Sunday, 31 August 2008

The Dorchester Hotel

One of the 100 things you should not miss if you are so lucky to live in London is a high tea afternoon at an elegant hotel such as The Ritz or The Landmark. Today I have had the pleasure of enjoying the Dorchester High Tea at the famous marble and gilded Promenade at the Dorchester Hotel with unbeatable company. The Dorchester's traditional afternoon tea was named the best in London by the British Tea Council in 2007 and awarded with a toptable Gold Award 2008. Casi na'!

We had been requested to arrive at the hotel at 2.30pm sharp, but due to the weather conditions I was 10 minutes late: very punctual for a Spaniard!! A pushy Russian-looking waiter advised us that a pianist would be providing entertainment and offered us exotic varieties of tea. Trying to fend off the rainy day I chose some "light but invigorating" Big Red Sun tea from Kenya which we were served on Wedgwood porcelain (I looked this up on the internet!!). Afterwards we could indulge in a series of dainty finger sandwiches, a spoonful of lemon mousse, and some scones with clotted cream and homemade strawberry and blackcurrant jam. We finished with a plate of chocolate and cream cakes whose features were unintelligibly described at a faster-than-lightning pace by the waiter (just necessary to mention that one of the cakes had been "brought directly from Switzerland" - oh!!).

To complete the delightful couple of hours at The Promenade we had the surprise to have a glimpse of... tatatchan!! NICOLE KIDMAN!!! The Australian goddess wore an amused genuine smile while walking through the Promenade; a simple, one-piece beige dress highlighted her tall, slim figure and she looked very beautiful even with the light make-up she seemed to have on. Her blond pony-tail framed a pair of refulgent, blue eyes and a glowing white skin to compete with Cate Blanchett to be the living version of the Elven Lady of Lothlórien, Galadriel.

I am really happy after today: my company at the table was as good as an A-celeb!

Love and freedom.

PS, Gosh, I can't believe it yet: I have seen Nicole Kidman!!!

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Farewell dinner

Tonight I had dinner at a cozy lebanese restaurant by the Sheraton Park Hotel in Knightsbridge (London) to say farewell to my friend Álvaro, who is going on a three-month trip to the other side of the world. He will idle about in Vietnam, Australia and Latin-America before heading back to the hustle and bustle of our musty, beloved London. It seems that he needs to have time for himself and reflect about his future career choices while enjoying a walk in a faraway paradise. I think I need that too!!

Some of Álvaro's closest friend in London, 5 Italians and 3 Spaniards (Silvia, Elisabetta, Marco C, Marco M, Paolo, Rafa, Álvaro y yo) attended a dinner that turned out to be not only a farewell for Álvaro. Christian, Álvaro's German charming housemate (and soulmate), leaves London next week to work in Munich; he couldn't make the dinner but texted to present his apologies saying he was relaxing at Álvaro's brother's house, the ungrateful!! Silvia is relocating to her company's office in Kazakhstan in what looks like a hard work role but whose rewards (among others, one month of holidays every other month) are tempting. Marco C will move to Luxembourg shortly. Finally, Rafa intends to pursue his long-time professional aspiration and will cross the pond to South America in January 2009. It seems I am going to be left on my own in London!!

Álvaro and I met through our common friend Tybalt at a Madrid-Barca match in the Sports Cafe in Haymarket (London) some two years ago. We come from the two opposite bounds of Spain (Álvaro from Santander and I from Jerez) but, the world's a napkin, Álvaro's father Constantino and mine sort of know each other!! They are both bullfighting aficionados and Constantino was interviewed in a radio programme my father works at commenting the bullfights. My father was impressed with the work Constantino had done for the promotion of the "fiesta nacional" (nationalfest, the bullfighting) in Santander and he was happy to hear that I was a friend of his son's.

I visited Álvaro's hometown in Santander at the beginning of August as part of my weekend in Cantabria (region in the north of Spain) and I had the pleasure to meet his parents. Tybalt, Álvaro and I were given a feast by Álvaro's father when he invited us to a mouthwatering seafood and fish lunch in a busy restaurant in Santander. I am very thankful to Constantino for that meal and I will return the treat.

I will remember Álvaro while he is away and, though I wish him a good time, I am already looking forward to his return. We still have lots of parties to hit the floor at in London!!

Love and freedom.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Contra una barbaridad sobre "demócratas"

He comentado por primera vez en el blog Crónicas Bárbaras, de Manuel Molares. sindicado en Red Liberal. A continuación copio mi comentario a su post "Catástrofes" de 26/08/08.

Tengo su blog entre mis recomendados, Sr. Molares. Enhorabuena por él.

No se preocupe por lo que diga Nemigo, sus fantasías cansan de tanto repetirse. Ánimo que ya sólo le quedan 970 para que se conviertan en verdad.

Me he decidido a comentar aquí en respuesta a la barbaridad que ha dicho Francesc:

"Respecto a lo que usted dice "derechas" nacionalistas", esto no ocurre porque todos sus miembros provienen de la lucha antifranquista y, por lo tanto, demócratas: me refiero a Pujol o Arzalluz, por ejemplo."

Esa es una terrible necedad. Abunda todavía (entre españoles y extranjeros - vivo en Londres y doy fe de ello) la ridícula idea de que el ser antifranquista te da inmediatamente vitola de demócrata o, expresado de otro modo, el nacionalismo español es de "derechas" y, por ende, detestable, mientras que cualquier otro nacionalismo regional es de "izquierdas" y, por ende, progresista.

No haber corregido esa falacia ha sido el error más grave de la Transición y es el error más letal de la Democracia del 77.

Incluso si reducimos el franquismo a simple fascismo, el hecho de combatirlo o enfrentarse a él no es condición suficiente para considerar "demócrata" a alguien o a alguna ideología.

Usando únicamente la lógica ya se puede desmontar tal teoría, pues sólo quedarían dos opciones ideológicas: franquismo o democracia. Dónde quedan entonces los últimos 25 siglos de filosofía?

Mirando la Historia, el franquismo fue combatido entre otros por comunistas (stalinistas muchos de ellos) -que abogan por otro tipo de totalitarismo-, por anarquistas -que luchan por eliminar el Estado incluso el demócrata-, o por terroristas como los de la ETA (son ellos también demócratas?). Respecto a los gudaris vascos, tan bravos ellos, se rindieron rápidamente al ejército de Franco (añado: y se unieron a él).

Si los partidarios de cualquiera de las ideologías anteriores hubieran sido suficientemente fuertes como para derrocar a Franco, ninguno de ellos habría instaurado una democracia para la nación española pues su objetivo era obtener el poder necesario para llevar a cabo sus ideas, imponiéndolas si fuese necesario.

Me parece, don Francesc, que debería usted matizar sus palabras. No sea maniqueo en esto, porque se equivocará. Si quiere resaltar alguna distinción bipolar en el siglo XX en España y en el mundo es la diferencia entre el totalitarismo (comunista o fascista) y la libertad capitalista.

Que quede claro que no hubo buenos ni demócratas absolutos en la Guerra Civil Española del 36.

Love and freedom.

Monday, 25 August 2008

A lifetime in books

Imitating my colleague Steve's ongoing project 'A lifetime in films', I shall try and compile the list of books I have read in my life.

# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z



The Bible
The Bonfire of the Vanities












Nicholas Nickleby
The Never-Ending Story (ref.1)


The Portrait of Dorian Gray




The Time Traveller's Wife



We Need to Talk About Kevin
Winter in Madrid




Winter in Madrid

I have just finished reading C.J. Sansom's Winter in Madrid(Macmillan, London, 2006). I must say that I am not impressed.

I found disappointing the author's flawed grasp of the Spanish language. The novel contains a few sentences in Spanish with the apparent purpose of showing the writer's understanding of Spain, a romantic, misterious place for an English-speaking mind. However, several of those sentences have spelling or semantic errors which made me wince. One would think that good knowledge of the language was fundamental to help someone become an expert in a country's history. Obviously Sansom is simply a writer and doesn't need to speak fluent Spanish to set one of his stories in Spain, but at least he should have tried and get a Spanish native speaker to proof-read his book.

The novel is freighted with the author's anti-Franco opinions and not even a Historical Note at the end of the novel is free from Sansom's personal ideas on the Spanish 20th century. That's fair enough, the book being his child with no intention of being an equitable encyclopedic text. However, pseudo-historic novels are very popular these days and quickly create opinions in their readers, most of which wouldn't access an academical or historic essay on the novel's background, via their emotional and seldom unbiased account of the stories.

History was reality and reality often goes beyond imagination.

Love and freedom.

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Olympic basketball final

Spain played the 2008 Beijing Olympics basketball final against almighty US. US won a deserved gold medal by beating the Spanish national team 118-107. However, the game was closer that anyone might have expected. I am thrilled by the courage and self-belief of the Spanish players. It has been an amazing match that will be remembered for a long time and that will have produced lots of new basketball fans.

This US basketball team is better that any other current squad in the world, but they had to sweat their shirts to prove that they really were the Redeem Team and that they were worthy of the Dream Team II tag. Spain's Golden Basketball Generation (as they are called in Spain) have shown that they are good challengers of the US power and the second best team in the world: 2006 World Champions, 2007 Eurocup Runner-up and 2008 Olympics silver medal.

The star-studded US squad showed the following roster: Carlos Boozer, Jason Kidd, LeBron James, Deron Williams, Michael Redd, Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, Chris Bosh, Chris Paul, Tayshaun Prince and Carmelo Anthony. Surely Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan or Paul Pierce would have made the US team stronger, but no one can say the US didn't show up with a close-to-best pick.

Referees didn't apply all FIBA rules to the US players and besides the NBA players don't go through any anti-dopping tests. You should factor that in and maybe the result would have been different.

In any case, Spain are happy with this silver medal as we fought with all our heart for the gold against and all-star team and are not disappointed with ourselves. I think I have just watched one of the best basketball match by the Spanish national team ever, but I think they could have done it even better.

- Gasol brothers weren't at their maximum for this final, exhausted after a long season and great Olympics Games;
- the fact that pointguard José Calderón didn't play this final was a major setback for Spain, similar to the US missing Kevin Garnett;
- Ricky Rubio had his hand injured, but he still had to play 29' because we had no other pointguard!!
- Raúl López didn't believe in himself and shouldn't have been selected for this Olympics,
- Berni Rodriguez and Alex Mumbrú are very good, but there are a couple of better players in Spain,
- old captain Carlos Jiménez played well; pity he missed that three-point shooter after Wade's last;
- Juan Carlos Navarro redeemed himself from his awful previous performance in the Olympics with his most beautiful string of "bombas" (floaters)
- Jorge Garbajosa hasn't played during the whole season due to operations and was a shadow of the wonderful player he was in 2006 Japan World Championship.

Love and freedom.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Deadly plane crash in Madrid

I was in Madrid on Monday morning to take a flight back to the UK at 7.35am on Monday morning. Easyjet cancelled it because the plane had not passed the review prior to every flight and I had to spend the day in Madrid. At the beginning I though it was a hassle, but it didn't turn out that bad at the end, though. Now I thank God because safety is obviously the primary concern of every airline.

It was a pity that the Spanair plane that crashed was allowed to fly. I am very sorry. My heart goes out to all the victims and relatives of the plane crash in Madrid airport. RIP.

Love and freedom.

Game lost

I just came from the penultimate match of my company's internal football league. We have lost 4-1 against the second team in the standings, so they have beaten us properly. We have played without four of our first eleven team who were on holidays so we haven't played our best game. I think we have all fought like bulls. I play as left back though I finished the game as central back. There were two giant strikers I have quarrelled with and as a result I have a huge, superficial scratch in my buttock (it hurts!!). I am fed up with not being bigger (even my younger brothers are 10 cm taller than me) and not being able to win fights based on strength (I always have to do it on a cunning fashion). Anyway, I have enjoyed the exercise, though I am a bit disappointed and moody because we are going to finish second in the league.

Love and freedom.

Acabo de llegar del penúltimo partido de la liguilla interna de mi empresa. Hemos perdido 4-1 contra los que iban segundos, así que nos han ganado en buena lid. Nuestro problema ha sido que 4 de nuestros titulares estaban de vacaciones con lo que no hemos hecho nuestro mejor juego. Por lo menos hemos luchado como jabatos. Soy defensa izquierdo pero luego me puse de defensa central. Había dos delanteros gigantes con los que me he peleado y tengo un arannazo superficial pero muy grande en el glúteo (pica!!). Estoy harto de no ser grande (hasta mis hermanos pequennos me sacan 1 cabeza) y no poder ganar peleas a base de fuerza (me toca hacerlo siempre con manna). En fin, me lo he pasado bien aunque estoy un poco decepcionado y de mal humor porque vamos a quedar segundos en la liga.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

De burladores y burlados

Tres cosas tienen preso
de amores mi corazón:
mi bella Inés, el jamón
y las berenjenas con queso.

Unknown (11/08/2008)

After going with my granpa to pick the eggs that our hens had just laid, my father drove us to Alcántara to attend two shows: Zarzuela and classical theatre. In the theatre we admired again the impressive background formed by the Conventual de San Benito (St Benito's Temple), main site of the Orden de Alcántara (medieval monk-knight club), and we laughed at a series of comical pieces called entremeses (from which I took the cite above).

This morning I worked with my father putting up stone walls at my granparents' country estates. They are not worth much (don't think my family are rich landowners), but they are important for my father and my grandpa, so all brothers work a bit every holiday. As my mother says, we ought to be able to do anything in this life.

It is tough to work at 35C, but I guess that (apart from the fact that millions of other people are worse off than I am) I am proud of my brew of knowledge from country and town life. Sitting next to me at my dad's village's library a kid is teaching a twenty-something pretty village gal how to use Hotmail, which would be unthinkable of a town gal. On the other hand, there are townie kids who don't know where eggs and milk come from beyond the supermarket. Proper education should bridge the country-town gap, which has a lot to do with the adequate development of a person.

Love and freedom.

Monday, 11 August 2008

Fe de errores

A mi P.: Siento haber publicado ese texto malsonante en mi blog. Ya está eliminado. Perdona, no volverá a suceder.

Love and freedom, but love comes first.