A Sad Day

Today is a very sad day. Not only would this have been Dani’s granddad’s 73rd birthday – the granddad he never knew – but last night Dani’s oldest relative passed away.  I wrote about her in a post back in March – click here to read.

Delores – affectionately known as Lalala – was 98 last March. She shared the same birthday as Dani’s nanna.

Although Dani had met her a few times he is too young to remember her. It’s a real shame as there are so few people of that magnificent age. It would have been fantastic for Dani to have a real conversation with her. Fortunately we have photos of Dani with Lalala. There are also members of Dani’s family who knew her well and can tell him all about her when he is a little older.

May she rest in peace.

A Week is a Long Time…

There’s a saying that a week is a long time in politics. A week can seem like a lifetime to a young child. Especially one waiting for a birthday. By the end of this week Dani will be three years old.

Dani’s nanna, one of his aunties, one of his cousins and two of his great aunts will be coming over to see him.

A week really is a long time in politics…

Meanwhile last week was indeed a very long one in the world of Spanish and British politics. After more than 10 months without a government the leader of the PP and Prime Minster elect, Mariano Rajoy, unveiled his cabinet of ministers. They all posed smiling for the cameras as if it was some great victory. However, with no majority they will be unable to get anything done. The opposition parties have made that clear. What a farce. The reason, as described in a previous post, is the electoral system in Spain – proportional representation. At least is easy enough to explain to a child. Although admittedly maybe not a 3-year old.

But how can anyone explain to a child – even a teenager – the events in the UK last week? There, the referendum result to Leave the EU is in serious danger of being overturned. Not by the EU – although it is their favourite trick getting countries to vote again until they get the result that they want. No, in this case it is Britain’s own doing the EU’s dirty work. Three unelected judges have decided that the act of leaving the EU must be passed by both houses of parliament. Naturally with the majority of MPs in both houses opposed to leaving the EU the chances of the people of the country getting what they voted so clearly for are near impossible.

Could Dani be witnessing the death of democracy in his paternal homeland; the so called mother of parliaments? More to point does he even care? No of course not.

Playmobil

He will be far more interested in opening his presents this Saturday to find the Playmobil van he specifically asked for. I must get out and find one today before it is too late. I have already checked the big stores without any luck!. Dani was very specific. He does not want a special type of van like a police van. He wants an ordinary, plain, common van. There does not seem to be one in the current Playmobil range.

While Lego is undoubtedly the best toy ever – as you never really grow out of it – to a three year old Playmobil is just as good. I have to say I quite like it too. More on the Playmobil phenomena later. I have two toyshops still to check…

Spanish Politics – Part 5: Podemos, the New Kids on the Block

We Can…

Podemos translates as “we can”. Podemos are a very much the new kids on the block in Spanish politics.

Only formed in 2014 they quickly rose to fame and have become the 3rd biggest party in Spain. Since the recent merger/joint venture (2016) with the already well established IU (Izquierda Unida or United Left) they now have a real possibility of one day forming a government.

I went to their offices expecting to be well received. Instead I found their “offices” were closed. Admittedly I arrived at 11.30 but the signs above the door said they should be open to members of the public form 11am. Admittedly punctuality is definitely not the Spanish strongpoint but surely a party on the verge of a major electoral breakthrough should be able to keep their office open in the capital city when they say they will???

Policies…

To their eternal credit they are the only major party whose website is translated into English. This enabled me to pick through their policies in great detail. Some of those policies seem OK while others are typically trivial socialist drivel aimed more at minority groups of any and all persuasions. Then there are other policies that are neither here nor there… i.e. they matter not either way and no government would ever get them through in any case.

Their office is in a relatively scruffy part of town. An older area with more rundown property than many other parts of central Madrid. Their office front does not look like the nerve centre for a potential government; judge for yourselves (see photo below). When they started off, as a kind of alternative left wing party, no doubt being based in such an area seemed quite a trendy thing to do.

That said, their meteoric rise up the political ladder must have surprised even themselves. I am sure they will be looking to move premises in the near future. Something I must ask them about.

podemos-offices

Does this look like the offices of the party that could govern Spain?

Back to the Emails…

Unfortunately I never got that chance so I will have to resort to emailing them.

I wanted to ask them about some of their more contradictory policies.

I wanted to ask them why they are so much in favour of backing Catalan and Basque separatism (so called “independence”) and yet they do not want Spain to be independent from the EU. They are very pro EU – more on this below.

I wanted to ask them why they have a policy on animal rights which specifically mentions bull fighting, yet make no mention of halal slaughter (an increasing practice in Spain as in many European countries).

I wanted to ask them about their policy on “Sustainable Tourism”. What on earth did that mean? I remain wholly convinced that Spain and all its parties are more than capable of managing their biggest industry which this year has broken records yet again.

I wanted to ask them about their merger with the United Left party. If they are now part of the same bandwagon then why was Podemos formed in the first place. Surely they could have joined and influenced IU instead?

Podemos also appear to be riding the popular anti-corruption horse. I wanted to ask them about their fashionable anti-corruption stance and their policies towards the EU. Podemos actually criticise the EU for being undemocratic and seek to reform it. Fat chance; as we all know. However, I want to know how Podemos cannot see that the EU is far more corrupt than political organisations in Spain. How can they be so against the Spanish political system but not be anti-EU? Podemos policies specifically mention the EU’s unaccountability and lack of democracy! Go figure (as the Americans would say).

They also have specific policies on Emigration where it appears they want to make it easier for people to emigrate. Do they mean the well qualified people in Spain? On the other side of the coin they also seem to want to allow more immigrants into Spain (presumably whether skilled or not).

Alas I will have to wait to ask these topics face to face with one of their representative. For now a simple email will have to suffice.

Meanwhile I have still not had a reply to my emails to the Ciudadanos and Partido Popular parties. Does that tell its own story I wonder?….

Another Lesson for Dad

After nearly two months of school Dani has settled in. He now goes into school with a little skip in has step and has not cried for weeks. Until today that is.

At that young age the slightest thing can send him into meltdown. Like a mercury tilt switch. A hair trigger. If you can avoid these things it makes life so much easier. But how can you foresee all of them?

You can’t. They come in so many weird and wonderful forms…

Break on Through…

Today that hair trigger came to us courtesy of a song on the radio. Dani loves some of the songs played on Rock FM and this morning one of them was playing as I parked the car and switched off the engine. Incredible as it may sound that song was “Break on Through to the Other Side” by the Doors.

As I tried to take him out of the car he started wailing that he wanted to hear the rest of the song. How do you explain that to the ladies in white waiting to greet the kids at the doors of the classrooms?

Fortunately I managed to calm him down sufficiently and he walked in through the gates barely sobbing.

The Lesson…

Today’s lesson? Never, ever, try to take him out of the car half way through one of his songs. Or better still, only play a boring news channel on the way to school…