Week 41 of Gibraltar Diary

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Sunday 21st December 2008

I ask my girlfriend what she would like to do for the rest of the day. When she replies, I re-phrase the question: "what would you like to do for the rest of the day outside the flat with your clothes on"?

Off we go to La Canada where people are sitting outside in the sunshine - when we first came to Gibraltar somebody told me that December was the nicest month but this is the first evidence.

I read the grown up newspapers, particularly enjoying the saga of Bernie Madoff (pronounced "made off" - as in "he has made off with $50billion"). Actually, of course, he has not made off with $50billion - what has happened is that it has been dissipated - gone, dead, no longer there - this is a deceased $50billion. It was used to pay off earlier investors (who will no doubt be sued in due course - this will be an interesting test case)

Nobody can make a steady 1% per month in the stockmarket - it cannot be done for the same reason that perpetual motion machines do not work - it offends the underlying laws of the universe. Certainly if they can, they do will not do it for you - they will use their own money and become rich beyond all measure but they don't because they can't.

Even Warren Buffett has years when he drops 30%.

As for why they invested, I am not surprised. People are like sheep and fall for classic con tricks - a good con man will arrange things so that you become desperate to give him your money while he appears very reluctant to accept it. The whole point of the "con" man is that he is a "confidence" trickster. Everything about him inspires confidence - he is not flashy, he doesn't ask for money, he is brutally honest about problems - you would trust him to look after your house while you are away.

Read about Count Lustig who used to regularly sell the Eifel Tower (as for Roger Levitt, words fail me)

Finally, the regulators. They do not read the newspapers but just stay in their offices ticking boxes all day. Apart from when they are being taken out to lunch by the people they are regulating, that is. Even if they do realise that they are dealing with a massive fraud, why rock the boat? People will immediately ask why you did not spot it earlier and that could ruin your career - much better to just quietly retire or move to a new job. Then, when the fraud is revealed in ten years time you will be safely somewhere else.

Did the investors not remember Bernie Cornfeld and his Fund of Funds? We have been there before. The moral of the story is do not trust anybody called Bernie who offers miracle returns. Nor anybody who is not called Bernie.

Monday 22nd December 2008

I go to visit somebody and cannot help taking a photo of their Rat's Nest but this is as nothing to some of the fine specimens here.

Tuesday 23rd December 2008

In the evening we go for a meal at Cafe Rojo, which is excellent as usual. From there we wander around and bump into some people and end up having a mini party back at our flat.

We produce our latest toy, which is a radio controlled stunt car. It looks just like a shoe. Or maybe a roll of kitchen towel. Well, actually, it has disappeared under some furniture.

Wednesday 24th December 2008

We go for some last minute shopping in Main Street, Gibraltar, which is crowded as always. Later on we go for a meal in the Boatyard Restaurant (200 50540) which is pretty expensive but does not appear to have a website. The food is all right but not so good that we sit there thinking "Wow! Must come again soon .."

Actually, it turns out they do have a website but you have to dig for it and could die of hunger while waiting for it to download (this is because it kicks off with an enormous file download which looked great when the web designers show it off because it is already in their cache but new punters like us have to wait ... and ... wait). This is a crime.

Thursday 25th December 2008

To the Caleta Hotel (200 76501) for lunch where we get the last parking space right at the front. They cannot find our booking but politely seat us at a nice table right by the window where the view is awesome - as in the photo above. Everything is excellent - the service, the ambience, the crackers and when we leave they give us a huge bottle of wine and a lovely pashmina.

There are only two problems - the food and the bill, which is 125 for two. We have eaten there before and the food was truly excellent. It is the old problem - an excellent restaurant trying to serve a hundred people at the same time. It cannot be done.

If you want the grizzly details, the soup was cold and the toastie with it was stale. The salmon came plastered with horseraddish sauce which is a new one for me. The turkey was overcooked and flavourless. Oh dear.

During lunch I ask my girlfriend if she can balance a peanut on her nose. She replies that she cannot but can balance two inside her nose. Yuck!

In one of the crackers we pull is a riddle - what is round and grumpy?. An "irritaball" I reply after some thought . It seems the official answer is "a vicious circle" but I think my answer is better but then I am a cracker master - of the nine we pull I get the long end in the first eight. That is why we pull so many - she is determined to win and I try to help but whatever I do she gets the short end. Statistics or technique?

On the way back home we discuss the language spoken by Gibraltar residents who are totally loyal to our Gracious Queen. It is half Spanish and half English. "Gibberish" my girlfriend decides.

Later we watch our GQ in action on the box. Good, but I am not happy with her statement that the economic crisis started far away - she has been influenced by Labour Party spin. It started because it is not possible to live beyond your means forever and eventually it must stop. The detonator may have been far away but the barrels of gunpowder were right here - in the vaults of the stupid banks.

But I do admire our GQ for having the courage to mention Jesus at Christmas - a truly brave step in these Politically Correct times. Not that I give a stuff about Jesus but it is the principle of the matter - the inaliable right to talk gibberish with a small "g".

After the GQ we watch Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit which is truly great. After listening to Walking in the Air a few dozen times we go to bed.

Friday 26th December 2008

It is very sunny and blue but a bit cold and windy outside - especially on the water I guess. In Gibraltar, only about 10% of the shops are open and there have been no newspapers since Wednesday.

We spend the rest of the day indulging in activities which incorporate the true spirit of Christmas - watching old films on the TV and eating far too much chocolate.

Crocodile Dundee starring Paul Hogan is not as good as I remember it, being a bit too much like a collection of Australian cliches (let's face it - it is a collection of Australian cliches).

Stuck on You starts in a burger bar and is memorable for the courage of sending up two Siamese twins as heroes and the number of stars. Matt Damon and Greg Kinnear as Hamburger flippers, Eva Mendes as a delicious Mexican dish, Wen Yan Shih as a delicious Chinese dish, Cher brilliantly sending herself up as a diva and Meryl Streep giving a ten second cameo. Good fun.

Saturday 27th December 2008

In the late afternoon, we have an excellent snack at the Cheers Cafe (200 79699) which is at the junction of Bell Lane and Engineers Lane in Gibraltar. On the door it says Cafe Roma and I could swear that last week it said Cafe Bernadino but there is logic behind this.

Unlike the British Government who rant on about obesity and illiteracy to distract the punters from their own unbelievable incompetence, the Cheers Cafe is doing something about it - chairs so tight that fat people cannot get into them and a name change every week to fool the illiterate. Well done guys!

What we really need, though, is exploding ashtrays to stop the smokers and decibel triggered cyanide pills to get rid of people with big mouths who shout all the time. Get your people working on it.


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