Sunday, October 19, 2014

US nurses contract Ebola, in love with Joe Malone, reunion with my Finnish friend Anne, my Father’s 9th anniversary in Spain, voted best Communications Director in the Spanish telecoms sector, Olivia disconnecting with Miguel at the Hoces del Rio Duratón Natural Park in Segovia, Suzy busy in London and other stories.

Sunday 19th October 2014
At the prize giving award with some of my fellow comms directors and journalists
Hi everyone this sunny Sunday in October.  

The rain has gone and it seems we are in the midst of another Indian summer.  Yesterday the temperature in Madrid rose to 27ºc and today it will be even warmer. 

The news this week continued to be dominated by Ebola.  In Spain the other top two stories were about the mess the head of the Catalán Government, Artur Mas, is in after having to suspend his promised referendum for independence on 9th November after it was declared illegal by the Spanish legal authorities.  Despite this he wants to go ahead with some sort of consultation which seems to be leading him nowhere as it too will be illegal.  Remember I told you that in the Spanish Constitution referendums can only be held on a national and not regional basis. The other story is yet another story of corruption.  The board of administration of my bank, Bankia (Caja Madrid), have been caught out using “opaque” credit cards where they all spent hundreds of thousands of euros on hotels, trips, luxury restaurants and even on call girls, not to mention they took out money from cash points whenever they wanted.  These directors come from all sectors and political leanings and they are all household names. They now have to return the money which they argue was just part of their salary, although it was never declared.  The public cannot take much more of this sort of pilfering when many of us mortals live on modest salaries and more than 25% of the population is unemployed. 

Ebola, as I say, continues to dominate the news.  Whilst more than 4000 people have died of the virus in West Africa and more than 9000 people have the virus which kills 70% of those infected, the Western World is only reacting now with initial aid efforts once the deadly virus has reached its shores with a handful of cases.  The only way to stop the virus spreading is killing it at its source and until that happens, Ebola will spread in any direction.  I mean imagine if it spreads to countries like India or China with weaker health systems than in Europe or the US.  In the latter the health systems and governments can contain it as we are seeing but that would not be the case in the undeveloped world. Spain was the first country to be affected when the nurse, Teresa Romero, who had treated the repatriated Spanish missionaries, was diagnosed with Ebola two weeks ago.  It became a huge crisis in this country and people criticized the health system here and even the nurse herself.  Thankfully she is on the mend and all the people she has been in contact with have all proved negative so far. It was only when last Sunday when the American nurse, Nina Pham, was also diagnosed with Ebola after having treated the Liberian man Thomas Duncan who later died,  that we all began to realize that maybe the fault lay with the WHO protocol itself and not with our excellent health systems.   It was said that the Spanish nurse may have touched her face with a glove but that is not clear.  In the US it is still not known how Nina Pham got infected.  But it tells us that the virus is very dangerous to treat. Later in the week another nurse, Amber Vinson, who had also treated Thomas Duncan, came down with symptoms of Ebola and proved positive. The dreadful thing is that in between time she had travelled on a plane with 130 people who will now all be in quarantine.  The WHO protocols will now surely ban health staff who have cared for Ebola patients from travelling, amongst other things such as visiting the hairdresser which was the case of Teresa Romero.   One big difference between the Spanish and American case is about the nurses’ dogs. Whilst Teresa Romero’s dog Excalibur was put down without her permission (she doesn’t even know yet), Nina Pham’s dog is being taken care of.  That tells you the difference in the countries’ attitudes to pets. 

Sorry if I have written so much about this case but I feel very strongly about it. So back to my week now.  Monday was quiet.  I fasted of course.  That day I went to Yoigo for a meeting and as usual went on my two hour long walks.

My week was very busy in general and Tuesday morning saw me in Madrid attending an event put on by the telecoms sector association, Ametic.  It was a post Santander telecoms congress event for journalists and representatives from the sector.  It was held at the Club Financiero de Genóva, on the top floor and bang in the centre of Madrid.  The rain had stopped and the sun had come out and the views of the city were spectacular.
In Colón at the Ametic event on Tuesday morning - spectacular views of Madrid
On my way back I stopped off at the Corte Inglés department store.  My objective was to buy paper for our printers.  However once there I wanted to visit the new Joe Malone corner.  Joe Malone is the English perfume and beauty product brand recently introduced to me by my friend Juana.  She had bought me the Joe Malone cucumber and earl grey scent which I adore but I was eager to get to know the brand better.  Apparently it was a favourite with Lady Diana!  They have so many fragrances with some very alluring names that it was difficult to choose one.  I was about to buy the roses one when I asked which was the most popular.  It seems it is lime basil and mandarin and when I smelled it I just had to get it.  I was told you can mix and match the fragrances but I don’t think I will.  But I did buy the matching soaps which I love.  I must tell you that I am now in love with Joe Malone and from now on it is my favourite brand of perfume.  Have you ever tried it?  If you haven’t you must.
In love with Joe Malone
On Wednesday I was busy preparing for our results day on Friday. But I had an engagement that evening I was much looking forward to.  My dearest Finnish friend, Anne, was visiting Madrid with a friend and her 4 daughters and we had organized an ex Nokia dinner at Casa Paco downtown in “La Latina”.  In the end we were only three: Anne, myself and my darling Carmen (or Carmencita) who had been my trainee and who had also worked in Anne’s marketing and communications team.
With Anne and Carmen at Casa Paco on Wednesday night

We had a great meal and a great evening remembering old times but also catching up on our lives.  I was most impressed to hear from Carmen that she and her partner have a foster child, a 15 year old girl from a broken family who has lived with them since she was 7.  That is something. I was also happy to hear how well Carmen’s music and dance academy is doing.  Dearest Anne had brought me some dark Finnish bread she knows we love, as well as some super Finish chocolates – the Fazer brand which I also love.  We said our goodbyes but not for long as I was meeting Anne again the next day.  As to Carmen we also agreed to meet soon as her parents are now living in our neighbourhood.  Thanks girls for a lovely evening.

On Thursday I had a doctor’s appointment in Madrid in the morning – my urologist. From there I went to join Anne and her friend and daughters at the Plaza Norte shopping centre where I was to have lunch with Anne.  
A selfie with Anne at Plaza Norte 2 on Thursday
She would be leaving on Friday and that was our last opportunity to be together.  I had no intention of buy anything but I ended up purchasing two lovely dresses from Mango; a shop I don’t often frequent.  I spied a tartan pinafore dress which I knew I had to have and was delighted it fitted as Mango sizes are rather small.
With my new Mango tartan pinafore dress
Thursday was my Father’s 9th anniversary with us.  He has an amazing memory and already on Monday he was telling me that Thursday 16th October was his anniversary.  He even showed Eladio the welcome card we had given him when he first came and that he has kept.  I do hope it has been a happy 9 years with us. It is certainly a pleasure to have him and he is never any trouble whatsoever.  I look forward to celebrating more anniversaries in the coming years. I very well remember the day we left his home in Heaton Grove in Bradford 9 years ago, stepping out of the door, taking a taxi to Manchester airport and the three of us flying to Madrid.  I seem to remember the girls had made a special welcoming dinner which must have been when we gave him the card and possibly a present but I don’t know because I do not have my Father’s memory.

On Thursday evening I went back into the centre of Madrid.  I was attending the annual telecoms awards dinner hosted by ADSL Zone at the 5 star Hesperia Hotel.   There are no other awards in the sector and everyone who is anyone is always there. It’s a very popular event too as it is the only one of its kind which gets us all together, the competition, ex colleagues, colleagues, journalists, etc.  Even the Spanish national police were there to receive a prize for the best twitter page in the world apparently.  There are prizes for the best mobile operator, the best fixed operator, the best smartphone and many others. The special prizes are for the best CEO, best journalist (Rebeca Arroyo from Europa Press well done!) and best communications director.  The communications award is voted by the journalists in the sector.  I was sitting quietly at my dinner table with my fellow communications directors from Telefonica, Orange, Vodafone, Microsoft, LG, etc and couldn’t believe what I was hearing when my name was called out to go up to receive the award of best communications director for 2014. 
My award  - best communications director 2014
The journalists had voted for little me!  I was bowled over and quickly had to improvise a speech in front of 150 people from the sector. I think I said something along the lines of: “Well I must have done something good” if I have been awarded this prize when I am not even a journalist.  I never set out to be one but if I knew then what I know now I would have wanted to be a journalist but not a communications director, rather a war correspondent.  Instead of that I waged a few wars in various telecoms companies. I never chose what I wanted to do.  Life always led me.  In the early 80’s life led me to Spain because of love.  In the early 90’s life led me to Motorola when mobile phones were just beginning; I didn’t even know what they were.  It was at Motorola where I first got an opportunity to start my career in communications and events and it was thanks to my boss, Luis.  Without his help perhaps I wouldn’t be standing here with this prize.  In 2000 life led me to Nokia in the years when it was like Google or Apple today although I wasn’t really aware of how important it was.  At Nokia I grew professionally and also flew all over the world.  Another person there, Félix, gave me the opportunity to grow and to learn even more about my profession.  Thanks Félix. And then 8 years ago life led me to Yoigo, a small mobile phone operator which was just beginning. No one thought it would be successful but how wrong you all were. And here once again a person gave me a great opportunity to start up the press department and to contribute to building a completely new brand and compete with the likes of Telefonica, etc.  That person was Johan and we had such fun on our journey.  He has gone now and I miss him still, but another person at Yoigo gave me an opportunity too, my current boss, the CEO Eduardo. Thanks Eduardo first for for keeping me on and secondly for believing in me.   And life led me to this sector and to this room tonight full of colleagues, the competition and telecoms journalists.  You all gave me an opportunity too and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for this award which tells me I must have done something good”.

On Friday I felt as if I was walking on a cloud all day; having received so many messages of congratulations on twitter, linked, facebook, whatsapp and in person.  That morning though I was extremely busy as it was results day.  TeliaSonera announced the 3rd quarter results including Yoigo’s.  The great thing was that our results were perhaps the best ever.  We doubled in profitability although sales were down, but they were down as we no longer “sell” so many terminals, they are nearly all financed now.  The important figures were the ebitda, ebit and service revenues (from the calls and data usage).  It was good to hear the CEO of TeliaSonera saying to Bloomberg “we have a beautiful asset in Spain”.  After attending two conference calls and sending out the media alert, I was off to the office for what we all Yoigo Mornings (something I invented in Nokia Spain and imported to Yoigo); i.e. a staff meeting to explain the results, introduce the new employees and have a stand up lunch all together.  Yoigo mornings are extremely popular, not to mention a great vehicle for internal communication.

Leaving the office I hit the Friday afternoon traffic and it took me two hours to get home.  Most of the way I kept thinking how blessed I am for being able to work from home and not to have to face the traffic every day as most people do.

On Friday Olivia finally got a day off work to be able to go away for a long weekend and disconnect from all the stress and tiredness her job provokes.  She and Miguel had decided to go to Sepúlveda in Segovia to visit the Hoces del Rio Duratón Natural Park.  They packed their bicycles as it was their intention to cycle in the park.  
Oli and Miguel cycling in the Hoces del Río Duratón Natural Park on Friday

They certainly got the good weather so the views of the famous 100m high gorges must have been spectacular.

Meanwhile in London Suzy has been very busy this week. She is still waiting for her registration number on the HCP (health and care professions council) as a dietitian. Once she has that and hopefully it will come through shortly, she will more or less immediately find a higher band job in the health sector.  Meanwhile she is being busy doing interim jobs. This week saw her working for a new home delivery service called Hello Fresh. Here is a photo of her dressed and ready to go!!
Suzy on an interim job with Hello Fresh this week!
Next week she will be working as a dietitian for a special programme for Apple employees where she will be assessing the employees one by one on their cholesterol, blood sugar level, blood pressure etc.  It’s very well paid and I’m sure she’s going to have a great time.  Good luck Suzy.

On Friday night Eladio and I went out to dinner as we always do and again chose Ginos where I gorged on a very big pizza; something I am sure Suzy will not be recommending to her patients next week haha.  We celebrated my award with a glass or two of Lambrusco.

And yesterday was Saturday. The weather was great and José Antonio and Dolores were coming for lunch.  Finally Fátima, our home help, was back from her 2 week holiday; although she went off again this morning for the weekend.  But that meant I would have help clearing the lunch.  I cooked though, as I love too when I am relaxed, and made cream of carrot and potato soup followed by lamb casserole.  For dinner I made potato salad from my grandfather’s recipe, handed down to me by my Mother. We had a grand day together, sitting by the covered pool after lunch, having afternoon tea and then going on our new walk with the dogs. 
On our walk with José Antonio and Dolores yesterday and the dogs too
And today is Sunday and, as I said at the beginning, the weather is wonderful. We shall be having lunch outside, but just the three of us, my Father, Eladio and myself.  I have made Asturian bean soup (fabada) which I hope they will enjoy.

And that is it my friends for this week, wishing you all the best till next Sunday,

Cheers Masha.

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