Monday, January 08, 2007

Train à Grande Vitesse or TGV

Train à Grande Vitesse or TGV or even TAV as some will have it will be stopping at Figueres after all. A new railway station will be built in the Culubert area of the city. The area is south of the the castle and east of the hospital and Parc Bosc. The arrival of a high speed rail connection should help in the city grow the local mayor has stated that he would like to see Figueres double in size.

Girona airport which has seen significant development in the last two years is also expected to have it's own direct link to the rail network.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Devil got the best tunes

David Baddeil the comedian and writer admitted whilst on television that having reached public school, he was all set on being a punk rocker until the day he heard Genesis on the radio and then he was [smitten] hooked. How relieved were his family? How disappointed were they when they found out it was the progressive rock group and not the good book? How pleased is he, that he didn’t share this story with Frank Skinner fellow comedian and former flat mate.

Monday, December 11, 2006

My chauffeur is elegant!

“Delivery will be 60€, I’m sorry but here in Spain it is unusual for delivery to be included, we have to employ a chauffeur with his own camion and it is expensive. How do you say camion in English?”

“We would call it a Lorry, a Wagon or a Truck.”

“And chauffeur?” he added “what is the English word for a chauffeur?”

“Driver is the usual word although we do use chauffeur it is reserved for a professional driver of a private vehicle. The English do tend to use French words to differentiate between some terms perhaps it is a more elegant way of saying driver.”

“My chauffeur is elegant! I like that; I will remember that for sure!”

On delivery day the house was a hive of activity every room was affected by the ongoing saga of the building works. I was talking to Manel about his team’s progress when we were disturbed by the call of a clearly irritated chauffeur asking for confirmation of his delivery. Delivery confirmed he turned on his heels and walked back along the track to his camion, checking the clearance between the nearby trees and the load he was to deliver as he walked. We heard the camion approaching and could see the grab above the height of the finca’s fences. The grab brushed aside the brush of the overhanging trees effortlessly, and the camion rolled into sight such a big wagon for such a small load.

Manel and I reacted as one shouting out a warning to the chauffeur to stop, because his grab was about to snag the telephone lines of nearby properties. The chauffeur got out of his cab and began cursing the telephone lines his luck and us. He pushed the lines away from the grab and then returned to the cab. We tried to point out a potential problem with a much larger tree bough just ahead of him but he dismissed us he had already seen the obstacle and taken account of it. He was we supposed, the expert a professional driver he was in fact a chauffeur.

The lorry crept passed the overhanging tree limb, the grab once more pushing against the tree and exerting overwhelming force. The tree moaned and groaned the heavy limb creaked and strained as it was pushed aside by the grab. The chauffeur was contemptuous of our alarm and inched forward. Every leaf on the tree was shaking with the force of the contact between the machine and the tree. Then suddenly there was a loud crack as the bough split and twisted away from the grab before springing back to wedge itself between the camion and the grab. The grab crashed down on the trailer.

Chauffeur or not now he had stop now. Climbing from his cab he looked angrier than ever, and after surveying the damage to his vehicle he cursed once more, though this time at the heavy branch that held his camion prisoner. The Chauffeur was unable to move the camion forward or backwards without compounding the problem. Manel and I unloaded the trailer whilst the Chauffeur spat and swore at the trees.

After assessing the problem he asked for a saw, but instead of sawing he began gnawing his way through the still green timber. The more he twisted the saw the more the blade jammed and the more he cursed. Eventually the bough yielded to the saw and he began to sever the connection between tree and branch. Impatiently the chauffeur began kicking out at the offending limb the effect of which was merely to send the branch swinging; he was clearly frustrated and his attack on the timber became more sustained. He became increasingly frantic, pushing, pulling, twisting and turning the broken limb which was creaking and groaning under this assault, although it still hung by what now seemed only a thread. The Chauffeur gave the branch one final hefty shove with his foot, the branch swung violently away and then back at the Chauffeur catching him full in the face. The branch broke away from the tree and fell on top of the Chauffeur knocking him to the floor of his trailer. When he stood up his face was bloodied and his lower teeth seemed to have punctured his bottom lip. Tearfully he cast the tree branch from the trailer, climbed into his cab

and reversed the camion back along the track to the road. Once back on the road he stopped again and examined the damage to his vehicle. The hydraulic pipes which controlled his grab had been severed in the accident, and the grab was out of action.

As for his injuries, his pride had sustained the worst the cuts and bruises would heal in a week or too.

A couple of days later I heard the sound of a chainsaw coming from the front of the house. It was Jose, slicing up the fallen branch. He began loading the logs into a wheelbarrow for the short journey to his house and I could see that little remained of the fallen oak. Time to reach for my trusty saw that is if I was to benefit from this accidental oak!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Aquí no hay quien viva

One of the best of the Spanish situation comedy television offerings is Aquí no hay quien viva a show about a group of residents sharing an apartment block in Spain’s capital Madrid. The bizarre situations that arise allow some common themes to carry over from one episode to the next. The programme is a showcase for some very talented actors.

Try and translate the title in any automatic translation and you end up with a rather unfortunate ‘Here there are not some who lives’. I believe the spirit of the meaning is that everybody is represented here, everybody being Spanish characters.

On entering the building you may expect to meet Emilio Delgado the buildings caretaker, though he is always difficult to find. Emilio is often used to link the stories that are unfolding in different parts of the communal building. His attempt to better himself by attending university resulted in an affair with his professor and surprisingly at least to him low grades.

Mariano is Emilio’s father he comes from the University of Life and is contemptuous of those who do not. Describing them as, ‘ignorante de la vida’. He is a schemer and always willing to try anything for easy money, he is dishonest and untrustworthy in a quite comic way; and always fails.

Emilio’s former girlfriend is Belén López she and Emilio often rekindle their relationship despite both pursuing other partners. Belén’s lurches from one job to the next just as she does in her relationships.

Belen’s friend of whom she is quite envious is Lucía Álvarez, a glamorous blonde from a rich background who is always being perused by male admirers.

Joining this community means that you will have to deal with the community president Juan Cuesta.

As ‘El Presidente’ Juan is the residents focus for all things to do with the administration of the building. He is a school teacher. Being the president of a community is an honorary position, and Juan feels proud and even ennobled by his election; despite being continually derided by his fellow occupants. Juan’s nobility does not preclude him from becoming involved in the dodgy dealings that take place daily in the building. He does however fear the consequences of being found out by the authorities, and his nerve will often fail him.

Isabel a nurse and former hippy is Juans live in girlfriend, when stressed she smokes a water pipe. The other residents call Isabel the herb-girl or grass, Las Hierbas. The children of the combined families are a constant worry for thier parents.

At the video store Paco is the store and bar keeper he is a film buff and fool and is often in the company of the wasters from the community including José Miguel son of the president, he is known as Josemi.

One of the funniest characters is Mauricio Hidalgo always called Mauri. A gay man who is living with his lesbian flat mate Bea, and their child Ezequiel who was conceived by artificial insemination. Mauri’s boyfriend is the community lawyer Fernando. Mauri often finds himself under the watchful gaze of Las Jubiladas a group of three retired women with nothing to do but meddle.

The jubiladas are, Concha always in arrears with her community taxes but always the first to make demands on the president. She constantly refers to him as a thief, shouting ¡chorizo! At him as he skulks away.

Concha’s sidekicks are Marísa and her sister Vicenta. Now into their seventies the sisters are like chalk and cheese; whilst Marisa has remained a wild child, drug using and hard drinking, Vincenta is genial and still a quite naïve virgin who is saving herself and still hopes to find a husband.

There are two men who constantly compete for the affections of Lucia, they are now flatmates and thus able to keep an eye on each other. They are the Architect Roberto and a would be businessman Carlos.

Carlos now owns the video shop and once tried his hand at being community president.