Sunday, December 15, 2013

The news from Nelson Mandela’s funeral, Pope Francis: Time Magazine’s person of the year, Christmas came to our home, k.o. on Saturday and other stories

Eladio by the Christmas tree just as I had finished decorating this week.
Hi everyone,

I last wrote on Tuesday of this week, later than usual owing to our trip to London.  But here I am again, on time, on Sunday.  It is a beautiful sunny day and life is good.  Eladio has just washed the dogs and we are now waiting for the technician to come and install optical fiber, I wonder if it will only take one session but I am so looking forward to high speed internet. 

On Tuesday, over breakfast with Olivia, we read that 2 Spanish journalists, Javier Espinosa from El Mundo and freelance photographer Ricardo Garcia Vilanova, had been kidnapped in Syria back in September by a group related to Al Qaeda.  The paper was only revealing the news this week so as not to hinder negotiations with their captors. 
The two Spanish journalists kidnapped by Al Qaeda in Syria.  Javier Espinosa left, Ricardo Garcia right.
My heart goes out to them as it does to all people kidnapped around the world.  But perhaps because I work as a journalist and my daughter is one, this story has made a greater impact than usual. Plus of course they work for a newspaper we often read.  I hope things end well for them and that they will be home for Christmas, although that is very doubtful.

But of course the main news that day was about Nelson Mandela’s funeral, the biggest state funeral probably since Winston Churchill's in 1965.  Three pieces of news emanating from the event, possibly the biggest send off in history, had little to do with the man himself.  The first shock was a photo of Barack Obama shaking hands with his arch enemy, Raúl Castro of Cuba.  It must be said that at the funeral Mandela united all sorts of friends and enemies. There has been much criticism of the gesture but the Cuban leader shook off any importance by saying it was just a salute by civilized people.  That was possibly the photo that most illustrated news of the funeral the next day in the papers.
The unplanned handshake between Barack Obama and Raúl Castro at Mandela's funeral
The photo that came close second was of Barack Obama, David Cameron and the Danish prime minister, the very beautiful Helle Thorning-Schmidt, taking a “selfie” with her smartphone whilst Michelle Obama looks away in disgust. 
The selfie between David Cameron, Barack Obama and the now more famous Danish premiere Helle Thorning-Schmidt which had Michelle Obama looking away in disgust.
If you have not yet heard the word “selfie”, it’s interesting to note that it’s the Oxford Dictionary's word of the year and means a photo taken at arm's length with a mobile phone later to be uploaded on social media.  The three of them, especially Obama, have been much criticized too for this “crass” behavior during the funeral.  I rather liked the fact that all three behaved like normal people and am sure Mandela wouldn’t have minded.  I, probably like the rest of the world excluding Denmark, did not even know the name of their lady premiere until this famous selfie on Tuesday.  So I read about her and was interested to learn that in Denmark she is nick named “Gucci Helle” for her love of luxury goods.  Also I didn’t know she was married to the former Labour leader, Neil Kinnock’s son.  At 46 the unconventional Helle Thorning-Schmidt was accused of using her sex appeal to win the elections in 2011 and is said to revel in attention, especially, it seems, admiring glances from flirtatious male statesmen like Barack Obama or David Cameron.  All that said, it must be very difficult to be a premiere when you are a beautiful woman.  It must have been easier for Margaret Thatcher, who I am sure would have thought the whole issue “crass” too like Michelle Obama.
The beautiful Danish premiere Helle Thorning.Schmidt who became more famous after the "selfie" at Mandela's funeral
It is a pity Obama will be remembered more for the selfie photo rather than for what I gather was a very inspiring speech at the funeral from the USA's first black president.  You can watch it here

On Tuesday I had lunch with my friends Julio and Fátima.  It was to be our annual Christmas lunch out.  At Christmas the three of us have three annual engagements, lunch out, dinner at our home and dinner at Julio’s.  So at El Buey (our favourite) in Boadilla on Tuesday we agreed on the dates for the other two engagements. As we are such close friends we also told each other what we wanted for Christmas!

In the afternoon, as on most afternoons, Eladio and I went for our daily walk with the dogs.  Here is a lovely photo I took of Eladio with Elsa (our labrador) and Norah (our beagle).
Eladio with our dogs Norah left and Elsa right on our walk on Tuesday
On Wednesday, my second fasting day of the week, there was more news from the Nelson Mandela funeral which shook the world.  This time it was about the sign language interpreter.  Apparently he turned out to be a fake.  So there he was standing next to the orators just playing with his hands rather than really interpreting for the blind.  You can read more about the story here.

For the records Wednesday was 11/12/13, a very attractive consecutive date I thought.  It was also the day Motorola announced its return to the Spanish market after having left it one year ago.  I was pleased with the news but rather annoyed that many of my ex colleagues had been fired a year ago for nothing.  Will some of them be hired again? I certainly hope so.

On Wednesday, Christmas came to our home.  Strictly speaking you should not decorate your home until 12 days before Christmas.  At home we used to put up the tree just a few days before, so I resist the temptation until I really begin to feel the Christmas spirit, which this year came about during our trip to London.  What really goes against the grain with me is decorating your home before the beginning of December or Christmas produce in the shops in October!

It took quite a while to decorate, most of which I did myself.  Of course Eladio brought up the decorations in the big box and set up the tree and the lights, but he left the rest to me. Whilst decorating, I put on Christmas carols to enhance the festive spirit and I lamented that neither girl was there to help me.  However I do know they appreciate the effort once it is all done.  Here is a panoramic photo of the lounge with some of the decorations.  You can see the rest of the photos here.
Christmas came to our home this week
On Wednesday too I was delighted to read that Pope Francis was named Time Magazine person of the year.
Pope Francis, this year's Time Magazine person of the year.
Edward Snowden was runner up.  The editor of the magazine, Nancy Gibbs said of Pope Francis that he had “pulled the papacy out of the palace and into the streets and that rarely has a new player on the world stage captured so much attention so quickly”. I think that was rightly and very beautifully said.  If you know me you will know I am not a Catholic although I went to a Catholic school; you will know I am a sort of lax Christian but if one person in the world could make me believe again I am sure it would be this marvelous new pontiff. 

On Thursday I was busy with two important engagements that day that saw me very early in the morning at the hair dressers.  By midday I was at the first in the centre of Madrid at Club 567 in the elegant Velázquez Street.  I was meeting with my fellow jurors of the Premios Elocuent – prizes for the best personal communicators in Spain in over 12 categories.  We were to meet to cast our final votes.  The ceremony will take place in January at the Faculty of Communication at the Complutense University.  The project is quite ambitious.  There are two types of prizes – the pop ones voted by the public at large and the top ones voted by the jury.  So far over 8000 people have voted.

Meanwhile Suzy was working hard at the venue where she is the catering manager for Create Food and Party Design, at the iconic Oxo Tower.  This time of the year is the busiest with corporate Christmas events taking place there every day of this month.  Finally she sent us a photo of her working.  She pointed out she was equipped with a walkie-talkie to be in touch with security, the chefs and other personnel.  Doesn’t she look great?
Suzy busy at Oxo
In the evening I attended my own second corporate Christmas event, but as a guest I must add.  It was the annual management team dinner and this year would take place at a lovely restaurant in Madrid I hadn’t been to for many years.  We didn’t leave until nearly 2 in the morning which I commented to my colleagues was far too late for me who usually turns in at just past 21h.

Friday of course was Friday 13th. The only unlucky thing that happened that day was that it rained for the first time in a long time. Thus our walk was thwarted that afternoon. In the evening I went to do the food shopping with Fátima but was in a terrible rush to get back home on time to leave for the cinema with Eladio.  I had bought tickets for us to see the film about Lady Diana, “Diana”, played by the not as beautiful Naomi Watts and directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel.  The criticism was negative but I am sucker for stories of the Princess of the British hearts and am a great admirer of that wonderful, lonely, beautiful and sad woman.  The film or biopic as it is called focuses on the last two years of her life after divorcing Prince Charles and is mainly about the impossible relationship with the Pakistani heart and lung surgeon Hasnat Khan, who, apparently, has dismissed the film as a betrayal of their relationship. Be that as it may, both Eladio and I thoroughly enjoyed it and I shed a tear or two at the end, as I did when she died on 31st August 1997 so tragically in that Parisian tunnel followed by the paparazzi that never left her in peace in life or  in death.
I loved the film Diana we went to see on Friday night.
Afterwards we had dinner at Ginos as we often do on Friday evenings but something must have disagreed with me as early in the morning of Saturday I was as sick as a dog. When I’m ill the only good thing is that Eladio looks after me with utmost compassion.  He helped me through my sick bouts and gave me an injection of primperan so as not to be sick again.  So at about 09h I got up, had a shower and decided on a cup of tea for breakfast instead of coffee.  Unfortunately just one sip brought on two bouts of sickness again.  So all there was to do yesterday was to stay in bed as I felt so weak and lousy.  In a way yesterday was a completely K.O. day.  I spent all of it in bed only rising at 13h and 19h to have a cup of tea and piece of toast, the only food I had yesterday. Thankfully I wasn’t sick again and this morning I woke up feeling much stronger, although my stomach still feels a little woozy.  So Saturday’s plans for lunch in Madrid with José Antonio and Dolores and a visit to the Christmas Market at the Plaza Mayor had to go out of the window.  I was most annoyed. 

Thankfully today I feel better.  It will be a quiet day, no girls, Fátima has just left for her weekly break and as I write the Movistar technician is installing our new super-fast internet connection (optical fiber).

Olivia has been away all weekend with her group of friends commonly known as “la manada” (the herd) and I haven’t heard much from her.  They have gone to stay at a guest house all for themselves called Dalt La Figuera in a village called La Higuera a few kilometres away from Segovia. We look forward to seeing her again in the early evening.  I had hoped for some photos but none have been sent or posted, so here is a photo of the guest house as an alternative to record their weekend away.
The guest house (Dalt La Figuera) Olivia and her friends are staying at this weekend in Segovia.
Next week, the week before Christmas, will be busy.  I have two engagements on Tuesday and then on Wednesday and Thursday I am organizing the Yoigo Christmas parties for the employees and their children respectively.

Meanwhile I wish you all a great week ahead,

Cheers till next time,


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