Saturday, January 01, 2011

Festive Days

Watching another country's music from the eighties as I am trying not to do at the moment as a nostalgic (is that the right word for the eighties?) television programme brings to light for me totally obscure non-entities from a lost decade is rather like watching an embarrassing faux pax from a distant relative in a social setting, but one still part of the family.

God knows I knew little enough about 80s music in Britain until I was taken in hand by Paul and given a double album of the greatest hits (sic.) of that decade and told to listen to them. I vaguely knew two of the tracks and when I told Paul the names of them he was contemptuous and didn't believe that my ignorance could be so complete of a decade that he thought one of the most memorable and scintillating in terms of popular music. He then went through the tracks saying, “Surely you know this bit!” but I did not.

I have to admit, surrounded as I was by people who valued rather than voided the eighties that I did, in self defence, come to know a few more numbers than the admitted genius of Ultravox with “Vienna” - kept off the number 1 spot in the UK by the mindless “Shut-up-a-your Face” - as even the most neophytic trivial pursuit player will know.

But still, not a decade to be proud of: the fashion; the hair styles; the footballers' shorts – so many things that jolt one from one's accustomed torpor when they leap out at you from some archival programme on the TV. There should be a little sign in the corner of the screen to warn viewers of a sensitive disposition that 80s footage is about to be aired!

The Familial strain of cough/cold/sore throat has now made its way through at least four members of The Family to me, so I am sitting in the self pitying echo of a past cough listening to Toni moaning about the condition of the kitchen.

I will at least have my revenge as I adopt the role of Plague Annie and make the fajitas for the meal this evening liberally dispensing pestilence with the paprika. The real temptation is to throw in a liberal splash of Tabasco and watch them cringe as the spice tickles their taste buds, but I do have to remember that I am dealing with people who regard chorizo as the daring point of piquancy!

A night in Terrassa and then back to prepare for my voyage to the UK.

The fajita mix is now made to my own recipe: the trick is in how you open the packets I find. A whole steaming casserole pot of goo is waiting to be spooned into wraps. I can do no more, and I certainly have no intention of chopping up the salad, tomatoes and cucumber for the interesting dips.

Neither Toni nor myself are in what might be described as rude health so the jollifications this evening are going to be a little muted, to say the least. One must always remember in The Family that there are two, young, shouting, irresistibly active children under the age of competent reading and writing to contend with.

Meanwhile there is the feeding of music to the New Machine. Because of the incredible selfishness of itunes it will not accept my music from my ipods and I am having to put the music into the computer's memory disk by disk. I have grabbed handfuls of disks from my storage and have fed them painfully slowly into the machine with the only bright spot being that they are being accessed by use of the “free” disk drive that I was given for being fool enough to buy such an exotically priced computer.

The selection of music I have so far made is a little unbalanced with an emphasis on Carl Nielsen and Benjamin Britten seasoned by a number of tracks from the evergreen 60s!

Well, New Year's Day is here and I am sporting a facial injury from the dinner last night.

As I always suspected young children are fatal. While whipping one of the nephews up into a frenzy in the only way I know how with kids viz. treating them like Labradors, a flailing hand raked my chin leaving a gaping wound which poured with blood.

The other, younger nephew was fascinated with this effusion and seemed delighted that it was the other nephew's fault. The other, older nephew seemed blissfully unconcerned of course and no one else seemed to notice. And you can't even blame alcohol in a Catalan household – though everyone did drink at least a taste of Cava after midnight.

The actual striking of the hour is the time of an important ritual where for each chime a grape has to be eaten. It is very interesting to see the difference between Britain and Catalonia. From the first strike of midnight we Brits drink, cheer, sing and start kissing; the Catalans are pictures of sobriety and are concentrating with all their might to ensure that they don't choke when the eat the grapes. There is a real sense of achievement at the twelfth stroke when your plate is cleared.

We didn't have seedless grapes so there was a certain amount of swallowing at we didn't have time to spit out the seeds. You can buy little tins of twelve grapes or cellophane packed twists of grapes you can set out on the dining table.

The food for the dinner and for lunch today was excellent, though it did not contain the seafood cake that Stewart was hoping to get the recipe for. Another time perhaps!

Already the light of the day is beginning to disappear and dusk with its short duration is starting to turn into night. The Christmas and New Year celebrations are ended for another yea and it only remains for me to put away the tree and decorations for it to be officially over. Unlike the Catalans I do not wait for 12th Night and The Kings for the end of the season. Indeed, almost unthinkable to a true Spaniard, I will be travelling to Britain on The Kings presumably I will be among fellow citizens as The Kings is a time for family in much the same way as Christmas. My only hope is that all the best stuff has not been snapped up in the January Sales which, because of The Kings are unknown in this part of the world in the same frenzied way that they are greeted in the UK. Indeed the pictures of doors being opened in London to let the ravening crowds in made it to Spanish television.

We are now back in Castelldefels having left, with few regrets, the modern re-make of The Thomas Crown Affair that the men were watching with the aid of subtitles because. Instead I am settling myself down to enjoy one of the episodes of Harry Potter that I don't think I have seen. Which is a good thing.

My book reading this holiday seems to have stalled at an Algernon Blackwood novel that I am reading is a desultory fashion on my telephone. I started reading it assuming it to be one of Blackwood's short stories but it has developed into something which I would have expected from the pen of J M Barrie or Kipling or Wells in their more whimsical moments.

Keep the rubbish rolling!

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