Wednesday, April 30, 2003


Okay, much better now. Needed that.

Finished translating the CV; even found a typeface that lets me do enyaes. I'll get it printed out and start agency hassling. I also plan to try and make a few inroads into the local fet. scene. There's a new club starting up and I'm thinking of emailing them, see if they need an aware and symathetic janitor. Hargh. And a freind of a freind of a freind who I approached weeks back about teaching work has been making encouraging noises and wants me to phone her. Things are looking uppish.

Had an interesting day on Sunday. Took a walk (along with LA) in the woods'n'fields bit that I can see from my living-room window. Close to it was all surprisingly woodsy and picnic-spottish. Sun was shining, birds were singing, little brown lizards were scuttling around at my feet, mozzies were biting seven kinds of hell out of me, etc. I was surprised by how swiftly the Flower Nerd within was awakened. I noticed a lot of familiar species: broom, hop-trefoil, cinquefoil, poppies, coltsfoot and stuff, but there were plenty that I couldn't name. I particularly noticed a variety of thistle with really pretty varigated leaves, and something very similar to vetch but lacking the usual creeping habit and having little red flowers. Kept thinking about how great it would be to have a copy of Rev. Kebel Martin to hand, then going all culture-shocky because-- duh! "Concise British Flora In Colour", remember? I would really love a good book on local plant species. I could go for walks and stuff, and then write about the things I see... ex-pats like to read that kind of thing, don't they?

Anyway. Having had a good ol' fractal fix, we then grabbed a towel, hopped on the train and hit the beach. While we had a couple of possible secondary targets (maybe get a cozzie and, should a cozzie hove into view, go for a quick dip), we had one very clear mission: Lunch On Beach.

We wandered up and down the seafront for a while, and finally found a restaurant that wasn't crammed to the gunnels with other red-faced Brits. Despite the assurances of the nice young lass who was touting for business outside, the was no menu del dia, so we picked our way through a menu that was written in about six different languages, none of them Spanish.

Now, I'm a big green veggie, but before coming to Spain I'd decided to relax the rules a bit and allow myself seafood I was eating out. No Quorn casseroles out here, y'know. You know what the man said: it's okay to eat fish, coz they don't have any feelings. (Mind you, the same man also filled his viens with shite and blew his head off with a shotgun.) When it came down to it, though, I chickened out. Until Sunday I'd been looking for the vegetablest thing on the menu, and then laboriously quizzing the poor waitress as to its ingredients.

"Umm... [pointing at menu] el insalata-- es sin carne, si?"
"Es sin, umm, pesca?"
"Si. Es sin pesca."
"Es sin jamon?"
"Si! Es sin carne! Es sin carne, es sin pesca, es sin jamon! Si, si, si!"

And then the salad arrives and it's loaded with tuna anyway. So, I decided to just bite the bullet and break my fish abstention thing altogether. I ask for the seafood paella. Lurid Archive goes for the same.

So they bring this thing and I declare it's the size of Gondawaland. Massive prawns lie curled on top, like something from a '50s radiation pic. I watch Lurid dig in as I nibble the last of my pa amb tomaquet starter.

I take up the big metal spoon, and pile some of the paella onto my own plate. It smells... well, fishy. I'd forgotten that fishy-smelling things could be food. I start with one of the prawns; they were one of the last things I gave up. King Prawn Ceylon, prawn crackers. The way I see it, it's no different to eating an arachnid or an insect. (I've wanted to eat a spider for years; not one of the little ones, a big one, like a Goliath spider or something. Maybe boiled, with some sweetcorn. However, I digress.)

I've totally forgotten how you peel these guys. I've got the sketchiest idea that you start with the legs, or something. I give them an experimental tug and one or two of them break off at the knees. I turn the big pink sea-bug over in my fingers, examining it. I pull at the head and it snaps off, taking most of the legs with it but leaving a thick smear of green goo. I flick it off with my knife, smear it on the side of the plate. The meat looks juicy and appetising, but there's this long line of charcoal-coloured stuff inside. It's not a spine; is it a nerve? Is it prawn crap? I'm not sure it's good to eat but I eat it anyway, along with the rest of the prawn. It's nice, sweet and chewy. I poke around in the rice a bit more.

"Dude," I say, "are those tentacles?"
"Mmm, hmm."
"Squid? Or what, octopus, or..."

I stick my fork in and fetch up this sad little appendage, with teeny tiny suckers. Really delicate. I have a lot of respect for cephalopods. One day there'll be bod-mods so we'll be able to change colour, like they do. Mood tatts. Squid are living fossils. I read where you can teach octopuses to count, but I don't know how true that is.

Lurid chuckles.
"I'm not used to having my lunch wave at me," I say.
"I think that's a British thing," he says. "Everywhere else, they eat this sort of thing without worrying about it."
"I'm not worried. It's just that I've never eaten tentacles before."
"It's just that the British really seem to have a problem with meat that actually looks like meat."
"I think that's an industrial revolution thing, dude. You know, preserving things to transport them and stuff."
"Like Spam. Or tripe or whatever. And there's not a huge tradition of eating meat amongst the skint, it was a rich people thing. The whole Sunday roast thing... I thinks that's quite new. Poor people just ate all the bits no-one else wanted."

We discuss the subject. I tell Lurid about whole roast peacocks, which was a big thing in Elizabethan (?) times. First you skinned the peacock, then you roasted the peacock, then you put the skin back on, then you served the peacock at a huge rich people's banquet. Salmonella city.

I tackle another prawn. Lurid helps himself to more paella. We chat. I'm cutting up my tentacles really small, but they still look like tentacles. They're not bad: chewy, but not rubbery. I get why people like them. I run my tongue over the suckers, little grains. Fascinating.

"I'm not doing this again," I tell Lurid as I finish off a few more appendages. "I'm still a veggie. This just isn't working."

I'm glad I had my little experiment. I'm especially glad that I went for something that looked like a once-living animal, rather than an amorphous nugget of protein. Like Lurid said at the time: more honest that way. But I'm back on the wagon now, big time.

Friday, April 25, 2003


Gosh, it's fun being unemployed. I love waking up in the morning, knowing that my life currently has no purpose beyond re-reading Spanish for Dummies for the umpteenth time, or slogging my dictionary-assisted way, word by tedious word, through H.P. in the hopes that J.K.R.'s repetative prose will help some of it to stick. And the funnest part? Knowing that my partener is now Roof Guy! Yes, he's supporting us both! Because I'm too crap at Spanish to get a job yet! Isn't that fun?

Nope, tell a lie. The funnest part has been translating my CV. Gosh, it's great to reflect on how well the years of studying electronic engineering have prepared me for the fast-paced worlds of retail and sanitation! What? No! Those are happy tears. Happy tears. Ah, ha. Ah, ha ha ha. Ah, hahahahahahaaaaaaaaaa.

This cannot last.

It's all your fault. All of you. You and your smug little smiles, your snide little digs. "Well, Ms. Carnival, I'm afraid we don't have anything at your skills level at the moment, but if you clean out the staff toilets with a toothbrush for a week or two I'm sure we can find you some thing." "Only the one diploma in electronics and computer technology at A-level equivalent? Gosh, I guess you were just to individual to study, hmm? Hey, could you mend, say, a Walkman?"

Eroding me. Eating away at my confidence, hypnotising me, digging your perfectly laquered fingernails into my very SOUL until everything I am or should be is lying in a crumpled, bleeding heap in one corner of my life! Turning me into a dead-eyed, inadiquate duplacate of YOU! I ought to poison every temp co-ordinator on the face of the planet! Then maybe, just maybe, I could wrest my HEART back from you CAREERIST ZOMBIES and actually have some kind of life.

This must end. I wanna be me. Me. Cracked black nail varnish, permanantly cheesed-off, one-woman renaissance fair. Not-- and this is important-- a fake you. Take your skills level, and stick it up your perfectly made-up right nostril.

Saturday, April 19, 2003

Have I mentioned recently that pin rocks like a washing-machine on a cobbled street? And we all like him a strange and disturbing amount?
Easy questions for easy people.

1) I was cleaning my floor today and the blue gunk I was using seems to have taken the gloss off the tiles. Which is a bit annoying, really. It says not to use it on marble and stuff, but I thought it would be okay on my floor. Which isn´t marble. Obviously. Anyway it´s looking a bit the worse for wear and I don´t know how to fix it.

2a) What´s Spanish for Goth? Apart from just "Goth".

2b) Where is a good mixed age Goth dive, such as might look kindly on a couple of fogeygoths without being utterly dead?

I´m bored. Entertain me, Goths of Barcelona.

Friday, April 18, 2003

Good Friday.

Well, this is nice, isn´t it? Just the two of us. Nothing like losing your internet connection to get rid of those pesky blog-readers. Bunch of bloody weirdos-- wouldn´t give you tuppence for the lot of 'em.

Been busy. Think I've got the last of the paperwork sorted out. Got my NIE number sorted out on Tues. Thank gawwwd our Spanish is coming on a bit now, otherwise we'd've been standing in the police station doing bad Python impressions all day ("We are the expats who say NIE!").

It´s Easter week here, which is a huuuge deal. Everything´s closed except the bars and the caffs. I´m torn between thinking: "Rah! A country that respects the individual´s need for free time! None of this making you work 61 hr week nonsense here!" and thinking: "But I´ve run out of milk..."

Less of the sightseeing this week. Been busy snooping around town and caning the Castillian Spanish. We got a telly the other day, which should help a bit. I was hoping the´'d have some educational programmes for children, or at least the Spanish equivalent of Sesame street, but Spanish kid's telly seems to be all badly-dubbed Japanese cartoons. Mind you, it´s all grist to the mill, the more Spanish I hear the more I'll understand. Which means that badly-dubbed Japanese cartoons are educational! ROCK!

Bought a ton of books the other day. I'd already got a small Spanish/English dictionary, but I needed something a bit more meaty so I got this breeezeblock sized thing. I found an English-Castillian-Catalan phrasebook which I snapped up, along with a little English-Catalan dictionary. I´m going to get my Castillian down a bit more before I start on the Catalan, but in a couple of months I'm going to start learning that as well. I also bought the first H***y P*tt*r book in Spanish, and I'm ploughing through it with the help of my anglocastillian dictionary. It's slow going, belive me. I'm starting to wish I'd got something a bit less advanced than HP and oh my God, I really just wrote that, didn't I?

I miss London. Not as much as I thought I might, but I miss it. This is a truly awesome place and I´m digging it in all manner of ways, but the language barrier is starting to bite down hard. I need a bloody social life. I´m all bored and things. My phrasebook´s no help at all, it´s all going to restauraunts and exchanging money. They should make a phrasebook for people like me. "¿Tiene el snakebite y los amphetaminas de baƱo ? ¿Gustas La Hermanas de Mercy?"

This whole cutting a swath across Europe isn't as easy as it looks.

Saturday, April 12, 2003

If Man is Five...

Oh booooy, I´m shagged out. Wotta day. Went to La Sagrada Familia earlier that afternoon, and I´m still blown away. Might write up the experience more fully at a later date, but my feelings can be briefly summed up as a kind of religious awe. It was really moving-- stunningly lovely, awe-inspiring, heart-wrenching and joyous by turns. Gaudi, of course, presses all my buttons. It´s as if he´s somehow found a way of using those organic forms to drive a highway from the visual cortex to the God Spot. Must think more about this. Maybe later in the year when I´ve seen more of his work in the flesh I can work out a more coherent piece of writing.

After La Sagrada Familia we (that is, me and Lurid Archive) went to the zoo. It was utterly depressing. Okay, most of the enclosures seemed alright, but some of them... ugh. You should have seen the way they were keeping some of the monkeys, all cooped up in tiny little class-fronted boxes. And they were stressed, man. You could see it. A couple of them had lost half their tails, and others sported bare patches of fur. They paced back and forth obsessively, or sat with their backs to the glass and just looked disconsolate. They were being presented as exhibits, funny toys to be gawked at, rather than as living creatures deserving of our respect. There was this big lowland gorilla on his own on this sort of island, and folks were crowding round to chuck food at him despite all the notices everywhere in language a fucking brick could understand telling them not to chuck food at the goddamn animals. They carried on doing this until the gorilla, predictably enough, started to puke and couldn´t stop. Then they got all fastidious and wandered off. Prats. Got all hulk-smashy and had trouble calming down. Tried to beam Reiki and Seikim energy at the most ragged of the beasties, but it was difficult to get past the anger. I hate people. Did I mention that I really, really hate people?

After the zoo, we walked along the beach. Bit disappointed with the beach. It´s almost all man-made, which is a remarkable acheivement. Only trouble is, it looks man-made too. I like my coastlines wild.

Like I say, shagged out. Will write more when I get a chance. (Looks like an internet connection might be on the cards in the next few weeks.)

Saturday, April 05, 2003


Weep, my tiny foes! Wring your hands! Rail at the plate of sushi you´re venerating as a god this week! For your dark prayers were as nought. My plane did not crash and my ears did not explode and now I´m in Spain! And you´re NOT!

Haven´t had much time for sightseeing, what with trying to sort out the living-in-foriegn-abroad paperwork and unpacking and stuff, but I´ve tentatively explored my new neighbourhood (a stundent hive outside of the main city.) My new flat rocks like a bastard. It´s rilly cute, and has a humungous window in the living room with a super veiw of woods and grassy bits and mountains. Proper mountains. With trees on.

Unfortunately we doesn´t have an internet connection yet, so I´m updating from a cybercaff near La Ramblas. Bloody hell! I can´t belive I´ve just written that sentence-- I´m updating from a cybercaff near La Ramblas. It´s like I´ve accidently landed in someone else´s life. It´s not so long ago that I belived I´d never get outside the UK, let alone pop off on foriegn hols, let alone be spending 18 months in Barcelona. I keep thinking some dude´s going to turn up at my door with a clipboard and demand that I swap with the person who´s supposed to be here.

"Party name of Carnival?"
"Uh... yeah?"
"Seems there´s been a bit of a cock up back at the depot. I´ve been instructed to reposess your life."
"Come again?"
"Yerrs. Seems that you´ve ended up in the wrong existance. I´ve got your proper life right here."
"Urrrgh! Yuck! Take it away!"
"Can´t do that, I´m afraid. You´re supposed to be living in Dartford with a salesman called Neville, pouring Barcardi on your cornflakes and taking out your bitter, bitter frustration on your bedwetting stepchildren. Sorry."

He´ll never take me alive.

Anyway, this place is wicked. They hate the war here. And they hate the Government, which is usually a good sign. Everywhere you go there´s graffiti comparing Aznul to terrrorists, facists and Monica Lewinsky. And I found where I can get free Catalan lessons whenever I want, and this keyboard does upside-down question marks and everything is just fan-bloody-tastic. Wheeeeeee!