dilluns, 21 juliol de 2014

Years may come (Hermans Hermits), blogs may go... on.

Bé, en aquests ultims mesos que no he penjat gaires apunts, m'ha passat per alt el 5é aniversari del blog! Vam fer 5 anys el 23 d'abril. En aquests 5 anys i 3 mesos hem arribat a penjar 848 apunts i cançons, i diu la maquina que hem rebut gairebé 60.000 visites. 
Les coses han canviat en aquests anys; al primer any vaig aconseguir complir amb l'objectiu de penjar una cosa cada dia, i durant dos anys més potser vam anar a 3 o 4 per setmana. Des de llavors ha anat baixant el ritme fins arribar al "lamentable" ritme del 2014 - 23 punts en 7 mesos! 
Al principi només escrivia en català, ara intento fer apunts bilingües. Els primers anys rebia més visitants i comentaris - cosa normal, ja que la gent no visita tant un blog mig mort com ara; i també crec que le gent hem canviat. Em consta que gent continua visitant (perque m'ho diuen en persona) pero ja no es paren tant  a escriure un comentari. Gràcies al gran augment en smartphones, facebooks, twitters, i whattsssups, ara tots tenim molt més acces a tot - i molt menys temps o paciencia per res. La gent tendeix a llegir moltes coses rapidament en diagonal i au, però prendre el temps i calma per escriure un bon apunt (el blogger) o pensar en lo que has llegit i comentar-ho (el lector), pos, cada cop semblen més habits del passat.
Aquests ultims mesos despres de sortir d'un problema de salut i caure en un pou de feina, a més a més que el meu estat d'anims, m'ha portat també a centrar-me molt menys en el blog - cosa que em fa rabia perque m'encanta escriure! Com és habitual quan no puc blogguejar, aquests mesos he pensat en deixar-ho correr, però com sempre he decidit continuar encara que sembla que cada cop em costa més...
...
Missed the 5th anniversary of this blog while I was busy making other plans. 5 years old on 23rd April! In these 5 years and 3 months it turns out I've written 848 posts and posted about 848 songs, and received almost 60,000 visits.
Things have changed over these years. The first year I almost achieved my "post a day" aim and in years 2 and 3 I managed about 3 or 4 per week. Since then things have slowed down dramatically, or even ground to a halt for most of 2014!
At first I only wrote in Catalan, imagining my audience would be basically people I know, but about 3 years ago I started writing in English and Catalan so as to please my international visitors. Visits and comments reached a high point around year 2 to 3, but have since fallen. One reason is obvious; if your blog is half-dead (case in point) people don't keep coming back. But I also believe the boom in smartphones (and social networks and the dreaded whassup thing) has led to a change in habits. The easier it is to surf, from anywhere, any time, the more we surf and the more we waffle and the less time we have to take anything seriously. Many people just skim straight through stuff all day without the time or patience to read it carefully or leave any kind of comment. (I'm not complaining for my blog as my aim isn't to be "famous", just I think this is a rather common problem looking at many sites I visit). I'm also guilty. I used to comment all the time on a local newsite, but no longer find the time for it. Back to my blog, I do have a couple of loyal commenting visitors - owe you a beer guys! - and also a few local friends still read me but no longer write anything (they just tell me in person "Oh, nice post"). 
Given my struggles to keep blogging - this year's excuses include recovering, physically and mentally, from a health problem, work overloads, family and friends, other ways to "waste" my time on the net etc - I have thought, for the umpteenth time, about giving it up. But, as usual, I've decided to carry on. There's life in this dodo yet...

dissabte, 19 juliol de 2014

Back to the beach with the Beach Boys - I get around

Un altre tema, més que interessant! Quan jo era petit i viviem a Anglaterra, anavem a passar el dia  a la platja alguns dies a l'estiu. Despres de banyar-nos, jugar, banyar-nos, jugar etc, just quan mons pares ens deien que era hora de marxar, ens tornavem a banyar per aixi marxar fresquets de la platja - amb una tovallola baix lo cul al cotxe. 
Quan vaig començar a anar a la platja aqui a Catalunya amb la meva dona, em va dir que no es fa aixi. Despres de l'ultim bany, t'has d'estar un bon rato a la platja, al sol, eixugant-se, per poder treure la sorra de damunt amb facilitat i marxar amb el cul (i el que sigui) seci aixi no embrutes el cotxe. Sempre m'he queixat perque aixo implica passar calor i marxar acalorat quan tens la mar al costat per poder marxar la bé de fresquet. 
No obstant això, l'altre dia vam coneixer algu "d'aqui" que també ho fa com ho feia jo abans. Conclusió: cada u fa el que vol, pero filosoficament ho miro com a la opció de pensar en la comoditat de la gent, o en la neteja del cotxe. Prefereixo lo primer (per aixo es van inventar les aspiradores!)
...
Last but not least in this trilogy of amazing reflections. When I was a lad, and it was time to leave the beach, we'd always have one last dip so as to leave the beach nice and cool - and then sit on a towel in the car. But, when I started going to the beach in Catalonia with my wife she told me that things were done differently. You have your last dip ages before you leave the beach, thus allowing you to dry off  perfectly in the sun and brush all the dry sand off. And get in the car nice and clean. I've always moaned about this as it means leaving the beach all hot and bothered!
However, t'other week I met someone from here who said they do it like I'd do it.
To sum up; each to his own. And faced with the choice of my comfort and a sandy car, or my discomfort and a spotless car, I know what I'd go for. That's why they invented hoovers.


dijous, 17 juliol de 2014

Wild Horses - The Stones / Els Rolling

Bé, encara que no m'agrada gaire remarcar les diferencies entre viure a Catalunya o Anglaterra, de vegades em surten les ganes d'explicar alguna i avui teniu sort. Els catalans tendeixen a abreviar els Rolling Stones com a "Els Rolling" mentre els anglesos els diem "The Stones". Suposo perque els catalans estan accostumbrats a que la primera paraula sigui el nom, i no pas l'adjectiu.
Curios.
....
As you may recall, I'm not big on pointing out differences between living in Catalonia or England, but here's another one. English folk call The Rolling Stones, The Stones; whereas Catalans abbreviate them as "Els Rolling". I suppose it's as Catalans are used to the first word being a noun, and the following word the adjective.
Interesting fact, hey!

dimecres, 16 juliol de 2014

On dunking with #JoshRouse #QuietTown

Tornem al blog despres d'un merescut descans, per parlar d'un tema importantissim.
A Anglaterra - o almenys al meu poble, als People's Republic of South Yorkshire - sucar galetes o donuts al cafe, te, o xocolata de beure està molt mal vist. Se considera de una falta d'educació brutal. No obstant, sí que suquem, i molt, pa a la sopa.
A Catalunya, o almenys aquí al mig dels països catalans a Tortosa, és al reves. Suquem al cafe i xocolata amb molt de gust - i en public. Però no posen mai res dins la sopa. Curios.
.....
Interrupting this enforced respite from blogging to deal with the important matter of dunking. In England, or at least in Barnsley, dunking biscuits or other sweet products - buns, doughnuts... - in your drink is considered bad manners and you can only really do it up to the age of about 4. But we do dunk bread, and loads of it, buttered even, in our soup. The Catalans go about things in a different way. They love dunking in their hot beverages - even in public, but never put any bread-like substance in their soup.
Interesting.
(PS  searching for a dunking photo on Google, it turns out it means something else to Americans - lots of photos of tall guys in vests jumping up and down with a ball in their hands)
(PPS can't think of a dunking song, so ... looks at what CDs he's got strewn across the desk... we'll put this one on....

divendres, 23 maig de 2014

Song For Europe - Roxy Music, a 48 hores de les eleccions

A pocs dies, hores, de les eleccions europees i veig que no hem apres gaire. En teoria, el concepte de la Unio Europea m'agrada, ha aconseguit que Anglaterra, França i Alemanya deixessen de lluitar (amb armes) entre ells per primer cop en mil anys, i l'objectiu de posar coses i idees en comú pel bé de tothom, pos, és bona.
Ara si, veig que el sistema que ens han introduït reprodueix els mals dels sistemes i parlaments nacionals, i fa poca cosa per a canviar. Fa falta una mica de brain-storming per inventar-nos un sistema que realment funciona i deixa enrere les corrupcions, interessos foscos, i la poca transparencia i eficacia.
En aquestes eleccions se suposa que ens explicarien els candidats que pensen de la legislació mediambiental, dels drets dels ciutadans, de la lluita seguretat vs privacitat, llibertats dels ciutadans, o control dels ciutadans, de com pensem mantenir la força economica d'Europea, o si estem disposats a deixar la nostra situació priveligada de smartphones, pantalles planes i 3 cotxes per familia, d'un pla de veritat per l'imigracio o Africa, de com volem que Europea reacciona davant guerres com Irak, Bosnia, Ukrania, com volem que reacciona i amb quin criteri, quins pla a 50 anys tenim pel probable final del petroli etc..... però crec que no s'ha parlat gaire.
En fi, votarem una mica en base de qui defensa més o menys l'auto-determinació de Catalunya i au. Jo també!
Almenys que algun partit proposa aixo com a himne europeu, i llavors els votaria...
.....
The English, and others, have already voted (apparently voting on a Thursday as on "pay-day" Friday they traditionally govt blinding drunk until Monday came round again), but we don`t vote in Catalona till Sunday. The European elections are important as the EU is important, in my opinion. If nothing else, this invention has stopped England, France and Germany from kicking the sh*t out of each other as they had been doing for a thousand years. What else has it achieved? Well, probably not half what we would like it to do as the EU bodies seem to have unfortunately copied all the bad habits of national political systems (corruption, inefficiency, beaurocracy, favouring "dark" interests over citizens rights...) and few of the good ones. It needs a good shake up if it is to be the body we want and deserve.
What is EU going to do about the climate change? Where are the plans for when the oil reserves run out? What should we do faced with wars and injustice in the world? Is it our role to step in in cases like Iraq, Ukraine, the Nigerian school girls? What about freedom and privacy vs control and security? Where's the long term plan to maintain European citizens priviliges (cash galore, smartphones, 3 cars...), or should we? All this and many more questions should be on the table but the debate seems to centre around Daily Mail headlines - shock, horror, we've found a Rumanian who's fooling the system, let's all vote for a posh populist racist party. Oh no, Europe won't let us put inches on our measurements (a lie) or eat wrongly-shaped bananas (another lie), let's all pull out of Europe and put millions of jobs at risk ...
And in Catalonia, basically we'll all vote depending on each party's opinions regarding the independence issue, and screw the pan-European politics for another 4 years. At least that's how I'll be voting anyway.

I would change my vote in a flash though, and vote for anyone who proposes this for the EU Official Anthem ...

diumenge, 4 maig de 2014

I'm not really optimistic... I know the feeling!

No seré jo (avui) qui ha d'opinar sobre religió o la gent que s'hi creu o la politica, i per tant, només poso les noticies i cada u que pensi el que vulgui....
....
I'm not gonna be the one (today) who comments on religion or people who believe, or, for that matter, politics, so I'll just put the news links on here directly. Judge for yourselves:

"Saint Theresa is helping Spain in times of crisis", Spanish Home Affairs Minister. Click here (English). 
Or here in Spanish.

Spanish Minster for Economy appeals to the Virgin Mary to help create employment. Click here for video (Spanish)

Spanish Home Affairs Minster awards medal to the Virgin Mary for "maintaining a close collaboration with police, particularly during the acts celebrated in Holy Week, and for sharing police values such as dedication, caring, solidarity and sacrifice". Click here - in English.

However, adds yours truly, when asked on whether she could get Spain out of the crisis, Saint Theresa said ...

dimarts, 8 abril de 2014

Non too subtle metaphor of the day

Tenim un conill a casa. Hem apres que si li dones una gavia ampla i comoda, i li poses menjar i aigua fresca, ja pots deixar la porta oberta - el conill mira lo que hi ha per fora i torna a entrar sense cap problema.
Crec que si li tanquessem en una gavia mal-feta sense donar-li res a canvi, només insults i cops de pal, l'historia seria diferent i el conill aquest només estaria somniant el dia que pugues trencar la gavia per a escapar.
....
We have a pet rabbit now. We have learnt that as long as you have a large comfortable clean hutch, with plenty of food and water, you can leave the door open - the rabbit will have a little sniff outside but is happy to live in its hutch.
If, on the other hand, we stuffed it in a hutch unsuitable for its requirements and instead of fulfilling its needs, we just offered it insults or beat it with a stick, we'd be in a completely different relationship and there'd be no way of keeping that rabbit for long.

dilluns, 7 abril de 2014

The Expert

Does life ever seem like this to you?

(on the Youtube page, just below the video you can choose subtitles from a range of different languages if English isn't your strong point)

dimarts, 11 març de 2014

A doubly tragic tale - 11th March 2004 #11M

10 years ago today, on Thursday 11th March 2004, 191 people died in a "terrorist" attack on a train in Madrid. A small group of radical Islamists, connected in some way to Al Qaeda, left rucksacks loaded with explosives on a packed commuter train, and then presumably got off (not for them the Paradise and Virgins promised for freedom fighters apparently).
And basically that's all that matters, that 191 people's lives were wasted and hundreds of families destroyed forever - all for nothing.
As I think this is the main point of today's commemoration and I have nothing further to add, I wasn't going to blog about it today - but reading many comments and interviews with families of the victims, I have realised that many people outside of Spain do not know the other aspect to this story which has filled Spanish news on and off ever since that dreadful day....

Background: for some still surprising reason to me,  the Spanish government had previously abandoned its traditional role as a meeting point for cultures and religions, and thrown its hat in with Blair and Bush when they decided to invade Iraq in the search for pink unicorns, or was it weapons of mass destruction? This decision was very controversial and led to demonstrations of millions of Spaniards (and Catalans) demanding Spain keep out of that war. 
So, when the train bombs went off - just three days before Spanish general elections (14/3/2004) - there were two major ways it could influence the vote (a vote which the governing party, Aznar's right wing People's Party, was tipped to win):
1. If the Basque terrorists ETA had placed the bombs on the train, it would mean a huge pro-govt vote as they were/are firm believers in a strong fight against terrorism etc. The backlash against the Basques would have swept the PP back into power easily.
2. If the bombs were the work of Al Qaeda, as a kind of crazy (you kill our innocent citizens, we kill yours) response to Spain going to war against an Arab country, it would have proven millions of people right, and the PP would have been swept our of power for being in some way responsible for this revenge attack.

The bombs went off early Thursday morning and all through out the morning and afternoon, the government stated that they were pretty sure it was the work of ETA. Later on in the day, though, news came through that the Islamic nutters were claiming responsibility for the massacre. Many Basque experts said they'd been in touch with people in the know regarding ETA, and ETA were not involved. This news seeped through into the media, but not the big papers or the state TV. On Friday huge marches were held in many Spanish cities as a mark of outrage/respect/sympathy, but throughout the day, mouth to mouth, via internet etc, it was becoming clear that everyone believed it to be the work of the Al Qaeda group. So, the demonstration slogans quickly became a case of "we want to know the truth" as the government refused to even acknowledge this option - counting down the hours to election day (Sunday) and hoping they could keep the ETA option open. I think ETA even sent a press release denying anything to do with it (they are a terrorist group but apparently even they were shocked by this huge-scale massacre of innocents). Other clues started to appear, the kind of explosives used, ETA and Al Qaeda's usual way of operating, cassettes etc, all pointing towards the Al Qaeda link. However, President Aznar in person phoned the top national diaries to tell them it was definitely ETA and make sure Saturday's headlines indicated this and only this. Many papers still ignored the Al Qaeda option.

Saturday came and thanks to internet everyone knew the govt were just feeding us a bunch of nonsense, and more importantly, we knew why. People started sending phone messages to each other to organise spontaneous demonstrations once more outside the PP offices in all major cities. This was illegal as it is forbidden to hold any kind of political event on the day before elections here (it's called "the day for quite thought and contemplation"). But far too many people were outraged, not just at the 191 dead, but how the govt were blatantly using them for their own needs, and lying to the country, and the PP offices were virtually under siege until the early hours of Sunday with people screaming for the truth, and for the lies to stop. The lies swung the vote.
Sunday's elections confirmed what we all thought, a huge transfer of votes to the opposition, the socialist party who surprisingly won the elections and continued in power for 7 or 8 years.

Days later, the bombers blew themselves up when the police eventually found where they were staked out. After a long drawn-out investigation and court case, judges were able to confirm that they had been the only ones involved and that it was an Islamic thing, nothing to do with ETA.
Aznar and many right-wing journalists, however, even today still insinuate that maybe ETA secretly led the Islamists into doing this, and that maybe, just maybe, there was even somebody else involved, maybe the only ones who could have benefitted through this disaster - 3 days before an election...

So, as I said, a catastrophe for those involved and all Spain, but also an incredible story of how a government can put their own thirst for power above any respect for those who suffered that day.
Here is an excellent article in English by a Catalan journalist on these events.

divendres, 14 febrer de 2014

dijous, 13 febrer de 2014

Price Tag - Barcelona Messengers #choirs

Bé, un cop acabat el concurs del Oh Happy Day, encara que tradicionalment no he sigut gaire fan dels cors de gospel, hem seguit alguns dels grups que més ens va agradar durant el programa. De fet, gràcies al programa hem vist que no tot és musica d'esglesia, i els xiquets van guadir aprenent noves cançons i cantants de l'historia recent - cançons que anaven des de Video Killed the Radio Star fins al Rossinyol!
Un dels grups que ens va agradar més, per casualitat és l'unic (a banda dels Flumine) que ha vingut a cantar a les Terres de l'Ebre, Els Barcelona Messengers. A nadal els vam anar a vore a Ulldecona i vam gaudir d'un concert excel·lent.

....
As you may or may not remember, before Christmas we were following one of these TV show/competitions to find the "best" choir in Catalonia. Our local group put on a good show but unfortunately got eliminated in an early round - but we kept watching the show week in week out. I've never been much of a fan of gospel or church music but these were choirs for the modern age, churning out pop, rock, folk songs and doing a bl**dy good job of it. Anyway, we really liked this group and actually got to see them sing live in a local concert over the Christmas holidays ...

dimarts, 11 febrer de 2014

Excerpt from a Teenage Opera

Legend has it that you are allowed to break the Golden Rule of "Don't re-post the same old songs on your blog" when it's your birthday. So, happy birthday to me and today I'll repeat one of my fave tunes. I don't have just one favourite song, but there are a few which go round and round my "top 20" for different reasons - usually a mixture of bringing back great memories plus having everything I like in a decent ditty (in this case, simple understandable lyrics, great chorus to hum along to, trumpets, violins, children's choirs, a certain touch of strangeness and/or originality ...).
 So here goes ...

divendres, 7 febrer de 2014

Bohemian Rhapsody - The Muppets

Bloguear o treballar, aquesta és la pregunta. En fí, poc temps per bloguear ultimament, això de tornar a treballar té els seus pros i contres. Entre classes, traduccions, i altres temes - estudiant sobre el cargol poma, posant la meva gra de sorra en "el process", llegint una bona novel·la, gaudint de bona musica, barallant-nos en els petits de la casa,  i visitant metges continuament, pos, una mica de tranqulitat per escriure les entrades que vull fer (tinc almenys 20 temes apuntats!), pos, no ho trobo. Però no passa res.
Vinga, una mica de musica maestro :)
....
To blog or to work, that seems to be the question. All this "return to work" lark has its pros and contras, one of the downsides is that suddenly your days become a rat-race. Not that it's just work filling up my time of course (I didn't choose my life/job here to be stuck in a 9-5 stress bucket), but between teaching and translating, and living - theatre (more later), writing about apple snails (more later), being with the family, a good book (more later), searching out great music, seeing one doctor after another, and "investing" time doing nothing really productive on the internet - I'm finding it hard to find the "quiet hours" in a day which I need to write a half-decent post (and I've got a least 20 written down in a "to blog" list!). But, that's life folks.
So, music maestro.


divendres, 24 gener de 2014

Pantalons curts i genolls pelats - Els Pets

Ok, one more track by The Farts / Els Pets. This one speaks about childhood memories. Seeing they were born in 1963, we're talking about the early 70s here....

Long summer holidays in Catalonia, 12 weeks off school, sun and heat. Dirty fingernails and scraggly hair. Climbing peach trees. Skinny dipping in small pools. Afternoon snack for the kids - bread soaked in red wine and sugar, and a piece of quince cheese. Back out playing football till late. Watching the farmers coming back to town at dusk. Meat and toast for supper, then back out to play hide and seek in the coolness of the night. Sundays meant mass - clean cothes and a good dose of cologne. Maybe when we look back, we only remember the good times - but what times they were! Shorts and grazed knees (the title of the song).
And a nostalgic video.


dijous, 23 gener de 2014

Jo vull ser rei - Els Pets

By popular demand, more stuff by The Farts (Els Pets). This 1994 track is called "I want to be the King". If you know a little about Spanish and Catalan history, it should come as no surprise to find that most Catalans are not fans of the present Spanish monarchy - put back into power by Franco as his successor. Back when this song was written it was still difficult, a virtual taboo, to criticise or laugh at the royal family, but the young Els Pets were adventurous and risk-takers.
Basically the lyrics explain how nice it must be to be King, skiing, speed boats, motorbikes - and your bodyguard even starts it up for you... If we are all equal before the law, why can't I have a go at being King?



dimarts, 21 gener de 2014

Bombolles - Els Pets

Another cool album from 2013, which we got at Christmas and are listening to a lot now - L'Area Petita by Catalan group Els Pets (literally means 'the farts'). Here's the first single, Bombolles.

diumenge, 19 gener de 2014

Miles Kane again :)

No puc dir quin ha sigut el "LP de l'any 2013" perquè evidentment no els hi he sentit tots. Tampoc puc dir quin és el "LP de l'any 2013 dels LPs que tinc", perquè alguns possibles candidats només els vaig rebre al  desembre, o a Reis, i encara no els tinc controlats - per exemple, Els Pets, Billy Bragg, Arctic Monkeys ...
No, lo que puc dir és "El LP del 2013 que he escoltat més i que m'ha agradat més ara per ara". I és "Dont forget who you are" del Miles Kane.
...
So, can't really say which is the "Best album of 2013", as I've only got half a dozen of them. Can't even decide which is the "Best 2013 album in Brian's collection" as I only got some of them at Christmas and still haven't given them enough time and attention. Examples of recently-acquired stuff  include, Billy Bragg, Els Pets, Arctic Monkeys. So no, I'll announce the "2013 album I've listened to most and liked best so far".
It's Don't Forget Who You Are by Miles Kane.


dissabte, 18 gener de 2014

Keep the customer satisfied - si vols! #Tortosa #Amposta #PetitsDetalls

Bé, ben passat i arxivat ja l'esperitu nadalenc, puc tornar a queixar-me? En pocs mesos a 3 o 4 actes o situacions ens hem quedat decebuts o emprenyats amb l'organització d'un acte public o d'una empresa que hauria de saber-ne més. Si ho poso tot aqui, dormiré més tranquil!

1. Al final d'agost vam gaudir de les Festes locals de Tortosa, molt divertides, pero Deu-n'hi-do els problemes de puntualitat dels actes, cosa més fort encara quan es tratava d'actes on havia d'anar o volia anar les xiquetes de 8 anys que feien de "pubilleta". Per exemple, tan costa organitzar un corre-foc? Crec que va començar amb 40 minuts de retard! Els balls de cada nit també, una mitjana de mig hora de retard.

2. Al novembre vam patir un problema surreal. Vam anar a Amposta a una fira de playmobils amb unes diorames molt xules. Vam anar en divendres perque era dificil anar el dissabte. Al cartell, deia l'horari i el fet de que hi hauria diversos punts de venda. Pos, resulta que el divendres només n'hi havia un punt de venda allì, però el més surreal és que els organitzadors no els deixaven vendre! Els havien dit que no podien vendre fins dissabte quan hauria arribat els altres venedors! Jo vaig insistir que els meus xiquets (i jo) haviem vingut expressament amb molta il·lusió i només voliem comprar 2 figures, ja que el dissabte no podriem tornar a venir. Però, no. Fins i tot el representant de l'organització aquella tarda se'ns va fotre, dient que "no passa res, home, demà pots baixar en un moment que tampoc és tan lluny Tortosa." (evidentment, baixar a Amposta, aparcar, comprar un playmobil, i tornar a pujar, seria una hora de temps + el gasolina;  que se sap aquell home en quant valoro jo una hora del meu temps?!). En fi, encara esperem resposta al mail que vam enviar a l'ajuntament queixant-nos.

3. Problema paregut ens va passar al Nadal Jove a Tortosa - el tipic lloc ple d'activitats per a que els xiquets puguen jugar un mati durant les vacances. Normalment no hi anem mai pero a la nostra filla li havia tocat una entrada gratis i com que el primer dia era diumenge (de 11 a 13.30, 17 a 20.00 segons la pagina web de l'ajuntament), i era un mati que no teniem res que fer, pos, a anar-hi. Deixem de jugar amb els veins, canviem de roba, agafem el cotxe i hi anem - allì ens diuen que no, el primer dia s'obrirà a la tarde només! Missatge enviat als regidor de Tortosa, també espera resposta!

Queixa 4: gent que monta un activitat, i obren un compte twitter o d'email o facebook pero despres no contesten les consultes! Per exemple, hem vist que hi ha una pista de gel a Lleida i hem enviat 2 missatges amb preguntes, però sense resposta.

Queixa 5: una botiga del nivell de Disney - no ens funcionava bé la pagina on-line per fer una comanda abans de nadal. Vam enviar 2 mails demanant ajud. Ens han contestat esta setmana, el 15 de gener!
En fi, que tenen en comú tot aixo (o museus que no tenen pagina web en anglès etc)? Que no cuiden el client.
.....
Looks over shoulder - checks Christmas is well and truly gone, festive spirit no more. Great, so we can go back to Moaning Mood. Here's a few local problems we have experienced recently, but which probably serve as examples for a universal problem - public bodies or private firms who don't look after their (potential) clients:
1. Last August, we were in Tortosa for the local festivities. A great time was had, but the punctuality was incredibly bad! Many activities started 30 or 40 minutes late!

2. In November we went to a toy (Playmobil) fair in a local town. There was supposed to be stalls selling Playmobil stuff but when we got there they told us, as only one seller had turned up the first day, they wouldn't let them start selling until the next day - so as not to be unfair to the other sellers! What?! I complained and said what I thought, and the organiser basically laughed at us and told us to come back the next day. Luckily I had the kids with me otherwise he'd probably be still trying to get a Playmobil octupus out of a part of his body where the sun doesn't shine. The kids did learn a few choice Catalan insults.
Wrote to the local council who were involved in the organisation and still waiting for a reply.

3. Similiar thing. A kids' activity was advertised as starting on the Sunday before Christmas, and running from 11.00 to 13.30 and 17.00 to 20.00. So we got ready and went the first morning only to be told that the first day they'd only open up in the afternoon!
Organised by Tortosa council, so I tweeted the councillor in charge .... still waiting for an answer.

4. Fed up with folk who set up an online contact scheme but don't bother answering. For example, we found out there was a temporary ice rink in a town in Catalonia and sent two messages asking for certain information. Still waiting for an answer.

5. Even King Disney fail here. Experiencing problems with their online shopping webpage before Christmas, we sent two mails asking for help. Got the answer this week - 15th January!
So, the common theme here is "the customer is always right" seems to be an old-fashioned concept for far too many people!

dimecres, 15 gener de 2014

On Ira - Zaz

On the list of Good Things France has given the World, we find at no.4  ..... Zaz!!


dilluns, 13 gener de 2014

13 de gener 1939 #Franco #Tortosa

Avui fa 75 anys que Franco va ocupar Tortosa. Segons  l'excel·lent exposició que vam visitar ahir al Museu de Tortosa, va ser despres de 9 mesos de bombardejos, amb tota la gent fugida a les muntanyes i la ciutat destruida. Mirant les fotos i els numeros, sembla ser que tota la ciutat va quedar afectada i un 15% dels edificis totalment destruides. L'anecdota del video que vam vore és quan expliquen que fins i tot un dels bombardejos més feroços va passar el dia del Divendres Sant - per part de gent que despres rebrien el recolsament de l'esglesia.
La guerra civil encara durari uns mesos més - o per l'incompetencia de Franco o per les ganes de Franco de fer patir al maxim els seus oponents i la gent inocenta, i aixi assegurar un futur amb la gent (que havia sobreviscuda) callada i atemorida.
Poca cosa més puc afegir, a abanda de la tristesa i desconcert que vam sentir en sortir del Museu. La primera cosa que veus és el riu, amb el Monument que Franco hi va posar, encara en peu - 38 anys despres del seu mort.
....
75 years ago today, 13th January 1939, Franco took Tortosa after a 9-month siege.
 The so-called Spanish Civil War was in fact a military uprising and/or (deliberately?) incompetent coup d'etat. Franco rose up against the democratically elected government of Spain on 17th July 1936 and it dragged on into a civil war which continued until April 1939 with thousands of deaths on each side, and especially of innocent people who didn't even realise they were on anybody's side. Some believe that Franco deliberately fought a slow war so that the deaths and suffering would be drawn out as a reprisal (for what?) and as a lesson which Spaniards would not forget - shown through Franco then enjoying a long dictatorship before dying at home in bed in 1975.

Anyway, yesterday by coincidence we went to Tortosa's local museum to see an excellent exhibition relating to the battle for Tortosa. Photos, objects, and a video of survivor's recollections all gave a very clear idea of this "battle". Basically Franco's troops worked their way up through the Spanish peninsula and eventually arrived to the south of the river Ebro in mid 1938, but did not cross immediately to take Tortosa. Instead both sides dug in while Franco ordered his German and Italian planes (kindly lent by Hitler and Mussolini as a test run for their own future plans) to bomb Tortosa to bits. Most local citizens fled to the mountains, living in caves and make-shift shelters for 9 months while a few republican soldiers tried to hold the fort. The bombs destroyed Tortosa - apparently 75% of buildings were affected with 15% being completely flattened. When Franco finally decided to cross the Ebro, little opposition did he find here. The following short video is a fascinating English news reel from those days.

The war had already dragged on. Apart from Franco's slowness, there had been a lot of fighting around the Ebro further inland. In July 1938 the Republicans had foolishly/bravely crossed the Ebro further upriver which led to the infamous Battle of the Ebro. While they tried to hold their positions in the hills, Franco bombed them to pieces - many conscripts as young as 15 years old as all the older generations had already been called up. The mountains where this battle took place are a 30-minute drive away from Tortosa and offer a tragic picture. A wonderful countryside, but still scattered with bones and shrapnel - you can't imagine that just 75 years ago thousands of people died meaninglessly here. Anyway, Franco won the Battle, and eventually crossed the Ebro in Tortosa in January 1939, before going on to "win" the war in April 1939. The world would soon forget about Spain as that year it had other things on its mind, but Franco's dictatorship led to more hardship, cruelty, repression and deaths all the way up to 1975 - in the heart of Europe. 
Not much else I can add, except the feeling of bewilderment when we come out of the museum and the first thing we see is the monument Franco erected in the middle of the river to celebrate his victory. 2014 and the monument still stands - for more info see my previous rants!
                                                                                Photo in the exhibition.


                                                                Franco's monument - still standing.