Odds and sods; hints and beginnings. Maybe even endings.
1) Christmas. Granny has made two Christmas puddings...the kind she always makes, has done for over 25 years from a recipe found goodness knows where, but which has no fat in it and only minimal sugar - all the better for the borderline diabetic otherwise known as her Beloved. Does it sound penitential? No it isn't. It has got indecent quantities of alcohol and is actually the best she's ever had; most more traditional puddings are far too rich, fatty, sweet for her taste. They're dead easy to make too: just bung all the ingredients together and STIR. AND STIR. AND STIR. (Beloved was unwilling; Mr Handsome from Blackburn summoned to help, enthusiastic.)
The only problem lies with the four hours boiling.
As in the case of any pudding recipe dire warnings are issued -DON'T let the water off the boil. OK, obediently, Granny boiled her two puddings hard - before she knew it both had boiled dry; a goodly smell of Christmas filled the kitchen, but that was not quite what she was after at this point. She added more boiling water, turned the heat down and looked anxiously from time to time to see that the water was still seething. But here is - was - the nub of it. Anyone both spectacle wearer and cook will recognise the problem: how to see if the water IS boiling when, whatever state it's in, still or mobile, it makes your spectacles instantly steam up? One easy solution - for her - would have been to fetch her contact lenses. To cook with? Oh please. Oh please. It seemed like total defeat as well as tiresome. She didn't. She just peered, wiped glass lenses, hoped for the best. Anyone got a better idea for next time?? She'd be grateful.
Well that's it for Christmas then. This island takes it much more lightly than the island back north, the frenzy there mainly revealed to Granny and her Beloved via the ads on channel 4. Oh yes there are signs - intimations. But low key ones by comparison. Down to the East, in the shopping centres patronised by expats, the Christmas trees are going up. There's various signs of glitter elsewhere and even the local supermarkets are filling up with turrones - a kind of nougat/almond sweet which for some reason is the Christmas treat of choice across Spanish territories. The odd electric decoration, bell, star, bicycle (bicycle?? -maybe that's a sop to the visiting pro cyclists who sail underneath the bicycle in question on their way back to the big sports centre where they all stay - who knows) hangs drunkenly from phone and electricity wires across the roads, all as yet unlit. Oh and on the roundabout at the edge of the town a large low platform has been set up, to hold this year's monstrous, electric, Christmas display, something for which this town is noted. Last year's bloated Father Christmas was not popular with anyone; culturally inappropriate was the least of the complaints. Granny waits with interest to see what more Canarian alternative the Ayuntamiento's cultural department will have come up with this year.
2) Spring. The first wild marigolds have opened on Granny's land. And, praise be, it has been raining. Let's hope that pleasure is not followed by fierce east winds, drying everything up again, as after the previous rains this autumn. There's enough growing now to bring the birds back, though. And planting does at last seem to have started. Good. Good. Good.
3). Goats. There is now a pen for them, lovingly erected by Mr Handsome alongside the (non) donkey house. 'When will you have time to milk goats now you're teaching?' Granny enquires of Beloved. Mr Handsome says, 'He's going to teach you how to do it.' Mr Handsome is not a man who makes jokes, often. But Granny thinks he was joking this time. She hopes so.
4.) The war on corruption. The island's Mr Big, sentenced to 8 years in prison, who has been making appeal after appeal to keep himself out of it till the elections are over next May, looks as if he has finally lost; he has been ordered to present himself to the prison shortly (a sign of his power? Most sentenced crooks would just get arrested, wouldn't they?) But the island is very fond of him, oddly enough. And he does seem to have much more charm than most of the political crooks here, and no one could say he isn't generous with his ill-or-well-gotten gains. Without him his nationalist island party will not do well at the elections next year. Just as well.
Meantime, the Spanish government is coming down hard on everyone in local town halls and about time too. The neat career path for local politicians whereby they busy themselves during their period of office with getting rich, are indicted for corruption, receive a short prison sentence, spend it cushily, then emerge to live for the rest of their lives on their millions, seems about to come to an end. Those arrested for corruption on the bigger island were not treated kindly. They spent their nights before being bailed in concrete cells without beds or bedding. A new law is coming which will make all those elected to local government declare their assets upon entering office and again upon leaving it. Of course there's always ways of laundering such monies - noone doubts they will be looking hard for them. (There's currently a case in Spain of mysterious accounts which noone is claiming, obviously set up in some such scam.) But still it may begin to curb the over-development that is the source of almost all these illicit earnings. (It figures that on this island three of the four mega rich families have made their money out of building and property development: and that many of the politicians bear the same surnames. SAY NO MORE. )
Intimations only? Or reality. Let's hope, let's hope. This island started later than most because of the lack of water and can still be saved from the worst. But it teeters.
One thing though; the flies haven't got any of the hints, let alone the intimations. THEY ARE ALL STILL HERE. GO AWAY YOU LITTLE BLACK BLIGHTERS. GO AWAY. They don't. Any more than corrupt politicians. Or Christmas. (Up till now.)