Dani is six.

Yet again time has flown by. So; let’s catch up… Starting with last weekend’s election.

As predicted last week’s Spanish elections saw no change in the parties’ abilities to form a government. Stalemate again. If you are a betting person I would recommend that you put money on the same happening in the UK next month. The overall result will leave us exactly where we are now.

Sixth birthday

Last week (Tuesday) saw Dani’s sixth birthday. I missed the actual day as I was working. I am hoping that never happens again. But being in the middle of the week and me working away can be tricky.

It dawned on me the day of his birthday: This is my 6th job since he was born. Six jobs in six years. Not bad going I suppose. Or is it really bad? I guess it all depends on how you view these things.

I think this could be my last (serious) engineering job. I have had enough now. The jobs hold nothing for me and I miss my son too much. Maybe a part time job. If that even. This one seems to be dragging… there’s that old saying in some jobs; ‘the days drag but the weeks fly by’. This sixth job since Dani was born is certainly like that. The weeks are flying though. But what about the years? Six of them!!? In another 6 years he will be 12 years old and almost certainly won’t want to spend so much time with his old dad. For the moment however he still enjoys watching complete nonsense with his dad. Like the animated WWE wrestling match between Rey Mysterio and Spiderman. Yes; that is what I thought. Even more incredible is the fact that Spiderman somehow lost that match! Who would have thought that the California born luchador of Mexican heritage would beat the New York based super-human web-slinger? I would have put money on Spidey for that one. It just goes to show eh? Anything can happen on youtube…

(Very) Quick Film Review

So, this weekend we have been reliving Dani’s birthday – like opening my present before going to the cinema, followed by some more WWE Smackdown. We saw the latest Shaun the Sheep movie – “Farmageddon”. If you ask me the story was a bit of a rip off of E.T., but the kids loved it. I have to admit to almost falling asleep at one point but not sure why; because I enjoyed the film also. It had the usual mix of silly and more grown-up humour that we have come to expect from these plasticine farm animals.

The E.T. style storyline got me thinking. Here we are being treated to a second Shaun the Sheep movie. Undoubtedly there will be more to come now that Shaun’s creator (Nick Park) has relinquished control of his ovine character to a company called Aardman Animations. But why did they never make a sequel to E.T.? Or did they? If anyone knows please let us know.

At the end of E.T. the alien points at the kid’s (Elliot) head and says that he will always be there. In his mind, or thoughts, or whatever…. It seemed obvious that they would make another movie when the kid was a little older or even an adult. But I don’t think they ever did.

The Isadora Moon books (again)

Just throwing this one in…

Last weekend a few of Dani’s classmates celebrated their birthdays. It turns out that the mother of one of the birthday kids is the Spanish translator for the Isadora Moon books by Harriet Muncaster. It means that the kids in the school get several free copies to read. Great eh?

Elections and the Fall of a Wall.

Politics – again…

While Dani and his old dad watch WWE wrestling on TV some people in Spain may be talking politics. The reason? Because tomorrow (Sunday 10th November 2019) Spain goes to the polls to elect the next government. Well at least that is the theory. This is the third election in just over three years. The second this year. And there is no sign that it will all be resolved.

While the current (supposedly socialist) Prime Minister has the biggest number of seats he cannot form a government. After seven months! Yet last week he managed get the body of Franco exhumed from El Valle de los Caídos. Something many previous socialist governments had failed to do. (Read more on that here.) Not that there are more important issues in Spain right now eh?. Of course not! How could there be? Right?

Meanwhile. In the UK…

Then again, it is not much better in the UK. A month and 3 days from now the UK goes to the polls for the third time in four years. Fourth time if you include the EU referendum. In the UK it’s all been about “Brexit”. Or rather all about stopping or delaying Brexit.

Now there’s a good job. Member of Parliament. Get paid a reasonable wage. Probably in the top 0.5% of world-wide earners. Plus, a raft of expenses. And basically; do nothing.

In nearly three and a half years the UK parliament has done nothing apart from discuss/debate (more like argue about) Brexit. Doesn’t this just prove beyond any doubt that while Europe makes all the decisions our own lot do absolutely jack shit??! The same goes for Spain, as the very recent events show.

It begs the question: How many more elections will there be before Dani is old enough to vote?

And History?

As if all the political mess is not enough, what about this one? (We are heading into grumpy old dad territory here.)

Today marks the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Not exactly the “fall” but certainly the beginning of the end of the wall. I was there a few days later. I stepped through a hole someone had hammered out of the wall so I could have my photo taken. Only to be punched and shoved back through that hole by an angry east German guard.

There was an article celebrating the event in the easyjet magazine which I read yesterday on my flight. And it kind of pissed me off. I need to quote this word for word:

The Anti-Fascist Protection Rampart as its east German builders officially called it, separated two very different ideologies, with the authoritarian communism of the Soviet-controlled German Democratic Republic (GDR) effectively using the Wall to block the influence of the more liberal, capitalist, US-controlled West Berlin.

I feel I have to call out this shoddy piece of writing/journalism (or whatever it is). What are they teaching kids these days? The commies may have wanted you to think that they were trying to keep westerners out, but anyone old enough to know better, knows that the wall was built by the east German communists only to keep their own people in. Yet he never mentioned this. Here we have a modern day ‘writer’ trying to twist history. Trying to pretend that it was somehow both sides to blame. Was he taught that in school? If not then where does he get this false information?

Let’s look at that again;  “…effectively using the Wall to block the influence of the more liberal, capitalist, US-controlled West Berlin.

Where do these people get these ideas from? And more importantly why are they putting this shit out there to deliberately tell readers the wrong things. Why can’t these so-called writers tell it how it is? Or was in this case?

The writer’s name is Thomas Hobbs. Shame on him for not knowing (or at least telling) the real story here. I am sorry to tell you Mr. Hobbs, but you are wrong and should have used this opportunity to tell the real story of why that wall was built.

Anyway, Back to the Wrestling…

Meanwhile I just watched a wrestler win a fight by pinning his opponent down with a fork-lift truck. Work that one out!?

How I would love to see the politicians slugging it out in this way. We can all dream eh?

Halloween – First in UK

Dani’s favourite fiesta

He has only been old enough to really get in the party spirit in the past couple of years. But I have missed both of those Halloween nights. So not only was this Dani’s first Halloween in the UK; it was my first proper Halloween with him.

A bit of history…

When I was young I remember first hearing about ‘trick or treat’. We tried knocking on doors one Halloween night after seeing something on a kids TV show called Blue Peter. We never even made any effort to dress up etc… Unsurprisingly Most people either looked at us as if we had just climbed off an alien spaceship or politely told us to feck off!.

I always thought that this form of celebration/begging was just an American thing. I still do really. It never really caught on in the UK until recent years. Now it is fairly common and as long as you approach a house that has decked out with pumpkins and/or Halloween decorations then you are fine. In Spain it is only just breaking through as the “thing” to do on ‘all saints eve’.

Not unlike the subtle (enough) difference between Spain and her former colony Mexico. In Central America the day of the dead (el día de los muertos) is a much bigger celebration taken far more seriously….

Spooked out!

 Even Dani’s old dad tried to look the part in a themed T-shirt with a kids’ “Scream” mask. A bit small admittedly but some might consider it an improvement – of sorts.

Pounding the streets asking for sweets and chocolate with little kids. Hmm… Then it started raining. Typical!

Some places made a real effort with one having a full skeleton in their car. I managed to sneak a quick snap…

OK, I know it’s  little out of focus but I didn’t want to be seen taking shots of someone else’s property so I made it quickly. And anyway, by now, it was raining.

Halloween costumes

One of Dani’s cousins made a real effort. Emily started high school this year and I thought she may not be joining the party. But I couldn’t have been more wrong. Like many kids her age – and certainly many teenagers – she pushed the boat out and really went for the full-on costume. Naturally Dani had to try Harley Quinn’s wig.

Drama Queen….

At the end of the evening while driving back to his nana’s house Dani did something he has done before, and no doubt will do again. He went into full melodramatic mode.

He sighed and said; “I think today was the best day of my life.” That brought a smile to my face. At least it meant that he had enjoyed his Halloween day in the UK. As for being the best day in his life? Well, I am sure there will be many more to come… Probably starting with his sixth birthday in a few days’ time.

Addams Family and onto Halloween

The day after the Opera House visit the kids went to see The Addams Family animated film. Dani had been wanting to see it since the posters appeared in the streets. And as I had been telling him that he was not old enough to see the Joker movie, he was never going to let this one pass him by.

Reaction

They loved it. Susana liked it more than Dani and yet ironically the tale was not too dissimilar to the puppet show they had seen the previous day. One of rejection for being “different” etc… The puppet show had upset her but this one (it seems) was just a lot more fun.

OK: I know what you’re thinking. What did this grumpy old dad think of the film? Well it was just about OK. As with all animation the film makers can push the boundaries that bit further. And they certainly did that with the help of all the usual CGI we see these days. I would class this kids’ movie as “watchable”.

At least they kept the spirit (no pun intended) of the original TV series. The original theme music and song making an appearance. The kids in the audience soon picked up on the finger clicking. Good stuff.

One Joker to Another

Before leaving the cinema, Dani had to get his photograph taken with the Joker himself.

The following day we flew off to the UK where Dani would spend the week leading up to his first British Halloween. Plus a chance to catch up with all his relatives of course.

Halloween…

And what do you know? It is not raining… Or have I spoken too soon?

The plan is to go ‘trick or treating’ with his younger cousins followed by a house party. And we are about to start… More to come.

A Day at the Opera

Not to be confused with the famous Queen album of 1975. This was a daytime trip to see a Chinese puppet style production in the Opera house in Madrid.

No Rugby here…

While many people were watching the rugby semi-final between England and New Zealand I had to travel into the centre of Madrid to watch a performance called “Mi Amigo Frankenstein” (My Friend Frankenstein) in the grand and well-known Opera building. It was for kids.

While the rugby played out in Japan, I was watching a bloody Chinese puppet show. Mixed with some pantomime-like, slap-stick comedy thrown in.

It was immediately after Dani’s swimming class. There were four of us. Myself, Dani, his cousin Susana and her mum. A Metro journey took us right into the beating heart of Madrid. Arriving just in time for the lad to run to the toilet. I swear he would have pissed himself if he had started watching the show without going.

The Show…

Naturally I thought it was crap. But Dani loved it. Far more than I thought he would. Meanwhile Susana had to leave about half-way through the performance. Crying. It as all too much for her. At first, I thought it was because something had frightened her. There was a little scary music at one point and then the image of a skeleton coming to life. Well, maybe…

But no. she was in tears because it made her sad. Sad to see how others were treating the ‘monster’. Funny in a way. She is a lovely and very sensitive girl. I remember she also cried when we went to watch the Dumbo movie when the baby elephant was teased.

More brainwashing for the kids…

Ironically that was supposed to be the whole point of the play. A message about “exclusion”. How we should not exclude anyone just because they are “different”. Typical nonsense these days. Keep enforcing the PC messages to young kids. Never mind the format or story used to do so…

This was a story about a doctor digging up corpses to acquire body parts to make a ‘monster’ right?

Please!! Help me out here!

All that aside, the puppetry was quite good. After the show they even invited the children to see all the puppet parts and how it was done. Dani joined in the crowd of kids but Susana had already left the building.

City Centre Photo

As this was the centre of Madrid there were the usual street entertainers plying their trade. Or in many cases just photo opportunities.

This is the one the kids chose… A giant panda. Nice photo though don’t you think?

panda

Susana now back to normal and unstressed. No pandas were hurt in the making of this photo.

The Gambling Problem

When I first started this blog I mentioned that I would write about my ‘hopes and fears’ for my son. The biggest fears most parents have are the well documented addictions. Smoking is one for sure but it is alcohol and drugs that most parents worry about.

But there is a fourth threat. One that is not only still socially acceptable but actively encouraged on TV and other forms of media. Gambling!

The Advertising Scandal

While alcohol is socially acceptable it is closely monitored when it comes to advertising. At least it used to be.

When I was growing up adverts for cigarettes and alcohol partially filled the TV screens. Then tobacco advertising was phased out – rapidly becoming non-existent. I don’t recall any for gambling.

Nowadays? Wow! It is so different.

My young son is growing up in a world where gambling is the new sexy. Apart from all the national, state and regional lotteries the airwaves are full of it. And these gambling airwaves are everywhere now due to mobile phones and the internet.

In Spain many of the gambling ads on TV are fronted by top footballers (mostly south American). Other gambling adverts are performed by famous and trusted TV personalities and actors.

In UK I noticed an ad with a very well-known sports star; none other than the global super star himself, Usain Bolt. That advert was for online poker.

These sportsmen – and they are always men – are not only (supposed) role models. They are heroes to young boys. And the not so young too. Many adults, who admittedly should know better, are suckered into the world of gambling by these sports icons.

The obvious question…

How can the politicians ban cigarette advertising and regulate the hell out of beer ads while allowing such hero-worshipped “stars” to advertise gambling?

Gambling like alcoholism, drugs and smoking is a serious addiction. While not directly affecting one’s health in the same way as the other three it can lead to serious problems devastating the lives of the gambler and his/her family. If gets out of hand It can rapidly destroy lives more quickly than booze and cigarettes combined.

Finally they are expressing concern

Recently there have been calls to regulate gambling advertising more strictly. The problem is now being discussed at least.

While I do not (yet) worry about Dani becoming addicted to gambling I do think things are getting out of hand. In further posts I will look more closely at the regulations on all these addictive habits. Comparing the rules then and now.

Meanwhile, ask yourself this question: Do you think there is too much gambling advertising?

Radio Ga-Ga-Garden

It’s amazing what you find on the internet these days. It still surprises even me.

Every now and again you come across a website that just impresses you. This one is great. It was introduced to me by a good friend of mine who clearly has too much time on his retired hands. Only joking Neil. Thanks for this one mate…

World of Radio

This internet site shows you all the radio stations operating in any country, any area, anywhere on the planet. Move the globe with your mouse to a country and region and zoom in. The website picks up the radio channels showing them as green dots.

By moving over the green dots you select the radio station. It’s one of those internet sites that you can play with all day. You are quite likely to find a radio station near where you live that you never knew existed.

Pass it on….

The website is www.radio.garden

Please forward this blog post to anyone you know who may be interested in this radio website. Spread the word…

2022 Football World Cup in Spain?

Here’s a bold prediction: Spain will host the next world cup. Football world cup that is. The Mundial.

The 2022 FIFA World Cup was awarded to Qatar some years ago you may recall. So, you may be wondering, what on earth is this old dad going on about?

Qatar and Sport

Qatar recently stage the Athletics World Championships. Despite attempts by certain sectors of the mainstream media to put a brave face on it, the championships were widely considered to be a disaster. A virtually empty stadium for most of the events and high temperatures were the two biggest criticisms. Some athletes collapsed during some of the longer events.

So, imagine a game of football lasting a minimum of 90 minutes. Never mind a game going to extra time – another 30 minutes – and then a penalty shoot-out! Maybe some people would quite enjoy seeing some of these over-paid footballers collapsing due to heat exhaustion. I could see the irony in that. But let’s not be cruel.

Get the drinks in…?

Forget the weather for a moment. What about the lack of alcohol?

As we all know football fans around the world love a party. And that generally involves drinking alcohol. Lots of alcohol.

Really though. What footie fan would want to go? I have been to Qatar. You can only drink in the hotels. But only in the hotels. This means that football fans will be restricted to partying in their hotels. Which I am sure they will do quite well. But surely that is not the point.

They may allow drinking in “fan zones” – time will tell but if it is only in hotels then fans will be stuck there all day, every day… There is very little else to see and do.

Then there will be the inevitable rule changes. Quarters no doubt, instead of two halves. Allowing the players time to recover and rehydrate. It will not be good for old fashioned supporters of the beautiful game.

If Qatar still hosts the tournament I am tempted to say that I hope nobody goes. Many will still go however; no matter what.

The Claim for Spain

And as we all know, Spain is one of the world’s biggest and best loved tourist/holiday destinations. Rightly so. This means that all the infrastructure is all there. Hotels, public beaches and tourist attractions aplenty. Spain also has an excellent public transport system on top of the well-known (tourist industry driven) airport network.

Oh! And plenty of places for fans to have a drink Before, during and after the games.

The stadiums are also ready to go with some of the worlds biggest and best football teams playing in Spain.

Track record

Now, there may be several countries that could stake similar claims to Spain. But Spain now has a track record of stepping up to the mark. Madrid successfully hosted the south American cup final between Boca and River. To successfully stage that event on such short notice speaks volumes. And, as far as I know still, there was no reported violence. (For more on this please see previous posts here…and here.)

Personally, I don’t think the world cup should have been given to such a small, desert country, for all the obvious reasons. I am sure that this is a topic which will be talked about a lot in the coming months. But if any country needs to step in and correct that mistake then Spain is surely it.

Naturally I also have selfish reasons for that. I would love Dani to see it in his own country.

Holidays in the Sun

The more you think about it the more it seems logical. Why on earth would football fans want to visit Qatar for a tournament? There is no obvious reason. I can see even the most ardent fans staying at home to watch the matches. Or, more likely, watching football on TV while sitting in a Spanish bar on holiday.

That is more or less what I did myself back in 1982. The last and only time Spain hosted the football spectacular. That was the first time I ever visited Spain. I remember quite vividly the games I watched including the final in which Italy beat Germany. Or West Germany, as they were then known – that’s how long ago it was.

Apologies to the many football fans in Qatar for starting this rumour (or should I say, ‘prediction’?). But really? Was it ever the right place to host the world’s biggest sports tournament?

I am not a betting man, but I might just try and get some bookmakers odds on this prediction…

Clowns and Halloween

Halloween is fast approaching and Dani is getting excited already. He calls it his favourite fiesta. What he really loves about it is dressing up as a vampire, mummy or zombie. This year he is planning a mixed bag costume. It involves a vampires cape, skeleton suit and a frightening mask of some deranged clown.

What is it with clowns and Halloween?

Send in the clowns
Dani asked a very good question the other day. We were out walking to the shops. Looking for Halloween costumes actually.
“Dad, why are there more scary clowns in films than funny ones?” he said.

It was a good question. And the answer was certainly not immediately obvious. In fact it still isn’t. He came up with the question because this past week saw the premieres of two big movies. One called “It (Chapter 2)” and the other is “Joker”. On almost every main road junction there are posters advertising one or both of these films. Every now and again he would ask about the two clown characters on those posters.

One (It 2) is definitely of the horror/terror genre. The other is a DC Comics character. But we are not talking about Cesar Romero in the 1960s Batman TV series here – my particular favourite by the way.

While Cesar Romero’s Joker was obviously a nut job, that TV series was pure comic book this latest Joker movie is definitely a darker, deeper look at the DC comic villain. I had to tell Dani right away that he will not be watching either movie any time soon. When his old dad goes to see it is another story.

But back to the question.
I could not really answer it. Why are there more scary clowns than funny clowns in the movies? In general even? I made up some pathetic answer. Basically because I do not know the real answer – if there even is one. Clown costumes have come to be associated with Halloween more than making people laugh. 

Does anyone know the answer?

Meanwhile…

Here is that mask….

yeah. Not exactly nice or funny is it? Well, he certainly thinks so. He just thinks this mask is funny. This year we have planned to be over at his nana’s house for Halloween. Dani can have a fright night party with some of his cousins. More on that to come….

A Chinese Puzzle

I have said it before and will say it again; this blog is for Dani to read when he is older. Plus, anyone else who may find it interesting, funny or just weird!

Very few read it; normally. But all that has just changed. At least this past week… Sort of…

The Dad (or Mum) Bloggers…

Regular readers (and there are not that many) will know that I have said on several occasions that this blog was never intended to generate a mass following. Well that part has certainly worked. The only people who read it are those I send the links to such as family and friends Again, that is OK with me.

Some people write these mum or dad blogs with the intention of enticing thousands of followers. This can lead to a site that generates income if there are enough readers. There is no chance of that happening with my blog. And again, that’s fine by me.

Hit rate…

The Word Press blog site I use gives you statistics on many things. One such tool is the site traffic stats. Normally my weekly number of ‘hits’ hovers around the one hundred mark. So, imagine my surprise when I checked how many ‘hits’ I had received over the past week…

Thousands! Yes, thousands! As if that was not odd enough; they were almost all from China.

What on earth is going on?

A Chinese ‘Google’?

A little investigation revealed that my blog site had popped up on thousands of searches in China on a search engine called ‘baidu.com’. It looks a bit like any Google search page but this company is very definitely Chinese. It has been going since the year 2000.

Naturally, I tried it. I typed a few things – in English obviously – and low and behold my blog popped up near the top of the search list. The very top in one search. That is something that does not happen in our search engines. Unless you pay for it!

What exactly were all those Chinese people searching for I wonder?

Is it because of the ‘one child rule’? Or could it be because that rule has recently been relaxed so many Chinese are now having children much later in life?

If anyone knows please let me know.

Or could it be something else altogether? Read on…

Other search results….

A few links to some medical sites revealed some odd results. Like do older dads have smarter/brainy sons? Another site was about older dads having ‘geekier’ sons. I think Dani fits well into both of those categories at the moment. He is both clever and geeky.

There were even a lot of (how shall I say) more inappropriate sites that popped up in some of the lists. I was beginning to think that searching for anything like ‘old dad’ was just as likely to produce a list of porn related sites. The whole thing may now be less of a mystery. Well at least you have to see the funny side eh?

I wonder if they are typing their search in Chinese or English? All very curious…

15 minutes of fame…

I believe it was that 1960s artist Andy Warhol who said: “In the future everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes”. Well I think this old dad just had his 15 minutes of fame. Albeit on a Chinese search engine. Soon it will be ‘back to reality’.

I just put it all down to a temporary blip in a new Chinese search engine. Pretty soon my blog will drop off the page. Along with any chance of (more than 15 minutes) fame and fortune on the Chinese media.

One last thought:

I wonder how many of you will now go and type “old dad” into the search engine on your phone or PC? Hahaha…