence of Norway’s mass murderer, the naked prince, a ruined fresco in Spain and RIP Neil Armstrong.

Sunday 26th August 2012 

Home again and a quiet hot week in August, our 29th wedding anniversary, the stories of Julian Assange and Lance Armstrong, the sentence of Norway’s mass murderer, the naked prince,  a ruined fresco in Spain and RIP Neil Armstrong. 

On Friday we celebrated our 29th wedding anniversary.  Gosh we are aging.

Hello again.

It is Sunday and time to write my blog and reflect on the week that is coming to an end.  In Spain most people are still on holiday and the streets of the cities are virtually empty.  I am back at work but still had lots of time to relax at home where it has been very quiet.  A lot of the afternoons were spent by the pool as really this week seems to me to have been the hottest week of the year.  We have had to have the air conditioning on all through the night until Thursday when the heat finally began to ease off.  I think it is now the end of the thermometer reaching 40ºc which sometimes makes it impossible even to be by the pool and the only place to be is in our air conditioned bedroom.  Without the air conditioning the room would reach a temperature of 30ºc, the highest I have seen for a long time.

It has been lovely relaxing by the pool this week. 

It was the first week I have been home for the whole week for a long time, the first week I haven’t been somewhere travelling.  And you know what? It’s lovely to be home again.  Ah but not for long my friends, as next Wednesday I will be off to Stockholm for meetings and no sooner am I back, I will be off again, to Santander.  Yes, this time next week I shall be at the hotel we always go to, directly opposite one of my favourite beaches in Spain, the famous “Sardinero” beach.  Then the telecoms conference, the biggest of its kind in Spain, will make a start on Monday and I will be very busy, like every year.  Santander is a marvelous backdrop to a great conference where all the big guns from the Spanish sector meet, in a kind of first week at school for telecommunications in this country. 

So let me start from the beginning.  On Monday I started the Dukan diet, again, to shed the 2 or 3 kilos I had gained after our gastronomic holiday.  I am pleased to say that so far, 1 and a bit have already gone.  

On Monday morning the news was dominated by the story of Julian Assange, or rather by his speech from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, near Harrods, where he has sought asylum. His lawyer is the famous Spanish “ex” judge, Baltasar Garzón, so maybe it is because of the latter’s advice that he is at the Embassy.  His story is famous, the founder of Wikileaks which discovered many secrets of the US government, mainly to do with unorthodox behavior related to dealings in Afghanistan and Irak.  He is also wanted by the Swedish authorities to answer accusations of sexual assault complaints that he denies.  He won’t go to Sweden and is in political asylum, worried that once in Sweden, he will be extradited to the USA and there he fears for his life.  In his speech, he appeals to Barack Obama to stop what he calls a “witch hunt”.  It is difficult to judge this very complicated issue.  I, for one, think what he did in Sweden does not constitute a real crime and that his future would be very dark if he was sent to the USA.  I also applaud Wikileaks disclosing sensitive US military documents as I don’t see why governments we vote for should keep such secrets from their voters.  I cannot foresee either an easy way out of the current situation.  How long I wonder can Julian Assange continue to live in the Embassy?   There have been talks of the British government storming the Embassy, something I hope they would never do as it would go against all the laws of diplomacy.  Meanwhile the British bobbies surround the building, as do protestors who are in favour of the Australian internet icon.

Julian Assange was big news this week

On Tuesday I went into the office.  I had such startling news there, that it was only on Friday that I remembered that Tuesday 21st October was our 29th wedding anniversary. For the record, it is the first time in all these years that I have not remembered our wedding anniversary on the day.  When I suddenly remembered on Friday, I called Eladio and told him we had forgotten something important.  Of course he didn’t have a clue, so I told him.  As usual he was quite non plussed and just said, well let’s celebrate it tonight at La Txitxarrería.  Well we did, but I’ll tell you about that when I get to Friday in this post.

This was what we looked like on our wedding day on 21st August 1982, 29 years ago!

On Wednesday I had two important meetings, one with my PR Agency, Ketchum, for the record with Carlos and Isabel who run the Yoigo account, and then with QE, my events agency, represented by Bea and Cris. We had lots to discuss about our up and coming participation in the annual telecoms conference in Santander.  We met at the half way point between our house and Madrid, at the cafeteria outside Zielo, the shopping centre in Pozuelo.  As I remarked to Carlos, it is at the tables here that all the great PR ideas we have for Yoigo’s activities, seem to be born.

On Thursday Olivia had good news.  She was called from her TV programme to be told it resumes at the beginning of September and that they wanted her to spend the first week reporting live from Galicia.  That was good news indeed as with all the changes at RTVE we weren’t sure the programme would be resumed.  Later she exchanged locations with a colleague, which means her first week back will be spent reporting from Valencia, where her new beau is from.  This week she has been studying hard from home as she will be taking an official exam at the end of September which if she passes would make her a full time member of the corporation.  It will be tough and probably impossible though as there is only one place and lots of contenders.  But watching her I can only applaud her attitude and fighting spirit.

 It was on Thursday too that we heard of Lance Armstrong’s decision not to take part in the process whereby the USADE wants to see him convicted of using drugs in his cycling life and strip him of his 7 Tours of France.  You can read his personal statement here and also read the interview in Velo Nation with the man from the USADE, Travis Tygart, who is championing the cause.  I’m not sure what will happen next in this complicated case as it seems the deciding body will be the UCI, the main international body for cycling.

The case and story are of great interest to me as I once knew the man himself quite well.  You see he rode for Motorola when I was the PR Manager and latterly in charge of the PR for the Cycling Team’s activities in Europe.  I once wrote a post on my memories of the Texan cyclist which you can read here. 

Me with Lance Armstrong going to the press conference after the Clásica San Sebastian race in August 1994

Meanwhile the Tour of Spain is well into its course which this year will not go further south than Madrid and I was interested to see what the cycling world there would have to say about Armstrong.  But I was disappointed as most of the comments were very neutral.  The cycling world is a very closed circuit and no one talks openly about doping, although it is vox populi that is has been going on since even before the days of the great Eddie Merckx.  I for one would agree with those who comment that it would be impossible to compete in and win a three week tour of the most grueling sport in the world.  I have heard comments from people from the “inside” that this cannot be done on food and drink alone and I tend to agree.  I am no fan of Armstrong but would not like to see him stripped of his 7 Tours; it would be disastrous for this sport so close to my heart. 

On Friday we woke up to the news of the sentence of the mass murderer in the killings in Norway just over a year ago.  I hate to name the monster who did this as I think he already has enough publicity and I will not blot this post with his picture.  The end of the terrible story is that he has finally been convicted withthe maximum prison sentence of 21 years which means he has been found sane, the big question around the court case.  What really gets me is the luxury he will be living in, as Norway’s prisons are probably the most comfortable in the world.  You can see what I mean if you look at these pictures published by El País about the prison where he will spend his sentence.  I just hope the families of the victims and the survivors can close this terrible chapter in their lives and move on.

Friday, as I said above, was the day I remembered our wedding anniversary belatedly.  So we went out to dinner, accompanied by Olivia and we chose La Txitxarrería, one of our favourites, in nearby Pozuelo where we had a lovely meal.  Olivia took some photos of us which you can see here.  I posted my favourite, the one illustrating this blog, and got some very positive reaction from lots of my friends on Facebook.  I was pleasantly surprised by lots of their comments.  To think we have been married for 29 and that we are still in love is rather special and something of a rarity these days.  Apart from having won the marriage lottery, something I always say, I often think the recipe for such a strong marriage come from mutual respect and admiration.  Eladio and I rarely quarrel, hate conflict and most of the time enjoy the same sort of activities.  Also, I still find him very attractive, with his swarthy looks, chunky build, wonderful skin, hair and perfect teeth.  Yes, I married a very good looking guy, but equally wonderful inside and much quieter than me.  He is my rock and I could never imagine life without him. I look forward to as many more anniversaries I have the luck and privilege to have with him by my side.  You can see the rest of the photos that evening here.  Below is a lovely photo of Olivia and I that night, like mother like daughter!

With my beautiful daughter Olivia at our anniversary dinner on Friday

Saturday came and it was the weekend.  The main news this weekend has been about Prince Henry of Wales, more commonly known as Prince Harry, younger son of Lady Diana and Prince Charles.  He is well known for his antics but this time I think he went a little too far.  There has been much reporting on a game of strip pool played in Las Vegas with friends and lots of girls, from one of which the photos must have leaked of his nakedness in a mad sort of romp.  You can see all the uncensored photos on this website.  Buckingham Palace officials did their best to censor the British press, asking them not to publish them. The Sun, though, disobeyed which is a sort of first, even for The Sun. 

The front page of The Sun the only British paper to publish photos of the naked prince.

If that was the main news of the weekend, the main news in Spain not only at the weekend but all through last week was about the botched restoration of an “ecce homo” fresco of Jesus Christ in a small village in the province of Zaragoza. The story hit the world’s biggest media, including the New York Times and The BBC and the humble and once anonymous lady who wanted to restore her favourite painting in her parish church, is now world famous and suffering from an anxiety attack at her home in the small village of Borja where people are flocking to take photos of the fresco.

I was so surprised that this small piece of news about the restoration of a not particularly valuable work of art should make such an impact the world round.  I suppose it is the monkey like effect that the painting now has, although Cecila Gómez, aged 80, tries to defend herself by saying she hadn’t finished the job and that she had done so openly for all  the village, including the parish priest, to see.  You will have seen the pictures, but take another look and judge for yourself.  I feel rather sorry for the poor woman, who will never live this story down.

The story of the botched job of repairing a fresco by an old lady in Borja, a small village in Spain, hit the world news this week.

Saturday for us was quiet.  Susana, of whom I haven’t seen much lately, because she now lives independently and because we have been away, went to Santiago with her friend Elena to spend the weekend.  Olivia took her to the airport and they left yesterday at 06.30 in the morning.  They woke us up when the realised they didn’t have the remote control to open the gate and somehow the alarm went off.  It was not a good awakening I must say.

Last night after our walk, we came home to go bed early. I had one last look at my Facebook and was shocked to read that the space legend, Neil Armstrong had died aged 82 after complications from heart surgery.  This week which promised to be quiet was certainly a week of shocking news but the news of the death of the first man to walk on the moon, for me and many other people will have made the most impact.

On the 40th anniversary of the first landing on the moon, I wrote about my memories of that occasion which you can read here.  Neil Armstrong, the captain of Apollo 11, who always shunned publicity, when asked what he felt like after having landed on the moon, replied: “small, very small”.  And now the man who will always be remembered for saying: “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” (he meant to say in this much rehearsed phrase, “a man” but forgot the “a”) is no longer with us.  A part of living history has died but of course, like all great men, he will live on in our memories and then in history books. 

Neil Armstrong when he was the Captain of Apolo 11, died this weekend aged 82. RIP

I will never forget watching him on 20th July 1969, on our black and white television at home, aged 12, along with an audience of 500 million people across the world, walk on the moon and pronounce those words.  RIP Neil Armstrong is all I can write as a shiver goes down my spine.
And today is Sunday, a quiet day at home for us.  Ivanka is having her day off and I made a very healthy lunch for the rest of us, including a wonderful home-made gazpacho made for us by dear Ivanka.

Oli will be off to Almería tomorrow for a few days holiday with Miguel until she starts work again next Friday.  Suzy will be back later tomorrow after her long weekend in Santiago.  So we won’t be all together again for quite a while which seems to be the norm these days.

I look forward to my travels to Stockholm on Wednesday where it will be much cooler and of course to Santander next weekend.  Next week’s post will, of course cover both visits.

Meanwhile I wish you all a great week.  Enjoy the last week of August and hopefully the sun will be shining for you wherever you are.



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