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Diary Archive

Postings 61 to 65.

Log #65. A Country of García's and González's

The INE (Spanish National Institute of Statistics) released some research showing the most popular names in Spain with data on first names for males and females and surnames for all families in Spain in 2006. For the ladies there were some 6 million women called María and some three million men were called José, whilst the top ten surnames in Spain are shared amongst almost 20% of the entire population. Top Surnames were García (3.32% of the population), González (2.08), Fernández (2.08) and Rodríguez (2.07). You can see a list of the top names here.

Log #64. Strictly Come Dancing - Spanish Style

Monday night is dance night on TVE1 with the Spanish version of the BBC's 'Strictly Come Dancing' - Mira Quién Baila - which translates as 'Look Who's Dancing'. It's a popular show, perhaps not quite the three-generation blockbuster it is in Britain, but popular enough to spawn a host of fan websites and be discussed in the 'serious' national papers. And it's in its 4th iteration now with spin-off DVDs and CDs so it must be doing something right. On tonight's show we were down to the last three contestants for the Gran Final: Guillermo Martin (a motormouth TV celeb and prior winner of the Spanish version of 'Pop Idol'), Estela Giménez (a gold winning Olympic gymnast) and Juan Alfonso Baptista (a TV star originally from Venezuela). The show is presented by a glamorous blonde called Anne Igartiburu and we have 5 judges (2 women and 3 men). It's all the same dances plus we have 'Disco' and 'Hip Hop' styles thrown in as well. The focus is very much on the contestants; we hardly get to know the professional dancers at all (which is a shame as Baptista's dance partner in the final was a total babe called Rocio Muñoz) and indeed they change partners each round so neither you the viewer nor the contestants ever get to build up that rapport with their partners.

Quite some excitement in the main interval when a previous contestant who had been voted off earlier came on to do a special Salsa and lost her knickers mid-way through a complicated lift section with her partner. "Madre Mia!" said Anne, our presenter, "Oooooh!" tittered the audience, and one judge fell off her chair trying not to laugh too much.

As you may imagine, these latino celebs can do Salsa, Rumba, Pasa Doble, Flamenco etc. pretty well, especially Baptista whose Venezuelan background means he was born doing the Merengue, but otherwise I wouldn't say they were any better than the UK contestants. In fact, they seemed a little under-drilled in comparison and in dire need of Lilia Kopylova's stern Muscovite ordering. The studio is not quite as raucous as in England and the judges don't do the 'Marks out of Ten' scoring boards, which robs the show of a key audience participation point, but it's still fascinating viewing. In the end Estela Giménez won. She's a petite, chirpy character, very beautiful and with bags of energy. Madrid-Uno approves her victory wholeheartedly.

Log #63. Corner Shops

Madrid doesn't really do corner shops but they do have something similar. Your local independent convenience store that opens early and says open late and run by 1st to 3rd generation immigrants is advertised as either an Alimentación (grocery) or a Frutos y Secos. The main difference to London though is that here the managers are usually Chinese rather than Bangladeshi / Pakistani / Indian. No cigarettes and no newspapers or mags but they do most everything else. There are licensing laws preventing them from selling you booze after 10.00pm but with a wink and a nod, and a discreet dark plastic bag, they can usually accommodate your drinking needs. Mind you, with bars staying open late anyway this is not such a big earner for them anyway. Madrid-Uno's local Mr Wong has three stores in the Salamanca / Retiro area and he controls them all from his master cabin perched above the till area. A PC with camera attachment shows him multi-screens of the checkouts at the other branches of his retail empire and they're also hooked up for audio, so he can bark instructions at recalcitrant nieces, nephews and cousins. I tell you, they're gonna take over the world these chaps.

Log #62. Dog Poo

No pooping in the park sign.Walking the dog in Retiro. We appreciate putting the sign down at dog sight-level, but how's it supposed to read the instructions?

Log #61. Where To Watch UK and Irish Sport

In Madrid-Uno's never ending search for different places to watch English sport in Spain's capital city he has discovered one immutable rule - only Irish pubs exist if you wanna catch a match. As with all rules, there may be one exception. Madrid-Uno has found a Scottish pub as well. So, still celtic, but at least it's a different colour. OK so here's the list and I'll try and update later if alerted to new places. NB, most of these pubs will also show American sports as well (especially American Football - NFL / AFL).

  • Bo' Finns - C/. Velazquez, 97
  • Elcano Tavern - C/. Alonso Cano, 57
  • Finbars - C/. Marquéz de Urquijo, 10
  • Finnegan's - Plaza de las Salesas
  • Larry's - Alberto Alcocer, 7
  • Molly Malone's - C/. Manuela Malasaña, 11
  • Moore's & Co. - C/. Felipe III, 4
  • O'Connell St. / Dubliners - C/. Espoz y Mina, 7
  • O'Connors - C/. Almagro, 3
  • O'Neills - Principe, 12
  • St. Patrick's Abbey - C/. Puerto Rico, 35
  • The Celtic Cross - C/. Maldonado, 14
  • The Irish Rover - Avda del Brasil, 7
  • The James Joyce - C/. Alcalá, 59
  • The Quiet Man - C/. Valverde, 44
  • Triskel Tavern - C/. Vincente Ferrer 3
  • Finnegan's is also the HQ of the Madrid Lions RFC

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