I watched last night's Spain-Portugal penalty shoot-out in a bar full of rather stressed Spaniards. What surprised me, as the final shot went in, was that the females around me seemed even more excited than the males. Tonight, I'm writing as the second half begins, with the unlikely score of Italy 2 Germany 0. With both goals having been scored by the talented but unhinged Mario Balotelli.
The bar I'm in has two more TVs than usual, with one of these facing the smokers out in the street. One of the internal TVs looked rather odd and I finally realised it was the back of the one outside, explaining why it was a reverse image. With badges on the footballers' right breast, rather than the left one. For example. And all the text back to front.
Talking of outside - One thing the anti-smoking legislation has done is guaranteed that, if you eat outside, you'll be surrounded by smokers. In summer, that is; in winter the smokers are on their own.
Just going back to books briefly . . . It's not unusual - especially outside the summer months - for me to be found reading a book in one of the town's numerous café-bars, alone. And I sometimes wonder, given the Spanish love of talking, whether I'm not being pitied as Johnny-No-Mates who's had to resort to reading because he's got no one to chat to. Ah, well. I talk a lot to myself.
Coincidentally, I've been meaning for a while to talk about the word 'mate'. It's tempting to see this a synonym for 'friend'. But sometimes it is and sometimes it isn't. And it's very hard to say what the rules are and when they're acceptable and when they're not. I might, for example, say "Two pints, please" to a barman but never to a barmaid. And a delivery man might say "Mate" to me but not to my daughter. But it's too simple to say the word is confined to males. I will ponder it further. Meanwhile, be aware that the word is a trap and should be avoided in all instances until you know the secret.
On the eve of yet another summit, some interesting observations on the euro:- There is no doubt that the euro, like Dr. Strangelove's doomsday machine, is an infernal device destined to blow up one day, but also so designed that any attempt to dismantle it simply detonates the bomb. It is very easy to structurally distort an economy within the framework of a currency union but very difficult to correct the distortions once generated. This is why so many rightly say that in Spain it is all pain as far ahead as the eye can see.
Isabel Pantoja is a singer who's on trial for her part in the money-laundering activities of her (already-convicted partner), the ex-mayor of Marbella. She had a day in court today, where she was greeted with cries of Guapa! (Beautiful), rather than Ladrona (Thief). Such is the power of fame. As Ken Dodd discovered. And possibly Harry Redknapp.
Finally . . . Owl News: I suspect that, like bulls that have survived a bullfight, the pigeons are wising up to the lack of movement on Ollie's part. So, I've armed myself with a rolled-up newspaper as a back-up. Birds are not as bird-brained as you might think.
Please forgive any shortcomings in this post; I've written it with one eye on the football match. Which ended on the right note.