Saturday, February 23, 2013

A quiet week, Paula is 25, a bail hearing, a royal mess, and other stories.

Paula's surprise birthday dinner on Wednesday
Hi everyone

Tomorrow Sunday I am off to Barcelona for this year’s Mobile World Congress (MWC) and I’ll be too busy to write this week’s post, so here you have it one day early.

There really is not much to report this week so this week’s post will be quite short.  I haven’t done anything exciting.  I think my week could be summed up as closely following The Fast Diet and making last minute preparations for Yoigo’s activities at the MWC, the biggest mobile event in the world which happens once a year in February.  

Monday saw me in the office for a meeting with my PR agency to go over the presentation for the press conference in Barcelona.  I went in again on Tuesday for a management team meeting and the rest of the week worked from home.

Eladio went off each afternoon on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday to give his UNED (Spanish equivalent of the Open University) tutorials.  I went on our walk alone feeling guilty about leaving the dogs, Norah and Elsa at home and in fact crept out so they wouldn’t see me.
The view on my walk one day this week
I didn’t see much of the girls during the week either.  Olivia would come back from her TV programme when we had finished lunch and was away most evenings with Suzy.  I missed them I must say.

On Wednesday they had an important date, the celebration of their cousin, Paula’s 25th birthday, quite a milestone as far as birthdays go.  It is in fact today (happy happy birthday dear Paula) but as she was going off to Malaga with her boyfriend Pedro this weekend, the surprise birthday dinner with some of her cousins took place on Wednesday night in downtown Madrid.  Alicia her cousin and flat mate, together with Pedro, had prepared a great happy birthday video where nearly all the cousins intervened.  You can see it here.  It made both Paula and her mother Pili cry with joy.  See what you think.  Olivia’s video was even made by the TVE studios, but I think Paula’s brother, Mario’s intervention is the best – together with their Dalmatian dog, Trebol, wearing red sunglasses they greet their sister Paula from León.
At the cousin's surprise birthday dinner for Paula's 25th this week
This week was my second week on The Fast diet and of course I fasted (or semi fasted as you can have just 500 calories on fast days) on Monday and Thursday.  The worst part of the day is mid afternoon when your stomach rumbles and the day seems so long until your frugal dinner.  To keep my mind off food on Thursday I drove to the Centro Oeste shopping centre to return a dress I had bought at H+M.  Of course whilst there I had a good look at the shops too.  This week my find was a lovely red top from Massimo Dutti, Zara’s up market retailer.
The new red top I got from Massimo Dutti this week
On Friday morning my dieting efforts were rewarded as in just 11 days since I started I had lost 2 whole kilos. It might not be so noticeable on the outside, but I am fitting beautifully now into clothes that used to be tight.

Friday being Friday, we went out for dinner and this was the one day of the week I broke my diet.  We decided on Ginos as I had a craving for pasta.  My favourite dish there is fetuccinne made with green and white pasta and served with strips of ham and a cream sauce.  The accompanying wine was heaven as was the dessert, pistachio ice cream.
My favourite pasta dish at Ginos
It was ironic that last night I slept badly after such a big meal, in contrast to sleeping badly on Thursday night because of hunger.  

As we were having dinner, Olivia had just arrived in Valencia where she will be spending the weekend with her boyfriend Miguel.  Luckily though, we will have the pleasure of Susana’s company for lunch today so the house won’t feel so empty.

This week of course has been the week of Oscar Pistorius’ bail hearing in South Africa.  I don’t have to remind you who he is or that he has been accused of murdering his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on St. Valentine’s day.  You will also know that he is often called “blade runner, after the film but also because of the “blade” type legs he uses for competing. I was quite interested in the story but did not expect to be involved in it as I was this week.  The reason: Olivia had to do reports for TVE1 on the case and I had to help her with some of the translations.  I should add that she would send me the difficult phrases via whatsapp at about 8 in the morning, demanding an immediate reply. I reminded her later that I am not at my best before having my morning coffee which Olivia thinks is not a good trait in my character and she is probably right. I can assure you the phrases were not easy to translate with a lot of legal jargon but worst of all were the English type newspaper headlines which are often plays on words and cannot be translated directly.  The name of the hearing itself was the first obstacle.  We are talking here of his bail hearing whereas the press in Spain were referring to it as a trial which is not the case. Some examples were “Oscar’s defense fires on all cylinders”, “Oscar cop under fire” and the one that proved most difficult for me: “Oscar in bed riddle”. 
The famous South African athlete Oscar Pistorius at the bail hearing this week

Last night we learned he had been granted bail, ironically because the Judge didn’t think he was a flight risk.  The full trial will now take place and the world will watch to see if his story of manslaughter holds up or if he is accused of premeditated murder.  Right now I am in two minds as I read and see just how affected he seems, breaking down and crying throughout the hearing.  If he is innocent then he will be suffering doubly and unfairly and I wonder if that is the case.  Right now only he really knows.

In Spain we have our own big trail going on.  It’s not a murder case but one about embezzlement and it’s big because it involves the King’s son-in-law, Iñaki Urdangarin who is married to the youngest princess the Infanta Cristina.  The former Barcelona handball player is accused of embezzling money through multimillion euro deals struck with regional governments through the supposedly non-profit Noos institute he set up with his partner Diego Torres.  He organized sporting events for them cashing in on his royal connections.  So far so good but what happened was that they charged much more than the real cost, pocketing the rest for themselves. Not so long ago in Spain negative reporting on the Royal Family was fairly taboo but in 10 years or so this has changed and now we get to read all the gory details.  I think the real downfall of the Spanish monarchy came when the King scuttled off to Botswana on an elephant hunting expedition whilst Spaniards back home were facing one of the worst financial crises in history. 
Princess Cristina and her husband Iñaki Urdangarin, in deep trouble
The story has gone across borders and is no longer a national scandal.   I was just slightly surprised to see The Herald Tribune include the news on their front page, whilst news about Spain is usually relegated to the back pages. The headline was very graphic and entitled “a royal mess”.  You can read the full story here. I suppose that is the best way to describe this hearing and its repercussions for the Spanish Monarchy.  For the first time, in Spain politicians, albeit the left wing, are calling for the abdication of the King.  I am sure Juan Carlos I is having great difficulty sleeping, not to mention his daughter and son-in-law the ostracized Duke and Duchess of Palma.
The Iñaki Urdanarin case was front page news this week in the Herald Tribune
Today the disgraced Duke will be in court in sunny Mallorca and the world will be watching, including his Father-in-law, the King.  I wonder whether Iñaki Urdangarin will be able to get away with an “I’m sorry and I won’t do it again” which is what the King said after the Botswana elephant episode. I doubt it.

And whilst that happens, I shall be getting on with the day, making lunch for the family, going for our walk and of course packing my suitcase for my trip tomorrow.  I shall be catching an early high speed train and look forward to lunch tomorrow with Grainne and her son Marcel in Barcelona.

Meanwhile I wish you all a great week,

Cheers Masha

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