1 Diciembre Domingo
Storm last night with high winds, rain and thunder which woke me up in the cold. The day continued overcast with temperature rising to 13C with showers and high winds whistling. Spent some time checking where the draughts come in around the wooden windows and doors. Didn’t go out.
2 Diciembre Lunes
Went to post office to pick up recorded delivery and was, as expected, a demand for local taxes which were not paid automatically by the bank, probably because the tax is Euro25 more than the balance in the account. That will have cost me dear. Went to the council office where they printed out six identical forms that I have to sign, take to the bank to have stamped and then take back to the council. Why? God knows, but that is their way of setting up a direct debit. Plus I have to go to the bank to pay the unpaid tax before 5th of diciembre (or be charged more).
Six forms and 3 trips to set up a direct debit. (Read today in the Economist that Spain is worse than Bulgaria for form filling.)
Oh, and guess what, the Post Office doesn’t sell postage stamps. If you want to buy postage stamps you go to, where else? – a tobacconist.
You think I am making this up, eh?
3 Diciembre Martes
Went to bank to pay tax and set-up direct debit. Grey overcast day with possible showers. Being a Tuesday the covered area in front of one of the restaurants was available as my stage and by the time that I had danced enough the possible showers became a certainy so I had little choice but to continue dancing for such a long time that my knees would continue to hurt two days later.
While dancing a waitress next door danced towards me between the rows of tables and I toward her imitating her moves.
4 Diciembre Miercoles
The weather has changed in a very Spanish way bringing a clear blue sky 15C; a brightness and warm glow with cool fresh air. Dancing produced a level of sweat that meant removing my shirt and T-shirt while dancing between the puddles left from yesterday. Some guy videoed me for a while then approached and said some things in spanish which I really didn’t understand one of which was, “Espanyoles en el mundo” (spaniards in the world). He seemed quite excited.
Someone phoned me speaking in Valencian and then changed to Castellano with an accent that caused me problems. Something about a ‘maquina am’ and the day monday. Later missed 5 calls from someone and then I answered the 6th call and heard nothing. (I assume all wrong numbers, but can’t help but wonder.)
5 Diciembre Jueves
Another clear sky cool day. Went to tobaconist to buy a stamp and then forgot to post the letter.
While dancing there was a small girl of maybe 5 years fascinated. She started to wave her arms and bounce a little. Later she went over to her mother and I walked to my next location. As I passed her I pointed to her and said, “Muy bien.”
Later she reappeared. I said Hola and asked if she spoke spanish she said yes and added ‘Mueves bien’ (you move well) which is a funny thing to hear from a 5 year old. I thanked her and then went back to ‘moving well’ and she back to trying to understand and copy me. I simplified and repeated things to give her a better chance. As usual when someone tries to copy the movements were out of time. This happens due to the time it takes to see, compute and send messages to our limbs.
It is odd dancing with a 5 year old, although perhaps not as odd as dancing with a lamppost which I also do now and then. Dancing around the lamp without bumping into it, treating it as a partner is a touch tricky and has drawn blood in the past.
Tomorrow is ‘constitution day’ which is a holiday and the supermarket is likely to be closed.
6 Dic Viernes
Tired and achey. No dancing.
7 Dic Sabado
Danced a long time with lots of people milling around. Videoed and given ‘thumbs-up’. Some young man threw something, I presumed rubbish, in my backpack which I had left next to the bin. When I finished I found in my bag what he had thrown – money.
I am not very well paid. The coin was ten cents. That makes a grand total of about Euro 1.40 per annum. (I don’t ask for money and refuse it if offered.)
8 Dic Domingo
Cool at 13C and overcast. Did housework instead of going out. I see that northern europe is very cold snowy or suffering sea surges. Here it is just not very nice.
9 Dic Lunes
Put some money on my new phone service. The british owner of a shop near the beach asked me why I disappeared during the summer. After a week he though I must be ill. I explained that I had been dancing in the UK. He said that it was too cold today to dance. I replied that the cold just means I won’t be covered in sweat. As it was I still ended up stripped to the waist while people walk by in thick jackets and with gloves.
10 Dic Martes
I had written to my UK bank a couple of weeks ago instructing them to put money in my current account. I phoned to check that they had done it. I was surprised that the letter I wrote to them was not regarded as sufficient to carry out instructions. They felt a need to speak and ask me some security questions before carrying out the instruction. A signed letter isn’t regarded as enough.
Shopped and danced long-time today. A sunny cloudy day of maybe 14C. Lovely weather to dance by the sea. Only trouble is that the relative cold and my time in the cyber (checking email and forgetting to send my diary) meant I had to go to a restaurant to pee. Oddly, I find going into a cafe soley to use the ‘servicios’ more challenging that dancing in front of dozens of strangers.
11 Diciembre Miercoles
Have tried calling the Bank again, but ‘high call volume’ which is an abstract posh way of saying ‘busy’ and I don’t like to hold on at something between 30p and 40p a minute. I have written to them as a back-up in case I never get through by phone. Their website only has a phone number for contact.
Chatted with some neighbours in english and later with another in spanish.
One of the often drunk beggars who sits outside the supermarket seems to have stopped drinking and now does crosswords or suduko, but he has also lost a lot of weight and looks gaunt. I am guessing the change is due to illness. He has also stopped greating me as I pass. (I am so much more popular with drunks)
Overcast and about 12C and my knee hurts so no dancing today, or at least that was the plan. After paying a cheque into the bank and doing the shopping I decided to do the warm up mobility exercises, and having done that, why not just move about a bit? Why not, eh? and after a few minutes of gentle movement maybe a bit more energetic and after half an hour maybe a bit more. With three people videoing me I think this counted as dancing.
12 Dic 2013 Jueves
Sunny again. My knees hurt in a different way. Took books back to library, used a computer to send my diary for November. The entries for early november are of hot days, sometimes to hot to dance, now a faint memory at best.
Today seems warmer than recently, I would guess about 15C- NO, the thermometer calls me a liar with its claim of a mere 13C. There is the tang of wood smoke in the air which always makes me think that I should not breath, but I have found that avoiding breathing is very difficult.
Both of the old ladies who were bedridden are now moving about.
In one of the family-swap ‘reality’ shows the two women who changed homes both said that the house they moved into was very dirty. They both felt insulted that the other had said this and they argued the point. It reminds me of a neighbour who cleans the house just before her mother arrives and the first thing the mother does is clean the house.
Other persons’ dirt is so much dirtier than our own dirt.
The subject of ‘machismo’ or being a ‘machista’ seems a hot topic and insult. (It means viewing men as superior, in control and refusing to do ‘women’s work’) This accusation recurrs repeatedly in the family swap programmes. The wives of the men accussed of being ‘machista’ refer to their husbands as ‘real men’ and the couple tell the husband who helps around the house that he needs to get ‘un par de cajones’ (a suggestion that the man has been castrated.)
On Spanish TV many programmes blur-out cigarrettes that are being smoked.
13 Diciembre Viernes
An elderly couple sat watching me and when I took off the phones and wiped away the sweat, he asked “Cansas?” (Get Tired?). I said yes and then continued to dance pushing myself. When I finished someone who may have been their daughter (about 50) chatted to me in spanish telling me where she is from and that she sees me here dancing every day. Actually she referred to my activity as gymnastics. He patted me on the shoulder saying, “Muy bien” (very good).
14 Diciembre Sabado
Overcast 13C. Thick jacket weather when I went out. Knees aching, no shopping needed. Danced. Was videoed by two persons simultaneously and a couple of others at different times. Small children amused and then trying to copy.
One child arrived and asked in english the usual question, “What are you doing?” I answered as usual, “Dancing”
and then he asked, “Is there music?” to which I allowed him use of the headphones and he said, “There’s music.” This seemed to satisfy his curiousity so he left.
Having seen this child get to hear the music another approached and asked, “Que musica escuches?” and he got to listen for a while as he moved to the music. “Mola” he said, which is usually translated as “Cool”.
Various odd looks from persons wrapped up with scarves as they passby my stripped to the waist figure.
A very elderly couple sat on the benches nearby to watch. We had spoken yesterday. I waved and they looked away to avoid responding. (Perhaps their memory isn’t so good, or maybe they don’t want to be seen associating with the nutter.)
Diciembre 15 Domingo
A fairly busy sunday, if I remember well, in which I danced without a back-pack which gave me freedom to move from place to place and removed the task of constantly looking to see that my back-pack has not been stolen.
There was a documentary on TV about America and women buying lots of guns to protect themselves and their children. One talked of how it is a lovely family outing to go with her 5 year old shooting. Another 5 year old had great difficulty holding his dad’s rifle (No, don’t be silly, not his dad’s current rifle, no, the one his dad had when he was a child – obviously) the child also had difficulty with the concept of pointing it and when he shot it he had difficulty with the concept of the printed target having a place that you are supposed to aim at – well you know how small children can’t catch a ball.
One woman had a pistol in every room of the house including the bathroom – just in case. She explained that she isn’t fearful, it is just better safe than raped. Interestingly as a child she hated guns because her father accidently shot his gun in the kitchen surrounded by the family. She became a policewoman. In her 10 or 20 year time in the police she never used her gun. So, as someone at greater risk than normal of gun crime she never had to use her gun. So why does she want a gun in every room?
It all seems to be based on the ‘what if?’. What if someone breaks into your house? What if you get attackedd in the parking lot? (What if a helicopter falls on your house? What if your TV explodes? What if a glass breaks when washing it and slashes your wrist? – should we have a plan for each of these and the necessary emergency equipment?)
America has fewer house break-ins than in Britain.
You can buy nice pink pistols and a lovely holster that fits on the middle of a bra.
The documentary was French and very neutral (in my view).
The impression I am left with is of people who worry a lot about very rare attacks and worry not at all about the consequences of so many instruments designed to kill. The assumption seems to be that there is a number of evil people who are going to attack and that they will always have guns and that the rest of the population is well behaved and needs guns for protection.
Diciembre 16 Lunes
A working day again and so far fewer persons on the promenade and none on the beach. Overcast and chilly so I went out with a jacket and only stripped down to a T-shirt. It wasn’t much different to dancing at home because there were so few strollers and the persons eating found me thoroughly boring. (I need to learn some new steps.)
In the supermarket I accidently made myself into an uncle. Christmas being a time for families, someone asked me about my family and asked if I had ‘sobrinos’ to which I said yes and then realised that I was thinking ‘cousins’ which would have been ‘primos’. Having sobrinos makes me an uncle.
My neighbours have put out Christmas decorations on the gate and a big tapestry of a baby jesus. Did you know that Christmas has something to do with baby Jesus? I thought it was just eating too much, driving drunk and having an argument with the family.
Other neighbours have gone to England until Jan 4.
17 Dic 2013 Martes
Overcast and cool (probably 13C): jacket weather. Went for dental check-up where I was told that there wasn’t even enough tartar for the dentist to bother cleaning. So, instead she asked me if I was keeping busy. I said, “Busy, no, active yes.”
“What kind of activity?”
“Where do you go to do that?”
She looked a little puzzled and so I explained, “I’m the local nutter who dances on the beach.”
“Oh,” she replied, “I have heard that someone dances on the beach, but I have never seen you.”
“If I weren’t here now I would be dancing, but you are would be working.”
“Ah, you dance in the mornings.”
“If you want to see me dance you can look on-line. Are you interested? I can give you an address.”
So as I look in my bag for a flyer she sits at the computer which is next to the dental chair and goes to Google. I take over because she has not typed the details correctly. The first link is to video in Bournemouth then various of my own music videos, but I click on the Javea beach video (‘Dancing Queen’ song). We chat for a while. She shows the video to her assistant. “Es bailarin,” the assistant says redundantly. She asks where I learnt to dance like that. I say, “In my bedroom,” and then I speak briefly about dance classes and being interviewed on radio. She says that if I were dancing today I wouldn’t have my shirt open. She tells me that she is impressed. I leave.
I had planned to not dance today, but these plans rarely play out. Within a short time I am stripped to the waist again. A young woman walking past with a young man calls out ‘Woohoo’ and moves her arms in sympathy.
Waves from two of the staff at Estapati.
Then I get stopped in my tracks by a technical failure; the batteries are flat and the replacement also lack charge. (The rechargeable batteries may be reaching the end of their useful life.) So I stop and go to the bench for my post dance exercises. An elegant woman of about my age calls out to me in Spanish something in the following manner:
‘Very good. The way you dance is excellent. Those movements and your intrepetations are superb.’ She was moving her hands and arms imitating my theatrical performance.
I am not sure exactly what she said, but it was very complimentary and she added something that I hardly understood, but which sounded like a suggestion that I lived life to the fullest or some such absurdity. I may have completely misunderstood what she said. She watched my exercises and told me she had trouble bringing her knee up toward her body. She asked me about breathing deeply, but although I understood the words I was not sure what she meant. (Was she asking me if I practice deep breathing as part of my stretching or was she asking if I was out of breath?)
As she left I was approached by the elderly couple (she wrapped up against the cold seated in a wheelchair, he grinning to me displaying an impressive single tooth.) He speaks a few very slow words and seems to hear even more slowly. I tell him that the batteries have failed and he asks, “What batteries?” I try to explain. He comforts me with the thought that I can dance another day. Then he puts his fingers to his mouth in an international sign language as he says “Comer” (eat). I agree with him that I am going to eat and he says, “Claro” (clearly).
Having finished dancing early and not having music to walk home and having put the CD player in my back-pack everything seems odd as I return. I look around wondering where else I could go as I have spare time and am not worn-out, but there is no where to go.
I stop-off at my postal box where I pick up two weeks supply of The Economist and I wonder if being two weeks behind in news matters. (I haven’t watched much TV news since I came to Spain). I try, yet again, to phone the Bank, but the recording repeats, “…heavy call volume. Clients experiencing long wait times. Thank you for your patie….” as I hang-up impatiently.
18 Diciembre Miercoles 2013
Sunny day. Went out in T-shirt and thick shirt, hands cold, but otherwise comfortable. Went straight to beach, prepared and then danced. Recognised a young blonde boy child as the pain-in-the-arse who continually annoyed me last year. I mostly ignored him as he cycled around me as I danced, but eventually he got bored and left. A couple of other smaller children came over and jumped around waving their arms in the air. This seemed to greatly amuse them and then they ran back to their friends. A woman on a skateboard called out to me, “Bravo!”
Two men around 30 years of age stopped to watch, one videoing. When I stopped to wipe the sweat off the headphones one said, “Great”. I bowed to each in turn. The other approached and said, “We were watching you from down the beach and we said, ‘He’s got the right idea’. The way you dance is fantastic.”
“You must be very fit.”
“I hope so.”
The other one then praised me some more and said, “You’re the man.” (Not in the sense of ‘You’re THAT man’ but in the American slang sense of respect.) I told them about some of the insults I have received and one of them told me to ignore such comments. After they left one of them came back to ask, “Are you English?”
When I confirmed his suspicion he punched the air made some kind of confirmatory sound and turned to return to his friend having, I presume, won a bet on the subject. (Do you remember the American showing surprise that I was English? Are we Brits known for being incapable of dancing?)
Did my once a month shopping to be delivered. I always feel slightly tense when leaving the shop because they don’t give any kind of to-be-delivered paperwork.
Right now something is running about on the roof. Could be a cat, a largato (ghecko) or a rat, maybe a bird or even perhaps a red squirrel. I hear these things but very rarely see anything.
Tried to call the Bank again. Still too busy.
20 Diciembre Viernes
Yesterday and today overcast about 14C and showers. Didn’t go out due to a mixture of the rain, tiredness and not needing to shop.
Not having danced for two days means that I have nervous energy and a sense of needing to do something, but nothing occurs to me to do.
21 Diciembre Sabado
Overcast and drizzle. Stayed in. Power cut-out twice during evening.
22 Diciembre Domingo
Much nicer. Rain has stopped and sunny between fluffy white clouds. Danced on fairly busy promenade. Power cut-out twice in evening.
23 Diciembre Lunes
Sunny cloudy so went shopping and dancing. A family which included the young pain in the arse boy who likes getting in my way took video as he and his sibling jumped around next to me. They left without any sign of recognition or approval.
Customers in one cafe all came out to watch me for a while.
Two passers-bye stopped, and then sat on the steps of a cafe for a few minutes to watch me and then moved on.
As I walk by a restaurant various diners nod to each other and point in my direction (or I imagine their doing this).
In the supermarket an english speaking woman said hello and spoke to me very briefly as aquaintences do, I responded equally although I had no idea who she was. I asked the shop assistant who told me that she was english and owner of a local shop which he named and I recognised, but which I don’t frequent. I have to assume that she recognised me and assumed that I was someone she knew. (Either that or I have met her sometime and have forgotten her.)
Tried the bank, yet again busy.
The three days of rain brought down a lot of leaves. One of the terraces is covered in wisteria leaves. Everywhere is soggy and damp. The cold night (5C) creates a heavy dew that forms especially in the areas in shade during the otherwise warm (13C) day. (I was hot dancing.)
Although today (monday) was much busier than two weeks ago, I have the impression that there are fewer tourists this Christmas than previous years.
24 Diciembre Martes
Went out while the sun was shining, but it didn’t last and the wind picked-up encouraging me to walk as fast as possible because I was starting to feel cold.
The other continuing challenge is the power cut-out. Last night it cut-out at 6pm. I am aware that it has cut-out at 6pm each night for 3 nights. Too much of a co-incidence to be just a co-incidence. So, I have to suspect that it is caused by something that is timed.
The weather is predicted to get windier and wet again between Christmas and maybe new year. Big storm that has already affected northern europe and the north of Spain (Waves up to 24ft tall).
25 Diciembre Miercoles FELIZ NAVIDAD
Grey windy wet day. Didn’t go out. In the evening the power went off again, but this time kept cutting out when I reset it. I spent 30 mins running a cable around the house from a bathroom to the place where the central heating and hot water heater are so that they would be connected to the other circuit. This was in the dark (no electricity you know). My notes on when it cuts-out and what has been disconected have not yet succumbed to rational analysis.
26 Diciembre Jueves
Sunny and dry at 11am. No sign of night dew. I wonder if this will affect the power supply.
The electrician didn’t want to come over today (he’s english and it’s a traditional ‘bugger work’ day.)
Danced at beach. Fairly busy down there with the sun and the Christmas tourists. A woman came over to me, saying something like “Music?”. I let here listen for a while. She smiled, thumbs-upped and said, “Super,” from which I decided that she was German.
I phoned The Bank and for the first time got through without a warning of how busy they were. They put me through the automatic ID system and then, now that I was happily ready to deal with my account, the computer informed me that they were closed for the Bank Holiday. (Obviously a piece of information so secret that they had to check my ID before telling me.)
Had lunch outside in the carport (last sunny spot on these short days). Had to persuade a cat to give up its comfy spot in the chair so that I could sit there. The cat moved to the sofa where it kept an annoyed eye on me for a while. Don’t know this tabby cat; seems healthy and so is not homeless and was not frightened of me.
27 Diciembre Viernes
Last night the power did not cut-off. I assume due to being a very dry day after a week of rain, damp, & wet from dew.
Nice day. Danced before shopping. Lots of people walking around in warm jackets while I danced stripped to the waist and sweaty. A woman came over to me without my noticing and bumped into me. Another woman came out of a restaurant and jumped around for a while before returning to her friends. A toddler, fascinated, was encouraged by its mother and by me to move about. Various video clips recorded, as usual.
After shopping, as I walked by the restuarants various groups of dinners pointed me out or turned to watch. Some waved, one or two ‘jigged’ in their seats. I assume these are Christmas visitors rather than regulars.
It was nice.
I took an old phone with me with the intention of phoning the UK using up some of the money left on the phone card that no longer has signal in the house. When I tried this I was surprised to find, or more exactly to NOT find, the absence of all the phone numbers that are stored on the card. So that didn’t work.
28 Diciembre Sabado
A cloudier day, but still some sunshine and after a mild night (10C) the day maxed at about 15C. I was plenty warm dancing while others needed jackets.
Fairly busy. I think there are a lot of Christmas tourists here including many different nationalities.
A girl of maybe 10 approached. I removed the headphones to greet her and she replied with, “Es un crac.” (If you remember earlier diary entries you will remember that this is the English word ‘crack’ as in ‘crack-shot’ and not ‘crack-pot’. I thanked her and she moved on.
A woman of about 50, chubby, pleasant looking brunette, dyed hair of course, signalled appreciatively and then came toward me with her arms outstretched. I looked at her and moved toward her. She flung her arms around me, pressing her ample bosom against my chest. I hugged her and started turning her around, she tried to dance a little, but it was awkward and then she stepped back a little and gushed praise with a sincere expression on her face. She stepped back further and pointed to me and her face continued to express admiration as she muttered words which I think were in English. Then she started to beckon me. Apparently she wanted me to follow her back to somewhere and her body language was of someone begging.
I acknowledged her request, but did not follow her. (Perhaps I feared being kidnapped by her friends and forced to dance for their wicked pleasure.) It did, however, give me a emotional boost that increased the pace and energy of my dance.
Later, or was it earlier? I bowed to some onlookers who applauded and they applauded again later whenever I rested between tracks. I didn’t want to wear out their generousity so I moved to another location.
Worn out I did my end exercises and then dragged my exhausted body home. I passed a group of 4 or 5 young adults when crossing the road. One of the males gave me a thumbs up and I waved to him.
29 Dic Domingo
Woke up before 7am in darkness, but hungry and too awake to bother going back to sleep. Decided to do housework. Cleaning, cleaning, cleaning. Didn’t go out.
30 Dic Lunes
Some dutch children danced with me, but the lack of a common language caused problems.
31 Dic Martes (Last day of year)
A small girl (maybe 3 years old? perhaps 5) became interested. She was with her young parents who were amused as their daugther tried to move about and then threw herself on the ground and did what looked to me to be prototypical breakdance. Then she posed with her head and hands on the floor with her body raised and supported by one leg with the other leg up in the air and bent slightly over her head. I applauded her effort and she repeated the pose several time.