Sunday, June 22, 2014

A barbecue in London, the end of the World Cup for Spain and England, our royal correspondent, a new king and queen of Spain, summer is here and other stories.

Sunday 22nd June 2014
Olivia, our royal correspondent for one day
Hi everyone,

Here I am again another Sunday morning.  The difference this week is that now it’s summer, my favourite season of the year.  The weather continues to be good but, more about that later.

When I left off last week Suzy posted some photos of the barbecue she and Gabor had organized at their new home in Canada Water that day.  At their new place they have access to their very own garden.  The weather must have been benign last week in London as they were able to organize a barbecue.  I wondered who all the people were in the photos, not recognizing them.  Suzy told me later that they are the staff, who work under her at Oxo, a great mixture of nationalities; Japanese, Italian, Czech and Spanish.  That’s how we like it in our family, gatherings and parties of people from all parts of the world.  At the end of July I shall be going out to stay with Suzy and will sleep in Stefania’s room, her Italian flat mate who will be on holiday.  Thanks so much Stefania.  It will be great for once to stay at Suzy’s place rather than at a hotel or bed and breakfast as well as a lot cheaper.   Flying to London is not expensive, it is the accommodation and meals out which make a week in the capital so prohibitive.  I shall be going for a whole week and look forward to being with Suzy and Gabor and for once skipping on the London monuments and going “local”, visiting the parks nearby and shopping in the area.  It’s going to be great. 
Suzy had a barbecue in London last Sunday for the international staff who work for her
Monday was a quiet day; my fasting day of course.  On the work front I was busy all week with lots of preparations for the upcoming Yoigo Summer Party for 225 people to be held on 3rd July.  Everything seemed to be going smoothly, when for logistical reasons, I had to change the venue.  Then things became a bit frantic as it really was late in the day to find an appropriate place at such a late stage.  I lost a bit of sleep over this actually but as a kind work colleague, Cristina, told me, the summer party always goes off really well and I shouldn’t be worried.  Yeah she’s right but I did feel a bit strangled with so little time to go.  Everything will be alright on the night, but as usual I am worried, even after all these years of organizing events. 

Olivia, meanwhile, was starting her action packed week with her new programme which would of course include the royal proclamation of Spain’s new King and Queen, Felipe and Letizia.  She and her colleagues are worked off their feet and I suspect are all feeling exhausted working such long hours and with so much to do and so few of them.   Since she started with the new evening programme, Aquí en Madrid, she has been working up to 12 or more hours a day.  Thankfully they will be taking on more reporters and at least this Monday coming she will be starting at midday.  I hope it continues that way too as otherwise I’m not sure she and her colleagues will be able to stand the pace for much longer.  On the bright side Olivia is delighted with her new job.  She appears on TV every day various times and is happy with the team editor/director from whom she is learning lots. We continue to watch her as much as we can and I think her most loyal spectator is my Father who loves watching her every afternoon after the news on BBC World.  Olivia did a good bit of investigative journalism last Monday when she reported live on “cundas”.  These are taxi drivers, concentrated mainly in the Embajadores square in Madrid, who take drug addicts for a cheap fare to the outskirts of Madrid to purchase drugs.
Olivia reporting on "cundas" on Monday
Tuesday was spent visiting potential locations for the Summer Party together with Gloria and Miguel from my events agency.  It was a scorcher of a day and quite a tiring exercise.  At midday though, I had a break when I met some of my ex Nokia women colleagues for lunch in Pozuelo, for the record at Ginos. It was great to see Jill, Susana and Fátima and a pity that Zenaid, Juana and Ana couldn’t make it.  We really must meet more often as we have so much in common and a two hour lunch goes past far too fast.  One of our subjects is of course our husbands and partners or non-partners.  I realized later that I am the only one of the four of us still married as they are all separated.  Lifelong marriages seem to be few and far between these days; but that is not my case.

That evening Olivia reported on a second hand car exhibition and later that night was sent to report on a prize giving ceremony for fashion designers organized by Vogue.  As you can see if you work for a programme like hers, you have to be able to report on practically anything which can’t be easy. 
Oli reporting live on a second-hand car show on Tuesday

Wednesday was not a good day.  I had two meia issues to deal with which weren’t easy.  When an article is published about the company I work for, I read through it in a nervous sort of way hoping there will be nothing negative or incorrect, but of course you cannot do much when that occurs.  People at work are usually the first to find the error and are also the first to blame you as if you had written the article.  What they always fail to understand is that the piece in question is not paid for by the company, it is the pen work of a journalist who is not going to share the piece with you before it is published and that little can be done to mend whatever has gone wrong or they don’t like once it’s in print.  And there goes the unfair side of my job which I can only imagine other communications managers like me will ever understand. 

What cheered me up that day was watching Olivia on television.  I never tire of watching her; after all I am her Mother and her biggest fan I suppose.  That day she was reporting on one of the most important pieces of news in a long time; live from the Royal Palace in Madrid.  That afternoon King Juan Carlos signed the act of abdication there that would put an end to his 39 year old reign and see his son, Prince Felipe succeed him on the throne the very next day. Suzy was also watching, from a tablet I think on her bicycle in London somewhere and this is the photo she posted on the family whatsapp.
Suzy's picture of watching Olivia reporting on the act of abdication on Wednesday
That night Spain was to play its second match of the opening round in the World Cup this time against Chile after having lost against Holland in the opening match.  I did the shopping with Fátima that afternoon and was surprised to see our local supermarket festooned with La Roja paraphernalia to support the team.  I wondered whether they would have to take it down quickly the next day if Spain didn’t win this all important match.  Even the staff, Ahmed, Ibi, Juanjo, the fishmonger and Carlos the butcher were all wearing the Spanish side official t-shirts. 
Our local supermarket supporting Spain in the world cup this week.  It wasn't going to help I'm afraid.
At home we got ready to watch the match which kicked off at 21h, a bit late for my Father who was happy to join us though, as he loves football and probably supports Spain, it now being his adopted country like mine.   It didn’t start well.  I think the Spanish team had still not recovered from losing against Holland and seemed to have lost all confidence.  When Chile scored the first goal I decided I couldn’t watch any more humiliation and went to bed.  Oli and Miguel came home late that night and were equally upset at how badly Spain was doing.  By the time I was nearly asleep Spain were out, they had lost and although they still have to play Australia, the die is cast and they will not get through to the next round.  We have spent the last few years basking in La Roja’s success with two European Championships and the last world cup, so no one was prepared for such failure; an embarrassment for the country and all of us who have found solace in this country’s success at the game during the ongoing economic crisis.  Later during the week England were to repeat Spain’s failure by losing their second match too this time to Uruguay.  Now both countries are out of the World Cup. I wonder who will win.  I am betting on Holland, Germany, Brazil or Argentina.

The next day the Spanish team’s failure would be forgotten or at least displaced thanks to the crowning of the new King Felipe VI and his wife Doña Letizia, the ex TVE news presenter.  It was to be Olivia’s biggest day in her career as she was to be a royal correspondent that day for her new programme.  The photo illustrating this week's post is of her posing by the Spanish parliament just before the proclamation started.

A car came for her at 05.30 in the morning to take her to the programme’s newsroom in Plaza Castilla.  By 7 she was at her post in the centre of Madrid ready to do a video of the morning’s events.  She did a great behind the scenes story which we watched later that evening.  She told me afterwards that there were 1000 journalists covering the event, many of them from abroad.  I commented that she was one of the lucky few of her generation of journalists to be there on such a historical day.
Oli's press pass for the new king's proclamation; something she will keep and show her grandchildren.
It was a holiday in Madrid that day and Eladio, my Father and I spent the morning watching the proclamation live on TV until about midday.  I had mixed feelings throughout the somewhat low key royal event as I, like many Spaniards, have become rather disgruntled with Spain’s royal family after so many scandals.  I keep asking myself if I am a royalist or not and whether I too would support a referendum for the institution to continue; probably I would although the royalist in me from having being brought up in England is very deep seated.  There was no coronation as this monarchy is a parliamentary one, thus no crowning ceremony.  The new King and Queen were accompanied throughout by their delightful young daughters, Leonor, the eldest aged just 8 and now next in line to the throne, and her younger sister Sofia aged 7 who behaved perfectly.  I suspect Sofia is the livelier one of the two judging by this photograph of them listening to their Father’s inaugural speech which was quite well received.  He mentioned all the subjects he should, except for the church surprisingly and ended his speech by saying thank you in the 4 official languages in Spain.  Even so, the heads of the Basque and Catalán parliaments, were the only authorities present not to clap at the end which actually surprised no one.
A delightful photo of the young Spanish princesses at their parents' proclamation
After the proclamation ceremony in the Spanish parliament which was not attended by guests from abroad, nor by the exiting Juan Carlos, so as not to steal the limelight of his son’s biggest day, the new King and Queen rode in an open topped Rolls Royce, bought by Franco by the way, through the streets of Madrid which had been decorated with flowers and Spanish flags.  There were many people on the streets but by no means were they really packed and there were parts of the Gran Vía which seemed quite empty of people.  The crowds were bigger at the Royal Palace where the procession ended.  Here there was to be a big cocktail party for representatives of Spanish society but before the handshake of nearly 3000 guests was to take place during 2 hours, the new King and Queen went out on the balcony of the Royal Palace, the biggest of its kind in Europe, which was the most awaited moment of the day.  First King Felipe VI came out to wave to the people then the new Queen followed him, after which their daughters joined them.  The new Royal family was complete when they were joined by the exiting King and Queen, Juan Carlos and his estranged wife (i.e. they no longer live together and haven’t done for a long time) Sofia on the balcony. 
A photo of the most awaited for moment of the day during the proclamation ceremony on Thursday, the royal family on the balcony at the palace.
From the day of the proclamation of the new King and Queen, the official royal family includes just these people. The King’s older sister, Elena, who would have been proclaimed Queen that day if there was a Salic Law in Spain, and her ousted sister Cristina after her husband Iñaki’s scandal of embezzlement, are no longer official members of the royal family.  The latter wasn’t present at the ceremony although it was rumoured she had flown in from Geneva where she now lives in exile, to be with them in private.  It was also rumoured she watched the events on the television with her father.

I got rather tired of watching the hand shaking, thinking that the new King who had called for a “renewed monarchy in new times” during his speech, could well have invited real representatives of Spanish society, such as immigrants and young people out of work or people who have to eat at soup kitchens, instead of the endless list of the famous and the rich who lined up to shake the hands of the new king and queen at the palace on Thursday. They could have taken a leaf out of the new Pope’s book too by really doing things differently and in accord with the difficult times Spaniards live.  The supposedly low key ceremony was meant to respect the situation but I think they could have gone the extra mile for example by doing away with the cocktail party and sending the funds to charity or even holding the party at a soup kitchen.  If they had done that I think they would really have won the hearts of the population, something the new King referred to in his speech when he said he hoped Spaniards would be proud of him.  He has a long way to go for that to happen I am afraid.

Friday was a busy day.  I had an early morning meeting in Pozuelo with Bea and Cris to decide on all the activities at the summer party.  Then just before lunch I had an appointment with two students of a corporate communications master degree who wanted to interview me about the role of a Communications Manager in companies today.  We had a great hour together and I enjoyed explaining the role and giving them my views. 

In the evening we watched Olivia again on the television. First she reported on the weather in Madrid that weekend.  I told her later she would make a great weather reporter, haha.  That day, schools in Madrid broke up for the summer and so she and some of her colleagues reported on activities for school children during the holidays, such as adventure camps in the case of Olivia. 
Olivia reporting on the weather in Madrid on Friday
Olivia and Miguel were going to drive to Valencia for the weekend straight after she finished work on Friday which was past 9pm.  She was so tired though and just wanted to come home and rest which was what they did in the end.  I was happy they would be with us at the weekend as the house always seems so empty without at least one of the girls.

Meanwhile Eladio and I went out to dinner, something we haven’t done for many Fridays now.  I chose a new place which I found on The Fork which offered 40% discount and accepted my luncheon vouchers.  I read good reviews about “Pecado Carnal” in Majadahonda.  However the experience was not good and we won’t be going back I’m afraid. We were the only people in the dining room although there were two tables occupied by people outside.  We asked for a recommendation of a not too filling first course and were served a ghastly plate of mushroom “carpaccio” which was swimming in oil and which I didn’t touch.  The rest of the food was ok but the place was pretty dismal and no, as I say, we won’t be going back.

The good news that day was from Montrondo.  Work on the house had begun just one month before on 20th May.  On Friday, José Antonio, who is there for a spell of time, sent us a photo of a lorry arriving with lots of bricks which I think are to be used to build the third floor.  It’s great to see the progress on the house via photos.  Next weekend we will be there to see progress live but also to pick up Eladio’s mother who will be staying with us for the first two weeks of July.  I look forward to seeing the state of the building live.  It’s so exciting.
More work in progress on our house in Montrondo - photo taken on Friday
That night after our awful dinner and just before going to bed, I spoke to Suzy on the phone.  We hadn’t heard from her for a long time.  She is in the process of finding a new job through a specialized agency called Sugarman, which requires tons of paperwork but which she is acquiring doggedly.  Good for you Suzy, I wish you lots of success. 

And yesterday was Saturday but not just any Saturday it was the 21st June, the beginning of the summer and the solstice, the longest day in the year.  Summer is my favourite season. It means practically guaranteed sunshine throughout the season here, meals outside, walks in the evening and weekend afternoons by the pool.  It also means holidays.  Hopefully mine will begin in the middle of July and end in the middle of August.

I spent the day very lazily, only putting my book down to make lunch when we would be joined by Olivia and Miguel.  At Olivia’s request I made real English fish and chips with beer batter accompanied by home-made mushy peas.

And today is Sunday and I am now at the end of this week’s tales.  There is not much to tell about today which will go past very similarly to yesterday.  So I will leave you here before I go off to make today’s lunch which will be home-made lasagna and again we will be joined by Oli and Miguel.

Next week promises to be very taxing with only 10 days or so to the unfolding of one of my biggest projects of the year, the Yoigo Summer Party. 

I wish you all a great week ahead. Cheers till next Sunday,


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