Sunday, September 14, 2014

Visit to a new doctor, Suzy moving house, goodbye Emilio Botín, a gift from Brittany, the difference between the Scottish and Catalonian independence issues, Olivia reporting on the Madrid Fashion Week, ISIL beheaded English Aid worker David Haines, and other stories.

Sunday 14th September, 2014

On one of our morning walks this week still wearing shorts.  Photo taken by Olivia.
Hi everyone,

How has your week been?  Mine has been quiet.  Even so there’s lots to tell you, so let me start.

Last Sunday was quiet and the weather not quite as warm as usual.  In fact there was a 55% chance of rain so when we went on our second walk in the evening we donned raincoats.  In the end we never needed them.  It still feels like summer here and I am still wearing my shorts on our walks. Sandra, my friend who lives in Brussels where the weather is not so benign was very jealous when I posted a photo of Eladio and I on our walk one day this week and commented “still in bloody shorts!” The photo is the one I have chosen to illustrate this week’s blog post.  I think we look quite good for our age.  I still marvel that I can now wear shorts and not look too bad.  This is because in my “fat days” which represent most of my life until about 2010 I wouldn’t have been seen dead in them.

Olivia was home from Valencia on time to have dinner with us, the only time we spent with her last weekend.  This weekend she is in Valencia too and we are expecting her back tonight accompanied by her boyfriend Miguel. No doubt we shall all have dinner together again which I am much looking forward to.

On Monday I went to my much awaited appointment with a new doctor, an urologist, for the record with an English surname, Litton, although he explained his family left England for Spain in the 16th century and the surname still survives.  The appointment was important for me, a sort of last chance to treat my OAB (overactive bladder).  I have written about this very seldom in my blog but it is a condition which very much affects my life and is a huge pain.  I have never allowed it to dampen my spirits and I get on with life despite it but when I heard that this doctor is a specialist in the field I decided to go and see him.  He was very understanding and we had a long chat.  The worst part was the exploration of my urethra which hurt so much I ended up crying.  It turns out it is both narrow and very irritable and is part of my problem.  OAB is a condition much affected by the mind but by certain foods too. There and then he made me quit coffee, tea, alcohol and fizzy drinks.  Thankfully I can have decaf.  But no more alcohol ever!  OMG!  He also prescribed tablets which I started on Tuesday morning.  Maybe I shouldn’t have read what the side effects were, so when I got a migraine immediately after taking it, I realized the cause.  I rang the doctor who told me to suspend the treatment.  Meanwhile I have to make a bloody diary of my visits to the loo during the day and at night including the quantities.  If the mind affects this important organ, just imagine how much the issue of going to the loo has been on my mind this week.  The issue continues to be a pain.  I can only hope and pray this new doctor has something else up his sleeve which might help.  I debated whether I should include this subject in my post this week and in the end decided I should as it has so much importance in my life. 

Tuesday was dreadful because of the migraine; thus I spent at least 5 hours in bed.  Eladio was a darling and I always need him and appreciate him so much when I feel so bad like I did on Tuesday.  Thankfully by the evening the pain was receding and I was able to talk to Suzy.  She was delighted to tell us the landlord had accepted their offer (hers, Gabor’s and their current Italian flat mate Stefania’s), to rent a new flat in South Bermondsey.  To judge by the photos it looks lovely, two big bedrooms, a super kitchen, big lounge and bathroom. They will be moving in this month.

Tuesday was also the date of the Apple launch of its new iPhone and watch.  But you know what? I was not really bothered at all or even very excited.  I am an Apple user – I love my iPad – but far prefer Samsung mobile phones.  It seems to me that the new iPhones don’t offer anything the Samsung smartphones don’t already offer.  As to the watch, well I’m just not into smartwatches basically because I think they only do the same things a smartphone does, so why would you need one?  If it’s for measuring your sports activities, well I far prefer my fitbit which is hidden away for no one to see, whereas if I used a watch I would have a fashion issue.  I mean smartwatches can’t be worn with elegant clothes.  So for the while, unless they come up with some gadget like my fitbit, I won’t be considering Apple for measuring my sports activities. 

On Wednesday we woke up to the news that the Santander Bank chief, Emilio Botín, had died on Tuesday night of a heart attack aged 79.  It’s funny I wrote about him in last week’s post, explaining that he had called the bank after his home town, the beautiful seaside town in the north of Spain called Santander.  His daughter, Ana Patricia Botín, aged 53, will take over as the bank’s CEO, leaving her current role as CEO of the Santander Bank in the UK.  He had planned for her to take over when he retired (if he was ever going to do so) and I have read since that she may not have all the support she needs in her new role.  I, for one, am happy that a woman will be at the helm of the Eurozone’s biggest bank.
Ana and Emilio Botín 
Thursday was the 13th anniversary of the September 11th attacks in the USA.  This is a date none of us will ever forget. The date is so ingrained in our minds that each and every one of us knows exactly what we were doing when we heard the news.  I was 44 and working at Nokia, when a colleague walked into our open office space to tell us the news and to ask if there was a television in the office.  We all scrambled to find one and were just on time to sit and watch aghast the attack on the second tower. No, I will never forget and nor will you.  13 years ago we found out that the biggest terrorist threat to the world was a group called Al-Qaeda lead by Bin Laden.  Today we all know that it is the Islamic State group of terrorists.

This was on my mind of course last Thursday but what was foremost in my mind was the fate of the company I work for, Yoigo, since our mother company, the Swedish telecoms group of operators, TeliaSonera, announced it was for sale at the beginning of the summer.  On Thursday there were rumours that Jazztel, a Spanish fixed operator, was in talks to buy Yoigo.  The press is and was full of the story; never have we been so much in the news since our startup in 2006.  The other company interested is Orange. I got many calls from journalists but this is a subject only the owners may talk about.  Then I heard that the latter had issued a press release to confirm initial talks with Jazztel and “others”.  So right now we are very much in a waiting mode.  It seems to me that we have been on and off sale since we launched nearly 8 years ago.  The outcome is not clear. Meanwhile we all just get on with our job which is what is expected of us.

What brightened up my day on Thursday was the arrival of a parcel.  I thought it was from Amazon, but no it was from France.  My dearest friend Adele had sent me a blue and white striped t-shirt from Brittany.  She had given Sandra and I t-shirts when she came to stay in May.  Mine was multi coloured and Sandra’s was the blue and white one which afterwards I asked Adele to buy for me.  I had completely forgotten about my request when it came on Thursday and was delighted.  I put it on immediately and this is what I looked like.
Wearing Adele's t-shirt from Brittany.  Thanks darling, love it.
I commented on Facebook that Sandra and I would be twins now to which Adele replied we would be triplets as she had ordered another one for herself.  I can’t wait for the three of us to be together again and what fun it will be when we all put on the striped t-shirts. 

In the afternoon on Thursday there was bad news from Montrondo. José Antonio, Eladio’s brother, wrote to tell us their lovely mongrel dog Nuba had been run over by a farmer.  Her paws were badly damaged and the vet wasn’t sure whether there was any internal damage and she was to be put in observation for 48 hours after being given a dose of fendramin (urbason in Spanish).  So far so good I think but she must have given a huge scare to José Antonio and Dolores.  The accident was her own fault as she has a tendency to bark and run after cars.  Hopefully she won’t ever be doing that again.  I wish her a speedy recovery.
Little Nuba recovering from her car accident in Montrondo this week.
Meanwhile on Thursday Olivia was attending the Madrid Fashion Show reporting on the new trends for her TV programme, Aquí en Madrid.  One of the brands on show was Desigual which both Olivia and I used to love, however I think their clothes are actually far too similar, despite the name of the company meaning “unequal” or different in Spanish.  These days the Madrid Fashion Show is sponsored by Mercedes Benz.  I well remember when I was marketing Manager of Motorola Spain being the first commercial sponsor of the event.  It certainly gave me an insight into the fashion world and made me feel short, dumpy, badly dressed and unattractive next to all those beautiful people
Olivia reported on the Madrid Fashion Show this week
11th September was also the “Diada”, or Catalonia Day where Catalans celebrate their culture and customs.  These days the occasion has become politically charged as the local government there, led by a man called Arturo (Artur in Catalán) Más, have decided to call a referendum for a vote on independence on 9th November.  This week too Scotland has been in the news as the date for their referendum approaches this month and polls were showing a lead for a yes vote, something the British Government never thought would happen.  There have been articles in the British and American press comparing the two independence issues; some even writing that the Spanish government is less democratic because it won’t allow a referendum in Catalonia.  However, they are not explaining why, so let me tell you the difference.  In the UK, a referendum in Scotland which some 300 years ago was an independent country, is allowed under UK Law.  In Spain, where Catalonia has never been an independent country (remember that), a referendum would be illegal.  This is because the Spanish constitution only allows a national referendum.  So if a referendum were to be called the whole nation would have to vote. Of course if the whole nation voted, Catalonia would never get its independence.  For that to happen the 1978 constitution would have to be changed and a new constitution would have to be voted for in a national referendum.  Meanwhile Arturo Más continues his battle threatening to go ahead with the referendum.  Today I have read that if he does so, he could be sent to prison for prevarication, disobedience and sedition.  As you can appreciate the political tension between Barcelona and Madrid couldn’t be worse.
People lining the streets on the day of the Diada (Catalonia day) dressed in yellow and red to form a V for Victory and Vote along the Diagonal and Gran Via streets
Friday was quiet, the last day of the working week and generally my favourite day of the week.  That evening Eladio and I went out to dinner to our latest favourite place, La Txitxarrería where I always order steak and chips.  They have the best beef in town.  Afterwards we came home on time to watch a film called The Green Mile with Tom Hanks.  Tom Hanks is a prison warden on death row in an American prison where an enormously big black man with healing powers is sent after being wrongly accused of killing two little girls. I had seen it before but didn’t really remember the script.  This time I watched it riveted from 10.30 until it finished at 1.30 in the morning.  It is a superb film.
The Green Mile, certainly my film of the week
On the news front Friday will be remembered as the day Ian Paisley died. If you are my age and lived in England or Northern Ireland in the 70’s you will remember this fanatical Protestant firebrand preacher turned politician whose arch enemy was the IRA.  Later he was reconciled with them and had a big role in the peace process but back in the 70’s he was not a popular figure.

Friday was also the day of the sentence of Oscar Pistorius, the South African para Olympic champion who shot his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, supposedly in self defence.  He was charged with “culpable homicide”; i.e Judge Masipa, believed his story that he never meant to kill her.  I think we will never know the complete truth as the trial has been long and complicated with very unreliable witnesses, including the athlete himself.  I haven’t followed it so therefore can’t judge.  But I mean to begin with, why did he have a gun, and why, oh why, didn’t he check to see who was in the bathroom before shooting?  I mean where did he think his girlfriend was if she wasn’t in the bedroom with him?   

Saturday was quiet after Olivia left for Valencia.  We spent the day reading and walking and I also swam after my walk in the evening as I do every day.  Saturday was my dearest and oldest friend Amanda’s birthday.  We haven’t seen each other for such a long time that when I wrote to send her birthday greetings we whatsapped to agree on a phone call time which will be this evening.  I am much looking forward to talking to her and catching up on her news which I hope is good.

Meanwhile in London Suzy was entertaining her ex Whitechapel flat mates as well as her friend María’s family, Ele and co.  From the photo she posted on Facebook it looks like they all had dinner at Suzy and Gabor’s place. 
Suzy far left in the big denim jacket partying with her ex Whitechapel flat mates and the De La Fuente Family last night
And now I’ve got to Sunday, the last day of the week.  I was stunned to read at breakfast this morning that the deadly terrorist group ISIS, IS or ISIL or whatever you want to call it had gone ahead with their threat and beheaded David Haines the 44 year old UK aid worker they had kidnapped in Syria some time ago.  They told the world in the same way they showed the beheadings of the 2 American journalists, through a vile video posted on internet where once again the perpetrator was the English accented ex musician named John.  This time it was in retaliation for the UK government allying with Barack Obama who has started attacks on the group in Iraq.  The beheading is vile, atrocious, disgusting and in my mind does not tally with any Muslim teaching or beliefs; as for Muslims, the same as Christians and many other religions, it is a sin to kill a person.  Can the maniac or maniacs who beheaded this lovely man who only wanted to help humanity, really think he or they will be rewarded with whatever debauched ideas they have of what heaven promises for them?  At the same time I was delighted to read that many young British Muslims who went out to Iraq to fight with the group are now disgruntled and want to return, hardly believing that part of their tasks was to kill other Muslims in the area, not to talk of Kurds and other religious minorities. I sincerely hope David Cameron and Barack Obama’s special forces find and punish the perpetrators of these ghastly beheadings and that they do it soon, to spare the other hostages who may be next on the list.

After reading the story, I was much happier to read a whatsapp message from Olivia a bit later on this morning.  She told me Miguel had come third in an open sea swimming race in Javea on the coast near Valencia. To take part I think he got up at 5 in the morning. Well done Miguel, we will celebrate tonight.
Miguel came third in today's open sea swimming race in Javea this morning.  He certainly has the winning spirit

My Father's day will have been brightened up today by an email that arrived just before lunch from the Mother of an ex pupil of his at Bradford Grammar School.  Apparently her son whose surname is Crookes had read my blog (must have been the entry on my Father) and wanted to write to him.  It seems my Father taught him French maybe 30 years ago. It's so nice that past pupils want to reach out to him.  For me that is a sign that they must have considered him a good teacher.  Of course he was but many years have gone by so it's still very touching to know there are ex pupils out there still thinking about him. Thank you Mrs. Crookes for writing to me. 

I was just about to sign off and say goodbye until next week when my phone bleeped and one of my news clipping services let me know of the death of another 79 year old high profile Spanish business man.  Isidoro Alvarez, Chairman of El Corte Inglés died a few minutes ago.  El Corte Inglés is Spain’s equivalent to Selfridges or any other up market department store, with branches all over Spain and some in Portugal.  Despite this and other crises El Corte Inglés has always fared well in this country.  I am a frequent customer of this wonderful store which has the best service as far as shops go at least in Spain.  RIP Mr. Chairman you did a good job.

So that’s it from me for this week.  Wishing you all the best, till next Sunday,


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