Thursday, June 19, 2014

Day of Shame!

Our anti-monarchical flag has been flying defiantly throughout the day and I have refused to look at any scenes of the lanky Bourbon pretending that his new ‘position’ is anything other than a crushing denial of the democratic pretentions of a politically bankrupt nation.  To say nothing of the obscene amount of money spent on this ridiculous sham at a time of national crisis.

            Of course the expulsion of Spain from the World Cup has been (and indeed, is) of more significance than a member of the moneyed classes dressing up in strange clothes and laughing at the peasants in the ruling party of PP fawning on his accession.

            I do recognize that the status of the Germanic dwarf in the UK would probably be confirmed if her position was ever opened to real public discussion, and I have to admit that (little thanks to her) there is much more transparency about the ludicrous costs of the so-called royal family than there is in Spain, where the information made available to the public is laughable.  Still, Spain did have an opportunity to take the discussion to another level and they bottled out. 

Perhaps when the GD finally has the good grace to shuffle of this moral coil and the public are faced with the awful reality of her appalling son ascending the throne they might actually think about the way in which they are governed for once, and finally decide that the Royal House of Wettin (which is what the laughable House of Windsor should truly be known as) is finally consigned to history where it so richly deserves to languish.

            It is true that the governing (sic!) PP party are the ultimate practitioners of the bread-and-circuses approach to deflecting serious discussion about anything of importance.  What is the world cup but the ultimate mask for the rich, powerful and unscrupulous to do what they do best and screw the rest of us!

            This bile could go on spilling for pages, but I should try and regulate my rants.  If only for the benefit of my health!

            I am much looking forward to our visit to the UK and especially to the meal on the Saturday night that looks as though it is going to be attended by a goodly group of friends.

            My revised chapbook of poems from the OU course that I have just taken has taken a step nearer to reality as, after extensive excavations in the storage area under the eves, I have rediscovered the long-armed stapler - without which the production of semi-professional booklets is impossible.  Indeed the number of pages in the booklet means that its realization is at the outer limits of the technology that I have at my disposal.  However publication of some sort is immanent.

            I have now brought the flag inside, it is after sunset after all, and the point has been made – and I am not at all convinced by the case for Catalan independence  - and anyway, I would have been much happier with a Spanish Republican flag.  Which I am determined to buy and use at a later date.

            Tomorrow the viewing of a flat.  There is no way that I can afford to buy one, but it is interesting to see what is on offer.  And I can’t wait for the laughable offers of finance that they might offer to a person of my age!

            Another experience to look forward to.  And something to write about of course.



A missed opportunity!

Try as I might (and I did) I cannot get hold of a Spanish republican flag.  Castelldefels is not a hotbed of radical political activity and the best I could come up with was a Catalan independence flag.  Bought from a Chinese shop.  The irony is too cruel to be articulated!

            The reason I need a flag of some sort is because tonight at midnight the discredited Bourbon who has flounced about fornicating and killing elephants will be officially not-king-but-king.  This idiotic situation was obviously fabricated by the supinely Papist government (remember the police medal was awarded to The Virgin Mary by a minister) to reflect the situation of the double popes we (they) now have.  But at least Pope Francis was elected.  Which is more than can be said for Philip VI who will be acclaimed king in some ornate ceremony in parliament, at an expense which mocks The Crisis; the unemployment figures; the risible minimum wage, and the feeling in the country, in which a majority wants a referendum about the monarchy.

            So when the pomp and circumstance of this piece of anti-democratic window dressing for the corrupt regime using our money to pay for it all it going on, I intend to show my displeasure by having the Catalan independence flag flying, which by implication is against the monarchy.  I will check with my friends and find a republican flag which I will fly at every occasion when this new parasite does anything of national irrelevance – which after all is his ‘job’.

            And to top all of this, Spain has just been knocked out of the World Cup.  I would like to think that this is a fully justified response to the almost terminal corruption of FIFA – but the truth is that in the two games that I have seen they have played as if their bodies were drones being controlled by neophyte American pizza delivery boys who only had a sketchy idea of what was going on and were drunk.  Toni has just informed me that Spain now has the more than dubious honour of being the first team out of the World Cup.  After winning the bloody thing the last time.  This will be seen as a national disgrace.  A fitting accompaniment to the country’s acceptance of an unelected hereditary monarch as their head of state.

            In the last world cup, after the disgraceful behaviour of the French team, when they were kicked out they were flown home steerage to emphasise the anger that people felt about their petulance.  Toni’s suggestion is that the Spanish team be sent home by bus.  A good suggestion I think, especially if the link between Alaska and Russia is not iced over.  After all global warming has not been helped by the ostentatious cars that the overpaid footballers parade themselves in; it is only fair that they should suffer from the global warming that they, with their careless lifestyle have helped exacerbate.

            I, by the way, am perfect and without spot.  And I drive a hybrid car.  So there.


Monday, June 16, 2014

It's only money!

A few years ago I had occasion to visit my local tax office in Llanishen in Cardiff.  Not by choice I might add.  This office was not some small, Heath-Robinson, out of the way, darkened room – rather it was a gigantic multi-storey in-your-face building whose intimidating outside said quite clearly that mere humans were not wanted.  Imagine my surprise therefore when speaking to the denizens of this anti-Utopia to find that they were approachable, helpful and polite.  They cut through my paperwork with exemplary consideration and sent me on my way with a happy smile!  And yes, I did write my appreciation in the visitors’ book.  It seemed the least that I could do.

            Now jump forward a few years and my tax affairs are now in the hands of Spain.  At which point, my mind drifts back a lot of years and to a fond memory of ‘The Revenge – A Ballad of the Fleet” by Tennyson in which the immortal line, “Fall into the hands of God, not into the hands of Spain” comes back to sum up the situation of having anything to do with the bureaucracy of the latter mentioned country.

            You can download your tax information from the Internet and the printout thus produced should give you a complete overview of you tax affairs and tell you how much you are going to get back from the tax people.  Everyone I know has a rebate at the end of the tax year.  Not me.  This time the tax authorities wanted over twelve hundred euros from me.  And I am not working!

            After a few jocular observations about tax, Spain, Satan and the power of Evil, during which the glass in the windows started to melt, I calmed down sufficiently to hear Toni say, “They do this to everyone!”  It turns out that the tax offices in Spain are in direct opposition to what the American Constitution describes as the right to ‘the pursuit of happiness’.  The tax office of Spain is, and always will be agin’ us.  It hates the people whose blood it sucks and, while the tax people themselves can claim tax back to the time of The Revenge, if you as a citizen do not claim what you think you might be owed immediately – tough!  Even if the tax office makes a mistake you will find out that it is still your fault.  You should have checked, all the responsibility is yours and none theirs.

            Therefore there are offices everywhere which offer an essential service of checking through your papers and giving advice.  When I was able to listen without the words vaporizing when they touched any part of my hearing apparatus, it seemed sensible to go to one of these people and hope.

            These people do not work for nothing, but in a few minutes the guy tapping away at a computer program with my details on it was able to halve my debt and to cut the payments into two interest free dollops of my cash.  So, although still paying out, I was paying out just under half as much as I feared.  Result.  And money to spend.  I know that is an illogical statement, but it has been one of my major lifelines in the way that I approach finance!

            Our trip to a nearby small, cheap restaurant suddenly transmogrified into a short car trip to a much higher class establishment where we were able to have a ‘gourmet’ meal on the Castelldefels passport.  This essentially means that a certain number of restaurants in the town offer a good three course meal with drink, bread and coffee for €25 per person.

            So sitting on the terrace of a restaurant perched on the hill above Castelldefels and with a panoramic view of the sea we had a starter of pica-pica which was a selection of tapas ranging from prawn in romescu sauce through a cheese, fruit and nut salad to Spanish ham and Catalan bread.  This was followed by a lobster and sea food rice stew, and completed with ice cream on apple jelly with lime soaked Granny Smith – all washed down with a more than drinkable Torres red and ending with iced coffee.  Delightful.  And I suppose I should give a twisted sort of thank-you to the tax people, because they sort-of made it possible.  At least to my way of thinking.

            I felt like a siesta after lunch and decided to take it on the beach.  And for the first time this year, I went into the sea.  The water was cold, but bearable and it was sort of refreshing.  I even managed to get through some of my latest Thomson film book, ‘The Big Screen: The story of the Movies and what they did to us.’  If you know the writing of David Thomson then I won’t have to do more; if you don’t know his writing then I urge you to try it out.  He has an effortless encyclopaedic knowledge of film and the ability to write about it in a way that gets your hooked at once.  His most famous book is The [New] Biographical Dictionary of Film, now in its sixth edition.  This is a must.  He is opinionated and refreshing and, like the Guinness Book of Records it is very, very difficult to look up what you started to look for without being beguiled along the way!  I would also recommend his ‘Have you seen . . . ?’  Even if you haven’t actually seen the films that he is talking about you will want to by the time you have read the page devoted to each and anyway the writing is of a quality to give pleasure even if you never actually get round to looking at them.  Thus ends this Public Service Announcement.

            Tomorrow, Terrassa for another birthday.  And we haven’t bought the present yet.  Sigh.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Me? Cynical?

At my most cynical, I could say that the present situation in the World Cup (which FIFA has trademarked) means that, with any luck both England and Spain could be out by the end of the Group Stages and there would be no further point in watching the month-long tedium of this most corrupt of sports.

            Although that is a moot point.  Cricket has shown itself to be ideal for match fixing and the Third World (or the Developing World as we are now supposed to say, though I don't think that any less condescending) has managed to make umpteen billions out of crooked betting on mind-bendingly boring matches.  That does, you have to admit, add a certain zing of the forbidden to an otherwise arcane-like (that was the only adjectival alternative that Word allowed, though 'arcane' is an adjective already - oh dear, caught by my own ignorance) piece of self-indulgence.  F1 racing need not make us pause for a moment: anything which has that repulsive white-haired dwarf in charge is obviously terminally corrupt.  Baseball is still haunted by the fixing of the World Series in nineteen-hundred and something – and so we can go on for all the sports.

            You only have to look at the governing bodies of sports to realise that any thoughts of sport for sport’s sake is a remote possibility.  In a charmingly sexist moment in one of his novels, Dickens refers to ‘old women of both sexes’; in a similar vein I would characterise the faces of sport government as ‘old, white, middle-aged, middle class men’ of all races, classes, sexes and ages.  Corrupt to their very finger tips: if not in terms of money and raw power then certainly in terms of perceived status and self importance.

            FIFA is, of course pre-eminent in terms of barefaced arrogance and illegality.  The only reason that such a rotten organization based itself in Switzerland was that there was no bribery law in operation until relatively recently – though laws, of course do not hinder the machinations of this body which makes the Mafia look like a WI Knitting Circle.

            The only decent course open to World Football is for every national sports’ organization to withdraw their membership and look towards founding another organization which has some sort of reasonable ethos behind its charter.  Blatter is a petty dictator who gains ‘friends’ and ‘influence’ by spending other people’s money to ensure that the “”good and the great”” (double inverted commas seems somehow inadequate to highlight the twisted definitions that FIFA uses in its lofty pronouncements) keep to the status quo, their stipends and the swamp of illegality that makes the organization the hated symbol of self-promotion that it is today.

            Brazilian police have arrested high profile demonstrators who have been working against the promotion of the completely false façade that FIFA and the Brazilian government has tried to drape over the chaotic and corrupt preparations for the World Cup.  Why was it that the England-Italy game was allowed to proceed when not one, NOT ONE, of the trial events to test the security and preparedness of the stadium demanded by FIFA actually took place?  Why is a high-handed non-tax paying self-justifying band of criminals allowed to get away with this?

            The answer is always money of course.  And with The Crisis showing no real signs of letting up the usual hidden, chummy corruption of the moneyed classes has burst out into the open and the political classes are scurrying about trying to hide the blatant evidence of their own wrongdoing.

            Take, for example, the ex-king of Spain – the widely despised King Juan Carlos (serial philanderer, elephant killer, hypocrite and blood sucker).  His private life is scandalous; his financial doings questionable; his attitude towards ‘his’ people contemptible; his attitude towards ‘justice is the same for everyone’ laughable; his hands ever open to take what he does not earn. 

            At the moment his just desserts are in abeyance because he is titular head of state and therefore ‘beyond’ justice.  As an abdicated king, he would be open to prosecution and quite a few mothers asking for him to take responsibility for his alleged children.  So what does our ‘government’ do?  Well, the two main political parties can see their easy ‘governance’ of Spain slipping from their corrupt little fingers, so the PP (a laughably right-wing bunch of crooks) and PSOE (an even more laughable bunch of so-called socialists) come together and stitch up a new law which keeps a king in place and gives the old discredited king the status of ‘king’ which allows him to continue to be above the law which he himself (in a much repeated piece of film) said was the same for everyone, but of course, he meant for ‘every one of you and not for me and my family.’

            All of this is happening during the aftermath of the European elections, while the world cup is going on, and while everyone is looking forward to the summer holidays.  There are five more days with the students in schools and then the customary days when the teachers should be able to prepare for the coming term in September, but will in fact be condemned to completely pointless ‘meetings’ which sap life and give you a clear view of what a Jean Paul Sartre hell might be like.

            Relentless negativity is wearing, isn’t it?  But it keeps me sane.

            The weather is not wonderful, but it isn’t raining.  I have just had an excellent pasta for lunch and I still have plenty of reading material to keep me going until our ‘holiday’ in the UK.

            Life may not be ‘good’ in all (or indeed any) political respects, but it keeps me happy!