Monday 16th February 2015. Week 191. Spain.
I'm back! Did you miss me last week? Didn't think so. So how was your St Valentine weekend? Was it a romantic one? Or maybe even a saucy one? or did you just spend it with your other half?........ No! I'm joking of course. What better way to spend that special day than in the arms of the person you love, failing that the husband..... Nooooo, take no notice of me, up to my usual tomfoolery.
I hope you had a nice Valentines day. A day which, as I'm sure you'll know, dates back to 496AD. It actually celebrates a forgotten Christian martyr whom no-one knows anything about. Thus proving, dying for a cause is no guarantee you'll be remembered.
It wasn't until the middle ages the now familiar romantic overtones were added. Many years later a secret triad was formed between Mr Clinton, Mr Cadbury and Mr interflora, together they shafted the rest of their sex and cash registers have been ringing ever since.
Unlike many British festive days: such as Pancake day, Easter egg day and Hot cross bun day, a piece of calorie rich food isn't the focal point of the day's celebrations, no, it's about us chaps showing that special person just how much we love them. Never forgetting, of course, to also pick up a bunch of flowers for the wife.... I'm being mischievous again, sorry.
Here in Zahora we danced the night away. As I've said before, the folks around here are a robust boozy crowd, so don't run off with the idea the dance floor was awash with zimmer frames, it was anything but.
Arcos de la Frontera: One of the most famous white villages.
The bands were excellent. All made up from camp-site members. Bands? Plural you're thinking. How so? Well we have on site, that I know of.......
(You can read this to the tune of: 12 days of Christmas for greater comedic effect)
Eight guitarists strumming,
One drummer Drumming,
Two keyboard players a playing,
One harmonicist blowing,
Two uku players a plucking,
One accordion player squeezing
and a chap with a very long didgeridoo. (seriously)
Not so much a camp-site, more a retirement home for ageing vaudeville performers.
Anyhoo I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Unlike some chap I don't require Dutch courage to get up and shake my booty – Interestingly we get the term 'Dutch courage' from a brand of a Gin made by a Dutch doctor, Amazing but true.- It's been said of me, 'Gawd! he'd dance to a ring tone'. And it's true. I've always found it curious as to why, with zero provocation, most women launch themselves from their seats as the band strikes up and yet dudes seem super-glued to them, at least until they've had a few beers. I think some chaps see dancing as perhaps unmanly or even effeminate, which could be awkward as there's talk of having a cross-dressing party next week. Don't ask!.
Two years ago all the ladies received a red rose. The petals of which were cleverly formed buy a tiny red thong, about the size of two atoms. Hugely impractical to wear I should imagine, but dead handy for cutting cheese. They came optimistically labelled one size fits all!. One chap slipped them on over his trousers and pranced around.... the wag! And a lady modelled them by wearing them as a hat. I expect that was the closest her hubby was going to see her in them. Poor soul
Last year the ladies were given something more practical - a small box of chocolates. Something to feed the waistline instead of hubbies fantasises.
Such is life.
Tuesday. 17th February 2015. Week 191, Spain
Save! Save! Save!
As promised: here's how you can save yourself £145 spondolicks. And if that weren't enough, the Country £1.4 Billion and reduce crime to boot. Is there no end to my talents? you ask. (Answers on a postcard. Ed).
If you want to make an American wet himself with laughter or think you a total knob-head just tell him: In Britain, since 1968, we've needed a licence to watch the Box. I tried it once. They thought I was making it up, my whacky British pythonesque humour they thought. They then looked on dumbfounded when I added that: in 1991 four hundred people were jailed for not having one. (2012 was 107). And then to drive home the general lunacy of it all, I told them 180,000 people appear annually in court for watching tele without one.
By then they'd written me off as a nut job. It also confirmed some of their hill-billy views about Britain: It's a country shrouded in pea soupers and Jack the Ripper is still at large. It's also populated by Downton Abbey type characters. Run by the upper crust, the landed gentry, the well to do and old Etonians which, when you think about it, isn't that far from the truth.
I should point out that the 180k court appearances account for one in ten of ALL cases heard by magistrates. What a waste! The cost to the legal service (Tax payers) is 1.3 Billion. Cost to the Beeb in lost revenue, £26 million. Be a damn sight cheaper to treat them all to a licence. To spend 1.3 billion to recoup 26 million is barmy.
And yes, I know, no one is sent to Sing-Sing for NOT having a licence. They're sent up the river, at tax payers expense, for NOT paying their fines. Personally that's splitting hairs. But I see the distinction.
Thing is, we're so used to buying TV licences, we don't see how ridiculous and outdated it is in today's modern high tech 24/7 instant access digital age. Pay per view, subscription, tax, advertising etc. there are many ways the Beeb could be funded without resorting to the Law.
These were fake. I can't tell you how I know, but trust me I do. Designed to scare people into buying a TV licence.
Interestingly, and far be it from me to suggest any kind of double standards in our wonderful country, why is it, fiddling politicians get to give back the cash they fiddle, apologise and keep their jobs? And yet some poor bugger watching Jeremy Kyle without a licence could end up with a criminal record?. Though, to be honest, watching Jeremy Kyle you probably need locking up.
And has it not occurred to the the law makers we don't all want to watch the Beeb. I could live a perfectly happy and charmed life without ever feeling the need to watch aunty Beeb and yet, I'll be required soon to cough up £145 simply to avoid the GBH punishing me. Its whacker-doodle crazy, paying for something you're not using, don't want and couldn't care less about.
So what can any of us do about it? A fair bit as it happens. You don't have to buy a TV licence. There is a completely legal, and quite daft way around it. If you only ever watch non live broadcasts such as TV on demand, catch-up TV, VHS videos, DVD or, like me, old TV programmes you've downloaded, you can tell aunty Beeb to stuff their licence. Go to their web site -address below- then complete their 'I don't need a bloody TV Licence Declaration form'.
It's all done by a Gentleman's agreement, you simply promise not to watch the Beeb, much like Lord Robert might from Downton Abbey.
“ I say old chap. This confounded Beeb thing is utter poppycock! I'm not going to pay. It's that simple. Now be a good fellow and bring the carriage around”.
Thursday 19rd February 2015 Week 189. Spain
Price of Fish and chips.
As I see it there's only two reasons why anyone would want to go to Gibraltar: shopping & English fish and chips. You can of course go to the top of the rock but that privilege will cost you £40. Needless to say I've not been up. Once you've experienced those three heady highlights you can say you've done Gib and I don't mean that in the same way Yanks say they've “done Europe” after spending a full two weeks there.
We made the trip last week for just that: shopping and fish & chips. This being our fourth trip there I must say the thought of living there, not that I could, a two bed flat cost £200,000, would fill me with dread. It's a soulless and overly commercialised hunk of rock. Good for a three hour visit, tops. If you've never been, chalk that up as a plus.
I mention this only because I've recently seen a poll conducted here in Spain. It suggested that 75% of Spaniards were more interested in keeping good relations with us British than falling out with us over the 'rights and wrongs' of Gibraltar. So as far as the majority of Spanish are concerned, Gib is no biggie. Now that struck me as a very sensible way to view the whole situation. It's also in stark contrast to my experiences last year at the hands of some British commentators on a news forum over this very topic.
There, and here, I rashly suggested that I didn't give a flying fig who owned Gibraltar. Saying that I certainly didn't think it should be us. We helped the Dutch steal it in 1704 and then, for some odd reason, gave it to the Germans. They couldn't find a use for it, so in 1716 it was conceded to Britain as part of the much larger Treaty of Utrecht. While perhaps the legality of its dependency is well documented, I seriously doubt the morality is. But since when has morality and politics shared the same bed, right?
An Arcos del la Frontera inhabitant. He was perched on a railing
There are those that say, wrongly in my book, Gibraltar belongs to 'us'. They also point to the fact that Spain itself has the small disputed enclave of Ceuta in Morocco, as justification not to return Gib sovereignty.
“They won't give back Ceuta, they cry, so why should we give back Gibraltar?”. Yeah right. Well that ain't any kind of diplomacy I recognise, least not outside the playground. Next they'll be saying we should drop concrete blocks in the fishing waters around Gib to encourage erm........marine diversity, regardless of how that upsets and hampers the local fishermen.......Ah, apparently we've already done that. See it all gets out of hand.
I asked: imagine if the boot was on the other foot. Say we'd signed over the Isle of Sheppy to the French in 300 year old treaty and all thanks to gun-boat diplomacy? The official language was French. The currency the Euro and gendarmes checked our passports as we entered. Would we all be okay with that?
Well bugger me sideways, had I admitted to eating live kittens I doubt I would have drawn such venomous comments. I got so many in fact, I quit the forum. Many said I was a traitor, unpatriotic. I didn't know what the fuck I was talking about. It was because of people like me Britain was going down the tubes. And those were just the polite ones. There is an element of irrational patriotic fervour in some people, regardless of nationality, which I find scary. It's the same fervour that will see them ignore history, and elect a 1930 style extremist right-wing government.
Still, at the moment the Spanish government are having a chuckle at our expense. This because a large part of Gibraltar's income comes from on-line gambling. Labour wants to tax their profits. Trouble is Gibraltar has it's own tax laws. It's own banking system. It's own Money. It's own flag, anthem, government, police force, health system, judiciary system etc and really owes us sod all.
Still I'm guessing the patriots are happy coughing up for their defence.
Friday 20th February 2015. Week 191. Spain
What's on my mind today?
(Ideally read as Colonel Blimp)
By Jove! I almost leaped to my feet and shouted Yahooo when I read a Top Tory politician was reported as saying, “Fat buggers should lose their benefits”. What a champion idea. This is the type of 'out the box' thinking that's been sorely missing in this great country of ours. I'd like add my own small caveat if I may: perhaps we could also reward people on benefits who are thin, for being thin. Give these fat buggers some real motivation.
The article then went on to report David Cameron said: “It's not fair that tax payers were being asked to fund the welfare of those who refuse to help themselves”. He then dropped a bomb-shell by saying “People with weight problems, that could be addressed, prefer, instead a life on benefits rather than work”. It's about time someone in power acknowledged this quite obvious truth. How can he make such a sweeping generalisation you ask? Easy, he's asked them, that's how.
Question: Are you happy to be ill and overweight just so you can stay at home and watch the tele? -without a licence I fancy- “Yes” they answered. He then went on: “Alcoholics, drug addicts and other wastrels with treatable conditions should also be stripped of their sickness payments.”. Okay he never actually said 'wastrels' I put that in, but I bet he bloody wanted to.
Of course do-gooders and bleeding heart liberals -their leader being Jesus- will scream about their rights. 'They're addicted bless 'em! All addictions are an illness. They need treatment. Better education. Blah blah blah. But let me ask you this: Why should fat buggers be allowed to stuff their gobs with all manner of confectionery and delicious pastries at the tax payers expense? Cut benefits, so they can't afford food and sit back and watch the pounds fall off. It's a master stoke.
Check out the starter on this menu. Somethings lost in the translation.
But does it go far enough you ask? Why stop there?. What about those on benefits watching TV? Why should they be allowed to sit on their fat spreading arses, at the tax payers expense laughing and generally enjoying the funny side of life as depicted in some televisual sitcom?, surely they should all be at the job centre?
And they smoke and drink, all at the tax payers expense. They're all fat, alcohol swilling, fag smoking, television watching lazy buggers who don't have to go to work! Thanks to us. And have you noticed how many of them wear glasses, cause I have. Glasses, which we the tax payer have paid for, so they can watch the blooming tele in the first place. That really gets my goat. Stop paying for their glasses and they'd stop watching the box, it's simple logic. This raises the next very obvious question: If they are all at home watching the box and eating crisps, then why do they need shoes, shoes which the tax payer has paid for. They don't. They not going anywhere. Christ! Tescos will deliver Cider and pizza's.
His holiness David said: “The next Conservative government is determined to make sure that people will get the support they need to get them back to a fulfilling life.” Brilliant. Problem with that however is, like me, he's no idea when that's likely to be, not any time soon I fancy. Poor chap could find himself out on his arse soon and that's all the thanks he gets.
We need to revert back to having a poor peasant class again. Someone we can all look down on. We won't be unkind or dastardly to them. But they do need to be slim, drug free, and then, and only then, will they get back the self respect they've clearly lost in being poor. It will help them to refocus their aspirations as well. And once they are really poor, this great nation or ours, with the sixth biggest economy in world, will hold it's hand out to them.
I'm fair swelling up with pride.
You have a jolly good weekend.