Archive for August, 2010

Angels, Romantic Walks …… and a Biscuit Tin! Internet dating in Spain 2

August 25, 2010

One thing I discovered in the first few days of flirting via the internet was that there are an awful lot of ladies in South America looking for visas to Spain. (According to the ladies I met here, there are an equal number of men looking for them.) I was amazed by the amount of replies I received, about 80 in the first week, and over half of them were from Latin America. Others came from Portugal, France, Holland and a number of cities in Spain, but I had decided that I would concentrate on people I could meet in the flesh. I spend enough time in front of a computer that I didn’t want email pen-pals.

My first two contacts couldn’t have been more different. ‘Angel Lady’ (not the name she uses on the site) was so christened by me because she sent me an email about angels. This nearly put me off because I thought she might be a bit ‘new agey’ for me, but as it turned out she was delightful company. She described herself as small – and at just under 5foot she wasn’t wrong! – con unos ojos que no olvidarás’, ‘with eyes you won’t forget’.

The second lady, ‘La Eleganta’, was at the other extreme. She said she was tall and liked to wear heels, so hoped that I wasn’t short because if we met she might tower over me. A friend suggested I take a biscuit tin with me on both dates, for ‘Angel Lady’ to stand on for me to kiss her goodnight, and for me to stand on when I did the same with ‘La Eleganta’. As it transpired, AL also liked heels, deliciously high ones in fact, and LE, whilst being tall for a Spanish lady, was exactly my height.

‘Angel Lady’ and I arranged to meet for coffee one Sunday afternoon. Unfortunately the place I’d chosen was closed so I sat on a wall outside waiting for her. She told me later that she had driven past and seen me looking up and down the street. I told her that I was extremely grateful that she hadn’t just kept driving and left me looking lost and forlorn.

In any of my emails I wrote in those days making arrangements to meet, I always made it clear that my Spanish wasn’t wonderful. Thank the Lord it’s pretty good now, given some of the scrapes I get into, but then it was pretty iffy. This diminutive lady made a little gesture that endeared me to her and made me more relaxed when it came to meeting others, none of whom spoke any English. Going on a blind date is unnerving enough. Going on a blind date where you barely speak the other person’s language has a fine element of terror attached to it.

When we were finally sat waiting for coffee I tried to chat in my halting Spanish, but it was obvious I was a bit nervous. A bit! This splendid lady simply reached out, gently touched my hand and smiled, a gesture that said ‘It’s okay.’ It didn’t improve my Spanish instantly, but it made me far more relaxed.

When we’d finished our coffee we went to the Albufera, the great lake on the edge of Valencia, where we took a walk just as a bright red sky lit the water as night arrived.

Fortunately Valencia has a couple of cinemas showing English films with Spanish subtitles, so the following week AL and I went to see a film and finished the evening with tapas. I hoped Angel Lady and I would meet again. I liked her company.

‘La Eleganta’ is a different kettle of charming fish altogether. We arranged to meet in a café in the centre of town at eight in the evening and a few minutes before she arrived she phoned to say she we would be a little bit late. I was reading a newspaper in the café a short while later and suddenly looked up to see a stunning creature with thick dark hair and shining eyes smiling down at me. Some photos don’t do people justice and the one accompanying her profile had been one of those. I hope I didn’t gawp!

We chatted amicably for a couple of hours, me hoping that my face wasn’t too blank when she went into realms of Spanish my stumbling vocabulary hadn’t entered. She told me that she was going to Vienna for a few days, with me saying that I was off to Barcelona about the time she got back. We parted amicably saying that we’d speak again.

I sent a couple of emails to LE suggesting we meet for a coffee before she went on holiday, but didn’t get a reply. I assumed that she wasn’t interested, which, although I’d rather she’d have wanted to meet me again, I accepted with only a modest sulk.

But then I thought, ‘Why give in so easily?’ I’d been determined that I would accept friendship if that was what was offered and here was someone who’s company I enjoyed who might not want a relationship but who might enjoy a meal out or the cinema now and again. And what was it that I liked so much about her that I wanted to meet her again, even as a friend? The answer was – her laugh. She has the most wonderful laugh that it makes you warm just hearing it and, like with most people, there isn’t enough real laughter in my life. So I sent her another email telling this and saying that it she wanted to meet again simply as friends then that was fine by me. And I meant it.

‘Faint heart never won fair maiden,’ seems to have worked, because she replied to my email saying that she had been so up to her eyes with work and preparing for her holiday that she hadn’t even looked at her emails for a few days and would call me when we were both back in town. And she did.

On that first experience of internet dating I met five ladies, who were all delightful. I had a brief relationship with one of them, but even though it ended we still remained friends.

And what do I feel about using the internet or a dating agency to meet someone? I think it’s a splendid idea. To be honest, I wish I’d not needed to. I came to live in Spain because I’d met a beautiful lady, and I wish she had still been with me, but she wasn’t and even though I missed her a great deal I needed to look to the now and the future. I enjoy the company of women as both friends and lovers, and they needn’t be one and the same.

Fortunately dating by these means has lost the stigma it had a decade ago, when I first put a tentative toe into the water, so if you are looking for someone to spend time with then I would suggest you get down to your local cyber café if you don’t have internet access of your own. You may not find the person you will spend the rest of your days with, but even if you don’t, there’s a pretty good chance that you’ll find someone to help while away a few pleasant hours.

If you would like to know more about Spain, visit my web site, www.derekworkman-journalist.com , and Spain Uncovered

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Casting the Net for Romance – Internet dating in Spain 1

August 24, 2010

 

I have no doubt that coming to live permanently in Spain was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I love my work as a journalist and freelance travel writer; I love the freedom that life in a warm climate brings; I find Spain endlessly interesting and the Spanish themselves far more tolerant and well-mannered than my compatriots. But…(ah! isn’t there always a ‘but’)…even the Garden of Eden would lose its charm if Adam (or Eve) had to spend most of their life sat alone under the apple tree.

My main reason for coming to Spain was a beautiful Spanish lady. Sadly that relationship ended and I found myself alone in a country where my language skills were minimal and opportunities for meeting another ‘better half’ even more so. I’m no spring chicken or oil painting – I’ll not see the sunny side of fifty again God and ran out of bodies beautiful long before he reached my end of the line. (Fifty! You’ve got to be f*****g joking. Come on, be honest. Okay, okay cinquenta y doce… and I’ll let the non-Spanish speakers work that one out themselves!)

I’ll openly admit that there were long nights and weekends of blackness and tears, wondering if there would ever be a time when I would feel a warm body snuggled up to me in the morning when the alarm went off, having that couple of minutes extra cuddle to start the day. And when I talked to other single people, that was what they missed most – not the sex, not the romantic dinners when dating, not the flirtations or the frivolity of falling for someone (although they are all delightful and important), but the cuddles, the sitting watching the TV and suddenly saying, ‘Fancy a cup of tea, love?’, doing the shopping together or preparing a meal. Mundane as anything, but boy do you miss them!

Agony Aunts the world over recommend you take up a hobby you can share with others or join a club as a way to meet people. God bless ‘em, I wonder just how many of them have actually been through the single state! I’m with Groucho Marx when he said ‘I wouldn’t want to be a member of any club that would have me as a member.’ I’ve never been a ‘joiner’ and judging by some of the clubs I’ve briefly visited, they were filled with enough sad souls to ensure that I’d never be applying for any membership cards. I’m sure they are helpful for some, but not one of the people I spoke to, and there were quite a few, could envisage taking that route for company.

When I came to live in Valencia, at that time a city almost devoid of an English accent, so the likelihood of meeting someone plummeted from ‘not much chance’ to ‘damn near zero’. As I assiduously avoid those appalling mock Irish bars that seem to be consuming Spain and act as a honey-pot to British ex-pats, the chances of that morning cuddle seemed to be fast receding.

For quite a time a friend had been nagging me to look at the dating sites on the Internet, but I’d always thought of them as the last resort of the desperate. (It never occurred to me that, actually, I was one of them!) Having spent another Christmas and New Year as a single celebrating among couples I finally decided to have a look.

I flirted around a few sites, by-passing the ones that took out a chunk of your plastic before even allowing you a glimpse of the new love of your life. Many of them tend to focus on the United States, with only a few people from other countries, but eventually I found a site that allows you to search not only by country but by province and city. I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of ladies who were seeking company in my neck of the woods, and very few of them had the look of desperation I’d been expecting. To be honest, there were a few little corkers!

And it wasn’t only sites for ladies wanting friendship and a possible relationship, if you wanted a dalliance with someone who was prepared for a relationship of a more …shall we say ‘instantly physical’ type, then there they were, waiting for you to pay your contact fee before arranging something more than a walk along the prom. I somehow didn’t think ‘cuddling’ would feature heavily in their expectations.

I’d vaguely toyed with the idea of using these sites as ‘research’ for an article, but that was the first hurdle to cross. I had to admit to myself that this wasn’t ‘research’, I wanted to meet ladies, and if one of them turned out to become a bit more than a friend, so much the better. Let’s face it, good looking chicas weren’t exactly flocking to my door, were they!

First thing was to set my criteria, a rough idea of the guidelines I would use to choose those to contact. None of these sites are free when it comes to making contact, so unless you have an expandable credit card it’s a good idea to have at least a vague idea of the lovely you are looking for.

Actively setting down the wants and don’t wants of a person might seem a bit shallow, but we can’t escape the fact that certain types of people attract us and others don’t. This doesn’t imply that anyone is better or worse, it just means that whilst we might magnanimously declare that ‘we’re all God’s chillun’, if you fancy a short blondie with a searing IQ and no children, you’re not going to feel exactly comfortable sitting across the table in a crowded café from a lady of 170kilos who failed her GCSE’s and has four niños, all under ten. It’s very possible someone might, and you are wasting that person’s time and money when she may not have a lot of either to spare. Equally important is the fact that if she likes you it could hurt her confidence if she never hears from you again. (And this applies to both sexes.) Believe me, once you start writing down your preferences you’ll see just how ‘shallow’ you are.

Having decided on mine (and I’m not telling you what they are), the next stage was to register. Most of these online forms are pretty simple and just require you to tick off from a set of pre-selected choices, although you’re usually asked to write a bit about yourself and the type of person you are looking for. You are also given the opportunity to add a photo, and this seems to be the point where most people become a bit nervous.

Quite a lot of people, mainly women, are unsure about putting a photo on a dating site in case someone they know or from their neighbourhood sees it. Understandable, but, as most sites will tell you, a photo vastly improves your chances of being contacted. A girl I became friendly with said that her contacts increased ten fold from the day she decided to add a photo to her profile.

So, what do you say about yourself? It is said that on the internet you can be anybody you want and I suppose that if all you are looking for are a few email pen-pals then you can a the blond-maned, six foot tall lothario, even if in reality you are little more than a midge’s whisker over five foot and carrying a beer belly supported by a pair of very stout braces. In which case, don’t put a photo up! But if you really do want to meet someone, there’s only one thing you can say – the truth. You needn’t list every nervous tick or failing, but if you want a relationship with someone don’t start it off with a lie.

I decided on a particular site that had enough ladies within the Valencian Community and the city itself so that I wasn’t going to have to travel great distances to meet them. There are two ways to contact on the site I was using. You could send someone a ‘Virtual Kiss’ that lets the person know you have seen their profile and would like to meet them. This is free, but means that the other person has to pay to contact you. To do this you have to pay a monthly fee, which you also have to do if you want to contact someone who’s profile you have seen. As far as I’m concerned, it I want to contact someone it is up to me to pay, and if someone pays to contact me they are worthy of a reply, even if the answer was ‘no’, although I always say this in the nicest way I can.

Part of my personal criteria is that I would not get offended or upset at any point of the dating process. If I didn’t get a reply, that was fine, everyone has their own preferences. If I got a first date and not a second, also fine, at least I had had a couple of hours chat. If friendship developed but not a relationship then I would feel just as happy. It is very important to get yourself into this frame of mind otherwise you can start loading yourself with rejection instead of enjoying the experience.

Profile written, photo tagged on, I sat back to await the flood of Valenciana’s dying to meet the charming Brit sat on their virtual doorstep.

In the next blog I’ll  tell why I was tempted to take a biscuit tin on my first two dates; how I gazed into a romantic red sky over the Albufera, and when ‘faint heart never won fair lady’ paid off.

If you would like to know more about Spain, visit my web site, www.derekworkman-journalist.com , and Spain Uncovered

Welcome to the machine

August 23, 2010

 

A couple of days ago I escorted a lady friend of mine to the underground car park near my flat, and on the way out I fancied a snack, so I passed by the vending machine to buy a bar of chocolate or something else to satisfy my craving. All the usual suspects were there…Oreols, Twix, Kit-Kat, Pipas sunflower seeds, chewing gum, Durex….Durex!

The one thing you can be sure of with most vending machines is that they will usually only have things to fulfil an oral fixation – something to eat, to drink, to chew – but this is the first time I’ve seen a combination of things that went beyond the gastronomical. Okay, it would be easy to make some comment about a blow job being oral, but let’s face it – in that case, why the hell would you want a condom!

But it set me athinkin’…we’re so used to buying the odd bar of chocolate and packet of crisps from the silent salesman at almost any hour of the day, but if we can now buy a packet of jonnies along with the packet of nuts, what else is available?

My car park meanderings might have come to nothing if the next day I hadn’t strolled past the kiosko of my friend Pepe. Defunct kiosko is probably a better phrase, because he and his lovely wife, Carmen, retired a couple of months earlier. Where once a couple of delightful people dispensed newspapers, magazines, sweets, chocolates and big smiles, stood a machine that dispensed cans of coke, packets of crisps (chips to anyone outside the UK), disgustingly lurid, teeth-rotting tubes of sugar-saturated sweets – and not a word about how your day had been. What a loss to the barrio.

So… I decided to find out just how far this vending machine malarkey went…and I’m happy to say that if all we can buy in Spain is a can of fizzy pop and an overly salted packet of industrial waste, then we aren’t doing badly, thank you very much!

It’s easy enough to buy a packet of ciggies from a machine, although made difficult now for the juveniles because they have to ask the barman to give them the key that unlocks the ‘under-age’ button – which shows that I’m not a smoker because I’ve no idea what the laser-key actually does, but I believe it’s to deter under-age smoking. In Tokyo they go one step further because their vending machines have electronic eyes that evaluate customers’ skin and wrinkles to determine whether they are old enough to buy tobacco. With the state of my skin they’d probably refuse on the premise that I’ve obviously done enough damage to my health that I don’t need another fag. In some of the more fancy Canadian bars, the ladies rooms are equipped with vending machines with flat irons to allow the dears to defrizz their golden locks – not something I’d need to use, being almost as bald as a coot. But you have to hand it to the Arabs for the one-upmanship of putting machines in upscale hotels that dispense gold bars and coins at more than $1,000 an ounce

It seems that we like to do more of our buying ‘on the hoof’, without having to talk to a hoity-toity sales person. As far as shops are concerned, it’s becoming so expensive to rent property and pay all the overheads that a machine sat in a good position is pretty cost affective. And it’s not just a can of Coke or a bar of Dairy Milk you can buy; Body Shop are offering skin care products with ingredients like hemp and vitamin E in deluxe machines at airports, and will soon be installing them in shopping centres. There was one place in Washington, called Shop 2000, that offered eggs, nappies and condoms that met with a roaring failure and was shut down. Perhaps if punters had bought more of the latter there wouldn’t have been a market for the product in the middle.

So it seems that the vending machine in my local car park may be the thing of the future, with its couple of spiral shelves of Durex. Although I think we’ve still got a long way to go to catch up with Asia where punters can buy underwear, umbrellas, toys, pizza and organic strawberries. Although I hope – very, very, sincerely – that they come from different machines.

If you would like to know more about Spain, visit my web site, www.derekworkman-journalist.com , and Spain Uncovered

Which menu, sir? Chink or Dago?

August 11, 2010

 

I was meandering home on my bike this afternoon when I saw something that made me smile, in a sardonic sort of way. I’d been coming back from the centre of Valencia and had detoured through the back streets behind the gorgeously kitsch Estación del Norte, the central station, to visit a small Chinese deli that sells a particularly spicy sauce I like and can’t seem to find anywhere else in the city. I passed a sign that said ‘Restaurante Español’ – and that’s what I smiled about, although viewed from a distance, and with Valencia being the third biggest city in Spain, it might not seem all that strange to see a sign advertising a Spanish restaurant. But that’s not what he was doing. The sign wasn’t in fancy lettering painted on the window, or neatly written above the door; it was in capital letters as big as his printer could print them on pieces of A4 paper and stuck across the window. What he was saying was, ‘I’M A SPANISH CAFF, WITH SPANISH OWNERS AND SPANISH CUSTOMERS!’ although he might not have used those exact words.

Until as recently as five years ago, the criss-crossed streets that ran alongside the Central Station, Calles Bailén, Pelayo, Troya and Julio Antonio, with a smattering of others, were a barrio de barrio, streets full of ordinary working class people, many of whom have lived there for generations. Despite it being mere spitting distance from the posh centre of town, most of the shops would have been your little mum and dad grocers, a scattering of butchers and veg shops, the odd photographer (and that’s not meant in the prejudicial sense), the inevitable Mercadona supermarket, hairdressers by the dozen (there’s always hairdressers by the dozen in a vecinidad, a neighbourhood), pastry shops, knicker shops, and all the other types of shops that keep body and soul together. (And it was the last place I ever saw horse meat  for sale.) Over the last few years, though, there has been a steady flow of Chinese businesses opening in the city, until now it’s become a flood.

Now don’t get me wrong. This isn’t a diatribe against an Eastern Invasion. Far from it, my barrio is about as mixed as you could possibly get and I love it, but back to the Central Station.

Like most cities, Valencia has gradually divided itself into districts over time, mainly because certain areas would attract the immigrants of the same nationality who live in those areas, thus attracting more immigrants, etc. etc. New York has Little Italy as well as a dozen other Little ….’s; London has its Chinatown and Manchester its Indian Village in Rusholme. But there are divisions between the separate communities and their businesses, at least there are in Valencia.

It’s impossible to go to any one-horse-town in Spain – and probably anywhere  else in the world – and not find the Chinese equivalent of the Todo a Cien. This was the mainstay of basic life, where you could buy anything from a pan to a packet of needles for one hundred pesetas, about 60 centimos in today’s money. Many of these shops existed on the sales of ends of lines, slight seconds, bulk purchases of fire and flood damaged goods etc, and were a boon to those living on the borderline. My favourite shop when I came to Spain was Domti, and I’m still using three pans and two casseroles I bought there ten years ago. Unfortunately, when Spain and most of the rest of Europe succumbed to the Euro, the floodgates opened and thousands, literally thousands, of Chinese cheap-jack shops opened, flooding the markets with what are called here, ‘yellow goods’. I’m not knocking them, the one on the corner of my street is my first port of call for all my basics.

Go to almost any city around the world and if you want a cheap bed for the night look to the area around the station – and Valencia’s no different. Cheap hostels, cheap caffs, cheap food shops, cheap knick-knack shops, cheap everything – including cheap property rentals. So it’s not just the Chinese who’ve set up shop, there’s a whole assortment of Latino bars and clubs as well, but the Chinese are definitely the dominant population.

A few Spanish cafes, shops and restaurants are still open for business in the area, as well as one of the most famous bookshops in the city, Librería Paris Valencia, but even if a cafetería appears Spanish from the outside, there’s no guarantee that you won’t be eating with chopsticks if you go in. When I went to the Café Pedro a few weeks ago – a name as Spanish as Spanish can be – I was there because I friend of mine had told me that you could get a bowl of noodle soup ‘as big as your head’ for only four Euros, but I was the only occidental face in the place.

So I can understand the ‘Restaurante Español’ sign. I’m sure the owner wasn’t being racist, he was just letting everyone know that, if you wanted it, a Spanish option was on offer. Personally, after eleven years in Spain and enough paella, albondigas, and queso manchego to sink a battleship, I’d rather go next door and have a bowl of noodle soup the size of my head.

If you would like to know more about Spain, visit my web site, www.derekworkman-journalist.com , and Spain Uncovered

Justice at a snail’s pace

August 6, 2010

We can all sleep safely in our beds now. At least those of use who live in Spain can. Those boys in green, guardians of the brave who strike terror into the hearts of motorists, despite their silly little black hat that seems to be worn back to front, the Guardia Civil, have restored peace and tranquillity to the countryside of Castellon, by seizing 400 kilos of illegally picked snails and returning them to their natural environment.

The Guardia Civil have always had a reputation as being hard boys – you never looked them directly in the eye when they had you pinned against the car, and you never, ever, said no. As Franco’s private heavy boys during the dictatorship, they were feared for their brutality and uncompromising belief that what they said was law, and you’d really do best not to argue. Old memories die hard, and there’s still a shiver goes down the spine as they approach you in their knee-high leather boots and dark shades. But the fact is that the Guardia Civil has less powers than either the Policia Local or the Policia National. They are, more than anything else, traffic police, and also have a Department for the Protection of Nature (Seprona).

It was two stalwarts of Seprona who happened to be patrolling in the back-of-beyond, that saw a group of five people picking snails. The furtive actions of the pickers as they tried to hide the bags the snails were in caught the eye of the boys in green. The rogues, a group of Bulgarians, were accused of ‘violating the Law 42/2007 of December 13, Natural Heritage and Biodiversity which prohibits, inter alia, retention and live capture of wild species’. Not exactly up there with elephant tusk poaching, but what else can you do on a quiet Wednesday afternoon? The Guardia Civil explained that the ‘animals’ were destined for sale in shops and hotels in the province of Lleida, with consequent risks to public health, and without any sanitary control. The wee gastropods were returned to the wild.

As light-hearted as this might seem, last year there were more than 50 complaints by farmers about damage caused by collectors to stone walls that are torn down to get at the snails inside and to streams, plantations and drip irrigation systems.

By one of those curious little quirks of fate, I’d been driving near Vila-Real, the town where the pickers were arrested, a couple of weeks ago, and saw people sitting on the barren ground in the middle of high weeds under the burning sun. It took me a while to realise what they were doing, and I couldn’t help but think that it was one hell of an uncomfortable way to make few bob on the side.

If you would like to know more about Spain, visit my web site, www.derekworkman-journalist.com , and Spain Uncovered

Welcome to Spain, Mrs Obama….shame you won’t see any of it.

August 3, 2010

Tomorrow morning the first lady of the US of A, Michelle Obama, will be stepping from her limo at the front door of the luxurious Villa Padierna in Marbella. She’ll be accompanied by her nine-year old daughter, Sasha, on what is said to be a ‘family holiday’ to visit friends.

No doubt it’s nice to get away now and again for a bit of ‘mom and daughter’ quality time, but with forty rooms booked to sleep the party, you can’t really imagine much time for girly talk.

The Villa Padierna, with its private 2,000 square metre spa, heliport and Roman amphitheatre, is said to be one of the top thirty hotels in the world, and with prices of up to 5,000€ a night, Madam Obama’s four-night stay is going to hit the plastic card pretty forcefully, although whose card that will be, we’re not quite sure. A proposed visit to meet King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia, will justify the trip as being at least in part a bit of glad-handing on behalf of the American people, so in that case it’s okay if they foot the bill, isn’t it. Although not for some folk back at home it apparently isn’t – they being taxpayers, many of whom can barely afford to take a holiday on their front lawn, never mind swanning off to distant parts with an entourage of bouncers to keep them clear of the local riffraff.

The Malagueños see it is as a shot in the arm in their attempts to make the town look good again after decades of being seen as a resort peopled by criminals on the run, corrupt politicians and Mafia type gangs of all nationalities. Under the control of Jesus Gil, a mayor so bent he would have been U-shaped if his enormous gut had allowed him to be, the town doubled in size, swollen on vast quantities of bribes and backhanders, misappropriation of land, tax evasion and anything else you can think of that line an opportunists pocket with the folding stuff, including the lucrative rubbish removal business. (As someone commented a couple of years ago, ‘Okay, there was a lot of crime and corruption during Gil’s time as mayor, but at least you could walk the streets safe at night. You can’t do that now.’ So much for an attempt of honest governance!)

Gil was given the elbow in 2002, and his successor, Julián Muñoz, who was basically Gil still under control using a different name, and then his successor, retired folk singer Marisol Yagüe are awaiting trial accused of abusing planning permission, which they both deny. In 2006 the whole town hall administration was flung out on orders from the Central Government, with the chief of urban planning, Juan Antonio Roca, convicted of corruption so vast that it would outdo the storyline of any of the Godfather films. The Spanish newspaper daily newspaper El Pais estimated his wealth at more than 2billion€, not bad for a council official, who owned a stud farm guarded by a tiger.

The rich an famous still flock to the luxurious hotels and golf courses of Marbella and Estepona, but they, like Michele Obama and young Sasha, are safely insulated from the hoi-poloi that stagger along the prom in high-heeled sling-backs, hanging on the arm of some overly-tanned oik with greased-back hair, both of them dripping in ostentatious gold jewellery.

But at least mother an daughter need never feel lonely, because apart from their official entourage, their every move will be covered by a press corps of 660 television companies, 2,500 newspapers, 2,100 digital media, 900 radio stations, 950 general magazines y 900 ‘del corazón’ as the Spanish so nicely put them, dross such as ‘Hello!’ and its imitators.

If you would like to know more about Spain, visit my web site, www.derekworkman-journalist.com , and Spain Uncovered