Sunday, December 26, 2004

A Christmas tale of human frailty, courtesy of El Mundo – The priest of the parish of Colmena in Madrid was stabbed in the neck by a local resident after an argument about the execution of an expert’s recommendation for the restoration of the image of the patron saint of the Brotherhood of the Virgin of Candelaria.

In accordance with tradition, seafood prices soared in the days before the big meal on Noche Buena, or Christmas Eve. By far the most impressive surge was registered by camarones, a type of shrimp. These achieved a ceiling of €260 a kilo. Or £83 [$160] a pound. It would have been a real tragedy to have choked to death on one of these. Or, worse, on two.

Returning from the USA last week, my friend Andrew and his wife spent two hours passing through chaotic baggage security checks at Newark airport. These, of course, are designed to relieve you of things as innocuous as a nail file. All the more impressive, then, that Iberia later gave everyone metal knives and forks with their dinner.

The latest new expression for ‘Spain’ is Estado Confederal. Or Confederated State, I guess. Which reminds me, the nationalist parties throughout Spain have taken exception to the King banging on about the indivisibility of Spain in his Christmas address. What a cheek.

My neighbours celebrated Christmas Eve with communal singing that, in the Spanish way of things, started after dinner at midnight and went on until 5am. Retiring to bed at 1.30 with a pre-hangover headache, I was obliged to put on the radio to drown the cacophony. It was supposed to be the classical music channel but I was woken at 4 by some bloody Andalucian gypsy wailing a flamenco dirge. It was a relief to return to the sing-song.

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