Sunday, September 16, 2012

Andy’s first grand slam, 11th September and new Arab protests, Oli in Valencia and a dangerous sport, Apple vs Samsung, goodbye Motorola, a nude princess, a Bollywood first, Winter of the World and more.

Sunday 16th September 2012

Andy’s first grand slam, 11th September and new Arab protests, Oli in Valencia and a dangerous sport, Apple vs Samsung, goodbye Motorola, a nude princess, a Bollywood first, Winter of the World and more.

Me at my first desk in El Carralero Majadahonda with Motorola in 1990 or 1991

Hi everyone,

It’s Sunday again and here I am writing my blog from the kitchen whilst my men are outside reading the papers.  The house is very quiet as today is Ivanka’s day off, Oli is in Valencia still and Susana is probably sleeping after a night out on the tiles.

The week has been quiet.  It’s a peaceful time at work for me, the weather was great, seems like summer doesn’t want to leave but I have been plagued with a seasonal cold which had me feeling a little down sometimes.

Monday was a historic day for the Scottish tennis player Andy Murray.  At Flushing Meadow’s he won his first Grand Slam title and became the first British player to win the US Open in over 70 years.  I can’t help feeling that may have been partly due to Rafa Nadal being out because of injury, but if he beat Djokovic to do so, then there is an awful lot of merit to his victory.  He is a strong player who was maybe lacking the killer instinct to win a Grand Slam.  Perhaps, though, he gained the “I can do it” part of his makeup that was missing after winning a gold medal at the British Olympics.  This will now surely spur him on to ever great heights to the delight of the British public.  All I can say is well done Andy.

Andy Murray wins his first Grand Slam

Monday saw Spanish Prime Minister, the troubled Mariano Rajoy, live on television in an interview with 6 top journalists.  This was his first proper TV appearance since he became head of the Spanish government earlier this year.  He has been much criticized for not appearing publically during this period of uncertainty in Spain because of the financial crisis.  The journalists were no Jeremy Paxman and, as is usual here, were very benign in their questioning, never ever putting him in a corner.  People wanted to know whether with all the cuts and kowtowing to Brussels because of a possible bailout, whether pensions would be reduced and what the eventual conditions for the bailout would be.  They never really got an answer and the interview was disappointing in my mind.  When I travel abroad, people ask me “how we are” or even how I am, as if the crisis was affecting us and imagining the country getting poorer and poorer.  They probably see Spain as we see Greece, far worse than it is. Of course it is bad but what keeps the country in check is really the families.  Grandparents’ pensions are key here, as it is thanks to them that families with no income survive, albeit on the bread line.  Young people also survive thanks to their parents, so if they don’t have a job or earn very little, they can continue to live at home.  And that, together with the submerged economy, is what keeps the country going.  So Mariano Rajoy would be making a huge mistake if he ever cut pensions. 

On Monday too and straight after the interview, there was a new series starting on the television, the much awaited historical series about Isabella the Catholic Queen.  I have always loved historical series and remember watching many with my Mother at home, mostly from the BBC, series such as The six wives of Henry VIII.  So I am sure my Mother would have loved Monday’s episode.  Her knowledge of history was vast and she would have had no trouble knowing who was who or the names of the Kings and Queens preceding or succeeding Isabella.  This Spanish Queen is most known for her expulsion of the Jews in Spain in 1492 and of course for her patronage of Christopher Columbus’ voyages to the “New World”.  Now we have something to look forward to every Monday evening for the next 13 weeks.  I must say Isabella  was a great antidote to the preceding political interview.

The new historical series on TVE about Isabella the Catholic Queen I will be enjoying

On Tuesday I had lunch with 2 English girls, Sarah and Clare, both correspondents for Reuters in Spain.  We met at La Kitchen, a new place for me and believe it or not, they, or rather Reuters, paid for the lunch.  Clare is new, just 23 and was a student of Chinese studies at Oxford University before joining Reuters as a trainee this summer.  After her 3 month stint in London she was transferred to Madrid to cover events here.  I can imagine this clever and beautiful girl going far.  We discussed, among other things, just how “benign” Spanish journalists are to politicians, and so different to how the British press does their job.  

Tuesday of course was the anniversary of the 11th September attacks.  We spoke about that too and could hardly imagine that later that day there would be attacks on the US Embassy in Benghazi in Libya.  The Ambassador, Christoper Stevens, was killed in the fire along with 3 other Embassy staff and his dead body was dragged by protesters through the street.  The protest was apparently because of a film which has caused the Arab world offence, “The Innocence of Muslims” which mocks Islam and insults the Prophet Mohammed. So yes, more fuel to the fire of pent up frustration and anger from the fanatics of this part of the world similar to the Salman Rushdie episode and other similar ones we are all now familiar with.  I sometimes think that these fanatics just need the slightest excuse to act violently in this manner.  It is also very coincidental that the attacks started precisely on 11th September.  They were probably orchestrated by Al Qaeda. 

The US Ambassador killed at the Embassy in Libya this week.  His photo is the symbol of horrific fanaticism.

Unfortunately they have continued all week, setting fire and attacking US Embassies and even American fast food establishments and threatening British and German Embassies too in other areas of the Middle East and North Africa, including Egypt, Morocco, Sudan and Tunisia.

It was on Tuesday that Olivia left for Valencia.  She was going to cover news for her TV programme and was accompanied by Miguel, her new boyfriend.  Miguel is a cameraman for Spanish TV (TVE) in Valencia and has the luck to work one week and then have the next week off.  These days, when he has his week off he either accompanies her to Madrid or if it coincides with her being in Valencia, then they spend the week together there.  So love definitely seems in the air and if Olivia is happy then of course I am happy for her too.

Miguel and Oli, enjoying their new love.

Miguel has introduced Olivia to a whole new world.  He has taken her on adventure trips with his friends where she has tried her hand at snorkeling but also paragliding.  I knew she had tried paragliding a few weeks ago and had no idea that she would be doing so again this week, until I saw this video she published yesterday on Facebook.  I was so amazed and stunned to see her up in the air and apparently enjoying herself thoroughly. 

My daughter Olivia paragliding in Valencia yesterday

I showed the video to my Father who was equally amazed but then went on to say, what was already in my thoughts: “but that’s a dangerous sport isn’t it?  It certainly is and it is also a sport I know I would never dare to try but that’s probably because I am double her age.  I wonder if I would have tried it out when I was 27?  Probably not as I have always been intimidated by heights.  What an adventurous girl Olivia is!

I’m not sure whether her sister Suzy would be willing to try it out either.  Her scene is rather different to Oli’s I think.  Suzy seems to be sewing her oats to make up for lost time since she broke up her rather staid housewifely like relationship with Gaby earlier this year.  She is now partying like mad, getting to know new people and last night saw her at the famous Majadahonda fiestas which she has been going to since about the age of 14.  You can probably see what I mean about “sewing the oats” in this picture posted of her yesterday on FB.

Suzy my older daughter having fun at the fiestas in Majadahonda yesterday night

I haven’t seen much of Suzy either this week, although she did come a few times and worked with me from home. She is very busy during the week and is getting a lot of career experience with Aramark, the American food services company she works for.  On that note, I just must publish this lovely photograph of her in the middle of her very first public presentation.  It was to the top management of the company in Barcelona, earlier this year. 

Suzy my older daughter, in a more serious mode, presenting earlier this year in her first public appearance with the company

Wednesday was a big day for Apple as it was launching the iPhone 5 amongst much expectation.  So much had already been written about it by the naïve press who cannot imagine the service they are doing for Apple when gushing about its products so, no wonder, Apple doesn’t need to do advertising campaigns.  Samsung were probably looking on with interest too, the great rival these days of the company from Cupertino. Funnily enough the recent Nokia launch of their new windows phone caused a lot less stir, showing just how the market has changed.  The two giants in the mobile phone world these days are Apple and Samsung and they are both embroiled in a patent war.  The iPhone caught the world’s attention of course but I think, at least for me, the result was a little disappointing.  I was hoping for greater and newer features and haven’t seen any that caught my attention.  Samsung meanwhile, very cleverly are poised to launch an advertising campaign to show the world that the Galaxy S3 is a better phone.  It’s called “You don’t have to be a genius” .  I wonder what you think.

Samsung out to get Apple in part of their ongoing war.

If today’s giants are Samsung and Apple, yesterday’s giants were Nokia and Motorola, the two companies I learned my trade at.  So I was stunned this week to hear that Motorola was closing down in Spain and in many other countries in Europe.  It was like part of me inside had died as I had spent 9 years of my life working for Motorola from 1990 to 1999 from when no one knew it to being the number one brand in the market and then to a slow decline after I left.  The news broke on Friday although I had already heard, but when I saw it in writing, it hit me to the core.  I thought of all the good times and of the wonderful people who had formed Motorola “cellular subscribers” as it was called then, and wrote a sort of obituary on Facebook which I shall translate into English here.  I wrote it from my heart.

“I am saddened by this news and surprised because Motorola seemed to have picked up and was back on its feet offering great smartphones which were becoming popular in the Spanish market.  I was the 4th employee to join Motorola Spain when it started in 1990.  Soon after, we launched the first “personal” phone, the MicroTac which weighed 400 grammes and cost the equivalent of 2.400 euros at the time.  There was only coverage in Madrid and Mallorca and I remember the King of Spain was one of our first customers when the very first delivery of 20 units arrived.  The MicroTac seemed magical to me.  Motorola is in my professional heart as it is the company I worked for for 9 years and where I learned much of what I know today about the sector and my speciality, communication. In the 90’s Motorola became the number one manufacturer in the world and everybody wanted “a Motorola” which became the synonym for a mobile phone in Spain. I have great memories of wonderful colleagues and products.  We were like a big family, some 20 people who are now scattered around all the big companies in the sector today. We still meet to remember those wonderful days with nostalgia.  My best memories are of my involvement with the cycling team which later was lead by the one and only Lance Armstrong.  Motorola will always be in my heart.  Goodbye, farewell and thanks for the privilege of working there.” 

Part of the Motorola Spain family (with our own families too in a cleaning exercise in La Pedriza) in the early 90's.  We were a happy bunch.

 Lots of my ex colleagues commented on this, and an online techy website, Movilonia, quoted me in an article they wrote later which you can read here.   All day my ex colleagues and I were posting comments and photos, one of which is of me in 1990 sitting at my desk in the Motorola offices in Majadahonda.  I was in my early 30’s then and enamoured with my job.  That is the photo illustrating this week’s blog. You see, as I explained to a journalist friend later that day, I gave my professional soul to Motorola and you only ever give your soul once and to one company and that was, in my case, to Motorola. You can see the other photos of the “MotorolaDays” here.

I have digressed slightly and missed out Thursday. So let me go back.  Thursday was my oldest and dearest friend, Amanda’s birthday.  I haven’t seen her since February and sorely miss her.  I hope you had a great day Amanda if you are reading this. 

Thursday was also the day I found out that Olivia’s lovely Indian friend, Sumit, had finished the screenwriting for his very first Bollywood film.  I was so impressed.  Oli met dear Sumit and Sandeep during her Erasmus year in Cornwall and they became our friends too.  I am very excited and proud for Sumit on this amazing achievement.  The film is called Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana and you can see the official trailer here.  The picture below is the official poster.  I hope one day the film will have English subtitles and I will be able to watch it.  I understand from the site that it is a comedy about a quirky Punjabi family in pursuit of a secret recipe that will enable them to reclaim their pride & wealth!  Sounds a lot of fun. 

The official poster of "Sumit's film"

On Friday when I heard the news of Motorola closing down which meant so much to me, the world’s attention was about a nude princess.  Not so long ago you heard the story of a nude prince from the same Royal family, the British Royal family of course.  Well on Friday, a French magazine called Closer, printed photos of Kate Middleton topless when she was staying at a 19th century hunting lodge this month in southern France. 

The nude, or rather topless, princess

Soon afterwards the royal couple issued this statement: "Their Royal Highnesses have been hugely saddened to learn that a French publication and a photographer have invaded their privacy in such a grotesque and totally unjustifiable manner. The incident is reminiscent of the worst excesses of the press and paparazzi during the life of Diana, Princess of Wales, and all the more upsetting to the duke and duchess for being so. Their Royal Highnesses had every expectation of privacy in the remote house. It is unthinkable that anyone should take such photographs, let alone publish them." And later we have heard that they will be suing the French publication.  I wonder what will happen afterwards.  I really think this is much ado about nothing but the prude English public doesn’t think the same and none of the British press published it this time, not even The Sun who had published the famous nude shots of her brother in law Prince Harry a few weeks ago.

On Friday too my latest book arrived from Amazon.  It was the long awaited Winter of the World, Ken Follett’s sequel to Fall of Giants and the second volume of his Century trilogy.  The trilogy aims to tell the entire history of the twentieth century seen through the eyes of five linked families from America, England, Germany, Russia and Wales.  I loved the Fall of Giants. Now I am half way through the Winter of the World.  My expectations were high but somehow it is not quite as entertaining as the first volume but I will plod on as it is still a great book. 

My latest book, Ken Follett's Winter of the World.

I spent most of yesterday reading it accompanied by Eladio by the swimming pool and enjoyed a quiet Saturday.  It was an important day for the Spanish Royal family, as yesterday it was Princess Letizia’s 40th birthday.  A photo shoot of her and her husband and children was published on that day.  The photos are lovely, yes, they all look beautiful but they are in sharp contrast to the lives of Spanish citizens, many of whom are out of work who probably didn’t appreciate the luxury emanating from these photographs, so slick and unreal.  I’m sure Princess Letizia will have been appalled by her counterpart’s fate in England and glad that she is not in her shoes.

Princess Letizia celebrated her 40th birthday yesterday

Feeling better as my cold wares off, Eladio and I went out to dinner on our own last night and remarked what lucky people we are.  I am always aware of this.  Dinner was great, gazpacho and steak (Dukan of course) and we got our favourite table at La Txitxarrería in Pozuelo where we seem to go for most of our romantic dinners lately.  That was a nice end to the week.  Today will be quiet too.  We won’t see Susana and Oli won’t be back until tonight.  Hopefully we can have a family lunch together tomorrow.

And that my friends, is the end of this week’s tales.  I hope you all have a great week.  Mine promises to be similar so I’m not complaining.

Cheers till next time.

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