Another thing that's expensive in the UK is a cup of coffee. Never having set foot in Starbucks or Costa Coffee, I've no idea what heights their prices reach but in the café-cum-art gallery down at the start of Headingley High Street, it's one pound seventy for a 'regular' cup of black coffee. Or, rather, it isn't, as they always try to embarrass you into having a larger cup for 1.90. Having decided to go with this suggestion this morning, I then foolishly managed to leave the extra liquid in the cup to go cold. I was tempted to ask if they had a microwave in the kitchen.
Reading one of the papers in the café, I dipped into an article on the football-field spat between Messrs Suárez and Evra. The Football Association has adjudicated on this cause-celebre and decided that Mr Suárez must suffer an eight-game suspension for calling Mr Evra a negro/nigger at least eight times. Interestingly, the verbals were kicked of by Evra, who called Suárez una concha de tu hermana. This, on the surface, is an innocuous phrase as concha normally means shell. And 'shell of your sister' doesn't seem very offensive to you or me. But 'shell' is a euphemism and my dictionary translates the whole phrase - or perhaps shell of your mother - as 'motherfucker'. Presumably to get the right degree of incitement. Be all that as it may, Suárez didn't deny calling Evra a negro/nigger because, coming from the Hispanic world, he almost certainly takes the view that this was harmless beecause 1. Speaking factually, Evra is black, and 2. He (Suárez) didn't mean to offend him. So, by Hispanic logic, Evra can't have been offended. It has to be said though that this (stock Spanish) defence gets weaker with each of the seven 'niggers' that followed the first one. If it wasn't meant to be offensive, why repeat it so often?
To be fair to the UK, there are some things that are cheap here. For example, it's reported today that "Sales of flats in Britain are so lightly taxed that it's now the cheapest country in the world in which to invest in residential property." So, it's not all bad news. If you've got spare cash.
Talking of properties . . . I spoke to my lovely neighbour, Ester, yesterday and she confirmed that not one of the seventeen houses behind ours that took six noisy years to build is yet occupied. The other good news was that nice-but-noisy Toni - who hasn't been back to sea for over a year now - has succeeded in his long campaign to have all the - illegal - eucalyptus trees behind our houses cut down. Apart from reducing our fire risk, this will mean the sun reaching our houses in the late afternoons and evenings. Which will be particularly beneficial in the winter.
When I was a young man and troubled by the fact that several of my clever friends smoked, I developed a specious theory. This was that nicotine destroyed those very brain cells which came into play when considering the case for and against smoking. Over the years, I've often had cause to wonder whether this theory really is specious. And so it was when clearing up after the party the other night. Outside the front-door of my daughter's flat, there were at least 21 cigarette butts. Plus an empty packet. To me - especially as these lay on the floor next to two bins - this was extraordinarily anti-social conduct. But I'm ready to ignore it if I can persuade myself the perpetrators have damaged brains. Which I think I can just about do.
Anyway, here's what's described in Spanish as a spectacular view of both the exterior and interior of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. Which is no exaggeration. It's filmed using something called an octocopter and a hexacopter. If you stop it around the 3.27 point you will see the statue of St James the Moor Killer (El Matamoros) on horseback, but with lilies strategically placed between you and the statue. This is to obviate Muslims being upset at the sight of Moorish troops being both lanced by James and trampled to death by his obviously very Christian steed.