Monday, September 28, 2020

Despicable

It should have been obvious that criminals would find ways to exploit the coronavirus crisis to make money. This story also highlights an issue with the tracing system in the UK. How are you to know that the phone call you receive is genuine? 

 ‘Good afternoon I'm calling from the NHS track and trace service. According to our system, you are likely to have been in close proximity to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. This means that you now need to self-isolate for 7 days and take a COVID-19 test.'

'OK. Can you tell me who that person was?'

'I'm not able to tell you that. That is confidential information.'

'Right. Um... so ....'

'But you do need to be tested within the next 72 hours. So can I just get the best mailing address so that we can send a kit to you?'

'Ok (gives address)'

I just need to take a payment card so that we can finalize this and send the kit to you.'

'Sorry - a payment card? I thought this was all free?'

'No - I'm afraid not. There is a one-off fee of £50 for the kit and test results. Could you read off the long card number for me, please, when you're ready.'

'No - that's not right. This is part of the NHS so there's no charge.'

'I'm afraid there is. Can you give me the card number please - this is very important, and there are penalties for not complying.'

Puts the phone down.

This is how scammers work. And vulnerable people will fall for it.”

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Viva la diferencia

 In my opinion, Spain has been consistent in its approach to coronavirus. OK, there have been mistakes made. Just as was the case in England, lockdown was too slow and large gatherings were allowed in the early days that should have been stopped. 

Since then though the rules and stages have been clear and largely followed. We knew week by week what was and what was not allowed. We also knew that the rules would be enforced by law with fines for those who broke them. We don't have mottos like, "Hands, Face and Space" though. 

By comparison, there seems to have been a lot of confusion in England. For example, people were allowed to go out for exercise - how far and for how long was not specified. They were allowed to go to beauty spots and the beach to undertake this exercise. 

Being outdoors in fresh air was said to be good for both mental and physical well being and so it was encouraged as long as people maintained social distancing. The result was that we were presented with pictures and news reports of resorts like Bournemouth being overwhelmed. Social distancing was impossible even if people thought to apply it. 

It was exactly the same when the pubs were allowed to reopen. It was impossible for drinkers to keep 2m apart. Even if they started out well meaning, by the time they'd have several drinks most would have not even thought about it. Drinkers were also supposed to give their name and phone number so they could be contacted in case someone in the pub showed symptoms of coronavirus. No surprise that there were loads of Donald Ducks in bars and pubs.  

The "work from home if you can" message was replaced with, "get back to the office now!". And to encourage people to eat out, they were given a 50% discount off their meals up to £10 - Mondays to Wednesdays. 

There have been examples of blatant rule breaking with, for example, illegal raves of up to 100 people. To be fair, two Government Ministers and a Special Adviser were guilty of breaking the rules without redress. Some may well have used that as an excuse to break the rules themselves.

There has been a lot of passing the blame to others. E.g., when there was a shortage of PPE, NHS staff were accused using it inappropriately.  Recently, the shortage of tests was blamed on people asking for a test when they didn't need one. Last night, it was the sector of the public who refused to follow the rules that meant Johnson had to introduce harsh measures. 

The country has a Prime Minister who likes to be cheerful and rosy, putting a positive spin on everything. He has made many false promises starting with the one where he said it would all be over in 12 weeks. Last night, he tried to placate his message with the notion that by Spring things would be much better, there would be a vaccine and half a million tests a day that would give instant results. It is good to be optimistic but that optimism needs to be tempered by realism. 

  

Monday, September 21, 2020

A tribute to Joaquín Perales Pérez

 Joaquín Perales Pérez was probably best known as the the "Perales" in the Perales y Ferrer company who pack lemons to export to France, Belgium, UK, Netherlands, Switzerland, Sweden, Poland, Denmark, Slovenia, Hungary, Germany, Norway, Czech Republic, Japan, Canada and USA. and provide employment for many in and around Bigastro. 

This is an extract from an article that Pascual Segura, Official Chronister of Bigastro has written on his blog, "Recuerdos de Bigastro". 

Joaquín Perales Pérez was a great family man and a model businessman, but above all a man proud of his people and his beloved band. And if Bigastro was his centre of activity and business project, the Sociedad Unión Musical de Bigastro was one of his great joys.

Pascual Segura clearly remembers the last time he listened to Joaquín Perales. It was at a concert of the band promoted by him at the Francisco Grau Municipal Auditorium. At the end of the last work and with the last applause of the night, when the audience left their seats and the curtain closed until the next musical evening, Joaquín Perales took the stage and applauded the musicians. He did it alone and with a big smile on his face. After the prolonged applause, he said: "You have done very well and you are the pride of all the people. Congratulations. I congratulate you and I encourage you to continue working as you have done until now, because the band sounds fantastic." He shook hands with all the musicians close to the place where he was and left accompanied by the grateful applause of the musicians who saw in the gesture of Joaquín Perales a new show of gratitude and humility from this Honorary Member, as he was named by the board of directors of the Sociedad Unión Musical de Bigastro when Mr. Emilio Sáez Pérez was president.

Born on March 7, 1940, Joaquín Perales Pérez, father of five children, always felt a special affection for the customs and traditions of his native Bigastro. A man from Bigastro linked from his youth to the business sector He knew the importance of teamwork, and what better example of teamwork than that of a musical group?

While successfully developing his business project, he became a fervent admirer of the band, making the decision to be a member of it as soon as the way to enter the band was formalised. His registration in the membership book occupies one of its first pages with membership number 52. Incorporation that did not go unnoticed by the board of directors of the Sociedad Unión Musical de Bigastro which named him a partner of honor. An honorary distinction that shortly after was assigned to great successful professionals of our band, such as Joaquín Grau, José Vicente Díaz, Manuel Moya, Manuel Gutiérrez, etc.

Excited and happy to be able to contribute to the development of our band, and despite having a professional schedule full of responsibilities that reduced his leisure time, Joaquín Perales shared great moments with his band. Like when he postponed his professional commitments to travel to Valencia and support his band at the Palau de la Música, or when he accepted with enthusiasm the tribute that the band gave him on March 5, 2011 at the VI Vega Baja Music Gala - Baix Vinalopó held in the neighboring town of Redován, with Emilio Sáez Pérez being president, who accompanied him and gave an award for actively supporting the Bigastrense musical society.

Distinctions that were happening over time and that tried to return the affection of the first honorary member to his band, as when in 2012 at the concert offered in honor of the members, the board of directors wanted to thank his unconditional support by dedicating a tribute to him in the one that participated his great friend and honorary director, Francisco Grau Vegara, who composed a pasodoble for him.

Acknowledgments in which Joaquín Perales Pérez was moved and grateful for being a participant, through the promotion of his band's projects, its growth, sharing his enthusiasm and affection for the band with his children and grandchildren -now students from the music school-, for whom today Joaquín Perales is an example of aptitude, effort and sacrifice, of overcoming adversity, and of course, of affection for his people and his always esteemed band.

There are friendships that last forever through the years, the difficulties and the onslaught of life. The Bigastro-Joaquín Perales relationship will last a long time, despite the fact that he can no longer reciprocate with his encouragement and affection for his people; only from above, he will watch over his family, his people and his band with his esteem, like a shining star in the sky of Bigastro. Rest in peace.


Sunday, September 20, 2020

Spare a thought for Johnson

 When he became Prime Minister, Johnson took a £200,000 a year pay cut. He had to move from a nice mews house to a flat above the shop. All that to feed his burning ambition for the top job. 

All Johnson wanted to do was be P M and get Brexit done, he didn't want to have to deal with a major health crisis. He certainly did not want to work long hours, seven days a week. 

Now he is struggling. He is paying for four of his children to go through university and his friends say he can only afford a cleaner. Having a baby at 56 without the assistance of a nanny or a housekeeper must be taking its toll. 

Worst of all though, his popularity rating has plummeted. Johnson doesn't like having enemies. Facing Keir Starmer each week at Prime Minister's Questions is bad enough, he now has rebellious back benchers to contend with as well. 

The book is now open on how long he can last. Nobody expects Johnson to be leading the party at the next election but when will he time his his exit. Smart money seems to be on next Spring.  

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Rules are rules

The rule of six in England has inspired some to react with humour. The earliest example was one which pictured the 7 dwarfs with Snow White saying that one had to go. Then there was a picture of Clint Eastwood in cowboy mode with a a policeman. The caption said,  "I don't care if you are magnificent, you can only have six". 

This is the latest but possibly not the last. Maybe someone will be able to make something out of "Seven brides for seven brothers".

 


Another thrilling day?


 Just to make things a bit more interesting today there is a "bit of a hill" at the end of the 36.2 km time trial. 

In relation to the other longer climbs that the riders have endured, this is less of a challenge although the sections that ramp up to 11, 13 and finally 20 % will surely test their legs. 

Barring accidents, Tadej Pogacar is sure to get the white (youth) jersey but he'd also like the polka dot (climbers) jersey and possibly even the yellow (individual) jersey. 

It is unlikely that he will make up the 57 seconds on his fellow countryman, Primoz Roglic but he may be tempted to have a go. However, there are only 2 points between Pogacar and Richard Carapaz in the polka dot competition so that is a more realistic target. 

By about 5:30pm we will know the result. 

The situation here in Spain

 During the past two weeks, Spain has reported more than 122,000 new Covid-19 cases, more than a third of them in the Madrid region. The number of cases per 100,000 people stands at 259.76 across Spain as a whole. In Madrid, the figure rises to 659.41, and in Puente de Vallecas, the district served by the Buenos Aires medical centre, it is 1,241.

The Madrid regional government on Friday announced new restrictions aimed at curbing the rising number of coronavirus cases in the region. The order will go into effect on Monday and last for at least 14 days.

The restrictions on mobility affect people living within 37 basic health areas, of which 26 are located in six districts of the city of Madrid, and the rest in other municipalities in the Madrid region. People will be allowed in and out for essential activities such as going to school or work, or to care for dependents. Social gatherings are reduced to six people and public parks will remain closed. Capacity at stores and other commercial establishments is set at 50% and closing time is 10pm with the exception of pharmacies and gas stations.

The affected areas are home to around 855,193 people or 17% of the population of the Madrid region, although they account for 25% of detected coronavirus cases. “We are aware that if don’t take these measures, the situation will be worse in a few days," said the deputy premier of the Madrid region, Ignacio Aguado.

In the UK, there are 59.3 cases per 100,000, in France, 166.9, and in Italy, 33.

Monday, September 14, 2020

The new TIE card

The Spanish TIE card is the new photo ID card that replaces the old green residency certificate or card. It is not essential at this point in time that you exchange your original residency document. However, many people are doing so as the new card can also be used as a form of identification which removes the requirement to always carry your passport with you.

It is very advisable to be up-to-date with the latest Spanish documentation, as you cannot be sure how the requirements for the same process will change after the 31st of December 2020.

There are two types of TIE cards in Spain. For those people who have had a residency certificate for more than 5 years they will receive a TIE of 10 years duration. For those who have residency for less than five years, they will receive a TIE of 5 years validity that can be renewed automatically.

HOW TO REPLACE YOUR GREEN RESIDENCY DOCUMENT FOR THE TIE CARD IN SPAIN 

The first stage in obtaining your TIE is to make an appointment at the “Oficina de Extranjería”  Calle de la Ebanistería, 4, Alicante. 

Once the documents have been presented you will be given a telephone number that you have to call within 3 or 4 weeks to confirm if the card is ready for collection.

When you have confirmation that your new card can be collected then you must go to the “Oficina de Extranjería“ again to hand in the original residency document and to collect your new TIE card.

THE DOCUMENTS YOU NEED TO PRESENT:

Form EX23 - obtained and filled in online

Tasa/Tax 720/012 and proof of payment - again the form is online - take it to your bank to make the payment. 

Original passport + copy - the copy only needs to be of the page with your information. 

Original residency document + copy

Recent and valid padrón + copy*

Photo ID (passport size)**

* If you are replacing an existing green resident's card or certificate and your address hasn't changed, I understand you do not need a copy of the padron. 

** Recent photo, 32 by 26 mm, face camera directly, with full face in view, in color, white plain background. With the head completely uncovered and without dark glasses or any other garment that may prevent or make identification of the person difficult.


Next big day

The problem with predicting what will happen each day on the Tour is difficult. There are so many variables that can determine what the teams and riders will do.There are also several competitions taking place at the same time; there is the race for the overall leader, the race to win the stage, the green jersey competition, the white jersey competition etc etc. 

Yesterday, the two riders at the top of the General Classification put a little distance between them and the rest of the pack. Wednesday may be an opportunity for them to extend that lead, we shall see.

For those who want to watch live, the riders should reach the Col de la Madeleine by about 15:30 and the Col de la Loze by about 17:20. The last 4.5kms will be decisive as the road ramps up to 24% and finishes at 18%.

 



Clearing out?

Thursday, September 17, the mobile eco-park will return to the Plaza de la Constitución. You can dispose of waste ranging from glass, toner and ink cartridges, lithium and cadmium batteries, CDs, light packaging, used oil from the kitchen, paper and cardboard, button and alkaline batteries, small appliances, mobile phones, aerosols and cans, expired medicines, fluorescent tubes and light bulbs.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

A reminder

It is now twelve months since the worst episode of bad weather this area has experienced. The DANA produced 500l of water per square metre. 

The town may have mostly recovered but the memory of those awful days will remain for a long time. 

To see just how bad it was, watch this video. The first part was taken opposite the post boxes at the bottom of our estate. 

 Last September

A big day on the Tour

 So far the Tour de France has proved to be exciting with twists and turns in the fortunes of the favourites. It has also taken us through some beautiful countryside with more climbing than I believe is usual. 

Today could well be a big day as the riders leave Lyon and head to a finish on the Grand Colombier. 

Although the Grand Colombier has featured many times in the Tour, this is the first time that a stage will finish at the top. 

Before the riders reach the final climb though, they have 98kms of flat countryside to cover. They also have a couple of mountain to tackle the first of which has a 3km section at 22%. .