Blogs in this series

Life in Culebrón is a disconnected series of pieces about the banal and ordinary of everyday life in an inland Alicante village seen from my very British perspective.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Losing my grip

Manuel looks like an ordinary bloke. He lives in a normal sort of flat in a normal looking working class district of Madrid. His local bar is a few minutes walk from his front door. Times are tough in Spain. A few days before when Antonio, the bar owner, asked Manu if he wanted his usual lottery ticket for the Christmas draw he put it off. He didn't really have the 20€ for the tenth part of a ticket. Now it's the day of the draw. In the bar everyone is celebrating. The bar's number has come up and all the locals are richer. Manuel's wife urges her husband to go to the bar, to congratulate everyone. What's done is done. No good brooding on what might have been. Manuel wraps up against the cold, goes to the bar and pushes through the happy crowd to congratulate Antonio on his luck. Manuel turns down a glass of bubbly and asks for his usual coffee. Job done and in no mood to join in the jollity Manuel asks for the bill. The surprise is that the bill is twenty one euros for the one euro coffee. Antonio kept back a twenty euro ticket for his friend - just in case.

Standing by your pals is what you do in tough times. The annual Christmas advert for the state lottery. A message about not losing hope and about sharing. To be honest I hadn't noticed the ad on the telly because advert time is tea making, toilet or email check time. It was Maggie who pointed it out to me. In turn she'd been told about the advert by her intercambio - the person she does half an hour of English in return for half an hour of Spanish with. I searched it out on YouTube to have a look.

Last year the lottery ad featured a handful of singers and was roundly pilloried and parodied. I had a conversation about it with several of my adult students and with my two intercambios of the time. This year there was a bit of the Manuel Antonio ad that I couldn't make out and I was reduced to messaging one of my Cartagena friends for help with the wording.

It's easy enough to keep up to date in a media way with what's happening here but there is a second sort of news - the stuff that people talk about down the pub or send WhatsApp messages about. Until coming back to Culebrón I'd had access to those conversations through workmates, intercambios and students. Things have changed with my new job. Technically it isn't even a job, I'm now self employed and I sell my services to the language school. That aside the real change has been in the profile of the students. Most are now children or teenagers and only one group of adults has sufficient English to maintain an ordinary conversation. Of the two people I normally work alongside one is as English as me and the other is a teenager herself. Keeping up with the informal news has become a little more difficult.

This video isn't quite the same as the actual advert. The slogan is different as is the music. It gives a fuller version of the story though.

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