Saturday, April 25, 2015

Taking Pippa to Oli’s newsroom, Results day, retail therapy at Zara, a surprise party, Suzy with Sandeep in London and other stories.

Saturday 25th April 2015

With Olivia and Pippa at her newsroom in Madrid on Monday
Hi everyone.

I’m writing my blog today Saturday as Suzy is coming tonight for four nights for her birthday, so I want to be free to be with her tomorrow.  I can’t wait for her to arrive. This post will be short, mainly because there is not much to tell but also I am in a rush as I have a thousand things to do before she arrives.

Let me start with last Monday, my fasting day.  There was terrible news in Spain that morning when we heard that a 13 year old boy had killed a teacher and injured another one as well as some of his fellow students.  It happened at the Joan Fuster school in Barcelona. This is the first case in Spain where a pupil kills a teacher.  Olivia pointed out to me that it happens in the US once a week. Imagine!  The boy killed the teacher with a home-made crossbow. As he is a minor, he is not responsible for his acts so I’m not sure what his punishment will be. 
A woman lights a candle in memory of the teacher killed in Barcelona on Monday by a 13 year old boy
A much worse story was unfolding in the waters between Africa and Italy when a boat with nearly 900 migrants capsized and more than 700 lost their lives.  Boats are coming daily from the coast of Libya organized by human traffickers and they are difficult to stop.  This is a story we are all used to.  It doesn’t seem to touch our lives; after all these are just poor Africans.  If it had been a European cruise ship we would have been more shocked.  Today I read an article which contains some horrific photos that talk for themselves of this human tragedy.  Of all the photos, this is the one that impacted me most. 
A migrant arrives on a tourist beach in the Canary Islands
On a brighter note, on Monday morning I went with Olivia to take Pippa to meet her colleagues and see the newsroom of the programme she works for: Aquí en Madrid for Telemadrid.  I also wanted to meet them and had made a promise to do so after they sent me a lovely card and chocolates when I broke my ankle. The photo illustrating this week’s post is of Pippa and I with Olivia and some of her colleagues.

Olivia might complain about the long working hours or disorganization of how the programme is run, not to mention the low salary, but the truth is I was impressed with where she works.  To start off with the newsroom is on one of the floors of one of Madrid’s tallest and most famous office building in Plaza Castilla.  It seems to me to be quite a privilege to work there.  The newsroom was small and crowded but there was a great atmosphere and I know that if I were Oli’s age again I would die to work there as a live reporter.

Oli at her desk in the newsroom with Marta her colleague
Tuesday was Results’ day which is always stressful for me. They were the first quarter results published by our Mother Company who owns 76% of Yoigo.  I had everything ready, our press release, internal release, statements etc and our results were very good as far as profitability was concerned; less so in sales.  But then at 7.45 in the morning when I was still in my dressing gown, I got a whatsapp from a well-known journalist who asked me if the figure of approx. 3.5 million customers was right for Yoigo. I immediately told him it wasn’t as we have just over 4 million.  When I opened my pc I found the results press release on their company website and there it was approx. 3.5m!  I immediately rang our head of finance who was shocked too as we thought the HQ would publish the 4 point whatever million we had reported.  It turned out our mother company had changed the way they calculated their operator companys’ numbers of customers by discounting those who were inactive in the use of their phone in the last 90 days but hadn’t warned us they would do so.   They are however still in the system, so of course we still have the 4 million customers.  I then joined the global comms conference call and when it came to question time I piped up asking them why they had they done that without explaining the new way of calculating customer bases.  They said sorry and promised that in the upcoming press conference they would explain.  However the damage was done and some of the Spanish journalists reported that we had eliminated half a million customers from our customer base.  I had to ring as many as I could to clarify the story which was not easy to explain.  I must say I was furious with the situation but there wasn’t much I could do.  As head of communications, blame for negative headlines always lies with me, which is often very unfair if I can’t control the news which is what happened on Tuesday.

 It was only at lunch that I began to relax after the unpleasant morning I had had dealing with the quarterly results.  Lunch was with an old colleague, Amalio M who used to be the editor of Spain’s number one newspaper, the sports paper called Marca.  He now works as head of sport for a big PR company; perhaps Spain’s biggest, Llorente y Cuenca.  I hadn’t seen him for years and we had a brilliant lunch talking about the projects we used to work on together when he was with Marca and I was with Motorola and Nokia. He took me to a restaurant called La Torcaz where he seems to have lunch every day. I must say it was a good choice and in a lovely street in Madrid called Lagasca.  It is in the elegant Salamanca district where we used to live.

The sun was shining as I left and I decided to walk along some of the elegant streets of the area. Being near Serrano, the capital’s most chic street, I decided to go into Zara’s flagship store there.  It was my first time in Zara since my accident and the first time I was buying any new clothes since my trip to Finland in March.  There were some lovely things.  Here are two I bought, a blue and white striped shirt and a long yellow cardigan.  Buying clothes in Zara in the centre of Madrid really cheered me up after the dreadful morning I had.  It was a true case of retail therapy.

The clothes I bought at Zara's flagship store in Serrano Madrid on Tuesday
On Wednesday I was busy again.  Apart from work, our routine, walks, etc, I have been making preparations for 3 upcoming birthdays; Suzy’s, Oli’s and my Father’s.  So that morning Eladio and I went to Centro Oeste in Majadahonda for some necessary items for these occasions.  It was when, I was entering Zara (again hahaha) that I bumped into our friend Ana and her youngest daughter María.  It was lovely to see them.  Once more I was tempted in Zara and bought fmyself a red long sleeved t-shirt and this lovely flowery blouse to go with the yellow cardigan I had bought the day before.

The flowery blouse I bought at Zara in Majadahonda on Wednesday
I had a long talk to Suzy on the phone that afternoon; the first for quite a while.  We don’t talk often but of course are in contact permanently via our family whatsapp group.  I wanted her to bring me things from England.  You might be interested to see the list: this is it: Waitrose essential all-purpose cloths, birthday cards, humbugs, big Johnsons talc and ear buds, Boots transparent shower caps, Boots toothpicks, walnut whips and last but not least some Cadbury cream eggs!  I think she managed to get everything except for the shower caps because Boots was out of stock and for the all-purpose cloths as there is no Waitrose in her area.
Waitrose Kitchen cloths, part of the list of things I asked Suzy to bring me from England.  Lorraine will be bringing me some in May.  They are excellent and you can''t find anything like them in Spain. 
That evening after our walk, I got ready to go out in the middle of the week which is most unusual for me.  What did I wear you may wonder?  Well some of my new Zara clothes of course. I was going to a surprise retirement party for a well –known and well-loved journalist, Ana G. who is retiring from the Spanish news agency Efe.  She had no idea all her friends and colleagues from the sector would be there.  She thought she was coming to a concert to see one of her daughters sing.  Well yes her beautiful daughter Cecilia did sing but at a big surprise retirement party for her Mother.  When Ana came in and saw us all she couldn’t believe her eyes. It was beautifully organized and great to see so many familiar faces.  I went with my friend Fátima and we had a great time.  As it was dark the photos I took didn’t come out very well but one did and it is of Ana and her three “children”, Carmelo, Fanny and Cecilia. 
Ana with her three "children" Cecilia, Fanny and Carmelo at her surprise retirement party on Wednesday night
I have known Ana since I worked at Motorola and she is one of my favourite journalists.  I took her on many trips with me, especially with Nokia.  The last trip with her was with Yoigo when I took a group of journalists to see how 4G worked in Stockholm in May 2013.  Here is a group photo of that trip.  Ana has curly hair, is wearing a brown jacket and is third left in the front row.  We shall all miss her dearly but hope to see her maybe working freelance or as a consultant in the sector sometime soon.
Ana on our press trip to Stockholm in 2013
Thursday was a quiet day.  I fasted of course and went on two hour long walks; one of them with Eladio and the dogs. 

On Friday I was busy with work but at the same time occupied interviewing women to substitute Gema who announced the other day that she was going to Morocco to one of her daughters’ weddings for a week.  She then told us it would be for 10 days.  She hadn’t even consulted us.  How were we going to manage for such a long time with no one to shower my Father?  I already wrote recently that we are a little disappointed with Gema who also announced recently that she can no longer push my Father up the path in his wheel chair as she has back problems.  It was after the announcement that she was going away for 10 days that we decided to interview other women to replace her and tell them that if they did the job better the woman chosen would remain with us. So on Thursday we had an unsuitable old Bulgarian woman who came and yesterday Friday we interviewed a 26 year old Rumanian girl, a 48 year old Spanish woman from a village in Toledo and a 50 year old Moroccan woman who came in her own car.  We finally decided on María Salud the Spanish woman who will be coming on Sunday night.  I rang the telephone numbers of the references she gave me and both people she had worked with spoke highly of her.  It's unusual to find a Spanish woman who wants to work as a living in home help.  Normally it is a job for immigrants.  I don't know María Salud's story but I am sure it has to do with the crisis and lack of other jobs, at least in her small home town in the province of Toledo. Let’s see how it works out.  I’ll keep you posted.

After all the interviewing we had to go on our walk and then do the weekly shopping which is no mean task as we are such a big household.  We completely filled up the boot of our new BMW X6 and had to put the fruit in the back of the car.  You may be interested to know that apart from the normal sort of fruit; I always make an order to my green grocer at the local supermarket of 10 punnets of raspberries, 5 of bilberries, 5 of blackberries, 2 boxes of strawberries, papayas and mangoes.  Our lunch dessert is always the same; fruit salad.  Soon that will be served with the meringues I ordered recently and which have still to arrive from Britstore online.

We were home late, at about 8.30pm and I had to shower, wash my hair, put my make up on and be in Majadahonda by 9.30pm and I made it! We had a dinner date at Tanteo with our friends Javier and Ana (the Ana I bumped into at Zara).  This was a new restaurant for us and the food was superb.  We spent most of our time talking about our children; if you can still call them that when they are in their 20’s and 30’s but I suppose you can.  We also discussed a book I have just devoured and which Eladio is reading too.  It is by the Queen of Spain’s first cousin, David Rocasolano and is called Adios Princesa (goodbye Princess). David was her staunch supporter in her first years in the Spanish royal family but was let down by her when he was involved involuntarily in a financial scandal. Since then he broke off relations with her and all his family. The behind the scenes story of the marriage of his cousin, a TV news presenter to the Crown Prince of Spain told by one of the members of her plebeian and once anti royalist and atheist family makes for fascinating reading.
The book I read this week and which Eladio is devouring now.  
Meanwhile Sandeep, Olivia’s Indian friend who she met in her Erasmus year in Falmouth, Cornwall, and who now works and lives in Devon, had just arrived in London where he would be staying with Suzy.  They posted this lovely photo of the two of them which made both Olivia and I a little jealous as we would have loved to be there too. I know Sumit, Sandeep’s friend who is also Olivia’s friend since they met in Cornwall, and who works for Bollywood in Bombay, would have killed to be there too.  Both boys, or should I say men, are wonderful people and I can tell you they would have made excellent sons-in-law but that was not to be.  On the good side, I know they will be friends for life.
Sandeep and Suzy celebrating their reunion in London yesterday.  We wish we could have been there too.
And today is Saturday.  I was up relatively early and had breakfast on my own reading the news on my iPad.
Breakfast this morning
Well I wasn’t on my own if you count the dogs which I do as we consider them members of our family.  I couldn’t resist taking this photo of the three of them in the kitchen where, as usual, little Pippa ignores her little bed and prefers to be with Elsa in hers.  Aren’t they adorable?
Our three dogs in the kitchen this morning.  As usual Pippa ignores her bed and prefers to snuggle up to Elsa
Gema has just left and won’t be back until tomorrow night which means I have to deal with the meals.  I am keen to finish now to make lunch and be free to read this afternoon by the pool and then go on our walk. Suzy will be arriving late tonight; at 11.30pm and we are dying to see her.  Tomorrow she has planned a big birthday party in the afternoon for God knows how many friends.  At least I have been invited hahaha.  Her actual birthday is on Tuesday 28th and I am worried about what food to prepare as recently, sadly for me, Suzy turned vegan.  When we talked about it on the phone, I was glad to hear she would make a concession on her birthday and tuck into Nutella (her favourite but not allowed now as it has dairy products in it) and croissants – not allowed either as they have milk and eggs.  Anyway, the important thing is that she will be here and we can celebrate her 31st birthday all together.

Of course you will be hearing all about her birthday celebrations in next week’s post.  Meanwhile my friends and readers, enjoy your weekend.  Until next time,

Cheers Masha

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