Monday, March 11, 2013

Royalty in hospital, the best team lost, goodbye Hugo Chávez, Oli had a stye, the Blackberry Experience, in bed with flu and other stories

With the Blackberry family on stage at their event on Thursday
Hi everyone,

Today is Monday 11th March, the 9th anniversary of the Madrid train bombings when 192 people died; a date never to be forgotten and known in Spain as “11M”.   It is also the second anniversary of the tsunami that happened in Japan and provoked the nuclear disaster at Fukushima, so yes a very significant day.  I am one day late with my blog this week but that’s because I’ve been ill with flu.  I am now, thankfully, recovering slowly.

Just after I published my blog last Sunday I heard that Ruth Beitia had won the women’s high jump at the indoor European Athletic championships held in Gothenburg which was indeed good news for Spanish sport.
Ruth Beitia making sporting history for Spain last week
Also late last Sunday, the Queen was taken into hospital.  “The Queen” in the singular always refers to the Queen of England funnily enough.  Well her majesty was taken into hospital for the first time in 10 years.  The usually healthy 86 year old monarch had a “tummy bug” and luckily was discharged the very next day.
The Queen as she left hospital on Monday
As “The Queen” was discharged on Monday, the Spanish monarch, King Juan Carlos was admitted into hospital too and unlike his distant cousin, it was to be for the umpteenth time and for something more serious. The beleaguered monarch was to be operated on his back.  Believe it or not the hospital where he was staying, La Milagrosa, was on fire on Wednesday but thankfully there were no serious casualties.  He has since been discharged and will be recovering slowly in the comfort of his palace, La Zarzuela.

On Monday Suzy was back from her long weekend in Berlin but we weren’t to see her until lunch the next day.   She had a great time judging by these pictures.  It was difficult to choose one but I decided on this one where Suzy is enjoying a glass of German beer with María, her nurse friend who will be going with her to London in May to find their fortune together. 
Susana enjoying a glass of German beer in Berlin with Maria
Monday was a fasting day and, little did I know, the day before my flu started.   On Tuesday I went for a walk in the rain and maybe that’s how I got the flu, or maybe not as I am now finding out there is an epidemic all around me. Thankfully both Eladio and my Father had their flu jabs and should be safe.  I thought flu jabs were just for the elderly but maybe it’s time I joined the flock and I have now made up my mind I will certainly get mine next year. I remember Tuesday as the last day I felt well when I went into the office for the weekly Management Team meeting.
That night Olivia and I watched the football with my Father in the TV lounge.  We were to be joined by Eladio at half time as he comes home late from his UNED (Open University) lectures on Tuesdays.  It wasn’t any match, but the very decisive Champions League return match between Manchester United and Real Madrid at Old Trafford to determine which team would go through to the quarter finals.  The “Red Lions” had a slight advantage on “The Whites” having drawn 1-1 at the Bernabeu.  The hype leading up to Tuesday’s fixture was enormous, you would have thought it was the final, but I suppose that’s because of the quality of both teams, two of the best in the world and with two of the most famous coaches in the world, “Mou” (Mourinho) and “Sir Alex” (Ferguson). 
My Father watching Manchester Utd vs Real Madrid on Tuesday
I asked my 93 year old Father which side he wanted to win and expected him to say Manchester. He made Olivia and I laugh when he replied: “Real Madrid probably.  I have never been a fan of Manchester United but I don’t really mind”. 

To add to the excitement it was to be Cristiano Ronaldo’s first time back at Old Trafford and he was given a very warm welcome by the Man United fans.  They were pleased to see their old hero but also upset that their charismatic striker Wayne Rooney was left on the bench. The match started off badly for Real Madrid when Sergio Ramos scored an own goal but just a while later Nani was sent off with a disputed red card and that’s when the tables turned.  Real Madrid went on to win 2-1 (4-2 on aggregate), the decisive goal coming from Ronaldo who, out of respect, to his old fans preferred not to celebrate it. Mourinho later said in the press conference, possibly out of respect to Alex Ferguson, that the best team had lost.  Was he right?  I’m not so sure.

You probably know I don’t really enjoy watching football and that it’s the results I’m more interested in, so I usually spend my time catching up on the day’s news via Twitter or Facebook.  Thus it was during the match I read that Ikea was in trouble again.  If recently it had to withdraw its famous meatballs because of traces of horsemeat, on Monday it had to withdraw cakes from 23 countries after bacteria associated with human waste was discovered.  I found the headline in Metro, particularly offensive but funny at the same time: “Ikea withdraws poo cake from sale after bacteria discovered in China.” The story triggered a lot of jokes and puns, not least because cake or tart in Swedish is apparently “kaka” – but pronounced “koka” as a Spanish friend married to a Swede pointed out to me.  Be that as it may, I have quite a few frozen Ikea cakes in our deepfreeze which I think now we shall probably never eat.

The Ikea cake story will have gone largely unnoticed as that night, Nicolas Maduro, announced that Hugo Chavez had died.  Neither will need any introduction I am sure, as the news has been dominated by both men ever since.  The fiery revolutionary 58 year old dictator finally took his last breath on Tuesday morning or that was the official story as there are also rumours he had died earlier in Cuba and that his already embalmed body had been flown into Caracas until the party officials decided how to break the story to their countrymen.  Whatever the case, it is truly the end of Hugo Chávez who has proved he is able to draw a crowd not only in life but also in death.
The world said goodbye to the Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chávez this week
I wonder what King Juan Carlos of Spain will have thought from his hospital bed in Madrid when he heard the news.  He will surely remember telling the verbose Chavez to literally “shut up” (¿por qué no te callas?) at a Latin American summit some years ago.  I have a feeling though that he doesn’t regret it.

On Wednesday with my cold in full swing I fasted instead of on Thursday and it was a pretty difficult day.  It was difficult for Olivia too who had woken up that morning with a very swollen eye after a stye had set in the day before.  This week she will be an MC at a European Union prize giving event in Lisbon and with a stye which would take at least two weeks to go, she just wouldn’t have looked the part.  So I accompanied her to the hospital again where she was given some different ointment and then to her GP to get sick leave from work.  It was then that I remembered my sister-in-law Dolores’ brother-in-law Patxi is an eye specialist and thanks to Dolores we got an appointment with him in the afternoon.  I well remember the last time I had a stye myself – it must have been over 30 years ago and was before we were married.  At the time Patxi and his wife Esther, Dolores’ sister, were neighbours in Saconia, and I remember going to their house on a Saturday night whilst they were having a party and there and then in his kitchen he removed it and I recovered immediately.  And on Wednesday he did the same for Olivia in an equally fast and efficient manner.  So now she will look great on stage as an MC in Lisbon this week and all thanks to Patxi.

Thursday brought with it the highlight of my week, an invitation to an event from the Canadian phone makers Blackberry at the Palacio de Cibeles in Madrid, the main  Spanish post office and Madrid Town Hall.  It was to celebrate the launch of their new model the Blackberry 10.  To tell the truth I have never used a Blackberry phone but was more interested in meeting old colleagues from Motorola and Nokia who now work for Blackberry and other colleagues in the sector.  I found it funny that the event was called The Blackberry Experience, as the first big event I ever did for Nokia I baptized similarly, The Nokia Experience.  It was great to see Eduardo, Xavi, Ignacio, Juan Luis and many others but my cold got the better of me and after the presentation I decided to go home and have lunch with the family rather than enjoy the cocktails on offer.
At the Blackberry event on Thursday
I spent Thursday afternoon in bed and most of Friday.  Friday was International Women’s day but I hardly noticed.  The weekend was a complete wash out, no meals out as I spent most of it in bed.  My iPad kept me company for some of the time, including episodes from All Creatures Great and Small on the BBC iPlayer; but when my head hurt too much I had to stop watching.  The worst thing about the cold or what I now reckon was or is flu, is the lack of energy I felt and still feel.  I have later heard from friends that there is a flu epidemic in Europe and that these symptoms seem to be the norm.  I have also been warned it will take some time for the energy to return.

Thankfully today Monday I am feeling on the mend and am finally out of bed.  I so look forward to feeling myself again. I am missing enjoying food as nothing tastes of anything and I am in much need of some exercise as I haven’t been on our daily walk since last Wednesday.  Hopefully this week will see me recovered and back to normal.  

Tomorrow the Conclave starts to choose a new Pope and that will be the news of the week.  I wish for an African pope to be chosen to make history but doubt that will happen.  This time next week we will know who is to succeed the Emiritus Pope Benedict XVI.  Meanwhile I wish you all a great week.

Cheers till next time


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