Monday, 28 May 2007

Tudor Pull, Dongola Races, Pointless Fiestas

Great Gate, Hampton Court Palace
Image: Luke Nicolaides [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

In all the years - about 20 - that I lived within walking distance (when I was considerably more energetic) of Hampton Court Palace and constantly visited there, I never knew there was an annual Tudor Pull from Hampton Court Palace to the Tower of London.

Like most of these things it all seems incredibly pointless to have a "processional event", rowing up the river Thames, commemorating something that everyone has long forgotten, with a ritual "ceremony of giving back to the Tower's governor the thing that he had specifically sent away to Hampton Court so that it could ceremonially be returned to him."

Just like so many festivals in Spain, in honour of the locally "revered" icon - and nobody can ever explain to me why it is locally revered - that is ceremonially brought out of the church, only so it can be ceremonially taken back in again, I'm certain that a good day will be had by all of those who, mostly, turn up for the food and wine / beer. Crowd size, naturally, increasing in inverse proportion to the "freeness" of the said refreshment.

Sunbury Regatta River Thames Dongola Race
Image: Motmit [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

It's funny, but when you've been away for a while, one tends to forget that Britain also has it's fair share of these quite unexplainable and decidedly strange customs. The closest I ever got to anything like it was volunteering one year for one of the teams in the decidedly less regal, "dongola" racing in the annual Sunbury Regatta. Dongola racing, in this context, for those who don't know - that would be both readers - is two competing teams of I forget how many (representing fine local establishments, such as The Jockey Pub, who supported their team members with free T-Shirts and free beer), kneeling up, rowing punts upstream on the Thames, Hawaii Five-O (dragonboat) stylee.

Well, I think we maybe moved the thing a couple of boat lengths before being tipped and sinking into the murky waters, but that was the intent anyway.

We'd trained hard for this though. Half an hour's worth of cursory punt hire - and we even threw a line to a passing motor launch who towed us back up river when we'd had enough - followed by several "challenging" nights down the pub. Ah, perhaps that is the point?

Monday, 14 May 2007

I'm not dead...

There have been many reasons for absence, not least of which were two caídas (falls).

You may laugh (now) at the first of these, which involved an unidentified wet patch on the bathroom floor. (It was clear and didn't smell like anything the dog or cats might have done - thus had probably leaked in via the porous roof.) The result of which, I ended up, legs in the air, one either side of the bidet. Actually, I did hurt myself: I bruised my elbow on something and my right arm ended up inside the bath, so the rim of the bath came up under my armpit. That caused great pain in my shoulder.
Falling on my bum reactivated an old "war wound" from when I slipped down the slope outside the house in the rain six years ago and hurt my hip.

My back aches ... In fact, I just ache everywhere, even in parts I didn't know I had, but for the first few days, all I could stand to do was lie flat.

Just when I could manage a bit more time at the computer, my internet connection decided to suffer a caída (also the word used in Spanish to mean "crash" in this context. Cars crashing is "un choque".)
One never expects much from Spain's former nationalized phone company, Telefonica, but their level of "help" for DSL customers, it has to be said, reaches an all-time low. I'd go elsewhere, but it took me 6 or 7 years to get them to give me broadband here and, there is no alternative at all in this rural area yet. So, after running all the diagnostics, it tells me that the broadband isn't working right now. Well, that was bloody helpful, wasn't it?

That did infer that my setup was OK and the problem was therefore at the other end. Nothing new there. The DSL gadget at our local exchange suffered a total caída a while back and we were offline while they had to get that fixed. It could have happened again.

You would think that the natural thing to do, therefore, would be to call the "help" line and, that is what I did. As soon as I got through, I was told, in no uncertain terms, like I was a naughty child or a piece of shit, that I had to completely unplug everything and basically do the technicians' job before they would even talk to me. They wouldn't even check the situation at the local exchange first, to see if it might have been them and, that might have saved me the bother. This was no easy task, because crawling about on the floor, twisting round the back of the computer, at my age and in my state of health was no picnic. And the first two goes just made the situation worse.

Many swear words later, I decided just to leave it.

Later, third time lucky - probably by then, whatever it was at their end that, I suspect, had been broken, had been fixed - fortunately, because I really didn't want to have to talk to those nasty rude people again. But it really shouldn't have to be like this, especially when it costs me around $100 a month for this "pleasure".