San Juan and a Funny Cover Version

She was a fast machine she kept her motor clean
She was the best damn woman that I ever seen

I almost forgot. Last weekend was San Juan. The midsummer festival. The summer solstice, longest day celebrations and all that…. Most places on the coast of Spain celebrate this late into the night on the beach. Lighting bonfires and jumping over them. Classic “where’s the health and safety?” Spain.

Meanwhile in Madrid, where ‘no hay playa’, some neighbourhoods (barrios) make an effort put on some kind of day and night San Juan fair. We went for a look at the feria in the nearby – and aptly named – barrio of San Juan Bautista. There wasn’t much going on while we were there. It was not yet night so things were only just getting busy. But there was a kind of “open mic” event on a stage. Anyone who could put a band together seemed to be getting their ‘5 minutes of fame’. Most were fairly good. But more surprising was the fact that most (while we were there) seemed to be young school kids.

She had the sightless eyes telling me no lies
Knocking me out with those American thighs

As we were leaving one such act took to the stage. The guitarists and drummer could not have been over 12 years old. The singer almost certainly younger.

There was something quite funny about it. Listening to a pre-pubescent boy of about 11 years old (I’d say), whose voice clearly had not yet broken, singing AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All night Long”. I suppose the original version is sung with that screeching – typical AC/DC style – voice. So maybe not that odd? But funny? Definitely. The boy’s command of the English lyrics was fantastic, but I wonder… How much of it does he actually understand?

Taking more than her share
Had me fighting for air
She told me to come but I was already there

What? No socks?

Dani – although he knows the song – was not that interested. He was having one of those moments. Moaning about not being allowed on one of those bouncy castle things. Actually, an inflatable double decker bus. The reason? He had no socks on! Really. He had sandals. And as anyone in Spain will tell you, wearing socks with open sandals is a serious fashion faux pas! Dani just suffered one of life’s paradoxes. How many kids will now wear socks with their sandals just in case? Hmm…

Back to the Song…

When that kid is older and he does understand the lyrics to that song he will definitely want to perform it more often. A classic AC/DC song taken from their Back in Black album. Maybe when his voice has broken it may not sound quite as funny? I am really not making fun. The boy and his band really were good. But it was hard not to see the funny side.

Cause the walls start shaking
The earth was quaking
My mind was aching
And we were making it
And you shook me all night long
Yeah you shook me all night long

And Finally…

 A quick word to AC/DC…

No copyright infringement intended guys. This was just a comical observation on your great lyrics.

School’s Out – for 3rd time

And so to this weekend…

Now to get bang up to date. This week Dani finished school for the summer. The end of his third year in full time school. Wow! Where did those three years go? Here is a link to a post about his first day back in September 2016. (Click here for that post)

While it is almost impossible to tell what he got up in his final week I do know that his class had a graduation ceremony the previous week. Hilarious I know. They all donned the cap and gown and were presented with graduation certificates.

Sadly I missed all this. If I knew it was going to happen then I would probably have made the effort. It coincided with the day of his school play where he played a snowflake. Just for the record that’s an actual snowflake that falls from the sky rather than the modern meaning of being from the “snowflake generation”.  I realise you cannot be at every single one of your kids’ activities and special days but the odd ones (like this one) are a little different. I feel bad that I missed this one.

I think they were celebrating graduating from the nursery classes (A, B and C). So next September they will be part of the normal school? That is to say primary (primaria) school. In my day we had infants and junior schools. I am really not sure. I know that sounds bad but here’s the thing…

Reading, (W)Riting and (A)Rithmetic

Traditionally (and oddly) referred to in the UK as “the three Rs”. Reading writing and arithmetic were always considered the basic cornerstones of any education. I believe that they still are. While I am still confused by the school system in Spain, I do know that Dani is gaining a good understanding of the Three ‘R’s. And that is all that matters to me right now.

In fact his command of the Three ‘R’s is enough to truly impress me. He even read a book to me last weekend. The Three Billy-goats Gruff. That classic Ladybird book.

Complete with “Trip-trap. Trip-trap”, “Out popped the Troll’s ugly head” and “…to eat the sweet grass” quotes. Fantastic. It should be mentioned in the same conversations as anything by Shakespeare. At least as far as kids are concerned.

What impressed me so much is that English is still very much a second language to him. Add to that the fact that English is a lot more difficult to read (certainly than Spanish) and you have a very proud old dad. His concentration was intense and I loved every second of it.

Still Top Secret?

I can get up to speed with the school system – and his school in particular – as and when he decides to talk to me about it. Maybe his recent graduation means that he is no longer bound by some kind of ‘official secrets act’. I am sure he will speak to me about school when he is good and ready.

When will that be though? Anyone?….

Who Knew?

Doing these blog posts encourages me to do a little research into some weird and wonderful things…. This one is no different. I found out the following:

“Three Billy Goats Gruff” is a Norwegian fairy tale first published around 1841. The first version of the story in English appeared in a translation of Norwegian tales by a George Webbe Dasent’s in 1859 ; He called his bookPopular Tales from the Norse in 1859.

And so here we are at the end of Dani’s third school year. A long hot summer ahead…

 

 

Weekend Catch-up – Football.

More catching up on previous weekends’ events. A few weeks back it was the last game of the football season in Europe, culminating in what used to be called the European Cup final. These days it goes by the name of the Champions League final. I know. It gets more boring each year as Europe’s top clubs – that is to say richest clubs – chase this ‘holy grail’. This year however it was a little different as the final was held in the Metropolitano stadium, the (relatively new) home of Atletico Madrid football club. To make it more interesting the final was contested by two English teams, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur (aka Spurs).

Flights and Hotels Rocket…

With so many English football fans coming to Madrid the price of flights and hotel accommodation sky-rocketed. Luckily I had bought my weekend flights to and from Madrid in advance of the semi final games. Of course I did not have to pay for a place to sleep. In hindsight I could have probably sold my seats for a tidy sum and used that money to fly to New York to watch what turned out to be an exciting world heavyweight boxing contest. Ah…real sport. Well at least those guys earn their money which is more than can be said for many ‘footballers’.

Madrid was once again host to tens of thousands of visiting football fans. Thankfully they behaved themselves.

Winners and Losers

Liverpool won the cup after a fairly boring game. We watched it in local bar. Dani takes a keen interest in such things. He knows who the big teams are and some of the top players. His favourite has just been sold by Atletico Madrid. One Antoine Griezmann. A big loss for the Madrid club. He has been bought by Barcelona and so Dani is now considering following him… by supporting Barcelona. Not the most obvious thing to do in Madrid eh? He is still learning…

World Cup Football Again? So Soon?

While on the subject of football…. The women’s world cup is now in full swing (so to speak). I’m sorry but it just does nothing for me. And female commentators even less. And that’s not just me. Every man I speak to says female football commentators annoy them. I make no excuses. You either like something or you don’t. And I do not like women’s football and never will.

I will not go into the detail but I will refer you to an old blog post on the subject…Click  here for that one. And rest my case. But of course, it is never going to be that easy…

So, for the record I think that if you really believe that women’s football is good – and you are a woman – then play it by all means. There is nothing wrong with that. A bit of sport never did anyone any harm. But don’t watch it! And please don’t try to put it on an equal footing with real (men’s) football. Partaking in sport and pretending to make it into something that it is not are two different things.

What’s in a Name?

Before Dani was born we pondered over a name. When we looked at the most popular names for boys over recent year Daniel was consistently in the top 10. (Although that was not the reason we named him Daniel.) Yet amazingly he is the only Daniel in four classes of his age at his school. A little odd I thought. So I decided to look up my own name. Christopher.

Everywhere I have worked – and there have been quite a few places – there is always a ‘Chris’. Usually more than one. I knew it was popular around my age group as I knew many from my schooldays. In the year I was born (1964) I found that it was the 11th most popular boy’s name. On further investigation I found that it was even higher up the rankings a decade later. Then in 1984 it topped the list. No wonder there is always a Chris around. I am sure Dani will experience the same thing when he is older. That said my name has fallen out of popularity in more recent times. By the early 2000s it had fallen out of the top 50 and almost instantly afterwards fell out of the top 100. A clear case of over exposure perhaps. Maybe when Dani has a child it may make a return. Fashion? Probably. It’s funny how these things come around years later. Just check the latest lists of popular names and you will see many that would have been thought old fashioned not too many years ago.

Boys Will be Boys (more catching up)

This one is another catch-up post. It was the weekend after Roberto’s Christening. A group of my friends had been planning a trip to Spain for months. The reason was a 50th birthday celebration.  The last one of the group to reach the 5-0 mark in fact. Any excuse eh? And why not? 

Another First for the boy…

As Dani’s mum was supposed to be going on another business trip to Australia it left me with two choices. One was to stay in Madrid for the weekend with Dani. The other was to take him down south to Torremolinos and a weekend with the boys. I know which one I preferred but I wasn’t sure about Dani. A weekend away with the boys. A lads weekend. Dani’s first.

We couldn’t get a return train journey to Malaga so we booked an early internal flight. A turboprop plane much smaller than the other aeroplanes Dani was used to. A bit of a roller-coaster ride on the approach to landing at Malaga airport too. A short taxi ride to the hotel and we were there before the main party arrived. It was a few hours before they arrived so we went for a walk to the seafront for some breakfast then had a dip in the hotel pool.

“All Inclusive” 

The hotel deal was “all-inclusive” so there was sure to be some steady poolside drinking during the day. Plus the odd dip in the pool of course. I was concerned that Dani might get bored or worse still that he might bother some of the lads . But I needn’t have worried. He enjoyed himself and never really made a nuisance of himself. All of the lads were used to dealing with young kids like Dani. Some are even grandads. Blimey!

There was even a group of hotel entertainers doing their best to ensure the kids and adults alike had fun.

Having fun with the hotel employees

There was never any danger of myself and the lads not getting value for money with either the “free” drinks or the extensive spread of food on offer at meal times. I never really got value for money for Dani’s stay though. He still eats like a . Practically living on just air. Still he ate enough.

     

Above: Neil (doing a good impersonation of Willie Nelson) looks like he is trying to form the Torremolinos chapter of the Hell’s Grandads. Meanwhile Dani tries to get in an early application for membership.

Dani takes a ride on Ady’s shoulders

Inclusive Hangover?

One good thing about taking Dani on a trip like this is that my responsibilities trumped any urge to stay out late in the evening. While the rest of the lads were sure to make the most of their short holiday and be out late, I would be fast asleep. Some would stay out very late. I have done it myself many times in the past. Not getting back to the hotel until the early hours of the morning. Hangovers were guaranteed. But not me this time.

We did go for a couple of early evening drinks but soon returned to the hotel. The little fella soon tired.

Another free ride. This time on Phil’s shoulders.

Time to leave…

We had to return to Madrid on the Sunday afternoon but the lads were there for one more night. After we said our goodbyes by the pool we went to collect our bags and order a taxi. Dani was noticeably upset. “I don’t want to go dad” he said, just about holding back the tears. He had really enjoyed his first lads trip. I am glad he did. There will be others.

Poolside before saying our goodbyes

One of the older chaps is 60 in the not too distant future. A 60th to celebrate? Why not? Any excuse for a get together and the ensuing piss up. Then one of the lads joked; “Then there is always Dani’s 7th!” Any excuse…

And 8th, and so on….

Roberto’s Christening

It has been very busy these past few weeks. For myself work has been busy – and not before time. Weekends are even busier as Dani is always doing something. I will try to capture what’s been going on in the next few blog posts. Here is the start of a quick catch-up of the last few weeks that I either didn’t have time to write about or forgot. (Probably the latter. It’s an age thing I think.)

Bautismo – Roberto’s Christening

A few weeks ago it was the Christening of Dani’s little cousin Roberto. His parents asked myself and Dani’s mum if we would be god-parents. Not being religious and also not being catholic I was not overly keen. I thought it might be a bit hypocritical as I know very little about the workings of the catholic church and am sure to hardly ever go into a church unless I really have to. But then I thought about it.

Firstly, the priest had said it was OK for a non catholic to be one of the godparents. Secondly, and more importantly, if Roberto ever needed me, it would not matter that I was not particularly religious. It would not even matter whether I was his godfather or not. I would be there for him. No questions asked. So; yes I thought; why can’t I be his “official” godparent?

What to wear….

After struggling to find a decent shirt I decided to try on an old sports jacket. It still fitted. It had been hanging in the wardrobe for years and I really do not recall the last time I wore it. What I do know is the year I bought it. I also remember clearly that I first wore it when I was godfather to my friend’s daughter Emily. That was over 20 years ago in 1997.

I thought I would have put on a few pounds since then. And I have of course. But the jacket is a good fit. Maybe it buried me back in 1997. That, I honestly do not remember.

Dani & Susana Read in Church

The kids did themselves proud. They took turns in reading out lines for the service. I, and everyone present, was very impressed. With Susana’s dad holding the microphone for them they took turns reading out in public. Susana had even written (OK, copied) the lines so she was reading her own handwriting. Very impressive for five year olds.

Celebration & Tall Tales

After church there was a celebration in a nearby hotel which had a garden area for the kids to play in. Not only that but Roberto’s parents had organised something for the many kids in attendance. None other than Superman and Supergirl. The kids’ entertainers.

Not all of the kids were completely impressed but the super-heroes they did manage to keep most of them occupied – most of the time.

At one point they all sat in a circle and Supergirl asked them to tell a story. Moving round the circle each child would tell a few lines. Each one following on from the previous kid. Not an easy thing for a youngster but someone had to start. It was Susana.

After a little pause she came out with it: “There was a unicorn and it had a long tail”. I really don’t remember the exact words but as she loves unicorns it was both funny and predictable. As was the next child’s input. The boy – probably a year or so older than Susana – turned this loveable unicorn into a flesh-eating zombie who went on some kind of rampage. Typical boys versus girls stuff.

After that there were several girls who somehow managed to turn the story around again. It was just about back to a fairy-tale complete with castle when it was Dani’s turn.

What do you know? The castle miraculously grew wings. Flew off and exploded. At that point even though I was laughing I noticed Supergirl grabbing Superman’s arm and checking his watch. As if to say, “how much longer do we have to do this?” Her face said it all. That was as funny as the kids.

And they all lived happily ever after…