This week in bigger pictures

     Tuesday 14th January 2014 week 134 Spain.


    It's OK. Still here. You'd not be blamed for thinking, especially after Friday's entry and my scepticism of what God may or may not have said to Moses, I'd been kidnapped by the fundamentalist wing of the Christian brotherhood or struck by lightning by the main man himself, but nothing so interesting. My no-show yesterday was simple internet failure. It's been erratic and frustrating the last couple of weeks.

I received an email over the weekend from one doubting Thomas -odd name but there you go- who suggested I possible made Friday's entry up, as if?. In a sense, obviously, I did, but the content was spot on. I suggested they check out Leviticus for themselves or at the very least the Observer book of birds.

    Christmas is well and truly over here in Spain and camp life has settled down to it's normal glacial pace. I'm not saying it's slow here but to detect any movement you’d need strobe light........ Oh! I'm only joshing. We don't sit around twiddling our thumbs, far from it. We've had a number of knees up at the bar. On the day we arrived, a month ago now, we found the camp-site deserted. This was because everyone was in the bar getting wasted celebrating a fellow campers birthday. A couple of days after Christmas we piled back in the bar and partied for someone else’s birthday and over the weekend we celebrated a gentleman’s seventieth. We've had four birthdays since our arrival and three well attended birthday parties. Wonderful. Four Birthdays and three parties. One missing. Mine. A collective Ahhhh.... would be nice about now. It was pretty much forgotten by everyone or, if I wanted to be less than charitable, I could say ignored. A more paranoid man might, with a box of matches, desire to get even.

    Obviously Hazel wished me a happy birthday and made my day special. There was a time she’d have sat on my lap and sang Happy birthday, Marilyn Monroe style but now I just get my favourite, pancakes, for breakfast. Family and friends also sent me e cards and good wishes. On Christmas day a fellow camper enquired: “Wasn't it your birthday yesterday”. “Yes” I replied. “Well happy birthday for yesterday” he said, and then sauntered off. When your friends forget it's your birthday it's perhaps time to re-evaluate.

Oh come on, sooner or later you knew you was going to get a beach shot.

    I'm not pointing an accusatory finger at anyone for forgetting my birthday simply because I'm hopeless at remembering them myself. I hope I'm right when I say it's because I'm a bloke. Men have no internal diary, unlike women. Women have an uncanny ability to remember all manner of dates. For example: Hazel can remember the date of our first date, and what she wore. I just remember that it was sometime in the past. There's nothing that strikes fear into the heart of a man more than when his wife poses that perennial old chestnut: “Of course, you know what day it is today darling?”. Us blokes handle this in differing ways. My brain races. Within nanoseconds several million synaptic nerve endings pointlessly fire up as I stare blankly at the ceiling. Outwardly calm, inwardly screaming. “Y...e...s” I say, slowly and deliberately, half hoping for a clue which if it doesn't come at least buys me a few more vital seconds. The two main dates that could find you sleeping in the spare room or worse, talking to your wife through a solicitor, are forgetting her birthday and of course your wedding anniversary. Her mothers birthday comes a close third. After a pause in which I see a veil of doubt cross Hazels face. I switch to the male default position. This involves telling Hazel I suddenly don't feel very well. If this is viewed with suspicion I then clutch my chest and say: “No, seriously luv I don't”.

    Anything to buy time.




Wednesday 15th January 2014 Week 134. Spain


    Oh dear, what have I gone and done? me and my big gob. I checked my viewing statistics for the weekend and compared to the previous week I've lost a third of my readership. Perhaps my comments on Friday ruffled too many feathers. (Birds did feature heavily. Ed). True. Perhaps poking fun and challenging some peoples beliefs is not the way to win friends and influence people. But lets be frank here, religious homophobics are not known for their tolerance nor, clearly, their sense of humour. Hey ho. Nothing I can do about that. I could tone down my diary entries and write about fluffy pink stuff. Stuff that wouldn't offend anyone. Stuff that wasn't controversial but then, where’s the fun in that? And it wouldn't be me, so what would be the point? Perhaps Fridays remarks struck a raw nerve with some so much so they've written me off as a jerk, knob, clever dick or smart arse -delete which you think is non applicable-. However even if some don't agree with my comments, words of wisdom, views, rants, ramblings, opinions, -also delete which you think is non applicable- they are only my comments at the end of the day. And I, like most, have zero influence in the cosmos.

    Perhaps I should move on to some safer ground today.

    Occasionally I get asked questions from people who've just stumbled across my online diary much in the same way one accidently steps into dogs doings. The questions are often ones I've answered before, but I'm happy to answer them again. (Q) How long you been doing it? (A) I point to the week number. (Q) Why are you doing it?. (A) I once reasoned that if I won the lottery I would travel the world with the winnings. However, since I've never done the lottery.....winning it is unlikely. So I looked for other way I could do it and hey presto. (Q) You must be rich to do it?. (A) On the contrary. We live on a tight budget and spend less, weekly, than we would back home. (Q) How many languages do you speak?, (A) One and a half, but if you think I look like I could speak more I'll take that as a complement. (Q) What do you guys do all day?” (A) As little as possible. Like most working people we spent 40 odd years dashing about, we're now catching our breaths.

Giant women invades Spain

    I never suggest to anyone they read my past diary entries because, well, it's simply asking too much and besides they've done nothing to me. I have to say it's a courageous reader who checks in daily. Hazel, suggests readers dip in and out in the same way they might, say, dip a marsh mallow into a chocolate fondue at a dinner party. She may well be right. She's very good where food based conceptual metaphors are concerned. No, apart from a couple of loyal family members, even our families don't bother to read it so I can hardly expect strangers to drop in daily to see what high jinks we've got up to. Most people have busy lives and important things to do, fridges don't clean themselves. (Some ovens do. Ed). ???

Why am I telling you this? Ah yes I remember. Someone asked about our leak. (Really?. Ed). You betcha. You may remember we had a Niagara style leak from around one window. If you do, give yourself a pat on the back for paying attention. I purchased a sealant gun, a tube of sealant and diligently went to work resealing the window. Complete waste of time. The next time it rained it pissed in. I got very angry and a bit sad. I then applied a bead of sealant across the window hinge for no other reason than I was out of ideas and to impress Hazel, and hey presto no more leak. So I now feel chilled out and not sad. (And I am duly impressed. Ed)

    And finally I've been asked by someone who really should get out more, did I eventually find a pair of shoes?. Well thanks for asking and yes I did. And I'm very pleased to say that they were made in Spain.

    Hows that for non controversial fluff?.




 Thursday 16th January 2014 week 134 Spain


    This time last year we flew back to the UK for a break. A break from what I'm not sure, probably all that laying around on the beach. Flights are ridiculously cheap. Gibraltar to Uk £54 return. You can fly to Gibraltar, have a fun day out, buy 200 cigarettes, a bottle of scotch, have fish 'n' chips with a beer and the whole day will set you back just £90 all in. In the UK a bottle of whiskey and the 200 fags alone with set you back £90 and you won't have half as much fun spending it.

    However, I once watched the Pope get off a plane and at the bottom of the stairs he fell to his knees and kissed the tarmac and I thought: fuck! I've been on flights where I've wanted to do that. Turns out he did it for an entirely different reason.

Some people can board a plane and not think twice. Hats off to them, I've never been one of them. I board thinking this isn't going to end well. I can't shake it. I know the safety statistics but no matter how many times I repeat them it doesn’t help. As a boy I built model aeroplanes so I know how and why they stay up but even that insider knowledge doesn’t help. The longest flight I've undertaken was eleven hours. The only way I could get on board was to convince myself that I hadn't had such a bad life.... so what if it all ends today... that’s life right?. Madness. More fatalistic than optimistic.

    On board I watch the safety briefings and wonder why no-one else bothers. In an emergency I just know these are the buffoons I'm going to have to climb over and elbow my way past to get to the emergency exit. It's then when I'll shout: “freaking wished you'd listened now you fools, and then laughed hysterically. “NOW OUTTA MY WAY”.

    I listen intently to every word and visually check the whereabouts of the nearest emergency exit. I fixate on the 'what to do in an emergency' chart, worried that if I don’t I could miss some vital life saving tip. The flight crew then move onto: 'What you should do if the plane lands on water'. This is an Airbus A319. It weighs 200 tons and even though it cost £62 million water skis are not on the optional extras list. The phrase 'land in water' is not applicable. They explain that should the plane 'land' in water, life jackets are under our seats. On the life jacket, for our convenience, is a torch and a whistle. The point of the torch is so that you can spot the sharks swimming toward you that have been attracted by your frantic whistle blowing. I once boarded a plane and my seat was adjacent to the emergency wing exit. Needless to say I felt a little more relaxed. A member of the cabin crew told me that: 'in an emergency I would be expected to open it'. She suggested that if I objected she could find me another seat, why would I object? I almost told her to fuck off.

    Now you're thinking, well come on Phil, air travel is pretty safe, what are you so worried about? I'm not worried, I'm just better informed than some. For example: according to Aircraft Crashes Record Office (ACRO) whose job it is to collate the aviation accident figures, they report on their web site that in the last ten years there have been 1,507 plane accidents, -they don’t call them crashes-. The number of people who didn't get off a plane having stepped onto one is 11,897. So now my concerns don't seem so daft, right?.

    The good comforting news however is that you are twice as likely to win the lottery and three times more likely to be eaten by a shark than meet your maker in a aeroplane accident. If however like me you don’t do the lottery, and don't swim in the sea, my advice would be, go by ship next time.





  Friday 17th January 2014 Week 134 Spain

    What's on my mind

    Ok, what has Bosnia, Norway, Montenegro, Albania and the Swiss all have in common. Answer: They're amongst the last few countries, within Europe, that are not members of the EU. If the chap below, yes that one, has his way we'll be joining them. According to the UKIP maa.... maaanni... maannyif. (He means Manifesto. Ed) That’s it. It's just, having read it online I just can't bring myself to call it that because..... well.

    (a), It looks like something two drunks knocked up on the back of a beer mat.

    (b), 80% of it's Policies hinge on Britain pulling out the EU.

    (c), and the other 20% amount to nothing.

    If, after a referendum, we don't leave the EU then all that's left in their maa... manni.... doh! you know what I mean, is a promise to scrap wind farm subsidies and build more nuclear power stations, whoopee! Also a promise to, well, I dunno. It simply says: 'Political correctness is stifling free speech'. Which really is an opinion rather that a policy statement. Under law and order it says: 'The law of the land must apply to us all'. I hoping that means they will get tough on politicians fiddling but I doubt it. And under the same heading it vaguely states: 'Life must mean life'. which refers to sentencing. While some believe this is long over due, prison professionals don't. Even the Americans, who bang up more of their citizens for longer than just about anyone else in the free world, know this doesn’t work. (In most states). Prison can be unmanageable when you have them filled with men with nothing to lose

Our next leader.. Cor blimey he looks a cheeky chappie and no mistake. 

    Anyway the 64,000 dollar questions is: Will Nigel and the UKIP take power? The answer is, yes probably. And here’s why. 

    In 2010 the Tories were elected with just one in four voters voting for them, 10.7 million out of a total of 44 million. On the day only 25 million could be bothered to turn up, the other 19 million preferring to stay at home and watch telly, that's serious apathy. The number of voters that didn't vote Tory therefore was 34 million or ¾ of the electorate. That's a perversion of democracy in my book. And I don’t know about you, but it is also farcical, especially when you consider British soldiers are dying trying to bring about our brand of democracy to the middle east.

    A recent poll conducted by the Tories showed that a third of voters who voted for them last time, now won't. Another showed that out of 15,000 voters 40% said they will vote UKIP. The reason? They believe the two parties are out of touch which they clearly are, as can be seen from their recent back peddling on immigration and the EU. But more worryingly these voters find nationalist right wing politics attractive. This is nothing new. Extreme right wing politics have always been appealing to some. They offer easy knee jerk solutions to most problems, blame just about anyone who isn't British for our woes and appeal to the nationalistic verve of the people. Britain for the British! That kinda thing. UKIP promises to make Britain great once again. It is a pipe dream. The world has moved on. You simply can't turn the clock back as much as we'd like to. But this won't stop people dreaming you can. A return to the good old days isn't going to happen. However it's academic because when UKIP have their referendum on the EU, I guarantee we'll vote to stay in. Simply because no one, including politicians, pundits, political commentators, me, you and the media actually know what will happen afterwards and the fear of the unknown will keep the status-quo. Better the devil you know than the one you don't, unless of course we all decide to stay at home and watch the telly.

    You have a good weekend.



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