Thursday, March 26, 2015

Outside & Inside

I am what I am

Try as I might by laying in the sun for inordinate periods of time, I have to admit to myself that I will never look Spanish.  I might get a little browner than the people I have left at home, but I will never blend in with the local population.
            People speak English to me because they assume that I am German!  Which tells you a lot about national perception.
            Toni also does not look Spanish, so when we go to a restaurant which is not one of our usual haunts we are regarded as guire (foreigners).  Usually this makes very little difference, but when it comes to being ripped off, we are obviously fair game.
            Now it could be that it was a genuine oversight on his part, but today’s waiter brought us only the a la carte menu and omitted the cheaper and better value menu del dia.  When questioned he brought the other menus immediately, but it left a bad taste in the mouth.  Not a good thing when you are looking forward to your meal.
            To be fair, I would have to say that this exploitation is rare in Castelldefels which, when you think about it, makes all sorts of sense.  Castelldefels is a seaside town and relies for a chunk of its revenue on the tourist trade.  We act for Barcelona in very much the same way that Barry Island did and does for Cardiff; a seaside resort within easy reach of a big city.  We expect people not only to come, enjoy themselves and spend, but also to do so on a continuing basis.  Not giving the right menus to customers (whoever they are and wherever they come from) is short sighted and mean spirited.
            We will not go back, even though the other waiters were quick, friendly and efficient.  We have, as Toni’s blog points out, plenty of options for a decent meal and we do not have to give second chances.

Giving blood

This title was both literal and metaphorical today.
            My annual blood test happened at 8.00 am this morning and I am glad to report that I cycled to the surgery to give my two ampoules.  I managed to time it so that I arrived with four minutes to spare before they opened the doors.
            Perhaps I ought to explain.  Blood testing takes place on a Thursday and happens as soon as the door opens.  This means that when you get there a motley crew of the unwell are waiting like something out of a Bosch painting.  There are people there who Want To Be First In, and lurk with intent ready to press their way to the front of the queue.
            This attitude is fun to watch because as soon as the assembled multitude is inside an authoritarian figure in a white coat points to the wall outside the office which gives you the little sticky labels to put on the ampoules and starts reading out the names.  As soon as she (it was a she this time) calls out a name the owner of the name is expected to scurry towards the wall and get in line.  This is also fun as some of the patients have long ago lost the ability to scurry, and indeed to hear properly – so there is a certain amount of good natured (ironic) confusion (chaos) before the action starts.
            Some folk revert to school attitudes and bleat their recognition of their names while being severely ignored by the relentless white coat.
            I was ‘done’ relatively quickly and painlessly and the pleasure of passing so many people waiting for their extraction lasted right up until I got to my bike and realised that I had left my bathing costume at home.  As my plan was to go straight from the doctor’s to the swimming pool and then return home, I felt slightly miffed.
            I made the best of a bad job and went a different way home, collected my bathers without waking Toni and cycled back the way I had come for my swim.
            I have now made an executive decision, now that I have a watch that can do that sort of thing, to swim a measured metric mile each day.  That almost worked today, but the watch decided to stop counting the lengths after just 50m.  I still have not worked out why it works sometimes and not at others.  I will just have to check after a few lengths and see that it is counting.
            I have resigned myself to the understanding that cutting edge technology always needs a helping hand.  Just think of printers.  No, thinking about it, don’t think about printers, it’s not good for your stress levels!

Poetry please

The meeting of the Poetry Group in Barcelona last night was excellent with a slight change to the way that the evening is usually planned.
            I read out my latest poem, Lessons? and was pleased by the response to the last lines, but found myself explaining the references.  I think that I need to insert a few lines before the present start of the poem to make it clear.  The references are solely British and perhaps I need to open the poem out a little and make the conflict which produced those holes more explicit.
            You can decide by reading the poem as it is at present at your feedback will be greatly appreciated!
            I’m not sure if the freewrite that we did during the evening or the ‘exercise’ we completed will find their way into poems, but I throw nothing away.  I am constantly amazed at how the most inconsequential jottings can sometimes suggest productive avenues to explore.

Email amnesia

The contrast between emails and letters have been discussed at length over the years, but I want to concentrate on one aspect that seems to effect me.
            I check my email most days and I try and do my ‘housekeeping’ fairly regularly; in other words I read, delete and save religiously.  But I have noticed that I have a large conceptual blind spot.
            When I read an email from a friend or colleague that needs a reply I have two ways of approaching this task.  The first is fairly straightforward, I type an immediate reply.  The second is more complex and altogether more worrying.  In this approach I ‘assume’ a reply but don’t actually type it out.  Perhaps there is something pressing that I have to do and I tell myself that it will be done ‘soon.’  Too often that soon goes into another day.  I have read the email and so it no longer registers as a number waiting to be read and it no longer appears in the list in bold asking for my attention.
            By day three I assume that I have actually sent it.
            Embarrassingly this has happened with Irene.  I even told Toni that she was going to be visiting on Saturday.  Unfortunately I didn’t convey this information to Irene as an actual response to her.
            Please, someone out there, tell me that I am not alone in this approach!  I am hoping that recognition of this syndrome is a major part of the way towards its cure!
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