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Saturday, June 20, 2009


I am magnanimous enough to admit that I was in the wrong.

To finalize the administrative details of my arrangement with El Corte Ingles (so that they will provide three electrodomestical machines for the ease of our future life in the new house) it was necessary that I take into the shop a copy of my pay slip.

The branch of El Corte Ingles that I have visited for my white goods is in Cornella which is on the way to school. With Toni grudgingly in the passenger seat (it was after all a trip to a shop) we set off to take in the important piece of paper.

I am sure that every teacher will be able to sympathise with me when I say that as I made my way along my accustomed route I didn’t turn off at the exit for the shop but instead, automatically, continued towards school.

My mistake was pointed out to me and I left the motorway at the next exit.

And that is where the real problems started.

In the years since the despicable Franco’s death Spain has leapt forward into the modern world. Motorways snake their way all over the place; but all over the place is where you are likely to be if you try and follow the inexplicably dreadful signposting that Spain uses to confuse the normal driver.

Major turnings are indicated by absurdly modest signs which cannot be taken seriously. Turnings appear with no indication about where you might end up if you were foolish enough to take one. Signs disappear: you are following signs for one place and then they are no more. Even Toni admits that Spanish road signs leave a lot to the imagination – because they often don’t give you many facts!

So, having taken the wrong turning, but still virtually within sight of our objective we attempted to make our way to the shop. Unaided by any useful signs and hindered by the proliferation of one way, no right turn, no left turn, dead end and no entry signs.

In a silence that got steadily stonier as we meandered our way across most of Catalonia and very much out of the town in which the shop is situated, it was only when we had virtually returned to our starting point that we managed to join the appropriate motorway and make a second attempt to gain access.

After an uneventful and quiet drive we got there and I felt the traditional surge of potential consumerist frenzy that any very large, very decent and very expensive department store engenders in me.

This I-am-a-material-girl feeling was not shared by my passenger so our visit was brief and business like. It almost breaks my heart when alluring displays of glass and cutlery (which I have no intention of buying) remain uninspected by my good self because of association with a non-shopper.

The most irritating non sequitur in a commercial setting that a real shopper has to endure while inspecting some item on show is, “Are you going to buy it?” Anyone who asks a question like that wouldn’t understand the answer. There is no hope for such people.

Packing continues its Sisyphean path and the tide of boxes is now seriously encroaching on our living space. We need more boxes!

We have worked ourselves into a state of total paranoia about what machinations the Owner might indulge in to keep our deposits and so have taken the extraordinary precaution of repainting the ceiling of one of the bathrooms. This one has no external window and is therefore subject to mould; mould which is now hidden beneath thick layers of cheap white paint. The key here is cheap and that word is to be our key word in the things that we do to the flat to make it as pristine as superficial efforts can make it.

I have worked out exactly how much we have paid for the two years that we have been in the flat and I think that sum of money should keep even the filthy rich happy!

And that goes for the Merc driving, large flat owning Owner.

I think.
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