Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Complications of imaginary friends

Just when you think that the Roman Catholic church couldn’t be even more irrelevant that it has made itself in the way that it has institutionalised religion and ignored the concerns of what might be termed the real world, its current response to a world racked with discord, disunity, disenfranchisement, disgust with existing political structures and grotesque inequality is to prohibit the scattering of ashes to the winds, seas and anywhere other than in an approved sacred site.  And in fact not scattering them at all.  Certainly not keeping them at home.  And anyway good Roman Catholics should be buried.
            Never mind injustice, poverty, hunger and war, the richest religious organization in the world makes a big announcement about ashes of the dead.  If it weren’t so gloriously irrelevant to what is happening in the world and how people behave it would be funny. 
But it isn’t.  Funny, that is. 
It is a calculated insult to what is actually happening and is an ecclesiastical two fingers to modern life.  Why worry about inequality and the declining position of the poor and disadvantaged in the world when you can make up a questionable piece of religious ‘law’ from a “make it up on the spur of the moment” committee of corrupt over-privileged out-of-touch cardinals?  Why not make a sensitive area of personal life dealing with the death of loved ones something subject to the prying attention of the princes of the Church?  Contemptible is not the word for it.

And talking of priest-ridden countries, Spain continues along its path to destruction with the restoration to full government of the bunch of corrupt thieves which form the government, and let us not forget that one minister of this same rogue group actually awarded the police medal to . . . wait for it . . . The Virgin Mary!  You couldn’t make it up!  And don’t get me started on the tax situation of the Roman Church in this country.  But let it pass, let it pass.  Which I certainly won’t!

However, let me get on to something more immediate and more uplifting.
            What patient does not want to hear his doctor (I’m talking about mine so the masculine personal pronoun is accurate and not sexist) tell him that he doesn’t want to see him for another year?  And shakes his hand after reading through the results of a blood test!  I had to wonder when he told me that the next scheduled time for an appointment to see me will be when I need another flu jab in a year’s time, was more to do with the fact that I nag him about his smoking rather than concern about my health.  We did have a bet: I would lose weight and he would give up smoking if I hit my target.  I hit my target, and he prevaricated!  So, there is always a possibility that he is putting me on hold while he continues his bad habits.  I have to say that I don’t really believe that, his delight at my results was unfeigned!
            Meanwhile my cold and sore throat is ranging a little further than my own body.  Toni’s family has now succumbed and he himself is not feeling well.  I hope it isn’t so, but I fear that Emma has the starting of the symptoms as well.  That makes a total hit so far of ten, including myself.  I have yet to hear how Irene is – but double figures is some achievement.  I think I am getting better (though that may be self delusion) so the illness could be a four or five day thing.  I hope.

My new phone, the Mi Max continues to please.  The size makes reading my Guardian app much easier and I find it easy to hold and use.  My only problem is finding the right wallpaper app which I insist has to change its picture each time I turn the phone on.  I don’t really care that much about what sort of picture it is, but I do want a different one.  And that is something I am working on. 
And it takes my mind off phlegm!

No more sniffles!

Enough with the natural approach to getting rid of my various aliments: it’s time to drug up!
            A short (and expensive) trip to our local pharmacy and I am now armed with Vic Vapour Rub (one of those treatments from childhood which, even if it doesn’t work, gives comfort); throat pastilles from Pranarom which taste nasty enough to be doing something and, finally, Gelocatil which is another name for Paracetamol.  I have also taken a Lemsip powder (donated by Emma before she left) I therefore consider myself to have done everything that a concerned (and snuffling) person could possibly do to get something like better.
            But, how can I possibly improve my general situation with what is going on in political terms in Spain!
            The Central Committee of PSOE (the so-called Socialist party of Spain) has decided to abstain in the next vote for the investiture of the walking joke who terms himself the president of Spain.  We have been without a government for months and two successive General Elections have not resolved the problem of any of the parties gaining an overall majority.  PP (the systemically corrupt Conservative party of Spain) has been continuing the process of government as a ‘Government in functions’ and with the support of C’s and the abstentions of the ‘Socialists’ they will gain the majority of those voting to continue their corrupt way through the financial life of Spain.
            The Socialists have said that their cowardly, selfish and traitorous abstentions are, of course, of course, naturally, for the benefit of Spain.  They do not want a third General Election (especially as they would almost certainly lose even more seats after their disgustingly vacillating attitudes) and, incidentally after the ‘ruling’ party of PP suggested that the date of the third election if it was forced to be held would be set for the 25th of December!  And no, that is not a joke.
            The Socialists have also pointed out that the new PP government would be a minority one and that the socialists (they do not deserve a capital letter) would be able to hold them to strict account.
            For me, PSOE has been parochial.  They have cared much more about the future of their party than they have of the people they are supposed to represent.  The Catalan Socialists have said that they are going to vote against Rajoy.  The leader of the Catalan Socialists has pointed out that his party, PSC, is not the enemy of PSOE, Rajoy is and he does not look to split from PSOE.  The discussions within the party should be of the vicious internecine nature that characterises most left wing discussions!
            Having got rid of one leader, the socialists seem to be veering towards the deeply unpleasant leader of the socialists in Andalucía – one of the ruthless Barons of the socialist party who has many questions of her own to answer about the way in which she has behaved in public office.
            In all, the situation in Spain is politically, socially and financially dire.  There is no real reason for optimism.  The only positive point that I can see about the present position of Spain is that it has not descended to the level of idiocy of indulging in its own version of Spexit!
            Four more years of the appalling PP under the walking Joke of Rajoy will, almost certainly, boost the move for independence within Catalonia and, although I am in theory in favour of a united Spain, the idea that a corrupt and corrupting government, supported by cynical abstentions by sections of a cowardly socialist party, continues its version of ‘government’ for further four years is unthinkable.  If a Rajoy government is something that PP, Cs and sections of PSOE and the Spanish people generally can accept as democratic and suitable for a suffering country, then it is time for Catalonia to consider its position and work to break away from the corrupt shackles of Spanish politics and the Spanish state.

What a sorry state of affairs in both my countries: Britain with the Conservatives under May trying to make the best of the self inflicted wound of Brexit (which they also facilitated) and the horrific group of seditious thieves that make up the Conservative ‘government’ of Spain.  God help us all!

I eat therefore I am

Another gourmet meal, this time in the restaurant of MNAC.  The restaurant has crafted two art themed meals and I have now eaten both of them.  At different times I hasten to add, and both were delicious.
            The food is augmented by sitting (as we were) with the best positions to appreciate the best non-view in the world.  This is the vista from the vast windows of the museum restaurant.  It is a view that has all visitors reaching for their selfie sticks, but it is one that is woefully inadequate in my view.  So to speak.
            As you eat your meal you can look down the pavilion studded way towards Plaza España and beyond to . . . not very much.  When you take out the bullring and the brick edifice of La Caixa’s gallery you are left with the sprawling effusion of uninspired modern architecture oozing its way up into the unimpressive hills that surround the city.  The landmark of the ugly church of Tibidabo reaches its squat Gothic towers into the sky and that’s it.  If the building of MNAC had been rotated a further 90 degrees, then the restaurant would have had a view of the much more interesting Sagrada Familla and the sea.  Alas, it was not so rotated and we have to make do with the best non-view in the world.
            It spite of my slighting comments, it is impressive – if only because so many other people spend all their time photographing it.  At least in the restaurant one is above the clicking masses and one’s view is uninterrupted!
For the third time, visitor(s) have been dragooned into viewing ‘my painting’ by Lluis Dalmau and, as I expound on its virtues to a cowed audience, I must admit that the thing is growing on me.  I now firmly find myself in the camp that celebrates this painting as one of the stars of the Catalan collection and not as some sort of pastiche of half-remembered Van Eyck – though I do know that there is a case to be made for the latter view!
            We went through three parts of the museum and perhaps did too much, as was made clear when the ‘reviving’ cup of coffee that we had on the outside terrace did not have quite the stimulating effect that we were expecting.

Although it is only one day after my birthday, I am eagerly awaiting the significant letter from Newcastle that will give me the option to rake in my past pension.  This foison cannot come soon enough as it is spent and more than spent – at least in my imagination.  Time is ploughing on and the longer we wait to book a decent hotel in Gran Canaria for Christmas the more difficult it will be.  However, the weather at present is a factor that will give a certain impetus to our cogitations.  The ground is damp from past rain and the sun struggles to get through cloud.  This is not Britain, so we do actually get some sun.  It is an odd day indeed when the sun refuses to show itself in Catalonia – if only for a brief moment in the twenty-four hours!  Brief it might well be, but it does happen and it restores one’s faith.  In something.

After a woefully short visit, Emma is returning to Cardiff.  We seems to have done little more than eat, though to be fair to the both of us we have varied the location of our gustation: Castelldefels, Barcelona and Sitges – and we have not neglected culture.  The only thing missing was uninterrupted sunshine, though Emma made a spirited defence for seeing the City of Barcelona in cloud covered gloom as giving a different perspective from the blight, glinting sunshine defined outlines that one is used to.  I’m not convinced.

This afternoon a scheduled doctor’s appointment to hear the results of the latest blood tests.  As the last one was so satisfactory, I hope that this one is in the same area of success.

Sunday, October 23, 2016


Life truly is a series of ups and downs!

            On the one hand I am fighting off a sore throat and a bubbling cold and I am using up paper handkerchiefs as if I had not a care in the world about the vanishing forests; on the other hand I picked up a cheap pair of reading glasses to my prescription with built in mini lights!  They look chunky and reasonably hideous, but they do work and they have built in mini lights!  And owning them gives me a pleasure out of all proportion to the few euros they cost.  It doesn’t stop my nose running of course, but it gives me something else to think about.

            And, of course, I am using the glasses to play around with my new mobile phone.  This Chinese model, a Mi Max made by the international company Xiami – which I had never heard of until Toni discovered it as part of his survey to find a replacement for the exploding Note 7 that I had pre-ordered.  Trust me to pin my techhie hopes on a device which became world famous for exploding via its battery!  My new phone is more of a phablet than a mobile, but I have got used to the new size and, more importantly, it fits in my pocket.

            I am not convinced that I have managed to transfer all of my aps and files and photos and music; at least with Kindle all my books are in a library that can be accessed via the app.  The transfer of the contacts was a nightmare, mainly because I had not saved the things to my sim card.  I have no idea how the contacts finally got onto my new phone, I went to bed early to nurse my cold and sulk because things were not working out and, as usual, Toni then Did His Thing and managed to find the contacts, pack them up (electronically) and rehouse them in my new phone.

            Music has been transferred somehow.  Why does iTunes made it so difficult to enjoy what is yours!  Individual tracks are now on the machine, but they do not seem to exist in albums and asking the program to list them via artist caused the phone to go into an interminable period of ‘wait a sec’ which is the irritatingly false message for ‘nothing is going to happen’ on this phone.  However, I am enjoying the process of rediscovering elements of my past mobile phone and making them new, or at least given them a new context.  It is surprising how unsettling slight differences in the typeface or presentation of what were familiar apps can be.  Something to get used to.

            I feel like adding, ‘before I get bored with it and lust after another one.  At present, having owned my new phone for a period of less than a week, the candidate to supplant it in my affections looks like being the new Kodak phone.  It is perhaps ironic that Kodak (the company than invented digital photo taking) is returning to the fray with a phone that looks like a squashed version of a dated ‘real’ phone – I rather like the post-modern take and it is supposed to be the photographers phone.  It has been displayed, but not yet issued.  I shall be keeping a wary eye on the reviews – and wondering how to convince Toni that the extra expense can, in any way, be worth it!

            When, I ask myself, has any expense on tech ever been truly wasted.  I am also ignoring the hours of futile exasperation spent in front of an unresponsive computer screen or typed on a keyboard that stubbornly refused to recognise any of my increasingly desperate key thumps.  If nothing else frustration nowadays is at a higher level of technological achievement!