I forget where we were but they offered Contessa as afters. The Vienetta of my youth, fancy, if industrial, ice cream cake. There was tiramisu as well. Not many years ago all the puddings on offer in an everyday Spanish restaurant would be crème caramel, ice cream and seasonal fruit. Now you can get chemically flavoured cheesecake and deep frozen profiteroles and suchlike almost everywhere. An example of reasonably recent change.
Last Saturday evening I wasn't sure whether to go and see some flamenco in Villena or go to Jumilla for the Night of the Museums. I like Jumilla but we've done their museums a few times. I was drawn towards the flamenco. It's ages since we've seen a couple of old fat blokes wailing or listened to anyone turn clapping into a fine instrument. The trouble was the information I could garner from the web about Villena wasn't complete. I had a time, a place and a title. No description; Art and Flamenco could have been a learned discourse as easily as a night of sweat and guitars. A few years ago not being able to find any information on the Internet would have been dead usual. I'd have risked it but, as I got to the decisive junction, I turned the car towards the certainty of Jumilla. Until very recently Spaniards were not big on sharing information. The working hypothesis, born as so many things still are in Spain, of forty years of life under a dictatorship, was that what you knew may be to your advantage - so best to keep it quiet. But, nowadays, lots of information is reasonably accessible and that's a big change.
I'm not sure how much of the Catalonia news gets outside of Spain. I would guess that there are sporadic bursts as someone goes to a Belgian, German or Swiss court or when some President is nearly sworn in. The gang of politicians who have the upper hand in Cataluña at the moment are a bunch of pig headed, short sighted, single track thinking fools. The President of Spain, who represents the opposing side for those Catalan politicians, is also a fool, a plodding, vindictive, uninspired fool. There is only one way out of this, the two sides have to talk to each other. The trouble is that both sides only understand playground type rules - "I'll take my bat home" or "I'll get my big brother on to you". It's going to take ages for their feeble minds to come up with anything workable. Mind you I think Spanish history is peppered with examples of Spaniards being unwilling or unable to talk to each other. Co-operation is, in my opinion, not a big thing in Spain.
On a much lighter note, well away from the politics of a repressive regime or two, I don't care for the run up to Christmas. This is because Maggie watches a series of TV shows that shape our weekends. There is the X Factor, the one with the audience reduced to a baying pack of hyenas, which I heartily dislike, and there's also the dancing one which I don't find offensive but which isn't my idea of fun. I'm not sure when MasterChef is on but she likes that too. It's not a programme I particularly care for but I have nothing against it either except that it cuts across the start time for prime time telly which means we miss the first thirty minutes of any film on Spanish TV. Nowadays of course the format for TV programmes is a saleable item. There are Spanish versions of Come Dine With Me, First Dates, Britain's Got Talent, The Voice, Kitchen Nightmares, Big Brother, The X factor, MasterChef and Strictly amongst others. Now if Maggie likes MasterChef and if I want to watch Spanish telly you'd think that we'd have a televisual winner with the Spanish versions. The problem is that the programmes are presented differently. Strictly or Bailando con las estrellas as it's called here, only started last week. We gave it a go. We watched for a while. Maggie complained that the format wasn't as good as the British version but she'd probably have put up with that if the programme hadn't started at 10.30pm and gone on till 12.45am - two and a quarter hours. MasterChef does something similar on Sunday evenings - hours and hours long.
I could go on but it's probably best that I don't as I'm over 700 words. Way past the attention span of most people. A bit like Spanish TV!