Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Scenes from Bohemian Life; or Mehr Licht!

We were just boiling the kettle in order to defrost our lunch, when I noticed that the kettle wasn't heating up. The stove wasn't hot. The lights wouldn't turn on. No juice. We went down to the basement and found a label stuck on our electricity meter: "Cortado por F.P.: 28.10.08". We interpreted this as "Cut off for N.[on] P.[ayment]". We haven't yet received an electricity bill, so we were a little surprised about this, and called our landlady, who told us to call Iberdrolo, the provider. They confirmed that they had cut off our electricity for non-payment, and that they had allegedly sent us six letters reminding us to pay our bill. We told them that they hadn't, but neither side had convincing arguments either way (we had to call our landlady even to find out who our providers were, so I'm sure we're right). They eventually, with poor grace, agreed to turn us back on once we've paid. Within three to five days of our having paid. So we have no electricity until at least Friday, and probably Tuesday. Candles in the night. We bought a meringue as big as Marian's head to try to take our minds off it, but it's a bit of a bugger.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Cacao Sampaka

We went here. If anyone offers you one of their legendary anchovy and hazelnut truffles. just say no. Then run away.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Rogero's Song from The Rovers; or, The Double Arrangement

Whene’er with haggard eyes I view
  This dungeon, that I’m rotting in,
I think of those companions true
  Who studied with me in the U-
    -niversity of Gottingen—
    -niversity of Gottingen.
[Weeps, and pulls out a blue ’kerchief, with which he wipes his eyes; gazing tenderly at it, he proceeds]

Sweet ’kerchief check’d with heavenly blue,
  Which once my love sat knotting in,
Alas, Matilda then was true,
  At least I thought so at the U-
    -niversity of Gottingen—
    -niversity of Gottingen.
[At the repetition of this line Rogero clanks his chain in cadence]

Barbs! barbs! alas! how swift ye flew,
  Her neat post-waggon trotting in!
Ye bore Matilda from my view;
  Forlorn I languish’d at the U-
    -niversity of Gottingen—
    -niversity of Gottingen.

This faded form! this pallid hue!
  This blood my veins is clotting in,
My years are many— they were few
  When I first entered at the U-
    -niversity of Gottingen—
    -niversity of Gottingen.

There first for thee my passion grew,
  Sweet; sweet Matilda Pottingen!
Thou wast the daughter of my tutor,
  Law Professor at the U-
    -niversity of Gottingen—
    -niversity of Gottingen.

Sun, moon, and thou vain world, adieu,
  That kings and priests are plotting in;
Here doom’d to starve on water-gruel,
  never shall I see the U-
    -niversity of Gottingen!—
    -niversity of Gottingen!
[During the last stanza Rogero dashes his head repeatedly against the walls of his prison; and, finally, so hard as to produce a visible contusion. He then throws himself on the floor in an agony. The curtain drops— the music still continuing to play till it is wholly fallen]

George Canning (1770-1827) and George Ellis (1753-1815). I think George Canning is my current favorite Prime Minister. As opposed to my favorite current Prime Minister, who is of course Youssouf Saleh Abbas, Prime Minister of Chad.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Current Favourite Sentence

Dans l'armoire, pour tout vêtement, une veste en mouton retourné. Dans l'une des poches, je trouve un agenda écrit en allemand, langue que je ne pratique pas. Seule indication intelligible, à la date du 24 février, entre 15 et 17 heures: 'Nietzsche'.


I'm sorry to have been away for so long (I said this a couple of posts ago, but it's always worth resaying). One of the reasons is because I've had a lot of time taken away from me by the exciting Spanish bureaucratic system. An example:

1. Marian and I want to open a bank account together.
2. We go to the Caja Madrid, queue for an hour, and are told that we can't open a bank account together because our statuses are different. I am a non-resident; Marian is a resident. Non-resident bank accounts offer much worse deals than resident ones. Marian can open a resident's account, but even if I become a resident, I would never be able to become a co-titular of the account. The best I could hope for would to become an autorisado, who has rights on the money, but can't i.e. open or close the account, or change any of its details. To open a bank account, we are told, you need an N.I.F. (Número de Identificación Fiscal).
4. We go to the N.I.F. office. There is no one there waiting to be served, but we are told that they can't see us without an appointment. We phone for an appointment and are given one on 28 January 2009.
5. We decide to fill in the time by comparing the deals on offer at various banks. We go to La Caixa, queue for an hour, and eventually talk to a man who says that he can open an account for us today, and we don't need an N.I.F, but an N.I.E. (Número de Identificación de Extranjero).
6. The N.I.E. is handed out at police stations; you don't need an appointment; they give you one in person; it takes about five minutes. We go to the police station. They are willing to give me an N.I.E., but ask politely if I am registered as a resident of Madrid.
7. We make an appointment to register ourselves as residents of Madrid.
8. We fill in the forms they provide on the internet. You can only be registered in one place, and if there is someone registered in your flat, then they need to confirm that you are allowed to register yourself there.
9. We phone our landlady. She assures us that there is no one registered in our flat.
10. We go to our appointment. It turns out that our landlady is herself registered in our flat. We are told we need to get her permission, and her signature, on the application form. She comes into the city rarely, but will be there next week.
11. We meet our landlady, get her signature, make another appointment to register ourselves.
12. We go to the appointment. Everything is going swimmingly. Then the functionary asks for the photocopy of our landlady's D.N.I. (Documento Nacional de Identidad). Of course, she says, we have to make sure. You could have signed the form yourselves.
13. We go and find our landlady again. She gives us a photocopy of her D.N.I. We make another appointment, which is tomorrow.

On the other hand, the autumn weather's nice and we're getting a lot of fresh air walking from the Communidad offices in the south-east to the police station in the south-west, to the bank, to the N.I.F. office. To the bar, to the bar, to the bar.