Thursday, 9 June 2011


The English summer continues in its multi-seasonal way here. Monday: sunshine and fine weather, good enough to take the kids to play in the park. Tuesday: April showers in June. Wednesday: thunder and lightning, hailstorms, torrential rain.

On Tuesday I listened in to the conversation of a couple of Spaniards walking towards Piccadilly Station. One said to the other that she had brought her sunglasses to Manchester but she never wore them as she never needed them. I do think she exaggerated a little. At that particular moment the sun was shining nicely. The fact that it absolutely threw it down only minutes later is ne
ither here nor there.

The showery weathe
r had the umbrella sellers out on Market Street in Manchester, an unusual sight, making me think for a moment that I was back in Galicia.

I was in Manchester in my lady of leisure role: Italian conversation class, a bit of shopping, a cup of coffee with friends – you get the picture. Having done my lady of leisure bit I realised that I had about eight minutes to get from St Anne’s Square to Victoria Station to catch a train to my daughter’s house. There’s only one train an hour and the bus, although marginally more frequent, is less convenient. I caught the train and almost wished I hadn’t as it was so crowded; it was one of those journeys which make you understand how sardines feel. Apparently the rail company is aware of the problem but won’t put longer trains on as some of the stations on that route have very short platforms!!

My daughter had asked me to babysit so I had invited myself to tea rather than go home and then have to go out again immediately. The evening was uneventful enough until I was on my way home, waiting at the bus stop just down the road from my daughter’s house. She was doing the concerned daughter bit and watching out of the window to check that the bus arrived as I had left my mobile phone at home by mistake and so could not text her to let her know I was safely on board. (What did we do before mobiles?)

As I stood at the bus stop I saw a car pull up opposite, followed shortly by another, just ordinary cars. Two young men got out of each car and had a little confab on the corner of the street. They then got back in the cars and moved them around a little, got out and talked some more and then got back in. My curiosity was aroused but I was trying not to let it show as I was all alone at the stop ... without my mobile phone!!

Then they moved the cars so that they were facing the same way down the street. I heard one say, “Right! We’ll do the countdown now! Three... two ... one ...” And they were off, racing down the street. And there I was, waiting for a crash at any moment and ... still without my mobile!

They came back, one driver accused the other of having modified his engine in some way and then they raced again! They returned for another go but I didn’t see that as my bus arrived and they had to pull out of the way to allow the buss to get through. My daughter did see the third race, however, and phoned the police at that point. Fun and games in the late evening in Mossley, Greater Manchester!

Stranger things happen in other places though. I heard on the radio news yesterday that a man in a suitcase was arrested in North East Spain. Yes, a man in a suitcase!

It turns out that this man and his partner were regularly stealing from cases in the luggage compartment of the bus taking plane passengers from Gerona airport into the city. Thefts were only discovered when travellers opened their cases in their hotels and found that laptops, cameras, kindles and suchlike had disappeared. Police were puzzled and then one day someone noticed something wrong with a bag in the luggage hold and called the police, solving the mystery on the spot.

One smallish man hid inside a large suitcase. His partner deposited the bag in the luggage hold of the bus. Once the bus set off, the smallish man got out of his case and rifled the other bags, putting all the swag and himself back in the suitcase in time for his friend to unload him. Quite ingenious! My Phil, who already likes to sit where he can check that no-one walks off with our bags, will be even more paranoid next time we do the airport bus stage of our travels!

Still, at least they caught that thief. The newsman said that according to Gerona police it was an open and shut case!!

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