Sunday, August 31, 2014

To hospital and back, a horror story from Rotherham, my book of the decade “I am Pilgrim”, progress on the house in Montrondo, the truth behind the abduction of Aysha King from a British hospital and other stories.

Sunday 31st August 2014
Olivia and I with my Father at the excellent Rey Juan Carlos public hospital this week
Hi again everyone this very hot last Sunday in August. Calendar wise it is the end of summer but to judge by the temperatures here in Madrid you would think it was the beginning rather than the end. 

It has been an up and down week in many ways.  So let me start. On Monday, my first fasting day of the week, and after my two power walks, I heard of the sad death of Richard Attenborough perhaps the most famous name in the British film industry.  Aged 90 he will be most remembered for the film about Gandhi he directed in 1983.  That film had so much influence on me it was the main motivation of our 25th wedding anniversary trip to India in 2008.  RIP Richard Attenborough you will never be forgotten.
Richard Attenborough who left us this week together with Ben Kingsley who starred in Gandhi.
That afternoon we swam in the pool as we did most afternoons but on Monday afternoon Elsa joined in or rather Eladio coaxed her into the water.  Elsa is a Labrador and should have taken to water like a duck but for some reason she is afraid.  I just love this photo I took of the two of them.
Eladio in the pool with Elsa on Monday
Meanwhile Olivia was busy at work reporting for her TV programme Aquí en Madrid.  She did a story that day on a woman kidnapped by her partner from a petrol station and later reported live on the story of the search for Spain’s public enemy number one.  The search is on for a man who has abducted and sexually abused young girls in the last few months on the outskirts of Madrid and near Ciudad Lineal. The story has gripped the nation.  In a way these kinds of stories are few and far between in Spain and I think the man in question may not be Spanish as he is described as being blonde and tall, not exactly a Spanish prototype.  I sincerely hope he is caught soon.
Oli reporting on Monday on the search for Spain's public enemy number one
Tuesday came; the date for my Father’s operation at the Spanish public hospital, Rey Juan Carlos in Móstoles, a working class suburb near where we live.  It was scheduled for the middle of the afternoon.  I was most impressed with the hospital itself and how efficiently it is run.  Later I heard from my Father’s local nurse that it is privately run.  Whatever the case it is a marvelous hospital and my Father was treated like royalty with a huge room to himself with all the mod cons you could imagine.  The hospital is incredibly clean and I couldn’t help comparing it to the only English hospitals I know; The British Royal Infirmary where my Mother died on a cancer ward and the Royal Free in London where my brother was ill with melanoma before he died in a hospice; the latter being a haven for terminally ill patients.  There is little privacy in these hospitals compared to the Rey Juan Carlos and I found them downtrodden and quite dismal whereas the Spanish hospital was gleaming and as far as hospitals go, probably one of the best ones you could find yourself if you are ill.  The operation took just under an hour and was successful.  The reanimation took some time and my Father wasn’t taken to his room until late at night.  Another thing I have to say is that my Father suffered absolutely no pain or discomfort throughout.  We got to talk to his surgeons and of course his nurses who told us he was a dream patient. Well of course I knew that.  My Father is nothing short of a gentlemen and never complains.
The very modern and avant guard Rey Juan Carlos hospital where my Father was operated this week
Our time was spent reading in the waiting room whilst my Father was having his operation and it was thanks to one of my favourite books, A time like Alice by Nevil Shute, that I was able to pass the time.  I finished it that very night and left it to my Father thinking it would be an easy read for him, with the added attraction that it was also one of my Mother’s favourite books and had belonged to his sister Gloria.  However I suspect it is not his kind of thing; he is far too intellectual to read Nevil Shute. 

On Wednesday morning my friend Beatriz sent me a wonderful parcel of ecologically grown fruit and vegetables from Galicia.  She knows we love fruit and veg so this gift was very special.
The wonderful ecological fruit and vegetables grown in Galicia which Beatriz sent to me this week
That night I cooked the green beans and leeks and I can’t begin to describe how much better they tasted than any I have ever eaten before. Thanks Bea, much appreciated.

Meanwhile Suzy in London posted a great picture of herself sitting on a giant green chair in London.  I am not quite sure why giant green furniture has been placed outside the National Theatre by the Southbank but it certainly must be an eye catcher.
Suzy sitting on a giant green chair outside the National Theatre on the Southbank in London this week 
It was on Wednesday that I was horrified to read about a report in the UK which told of the fate of some 1.400 young girls, some aged just 11, who had been systematically abused and raped by Pakistani men whilst the authorities not wanting to rock the racism boat looked the other way.  I find the story so evil I haven’t been able to get it out of my system and am so angry that in a town in Yorkshire, yes the county we call “God’s own country”, in Rotherham in South Yorkshire something like this could have happened. If it has happened there then it has also happened in other places.  I am aghast at how British tolerance has bowed so low as to view these white working class girls as “damaged goods” and not to understand their plight. Another thing I can’t get out of my mind either is a comment in an article in The Times by a journalist who has been following this and other cases who ventured to write that, in a similar way to jihadism, these men wanted to impregnate white British girls to spread the seed of their race or religion.  That is truly frightening.  Even today these vicious and evil men are getting away with what they are doing and have done.  Few of them have been imprisoned and many of those who have walk the streets again today.  I mean how can the British authorities be so tolerant and not care?  Can you imagine the story being the other way round and white British men abusing Muslim girls in places like Yemen or Saudi Arabia?  They would all immediately be beheaded in public whereas these Muslim men in Britain get off practically scot free.  There I have said it, but I haven’t got it out of my system. 

But back to the story of my Father in hospital, I would like to thank all my friends and family who have sent so many good wishes.  I appreciate them so much and I think my Father was very pleased to hear that so many people were thinking of him.  We went to see him twice on Wednesday and Olivia joined us on our second visit.  Olivia was equally impressed with his immaculate room and with the hospital in general. The photo illustrating this week’s post is of Oli and I by my Father’s bed.

On Thursday he was discharged and he was delighted to be taken home. However good the hospital is there is nothing like being at home. 

It was on Thursday that I started reading a book by Terry Hayes called I am Pilgrim which I had ordered on Amazon after recommendations from a friend on Facebook.  It is a spy story but very up to date and deals too with the jihadists and their revenge on the west.  To say that is not to give the book justice.  What I can say is that it is the best book I have read in the last ten years.  I finished it in three days and feel bereft now, knowing that no book will satisfy me after this one. If you haven’t read it yet, then get a copy and know that you will be hooked on the first page.  As an ex Finnish boss told me when I started the Stieg Larsson trilogy, similarly, you will have to say goodbye to your friends and family until you have finished it.  I loved Millenium but it is not a patch on I am Pilgrim.  I am dying for Terry Hayes to write the sequel.
The best thriller of the decade in my opinion
To whet your appetite, here is the publisher’s summary which I have copied for you here:
"Pilgrim is the codename for a man who doesn’t exist. The adopted son of a wealthy American family, he once headed up a secret espionage unit for US intelligence. Before he disappeared into anonymous retirement, he wrote the definitive book on forensic criminal investigation. But that book will come back to haunt him. It will help NYPD detective Ben Bradley track him down. And it will take him to a rundown New York hotel room where the body of a woman is found facedown in a bath of acid, her features erased, her teeth missing, her fingerprints gone. It is a textbook murder – and Pilgrim wrote the book. What begins as an unusual and challenging investigation will become a terrifying race-against-time to save America from oblivion. Pilgrim will have to make a journey from a public beheading in Mecca to a deserted ruins on the Turkish coast via a Nazi death camp in Alsace and the barren wilderness of the Hindu Kush in search of the faceless man who would commit an appalling act of mass murder in the name of his God."

On Friday, our old home help Olga who is of Argentinian and Paraguayan origin, came to visit my Father bringing with her a huge bunch of flowers and chocolates.  Of all the women workers we have had I think she was the one who was closest to my Father.  He was very pleased to receive a visitor.  Our congratulations are due to her as she will be getting married in December to a Mexican.  Thanks Olga for coming, we hope to see you again.
Olga came to visit my Father when he came out of hospital
Whilst Olga was visiting I was out shopping with Fátima so missed seeing Olivia on TV that afternoon.  As I came back Eladio, Olga and my Father looked up from the screen to say I had just missed her.  Later she told me she had to do a story on the traffic in Spain at the end of the August holiday.  All journalists reporting on traffic go to the DGT HQ (General Directorate of Traffic). That day she coincided there with a legendary TV traffic reporter Anselmo Mancebo but also with her fellow internee Maria when they both started with TVE some 7 or 8 years ago when they worked for the documentary programme “Informe Semanal”.  It was quite a coincidence.
Oli at the DGT (Spanish G.D. of Traffic) with the famous traffic reporter Anselmo Mancebo and Maria who was a fellow internee when they both worked for Informe Semanal (TVE) after they left University.  
Olivia also told us what the TVs do not tell the public about holiday traffic.  In the old days there were huge holiday traffic jams so it was customary to report on them during the holiday season.  However the DGT keeps trying to tell the journalists that these hardly exist anymore as people’s holiday habits have changed and of course the roads have improved.  So really it is quite difficult for the reporters like Olivia, sent out by their producers to report on any news as the traffic was absolutely not newsworthy that day. I found that a very interesting piece of inside information.

Meanwhile on Friday in Montrondo, progress was finally made on the house we are building there.  The main beam arrived and was put in place on top of the new third floor.  The next day we saw photos of the building of the roof itself.  I can only hope work will speed up now and the house may well be ready by Easter or even before.
Halleluya the roof of the house we are renovating from scratch in Montrondo is finally being built
We spoke about the house, about the hospital, about Suzy in London and many other things that are on our minds these days when we went out to dinner that night.  We chose to dine at La Txitxarrería where we went for our anniversary dinner and it seems to be our latest favourite.  Here I spent some more of my abundant luncheon vouchers.  (one of my favourite corporate perks). I just have to add that I really think their steak is very possibly the best in town. 
Steak and chips at La Txitxarrería - divine
On Saturday we woke up to the news that the parents of a 5 year old boy Aysha King with brain cancer had abducted him from a hospital in Southampton and were being searched for in Spain.  The media and internet told us these parents were not looking after their child and even that as they were Jehova Witnesses they didn’t want him to undergo medical treatment all of which turned out to be far from the truth.  Yesterday evening the Spanish police found the family and the boy is now in a hospital in Málaga and the parents at a police station.  So far so good, what awful parents you probably think like I did until I saw the video posted on You Tube by Aysha’s father.  The video told a very different story and you can see it here.  The father’s story is that he wanted to find a beam treatment for his child not available on the NHS and only possible in other countries and that the doctors treating the child had threatened him with a court of ward order if he continued to challenge their treatment.  I only hope the wishes of the parents of the sick boy will be respected and that he finally gets the treatment he needs.  We shall more over the following days.  What a story.

Saturday was a busy day.  After my two power walks, Eladio washed our lovely dogs who now seem to enjoy the procedure.  Then I prepared lunch as Fátima our home help looked after my Father and cleaned the house.  Yesterday’s menu was to help beef up my Father who is anemic after losing so much blood over the past month or so. It’s good that after the operation he is no longer losing any more.  The menu consisted of homemade gazpacho, meat loaf and fresh vegetables.  Oli didn’t join us as she was having her own private party; a barbecue for the “manada” as the girls’ group of friends is called.

I made enough for us to repeat the menu for today’s Sunday lunch when we were joined by Olivia this time.  Olivia also joined us on my first morning walk today and agreed our new walk is much nicer than the previous one.

After lunch we watched the news as we usually do and heard that a 21 year old Spanish girl called Carolina Marín was making badminton history having reached the World Championship final in Copenhagen.  Last year she was the European champion and I remember writing about her in my blog. Badminton is a minority sport and Carolina Marín who is a huge sporting figure in Asia where the game is very popular is hardly known in her own country.  I read that Badminton has its origins in British India and was semi invented by the British military.  It is very popular funnily enough in Denmark where Carolina plays in the league but mostly in China, India and other Asian countries.  I have just heard she actually beat the number one badminton player in the world and has become the world champion.  Now isn’t that amazing for Spanish and European sport.  I was happy to see she beat Li Xuerei the number one seed from China 17-21, 21-17, 21-18. This is more great news for Spanish sport.
Carolina Marín, the 21 year old Spaniard who made sporting history today by winning the Badminton World Championship 
Tomorrow will be 1st September and I will be off to Santander to take care of Yoigo’ PR activities there at the annual telecoms congress.  I am looking forward to a change of air and climate as it is so hot here in Madrid and 10 degrees less will be very agreeable. In my free time I look forward to a long walk or two on the wonderful Sardinero beach.

Hoping you have enjoyed this post, I wish you all a great week ahead,
Cheers till next time,


No comments: