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I'm English, not stupid

My mum tends to get cross with people when there is no need to. I think I may have inherited some of her angry genes. I do get fed up, though, of some Spaniards thinking that because I stutter over Spanish I don't have a clue about what's going on around me.
I wrote an email for some tickets to an event the other day. There had been a cock up in the process so it was a reasonably lengthy email. I got a reply in Spanish. A couple of hours later I got the same message in a close approximation to English and, at the same time, another email in Spanish to confirm that I was aware that the performance was in Spanish. Did the email writers think I was that Shakespeare writing monkey with the typewriter?
We're in the Carrefour concourse. Some people approach me to persuade me to sign up for a WiZink card. Now WiZink is the bizzare name that some people from the Banco Popular have thought of for a range of products that they label as basic and simple. Amongst other things they ha…
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When we first got to Spain we had a dial up Internet connection. By the time we got to Culebrón we had Internet that came down the power cables; 1mb as I remember. I have no idea why but Iberdrola, the electricity retailer, dropped that service and left us in the lurch. At the time there was only one other reliable option, the old state telecoms company now branded as Movistar. They gave us 1mb too. Over the years, that increased to 3mb but that was as fast as they could go with the infrastructure they have.

Meanwhile a local company, Conecta3, had been cabling up Pinoso. After a while, they offered a service to the outlying villages too. The speed was better, 8mb, and their all in package for land line, Internet and mobile, was less than I was paying Movistar. I hesitated for a while because of the potential problems of switching but, in the end, it all went smoothly.

The firm has been good. They increased the speed out here in the sticks to 12mb  without increasing the price (I jus…


I need a digital signature to do things online. I have one but the certificate is computer specific and so I need a new one for a newer computer.
One of the agencies that provides the signatures is a collection agency called SUMA. They're the bunch that collect our rates, water and rubbish bills. Pinoso isn't big enough to have a permanent office but they have a session here on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings in the old Casa de Cultura.
There were several people in front of me and each enquiry tends to be quite lengthy. I waited patiently but as one person came out and the next person went in I did something very Spanish. I queue jumped.
All I wanted to know was whether it was worth waiting as I suspected that I couldn't get the signature except by going to a permanent office. It took seconds and the answer was negative so I saved myself a long and fruitless wait.
But I felt very proud of myself for being so daring. Speaking Spanish across a room full of people isn't…

Sitting and walking

I half remember an early city walk that I did. It was around Oxford and the chap introduced himself as the obsequious Turnbull. He was about twelve years old, or so it seemed to me at the time, and he wore a threadbare suit complete with bow tie. He did a good tour though. I like walking tours around towns and cities. Trees and geology in Leeds, Jack the Ripper in Whitechapel, writers in Dublin or 1726 in Petrer - they're all worth a go. I don't even mind those leaflet based walks that do the drainage system in the Fens, Bomber Command in 1942 or Carmen Conde in Cartagena.

We've always tried to throw a few cultural things in amongst the alcohol and wild excesses of our lives (well that and the nightly cocoa) and even having to do it it in Spanish hasn't quite vanquished us. I've taken, purportedly, willing house guests to the theatre or to a film. We've done lots of music - festivals, flamenco, ballet, zaerzuela, contemporary, jazz, latin and opera. Folky and …

And may God have mercy upon your soul

The last time I was in France I was holidaying in Cataluña. It was the sign that said 20 kilometres to France or something that drew us there. Ah, the gay abandon of it all, the sweet adventure of crossing an international frontier just because we could. Free spirits and all that.
So last Friday I got a speeding ticket from France written in Spanish. Some French traffic camera seems to think I was there on Christmas Eve 2016. Actually I was in Villena and so was the Mini. I bought a bottle of Laphroaig for me and a bottle of wine for Maggie as a Christmas treat. I paid with a credit card. The credit card bill is now one of my few bits of evidence that I was in Spain.
At first I thought the ticket was a scam but a bit of asking around and a bit of checking some websites and it seemed real enough. A 68€ fine or 45€ with a discount for quick payment. I have 45 days from the issue of the ticket to appeal.
The paperwork was pretty good; details of what and how and why, methods to get a co…

Driving along in my automobile

I went to see some old pals in Valencia the other day. They are Britons here in Spain for just a few days. It's Fallas time in Valencia when lots and lots of communities and neighbourhoods construct papier maché type figures (I have no idea what material they actually use) up to maybe 20 metres high (a guess) and then set fire to them.

Valencia is the third largest city in Spain and yesterday it was chockablock with people in town for the fiesta. It's quite likely that a lot of the regular inhabitants of Valencia have fled to avoid the disruption that Fallas causes but lots more were dressed up in "traditional" dress. As an aside have you ever wondered why traditional clothes are fixed at some point in the past? Who decided that the quintessential traditional costume in an area was worn in 1876 or 1923? Why not 1976 or 1723? And what if we chose 2016 as the perfect year for a new version of traditional costume? What and how would you choose? Why fix a style anyway?

A theory what I have

I was asked if I'd ever written a post about learning Spanish. To be honest I wasn't sure. Normally my blogs complain about my inability to construct an error free phrase, which Spanish people understand, rather than anything on the methodology. I had a quick search through the blog and I couldn't find anything specific. So, here it is but, before launching into it, I should say that there are tomes and tomes on the theory of learning languages. People who know how brains work have theories about how to learn languages or language acquisition in general. They know much more than me. They are right and I am wrong. This attempt is going to be, relatively, short. It will contain lots of generalisations and it's a personal and not a researched view. And, of course, you need to bear in mind that my Spanish is rubbish.
Learning a language is easy. The vast majority of children do it. The method is also pretty obvious. The children listen to the words and phrases. They grasp…