Well, OK, that may not be entirely the case as far as the Social Security and tax people here are concerned but....! I "worked" for the first time since February 4th today. I gave a 1hr 30min English lesson to the lovely Begona (really must find a way to add that twiddly thing that goes over the n). The time absolutely flew past. Mind you, I hope all my future students are like her. She came to the lesson clutching a bundle of papers she needs to understand and pronounce for work. She wanted to read them out, one paragraph at a time and then have me correct the pronunciation. No problem. Then she asked if she could alter the paragraphs and try to write them in simpler English. Also no problem. Then.....she came up with her own homework! More of that, I say! But I really enjoyed it - I hope she did. Good 25 minute walk to her office which is good exercise now, but in the height of summer may not be quite so enjoyable!
2 other students are semi panning out. One has decided to postpone until June for reasons I didn't quite understand, but then she wants an hour every day for the whole of June and July! Or at least I'm hoping Monday to Friday. Intensive, but fine by me. And Jose, who was going to recommend me to people at his office, said it would only work out if I can provide invoices with my NIE. Hah! See previous blog.
On that note, however, I do appear to have at last found out the correct (and current) procedure for sorting that out. Not that that makes it any easier of course. It appears I now have to call for an appointment at an office actually quite near here - the appointments currently being dished out are for ........ AUGUST!!!!! Still, it would appear that once I have an appointment, as long as I bring the right completed form, a receipt for an obligatory payment via a bank, and 23 other things, I should get a "Certificate of Residency as an EU National" which will contain the NIE. I'm not holding my breath!
Good news on the technology front too. My laptop is apparently fixed!!! In as much as they removed my old hard drive, sent it back to Toshiba and replaced it with a new one. I have to pick it up tomorrow, then I'll have to reinstall XP and see how it goes. Got stacks of software to reinstall, most of which is back in the UK so it'll be a while til that's all sorted. But I'll still have my laptop back - YAAAY! Let's hope this hard drive lasts longer than the first one. I fully expect to continue to receive helpful messages along the lines of "Should have got a Mac" from several nameless people! ;-)
"Las obras" (public works) continue to follow me round Madrid. Not content with digging up the roads and pavements near my old place the whole time I was there, I was thrilled to discover that they are now replacing the gas pipes in pretty much every street round my new place too! Stacks of pneumatic drills, diggers and large groups of men in hi-vis vests staring into holes in the ground - some things are clearly the same the world over!
Today was La Diada de Sant Jordi, or El Dia de la Rosa, or even El Dia del Libre (St George's Day, Day of the Rose and Day of the Book respectively). It's not just the UK that claims 23 April as its own - St George is one of the patron saints of Catalunya, Aragon and Valencia. Events take place all over Spain, though mainly in Barcelona and other towns in those three regions. The basic idea is that it's a little like our Valentine's Day, except the guys buy the girls a red rose, and the girls buy the guys a book in return. Apparently it all started in 1923 when a bookseller decided to celebrate the allegedly simultaneous deaths of Cervantes and Shakespeare on April 23, 1616. Despite having read that the Parque del Retiro would join in by having some book stalls on what is now also World Book Day, there was no sign of it this afternoon. Instead, I spent a happy hour lolling on the steps by the lake, watching energetic people row their rented boats around, stopping briefly to drench eachother with oar-loads of refreshing (though slightly scummy) lake water.
I'm enjoying exploring my new local area. It's a proper Spanish residential area, with stacks of proper little local businesses in the surrounding streets - bakers, butchers (no candlestick makers yet!) etc. It's nice to wander around and just see the locals out doing what they do! I can see why some of the people I know want to live right in the centre - damn sight easier for going out socialising for a start - but it's so touristy! If I'm going to live here, I want to LIVE here! Still, that means my Spanish needs to improve a lot! I've been pretty good at doing about an hour's study a day recently, but there's nothing to match actually speaking it. I think some kind of proper language exchange is in my future - there are plenty of ads for Spaniards looking to spend half an hour practicing their English in return for listening to foreigners massacring Spanish!
Actually, doing more study might make me turn the TV off. It's been a bit of a novelty having a TV here, having not had one for a month so I've probably wasted more time than I should in front of it. When the weather was rubbish, it didn't seem so bad but now it's sunny and 26 degrees, I really should be out doing stuff. Mind you, the Monte Carlo and Barcelona tennis tournaments have been keeping me occupied, which I don't mind at all. However, the fact that I'm starting to enjoy The OC and Smallville (in Spanish) is a bit worrying! As the old TV theme went, why don't I just turn off the TV and go and do something more interesting instead?
Sid tracked down a company that do really cheap phone calls abroad so she tested it out on me this evening. Had a good hour's chat with her, catching up on news etc. Was nice to have a proper chat instead of emails and texts though obviously the technological methods are much more practical as it doesn't matter who's home and when.
OK, so my vegetable soup is pretty much boiled to death, my frozen baguette has thawed nicely on the balcony in about half an hour, and there are several San Miguels chilling nicely in the fridge, so adios, buenos noches, hasta luego etc!