Week 69 of Gibraltar Diary

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Sunday 5th July 2009

One of the problems of driving a stretch limo, (I imagine), is that you end up parked next to all the lorries as you are too big to get in the car park. I guess Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz has the same problem with his boat, the Al Salamah, which right now is parked next to the oil terminal in Gibraltar. Very big.

In the evening we go to see Obsessed with Beyonce Knowles, who really can act as well as sing and just look gorgeous. I thought it was brilliant. My only slight criticism is similar to the feeling I used to get when reading the Famous Five by Enid Blyton - namely, "if you have a serious problem, tell a grown-up". The critics have panned it - can these be the same people who thought "Star Trek" was brilliant? Probably.

What happens in the world of the critic is that reviewers have endless favours that they have to pay (you want your kid to get a summer intern at Fox and your lover is the niece of the president of Sony) but at the same time they like to pan some stuff (the producer stole their cleaner) as they want to appear to be ruthless and objective. On top of this they read all the other reviews to see what they thought. So what they write is not what they actually think but a kind of facade designed to further their careers and social life.

I just write what I think and read the reviews afterwards.

Monday 6th July 2009

So, what would you like to do on a glorious sunny day in the Mediterranean? Me too, brrrmmmmm, brrrmmmmm. Instead, I spend all day working in my air-conditioned study which I set at 25 degrees. When my girlfriend comes in she stands there shivering.

This sets me thinking about the ultimate cushy job. One where you get well paid, respect and not a lot to do apart from race round in impressive vehicles paid for by other people. Government minister perhaps? Or maybe a tank driver in an army that never goes to war. That would exclude the British army because there has never been a time when the British army was not busy killing brown people somewhere in the world - not because they are brown of course, that's just a coincidence.

The best choices are probably Sweden and Switzerland. Both very affluent countries that never go to war but just sell guns to other people and do very nicely thank you. In the Swedish armed forces you may get to drive some quite decent stuff - bit chilly in winter though so maybe you could alternate with Spain?

Tuesday 7th July 2009

In the morning it is deliciously cool with the thermometer reading 23.6 degrees. I spend all day with the phone constantly ringing on the subject of my poorly car - it is still suffering from BFS (Broken Fanbelt Syndrome) and the cure is proving complex.

The block of flats where we live is generally very civilized but we now have people here who have kids and the result is sticky finger prints all over the lift, the front door left open and a whole littany of minor irritations. The latest and last straw is two bikes parked in the hall with the front door wide open despite us repeatedly shutting it. In the UK the local thieves would solve this problem in five minutes but not in Gibraltar, thank God. After a couple of hours I pick them up and carry them outside just as an indignant lady opens the lift doors "what are you doing with our bikes?" Timing is everything.

In the evening we set off for the Craft Club - everywhere we look there are cars parked. How do they get them in? By crane?

When we get to the Police Social Club where the meeting is held a friendly lady asks if she can help. We then have a confusing conversation in which I could have sworn she said she was from the Pig Club. Fortunately, I realise before it is too late that she is the Secretary of the Police Association.

Wednesday 8th July 2009

Very late in the afternoon, they come to take my car away. All very fraught. I drive it up onto the back of the waggon and stop the engine but then the hydraulics won't work because it is on a steep slope. Then the engine won't start because there is no charge to the battery so they have to push it off the waggon. I jump start it in a record ten yards and drive it on again. Finally, they drive off. Who they were and whether I will ever see the car again I have no idea.

Once that ordeal is over, we go for a wander down town - we have been trapped in for three days awaiting the breakdown truck which for three days has always been on its way to collect the car. I exagerate but not much. The problem is that I talk to the AA in France who talk to their equivalent in Spain who talk to a delivery company in Gibraltar who talk to the garage who don't answer their phone.

Click on the part that interests you for bigger images

We walk over the border where a group of kids on the beach are putting on an informal exhibition of gymnastics - brilliant. After that we go for a drink in the bar erected on the beach. There are five staff none of whom show the slightest inclination to serve us. Finally one does but swindles us out of the 1 euro change we should have had from a ten euro note. Bastards.

Thursday 9th July 2009

In the morning we decide to go on a voyage of discovery to locate the car. We find it at Unit 4, Light Industrial Units, off Devils Tower Road. You go down the road opposite Quickfit and turn left and it is about 75 yards along on the left. There is a nice man working on it but it is clear it may be two or three hours before it is ready so we decide to go home and come back later.

So, we wait twenty minutes for a number 4 bus which then inches its way to Morrisons and then doubles all the way back to the RBS at the start of Line Wall Road. Then the phone rings and the car is ready. So we get off the bus and walk all the way back to the garage.

In the evening we go to see Jesus Christ Superstar at the Alameda open air theatre in the gardens. None of the tickets have dates on and sure enough they have sold our tickets twice. Our new seats look OK but towards the end when I am wondering what happens (will he destroy the Romans with lightning or go into a vertical climb and zap them with his phaser - definitely not set on "stun"?) there is a rush of people to the left. By the time I realise what is happening we have missed the climax which takes place behind an enormous tree.

Anyway, I don't want to spoil the plot but it seems that he dies or maybe not.

Friday 10th July 2009

For some weeks Markus has been causing me a lot of irritation - every time I move he squeeks and groans. I have threatened to take his bottom off and squirt WD40 inside and today I finally carry out my threat. First, of course, I have to find the manual from IKEA but once I have found that it is plain sailing. That's the thing with Jonny Foreigner - its no use threatening - you have to actually do something. Now he's as quiet as a mouse.

In the afternoon we decide to charge the battery in the car which is very low after its recent illness. So we set off for the toy shop in Ronda where they have a wonderful helicopter with blades that whirl round in bright light. At least they do in the shop. When we buy it and sit in a cafe, the blades refuse to move even when held up to an extremely bright light. Outside in the sunlight they whizz round. Interesting.

On the way back we spot a donkey asleep in a field standing up - why are his (or her) feet so close together? I would have thought they would be splayed to make it easier to balance.

In the evening we retrive a towel which has fallen off somebody's balcony and is lying on a small glass overhang. This looks easy but turns out to be quite tricky, which is probably why it is still there. We eventually make a grappling hook out of a lump of driftwood and a bits of a wire coathanger and it comes down.

Finally, we set off at about 10.00pm to go to the fair in Algeciras but it has disappeared - doubtless it is on its way to La Linea.

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      End of Week 69 of Gibraltar Diary

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