This week in bigger pixs

    Monday 24 February 2014 Week 140 Spain.

    Differences.

    Good weekend? Ours too. For a small portion of it we stood in a thatched roofed beach bar, listening to a live rock band, just yards from the Atlantic Ocean and all with the pungent odour of marijuana filling our nostrils. That’s like, far out dude.

    I've learnt a lot in the past 140 weeks. Much of it, surprisingly, not about our European partners but about us, the British. Living in the Uk you'll not discover much about your Britishness, the reason being the only people you can measure yourself up against are fellow Brits and that won't tell you much. Mixing with other nationalities, as we have, you can't but help but see differences and make comparisons.

    Take dancing for example. The other week, when we had our party, a dozen people got up and started dancing. Now it'll not surprise you to learn they were all women. Women dance, we all know that. Men, generally, watch, we all know that too. That’s how it's always been. Now I don't really understand that, chiefly because you can't get me off the dance floor, I love a good bop. I'm often the first person, let alone bloke, to get up and dance. (He is. Ed) So I don't know what it is that stops blokes from strutting their stuff and shaking their booties, but I fancy expressions like that probably don’t help. I'm tempted to suggest it might be because they feel they're not very good at it, but since there’s few rules to dancing, you just do your own thing, it's not really something you can get wrong. I also wonder if some blokes see dancing as effeminate, “Its not what real men do lad” that kind of thing. Men rarely get the chance to swagger their hips, especially since, many actually deny having them to sway in the first place but that’s a subject for another time.

Erm, you might want to remember a bloke never lifts his arms above his head. This because there's no way to do it and not look a twat.

    Alcohol rescues some. Normally once a guy has downed a few beers he'll often ignore his inhibitions and get down and dirty on the dance floor. But by then, for some, its too late. While they fully intend to move like a well greased Patrick Swayze their bodies have entirely other ideas. I'm reminded of a friend who would need several drinks before he dared to get up on the dance floor. He'd sink the dregs of his fifth or sixth beer, slap the glass on the table and declare, 'I'm off to have a dance'. He'd stand, set his compass for the dance floor and then would stagger off at a 45 degree angle to it. I often found him later sat in another part of the night club never having reached the dance floor. Spanish chaps don’t seem to have a problem as the gig proved.

    Another example might be drink. They also don't seem to drink that much. When we entered the bar there were four guys serving behind the bar working flat out. An hour later there was just one twiddling his thumbs. Once the youngsters had brought 'a' drink they seemed happy to hang onto it which is something their British counterparts have trouble doing. Authorities these days worry about youth binge drinking as though it's something new, it's not. We've all done it. My generation did it. Getting bladdered is a British past time. Politicians argue that price will stop binge drinking, I'm here to tell them it won't. What stops people binge drinking is growing up and having responsibilities.

    Of course there was little need to buy booze the other night since there was clearly a good deal of marijuana being smoked, by all ages I have to say. Unlike beer, marijuana, doesn’t bloat you out, give you a beer gut, give you a hangover, cost as much nor does it make you aggressive. It especially doesn’t make you do things which later you need a solicitor to make excuses for you, “He doesn’t remember the events of that night m'lud, he was drunk at the time”.

    Smoking a joint makes you giggle and chills you out. And its worth remembering that marijuana is a plant and therefore might contribute to one of your five a day.

    (The author asks you to smoke and drink sensibly. Ed)

 

 

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 Tuesday 25th February 2014 Week 140, Spain

    Housekeeping

    Okay I have a couple of questions to answer today. I've been asked, by someone planning to follow in our footsteps, how the scooter is working out? I'm happy to report quite well, although, as with any transport that doesn’t have a roof or a heater riding it does depend on the weather. If its too cold, wet or windy Hazel won't climb aboard. This does mean we don't site-see as much as we did when we had the car and caravan. Trundling around in a four ton motor-home gawking at the sites isn’t an option.

    For people with motor-homes and no other means of transport, and here I don’t include a bicycle, it can be difficult which is why some shop locally which can be expensive. But that's preferable to securing all their belongings and then take the motor-home off pitch to a supermarket. Having said that, I know some would say that’s not an inconvenience. Several on this site hire cars which you can do locally for a s little as £30 a week.

    We did get all brave and ride the scooter into Gibraltar on a shopping expedition, a not unsubstantial 120 mile round trip. -This was one of the 'events' Hazel planned a week or so ago-. It was a little chilly over the mountain and on the way back the wind did its best to blow us into a field, but it was a fun day. The only issue I've had with the bike, other than the battery, and here’s another handy tip, is that’s its suffered an oil leak which I've managed to cure using super glue. Not my idea, someone else’s, but its worked. I'll make a full repair at some later date.

One of my better pics.

    I've received a couple of emails regarding my first years diary. If you look over to the left you'll see its gone. This prompted a reader to ask: 'what’s happened to it?, its disappeared, I was reading it'. Bugger. I still struggle to get my head around the fact that every now and then someone far braver than I, sets out to read all 140 weeks of my ramblings. For a start it equates to over half a million words, larger than War and Peace and frankly is no where near as interesting. I should of course be flattered and I am, so thank you, I'm sorry. 

    Anyway I deleted it for a couple of reasons. First this web site is getting too big, there is a size limit. And, can you believe it, I'm too popular. I so never thought I'd be saying that one day. When I first started Webnode hosted my site free but because of the amount of traffic it attracts I now pay a monthly charge. Each month I get very close to my allowed maximum bandwidth which would see the charge increase. I could have adverts but I've declined. I mentioned the other week that after lampooning Leviticus, in support of gay rights, I lost a third of my readers. Well perversely that actually did me a favour, it reduced my traffic. It all sounds very complicated. Anyways, I deleted the first years diary to give me more room. I also took it off because my style, if I have such a thing, has changed over the last one hundred and forty weeks. I’m not so much writing for family and friends any more but I have a small, select and intellectual audience which I’m eternally grateful for. So I thought I should make my site, and me, sound a lot more interesting. As to whether I'm succeeding in that is either.... well, for others to judge. 

    I'm actually in the process of turning the first years diary into a book. The wacky adventures of.....! type thing. But at 500 pages and 160.400 words it needs serious editing. When that’s done I'll post it back up in a downloadable PDF format.

    I should warn that tomorrow will feature a photo of me naked which will be highly relevant to what I need to discuss with you all.

    (We'll see about that. Ed)

 

 

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 Wednesday 26th February 2014 week 140 Spain

    Get my kit off?.

    I got chatting the other day to a fellow camper who asked if I'd ever tried, or considered, a nudist camp? - I think aficionados of that life style prefer the term naturist but don't quote me-. I told him I hadn't. “You really should try one, you'd love it” he said. Why he thought I'd love it I really can't say. He then went on to explain some of the social etiquette one follows at a naturist site. “For example” he said, “its not socially accepted to sit in someone else’s chair with out first putting down a towel to sit on”. Right......, I so didn’t need to know that. The reasons are to yucky to consider. He continued. He told me the first time he went to a nudist camp, without thinking, he closed the curtains to get undressed and then wondered why he'd bothered the second he stepped outside naked. “Old habits die hard”, I suggested.

    I have no problem with nudity or people who feel the need to strip off and return to nature, but I simply can't understand why they do it. What do they get from running around naked which can be unsightly and a tad uncomfortable?. Don't believe me? Try running around your lounge now butt naked and then stop in front of a mirror. You'll discover, dependant on your age and fitness, quite lot a of you will take some time to come to a completer rest. Go-on have a go, I'll still be here. See what I mean. I once saw a news photo of Peter Stringfellow, the ageing nightclub owner, in a thong at 64, the image still haunts me. Few of us are models.

   Now I thought it only fair to get an official position, so I checked in with the British Naturist Association and found this quote emblazoned across their website.    No one can ever truly describe that first-time feeling of freedom from clothes, with your body fully exposed to the sun and the breeze.

    Really? Because that surprised me. I've been naked lots of times at home and never once did I think: blimey! I feel so free without my pants on and that breeze around my Urals think I'll stay naked.

I tried, but it was too hot apparently.

    Do some people find the wearing of clothes that restrictive? Really? Because I'd have to ask what kind of clothes are they wearing? spandex boiler suits?. Neoprene under garments? Perhaps they simply haven't found clothes that fit them yet. I've seen women in bikinis not much larger than postage stamps. Isn’t that just as good as being naked?. These atom sized garments hardly encumber one. I've never heard a bikini clad girl say: “Christ! I really can't run in this bikini”. No, what these people are banging on about is a state of mind. They want to metaphorically unclothe their minds. I can just imagine some naturalist reading this now and saying to his naked wife as she nervously fries chips: 'This poor deluded fellow knows nothing about the joys of simply being naked with ones friends and being at one with nature Doris!'.  Really? Because when I think of my friends, I can honestly say, the last thing I want is to think of them naked. No offence, but none are in the first flush of anything. I'd have to get a whole new bunch of friends, preferably younger or at least fitter ones if I went down that road. Trouble is, as with all people who seem to have discovered something wondrous and life affirming, they make it sound as though I'm missing out on something, which is exactly what the comment from the web site implies. Religious people do it all the time. Its as though they are complete in some way and your still stumbling around in the dark looking for the light switch.

    I'll finish by asking this question. Why is it that of all nudist beaches I’ve ever come across there is always a totally disproportionate number of ageing overweight men posing, cocktail sausage in full view, and so few attractive señoritas?.

    Go figure.

 

 

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 Thursday 27th February 2014 week 140 Spain

    It's Carnival time yeah!.

    Okay get a bag packed asap!. If, by the time you’ve read this, you don't want to hop on a plane and fly over, I've failed.

    The ten day party in Cadiz is about to kick off. This is one of the most long-awaited events on the calendar and attracts thousands of people from across the region and beyond. The city is transformed and streets fill with people intent on having a jolly good time.

    Cadiz spends the whole year preparing for this and it rivals anything you'll see around the world. Its one big street party Ten days of non-stop fun, frolics and merry japes. Its one of the best-known carnivals in Spain.

    It's a widely held opinion that the residents of Cádiz are the wittiest people in Spain. -I'm guessing, this is a widely held opinion, most likely, by the people of Cadiz themselves- It's therefore not surprising that the main distinguishing feature of this carnival is the political criticisms, the pointed sarcasm and the parody of well known Spanish political figures, something which our Notting Hill carnival sadly lacks. While carnivals elsewhere in the world stress the spectacular, the glamorous, or the scandalous in terms of costumes, Cádiz distinguishes itself with the sheer cleverness of its themes but that's not to say they don't do glamour, oh no. Just take a look at this ladies urm......, head gear. Marvellous.

She's catch her death!

    A month before the official start the groups that compete in the competitions begin their rehearsals and the carnival atmosphere kicks off. Various groups play at open-air events where they showcase their repertoire of humorous songs in public. The songs usually provide a critique of events that have made the news over the course of the Spanish year, they basically take the mickey out of politicians. (We're all for that! Ed). That’s the spirit dear.

    The competitions sees more than 100 groups taking part. It's a spectacle packed with humour, music and colour. The Grand Finale is one of the main attractions and it is held on the first Friday of the Carnival and lasts until the following morning.

Its a Spainish Harry Secombe

    Fancy dress is obligatory. Its essential to wear a costume, at least on the first Saturday and during the parades. Its also traditional here to paint your face rather than wear a mask. There are two parades where the public play an active role. The Great Parade, is on the first Sunday. It proceeds down the main street and the second is the Comedy Parade which goes through the old town on the last weekend.

    The “charangas ilegales” is an interesting element of the Cadiz Carnival. These are families, groups of friends, workmates or even campers who sing songs to compete for laughs with the “official” groups.

    What I personally found interesting when I was there, the year before last, was that the few policemen you saw, were all on traffic duty so you can feel completely safe bringing the whole family over with you.

    Right, well that should have you ringing Gatwick for flight times. But don't worry if you can't get here because us Brits still have pancake day to fall back on, so all is not lost, right?.

 

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    Friday 28th February 2014 week 140 Spain.

    What’s on my mind.

    Tough subject today. Not something I've talked about before but this article wound me up. The Daily Mail has accused the Deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman of "pedantry and obfuscation". Yep, typical Daily Mail words. I had to look em up. They mean an excessive concern with minor details and hiding the intent or meaning of something.

    They have accused her of being an apologist for child sex abusers. Of supporting a paedophile organisation. Of having a relaxed attitude to paedophilia and of watering down child pornography laws. Not the kind of accusations you'd want levelled at yourself and certainly not if you're in the public eye. They've accused her of this because back in 1975 she was a leading figure at the National Council for Civil Liberties. Amazingly, and this takes some believing, an organisation the Paedophile Information Exchange was granted affiliate status to NCCL. -Times were clearly different forty years ago -Amongst its aims was to make incest legal and reduce the age of consent. It lasted five years before the NCCL cut its ties and it fell apart after most of its founding members were jailed.

Interesting yes?

    Harriet Harman has hit back saying, "These are horrific allegations and I strongly deny them all". She's accused the paper of launching a smear campaign and said she’s done nothing wrong. Now I can't believe for one minute Mrs Harman isn't a respectable and honourable lady but I dare say the damage to her reputation has been done. Such is our media and its abuses of free speech.

What I care about, as we all do I'm sure, is the paranoia surrounding the issue of paedophilia in the UK. For example: fathers have been stopped taking photos of their daughters at school swim meetings and sports days. A chap was recently reported to the police because of having innocent holiday snap of his own kids playing on a beach! The kids were whisked into care before it all, thankfully, got sorted out. It's reported that over half the jobs now advertised in the UK require you to have a police background check. The fear has become proportionate to the problem.

    Calm, rational and sensible debate about this taboo issue is thrown out the window as everyone goes for the offenders jugular, which helps no one, especially the victims of paedophiles. I don’t think I’ve ever managed to discuss this with anyone who hasn't, within seconds, informed me that all sex offenders are evil and therefore should be shot, hung or, if at all possible, quartered and their head stuck on a pike. Its as though we're all incapable of rational debate. And of course its the very people we are out to protect, our children, that suffer because of it.

    What a society should do, if its wants to protect the innocent and tackle this issue head on, is study these people and find out what motivates them to commit such acts?, Why are they so different from the rest of us?. By finding out can we only actually help begin to solve the problem. Failure to do so will ensure that fear and loathing will continue to get in the way of a solution. Weather that’s incarceration, medical remedies or therapy.

    Three quarters of sexual offences against children happen in the home. By male and female relatives. Almost the same statistical number of perpetrators themselves, have at some point, been a victim of sexual abuse. What does that tell us?

Its only by understanding any problem can you ever hope to find an answer to it. Just jumping up and down and pointing accusatory fingers might help to sell newspapers, but it doesn't help victims.

 

    You have a good weekend.

 

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