12 years in Madrid

This has very little to do with Eating or Drinking in Madrid, but it’s my blog and I’m not confined to labels. Don’t you call me a Cisgendered heterosexual male. I don’t accept labels, I’m just, like, a person?
I just read this plog post about a bloke’s 12 years in Madrid, and although he considers himself an “expat” and I consider myself an “immigrant” and I didn’t always agree with him, it still struck a chord and I wondered: “What have I learnt in my 12 years here in Madrid?” My first answer was a bit Paul Daniels…”not a lot”
http://www.expatmadrid.com/2016/10/21/my-life-expat-madrid/
but then I thought about it and I started to think that maybe I did have something to say, even if it is only myself listening. And even I tend to ignore myself

2 warnings:

People can TAKE offence but that’s their choice, I’m not MAKING offence…it just doesn’t collocate. These are my opinions, they may not be well thought out or even thought out at all, but nobody likes opinions if they don’t agree with their own. And opinions are not facts. Mind you, people don’t like facts if they contradict their own opinions.

In the “relationships” section I might infer that I have had carnal knowledge. Now, if you know me or are related to me, or even know what I look like, this inference might put you off the whole idea of what myself and Lionel (Richie not Messi) call “dancing on the ceiling”

So you might want to stop reading this now, if you haven’t already.

If you’re sitting comfortably,I’ll begin

Price/Cost

In Madrid, at least, there is little corrolation between the price/cost of something and the price/cost of the same or similar thing.
A menú del dia for example…the food on a 7€ menú could well be superior and more abundent than that of a 13€ menú. You might just get a glass of wine with the 13€ menú but a whole bottle witht the 7€ menú. If you’re in the north of Spain that wine might well be drinkable or even nice, if you’re in Andaluzia that wine might come with a choice of fizzy lemon or casera to mix with.
Before I bought my flat I put an offer in on a flat 6 doors down. The offer, thankfully, was turned down and wasn’t long before I found my actual flat…nicer than the first and €30k cheaper.
Don’t take this as a fact which relates to everything…I’m pretty sure that a 6€ a night hotel room won’t be as nice as a 150€ a night hotel room. And I’m thinking those ageing sex workers on Calle Cruz aren’t charging huge amounts of cash for their services, despite the decades of experience they may have

Language

There is sometimes a power struggle about which language to communicate in.
Chill!
If a waiter replies to you in broken English, don’t take it as a slight upon your amazing Spanish pronunciation, impressive vocabulary and remarkable grammatical control…it’s just, like me, you have a stupid fucking guiri face and the waiter doesn’t really expect you to speak Spanish…even though you’ve just said something to him/her in Spanish. Or maybe the waiter doesn’t get much chance to practice their English. Maybe he/she wants to impress their boss or co-workers. Maybe they just like speaking English. You don’t know and it doesn’t really make any difference to you so don’t take it as a dis. You only really need to change back to Spanish if the waiter doesn’t seem to understand your English. Could be your stupid accent coming out of your stupid face.
If they give you an English menu, it probably won’t make sense to anybody at all, so poiltely ask for a Spanish menu. You’re not going to know what any of those fish are anyway because you couldn’t afford to eat them in your English speaking country.
Getting annoyed by people speaking English to you is just you showing your own insecurity.

Waiters in an Indian restaurant is trickier. You’re not sure if not speaking Spanish to them might offend…but trust me, it’s quicker and easier for everybody involved if you put your ego back in your pram for a minute and order a “chicken dhansak” rather than insisting on ordering “pollo muy sabroso con ajo, trozos de piña, lentejas indias y salsa agridulce, ligeramente picante”
Also, you’re better off making sure that the waiter thinks you’re British rather than Spanish, and will know you would appreciate flavour in your curry. It is our cuizine after all…you’re going to want to impress your Valenciano friend with your paella more than impress your friend from Hull with your paella. Yes, a Hull paella can be served with chips and can contain chicklen nuggets.
/ticks off “yorkshire” from list of people to offend. it’s going well so far/

Relationships

I should start by just saying…DON’T DO IT! YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE AND YOU’RE A LONG TIME
DEAD
but, we’ll get there eventually.

I had a date arranged with someone not long ago, no…honestly! it’s true! and a colleague said “she’ll just be going out with you so she can improve her English”
Kind of a nonsense thing to say and was only said to put me down. You could replace the 2nd clause of the sentence with any reason a person might go on a date with another person
She’s only going out with you because you’re really attractive
She’s only going out with you because you have a hot body that just won’t stop
She’s only going out with you because you’ll cook her delicious food
She’s only going out with you so she can get that good good lovin’
She’s only going out with you because you’re 8th in line to the throne of Sweden
She’s only going out with you because she thinks you’re good mates with Matt Damon
She’s only going out with you because damn right your milkshake tastes better than mine
Ok…I’ll stop now.

Nobody tends to start a relationship or is attracted to a person based on just one thing. It’s a composite of more than one thing. Unless you’re a really tall bloke…she’s only going out with you because you’re really tall. But don’t be disheartened…maybe she’s also going out with you because she’s worried about having to get things off a high shelf.
So don’t worry why he or she is going out with you, it might be partly because you speak English, it might be your milkshake. A lass was once going out with me because she lived in Mosteles but worked in Madrid, so staying over at my place meant she didn’t have to commute. Well, she didn’t say that, that was what my low self esteem was screaming at me.

Having said that…a relationship with a local has so many advantages: they can help you with language and beauracracy; they might know things of historical interest from their town/city; they might have access to a property outside Madrid which you can stay in free of charge; they might have access to a car to take you to one of the many places which public transport ignores; and essentially they connect you to this wonderful country in which you have decided to live.
That aside, my advice is to avoid a relationship at all costs.
Being one of a pareja makes you 50% less of a person. That’s science! Or is it mathematics? Iunno, i failed science and maths at school
I did pass RE (Religious Education) though, and I can tell you this…here in Catholic, Southern Europe a relationship is like a fucking sacrament. It isn’t just one person seeing another person until one or both of those people want to stop seeing the other person or would prefer to see another/other person/people or have a bit of time alone…the seperation of a pareja (or the end of “a beautiful love story” if I’m being Italian) is a traumatic ocassion.
You give away 50% of your personality but you suddenly gain a bunch of friends that you don’t necessarily like or would ever want to spend any time with but are your partner’s friends; you’ve suddenly got yourself a father-in-law to frown at you and distrust you and to share his ridiculous fascist views with; you’ve even got yourself a grandmother for the first time in your life.
Sorry, too late! There’s no way out now. I did try to warn you. And ending the relationship now is like culpable homicide. “And you have to choose today of all days to do this?! It’s 320 days before Xmas/San Isidro/ the 75th anniversary of my parents sitting next to each other at school/ our 3 month anniversary. How could you?! Daddy was right about you”
My advice is…and you’ve got this far, so stick with me….if you’re so desperate for a bit of affection, look after somebody’s dog for the day. If you’re so depserate for a bit of the other, go on tinder/grinder.
(Tinder advice
“No hook ups”/“No ONS”=“I’m desperate for sex with a stranger, but I feel guilty about having sex”
“Impossible to describe myself”=“I’m on the run from the CIA” or “I’m dull as dishwater”;
“love laughing”=“i’m a sociopath and like to see people fall over”or “I just never know what the fuck is going on cos i’m fucking stupid”;
“love travelling”= “I want you to know that I have enough money to go on holiday” or “I’m dull as dishwater and I think that having been to A,B or C will hide this because I talk about A,B or C so much” or, of course “I’m in a maximum security prison, please send file in a cake…not that i eat cake because i’m no fatty”
Photos of people doing yoga=that person wouldn’t walk 5metres without taking a taxi + they smoke and therefore stink.
Photos of someone skiing means that person wants you to know that their family have money so that as a child he/she regularly went skiing and definitely isn’t a pleb.

not that i’ve ever been on tinder. i’m so physically attractive i can just pull on the #27 bus home. nobody admits ever being on tinder the same way as nobody admits to voting conservative/PP or masturbating or masturbating while thinking about Donald Trump/Franco/Thatcher/Rajoy. To be fair, the drivers of the #27 bus are kamikazes so anybody who makes it to Atocha is so happy to be alive that they may even consider sleeping with you. #45 is a useless)

If, like many guiris here in Madrid, you are an English teacher…you’re in luck. A relationship with a native will mean you can afford not to share a flat with another English teacher or a University student. You’ll rarely see your parej@…they’ll be in bed by the time you get home (and not in a good way) and will have left for work by the time you wake up (and…not in a bad way). Make sure you’re not expected to ever ever go for Sunday lunch with your partner’s family…you’ll never get out of it after the first time and then that’s every Sunday you have off taken away from you. The food will be stodgy, lacking in taste but extremely salty. Don’t have more than one glass of wine in case the family think you’re an alcoholic and stage an intervention. ¿Qué es eso que está diciendo abuelita? No, todavía está muerto Franco

Rather you than me. I’d even suggest some sort of ridiculous long term lie that begins from the very start of your budding, badly thought out relationship…maybe a lacrosse team that only plays on a Sunday afternoon. yeah, it would take too long to explain what lacrosse is and why you, as a cisgendered male (possibly…i don’t want to apply labels), are playing it. Of course, you might need a back up for this if your potential parej@ wants to see you play…do you know enough people to pretend to be playing lacrosse? do you have/need any equipment? listen, this is on you…i’m just trying to help. maybe lacrosse is a bad example

Shitholes

The UK is full of shitholes. Trust me, I grew up between Mansfield and Worksop. Ireland has plenty of shitholes too…my mum lives in Ennis and that’s not far from Limerick. And have you ever been to Dublin’s fair city? it ain’t so pretty. The US, I’m sure, has shitholes too and they’ll be shiholes full of white supremacists packing heat. Believe it or not, as much as I love Spain, it has its fair share of shitholes. Trust me, I wrote this while waiting for a train in Palencia train station…and I arrived at the train station 3 hours before my train left because the hope of leaving Palencia was more attractive than the thought of just spending another 3 hours in Palencia.
Going back to my previous well thought out, consice and well written segment about relationships, if you insist on having a relationship with a local, make sure they are from or have family living in a nice place rather than in a shithole. Somewhere that you might see youself visiting without any sort of attached duty. So make sure you don’t have a relationship with someone who is from or lives in La Mancha or Castilla Leon, or a small place in Andaluzia. There might be nice places there, but chances are they aren’t from that nice place, so make sure you do your research before you make a terrible mistake.
Never believe anything about someones hometown
Places you should never visit:
Mansfield
Worksop (unless you like crack and you’re on a budget)
Nottingham (unless you’re going to see the famous football team play awful football)

Derby (as the train draws into Derby there’s a sign above the platform telling you that it’s Derby. And under the name “Derby” “is shit” has been written there for about 25 years…I guess nobody thought they should really clean it off…being so apropos)
Croydon
Bracknell (you see horrific pictures of families fleeing war-zones and yet people still live in Bracknell. Poor fuckers)
Santander (you can tell me a million times that the area around it is lovely, but that’s the area around it not the city and how am I going to get to the area around it?)
Anywhere in the district of Toledo that isn’t actually Toledo city (Yes, I’m looking at you Talavera, Torrijos, Escalona, Maqueda…absolute shitholes. there should be a stronger word for shithole. And you’d think..”this is such a shithole at least it’ll be cheap”…but it ain’t…a beer or a glass of shitty wine will cost you the same or more as the same thing in Madrid. Maybe you’re paying extra for the flies)
Alicante (95% of the restaurants are pizzerias or kebab shops. but I did actually eat decent arroz here)
Palencia (if you’re into Christ crucified, this is your place. Not sure how much he’d like it if he ever came back. The people I met were nice, and in general the coffee was better than in Madrid…but that’s a bit like saying you prefer the library facilities in Kabul to those in Aleppo)