Still here – honest!

It’s been far too long since I’ve updated this site. I have tons of excuses for this.

Let’s see:

April: The Spurts played in Brighton.

May: We went to the Screamin’ Festival in Pineda de Mar for a long weekend.

June: I went to the Rockabilly Rave in Camber Sands and had a blast. Don’t ask me what bands played though.
Later that month, Ste and I went to the Psychobilly Festival in Pineda de Mar. But just for 1 night to see the Long Tall Texans play and a few other bands. That was enough – we’d never have survived longer!

July: We kidnapped Theo from the LTT and held him and the rest of the entourage hostage at our house and The Spurts played at local Mariscal Club in Estartit. There were no complaints. About the gig OR the kidnapping, actually. There was a lot of sun, wine, beer, debauchery, late nights, early mornings (Suvi!!), hangovers and sunburns. It was exhausting, of course, but we can’t wait until they come back. Gluttons for punishment some might say.

Sex Panther and the Bass

August: The fabulous Choking Susan showed up at our house to invade for an evening. They played at Mariscal in Estartit as well, supported by Viki Vortex and the Cumshots’ debut gig. It was a good night, and morning. Our neighbours even mentioned how happy we sounded at 6 in the morning out on the terrace. But in a good way. Steve then hopped into their van and went to the Rebellion Punk Festival up in Blackpool. He survived and enjoyed it. Apparently Choking Susan didn’t complain either – at least not to him!
The Spurts at the 12 Bar Club, London

End of August: The Spurts played the 12 Bar Club in London. WaHEY! And then we hit Dingwalls (not to play, that is) and loved it, catching up with a lot of old friends and new ones. Yes, that was exhausting as well.

September: We hit High Rockabilly in Calafell for the afternoon. Notice our weekends away get shorter and shorter. Phew.

October: More quite than previous months. Although I managed to see the Long Tall Texans at Bar Monsta in Camden, The Hotknives at the Buffalo Bar, and I’m sure there were a few other bands that weekend as well. It was a tough weekend. Went to a friend’s surprise party as well, which WAS a total surprise to her. Hah! Love that.

Not quite sure....November: Was supposed to go to the Speedfreaks Ball but it was cancelled! So a psychobilly all-dayer was organized in Brighton so we went over to the UK anyway. We also had a rehearsal with The Spurts with Theo again. Had a brilliant weekend shopping, seeing bands, catching up, relaxing, etc. At the end of the month Ste and I went down to Barcelona for a night. And it was bloody expensive! What happened!? We had a good time in the end, but it was very quiet… relatively.

December: And here we are in December. Who knows what we have planned! But I will try to update this site more often from now on. But my excuses are pretty good, no?

One Semester of Spanish Love Song

I haven’t posted for ages. Sorry. I will. Eventually. But meantime, have a look at this:

Rockin’ Race Jamboree in Torremolinos

Rockin' Race Jamboreeeeeee!Flew to Malaga last weekend for a rockabilly music festival. This is the furthest south in Spain I’ve ever been and I have to say – boy, am I glad I live in Catalunya.

I’m sure the Costa del Sol has something going for it. Admittedly, I was there for the music, the party and the friends. I certainly wasn’t there to sight-see, or dine in fine restaurants, or hang out on the beach. (Thank god! I would have been sadly disappointed!) But I have to wonder about the masses of people who WERE there, in February, on their 1 or 2 week holiday at some all-inclusive hotel with nightly entertainment. It was busy – and not just with people there for the festival. But I’m digressing. Clearly, the food in Catalunya is much better. I mean, we’ve got El Bulli, it HAS to be good! But, even in the tourist centres of L’Estartit and Lloret del Mar, you can find a decent, local menu del dia or whatnot. But down in Torremolinos? We were hard-pressed to find anything other than chinese restaurants, pizza joints and burger bars. The place appears to have lost its identity in pursuit of the tourist, which I find rather sad. The town is made up of apartment blocks, hotels and badly designed shops all in horrid 60s buildings. Perhaps we missed the ‘old town’ or something, but as far as I could see, from the taxi rides and walking, there wasn’t one!

Rockin' Race Jamboreeeeeee!Anyway, so what? We went down to the Rockin’ Race Jamboree for the first time and had a blast. I saw Bill Haley’s Comets (who put on a fantastic show – they’re drummer is 84, y’know..), also saw them outside singing at the hotel as well on monday morning while waiting for at taxi to the airport – which was a bonus. Barrence Whitfield put on a great show as did all the other bands, I’m sure. Although I wasn’t paying much attention – sorry. The Space Cadets did a fabulous show at about 4 in the morning on saturday night/sunday morning – and I got some brilliant pics, finally.. but, in general, I was too busy having fun to bother taking out my camera to snap photos. I wish someone would invent a camera that automatically took pics from my handbag or something. Because I just can’t be arsed.

The trouble with a bi-lingual country…

I have been learning Catalan for over 4 years now. I’m reasonably confident in my abilities to speak and understand it now; I’m pleased about that.

But the difference for me, in living in Catalunya and speaking Catalan, is that I didn’t first start out with learning Spanish. I went straight into learning Catalan – thinking I should speak the local language and that would expedite the entire ‘fitting in’ process. It hasn’t really worked.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. The reactions I get from being able to speak Catalan to the locals is marvelous. They tend to be surprised, then impressed and pleased. And then a bit shocked when I say I don’t actually speak Spanish – yet. Usually it’s the reverse. Foreigners come here and, if they have any intention of learning the language, they will learn Spanish. Sometimes, after a few years, they might pick up a few words of Catalan, but more times than not – they will stick with Spanish. After all, everyone understand Spanish.

But I’ve been feeling the annoyance of learning Catalan lately. There are a lot of immigrants here – many from South America – and of course, they speak Spanish, not Catalan. I understand, more or less, but still respond in Catalan, I have no choice.

The other day, the landline stopped working. So I popped onto Telefonica’s website (which I choose to navigate in Catalan, btw) and filled a report that my phone was broken. To their credit, they rang the following day to confirm there was a problem and told me an engineer would be on his way. A few hours later, an engineer rang and said he’d be over in half an hour. Two guys showed up and fixed the phone. One complimented me on my Catalan, no less. Everything was fine – the system worked perfectly.

Then a couple days later, Telefonica rang again. They wanted to check if everything was okay with the line. Oh yes, I replied, the engineers came and fixed it, thank you very much! “Que?” The woman on the other end spoke Spanish. I explained again, everything is fine. No problems now! “Que?” She then asked if I spoke Spanish. I replied, no, sorry. Just Catalan or English. Well, she said haughtily, you live in Spain. And then she hung up on me.

Telefonica advertises that, even as a national company, they offer service in all the local languages. But clearly this only works if I call them and choose to speak to a catalan-speaking operator. When they phone me, this option isn’t available. Fair enough – but to the point of being rude and hanging up on me, well, that just sucks.

So what’s the solution? I don’t know. I’m sure this problem is common for a number of foreigners living here. Some paperwork is in Catalan and some in Spanish. Some service centres deal in Spanish, some in Catalan. When I’m out with friends, some of whom speak Spanish, yes – it’s a pain in the arse. I would love to say I know both languages – but my small brain can only handle learning one language at a time. Did I make a mistake learning Catalan first?

Brighton, Gigs and Holidaze

L'Escala - Christmas Eve 2008

And a Happy New Year and the like to all of you! The above pic taken on Christmas Eve in L’Escala. I just love the view of the sea and beaches of L’Escala with the snow-capped Pyrenees in the background.

December was clearly a busy month. We nipped over to the UK at the beginning as I’d booked flights to Bournemouth for a total cost of 4 cents a few months back. I reasoned that if we didn’t go, it was only 4 cents lost so I’d booked them. Of course, we went, and spent far too much money – as you do at Christmas time in the UK! Ah well. The Spurts had a brilliant rehearsal, with Theo from the Long Tall Texans filling in on drums. Consequently, each song was about half the length of normal and we all collapsed at the end from playing so fast. Oh, all right, we didn’t – we just went to the pub.

Tate ModernWhile in the UK, I managed to get over to the Tate Modern to see the Louise Bourgeois exhibition. I have mixed feelings about the Tate Modern, I have to admit. On one hand, I love the exhibitions and going to galleries and losing myself in amongst the art is a favourite thing to do on a sunday afternoon. But the cynical part of me wants to scream ‘But this is art??’.

The big crack by Colombian artist Doris Salcedo, entitled Shibboleth, in the Turbine hall, although impressive to see, was just that, a giant crack. Perhaps I’m cynical, having lived in earthquake-prone California, and a crack in the floor of a big building is merely a sign that the building wasn’t earthquake-proofed? But had I known at the time (and perhaps I just missed the information – likely), that Shibboleth is a word from the Old Testament that means, basically, to separate one from another, then perhaps I would have had a different reaction. According to the artist, the crack represents ‘the gap between humanity and inhumanity – a bottomless division.’ Now it makes sense.

Tate ModernBefore reading this article, I was unsure whether the statement the ‘art’ was making was the actual crack, or the fact that so many people seemed fascinated by it. Saying all that – sometimes art can be reduced to a clever copywriter – create something rather mundane, but then entitle it with a fancy name and attribute some deeper meaning, and you have an exhibit. Without the description and ‘meaning’, you just have an artist’s dropcloth or a big crack in the floor.

In music news.. (hehe), we saw The Educators play at Bar Tramit in La Bisbal which was a highly entertaining show. They put on a great show and if you ever have the chance to see them perform, go!

We went down to El Moli in La Roca des Valles to see a couple punk bands play on Boxing Day, The Leftovers from Portland, Maine and the Accelerators from Rotterdamn.

We also finally made it to Mariscal’s rock bar in Estartit. FIVE years we’ve lived here and this was the first time we’ve been – to see an AC/DC cover band called Highway to Hell from Barcelona, no less! It’s a great bar, reminds me of an american rock bar, which is always nice (to me!). So I can imagine we’ll be heading down there more often. I just wish they would update their website with dates more often as we usually find the posters in town the day after some brilliant band has played. Typical.

Tonight we are planning on seeing The Rock n Roll Brothers in Verges. They played at Torroella’s Festa Major last year and put on a brilliant show as well. WooHOO!

And I leave you with this picture… who knew that you can now purchase tickets for future travel at Euston Station, eh? That’s progress!!

Future travel is finally possible!