Friday, 4 August 2017

Man not in Álora tells Scilly Stories of Shipwrecks, Skybus, Strudel and Cyber Stalking.

Scilly Stories of Shipwrecks, Skybus,Strudel and Cyber Stalking.

About this time of the year, when the British summer is at its peak, Mrs. Sánchez and I pack our buckets and spades and, filled with the optimism that comes with failing memory, head south west for the cooling heady breezes of the Isles of Scilly, a group of largely unspoilt islands, rocks, reefs and ledges 28 miles off the coast of Cornwall.

People who live on the five inhabited islands are called 'Scillonians' or 'Islanders'. You can imagine how amused Scillonians are by the possibly infinite number original and entertaining ways  the pun: Scilly/silly can be used.  (Scilly ass, Scilly bee, Scilly sausages etc.) That is probably the reason they don't like you saying 'The Scilly Isles' and prefer 'The Isles of Scilly', 'The Fortunate Islands' or 'Lyonesse'. It hasn't stopped some shameless incomers employing the worn out pun to sell stuff, though.

One of the reasons Scilly is so 'unspoilt' is that it's not easy to get there to dump your rubbish, string vests and tattoos  are banned and it's very expensive.. It's a long drive to Land's End from everywhere in Britain except, perhaps ,Cornwall and then you have to leave your car in the hands of  a licensed bandit while your stomach  makes the  2 hours 40 min. sea crossing on Scillonian 111 (another reason for not going). There used to be a helicopter but Sainsbury's built a big store on the heliport so the only alternative to sea sickness these days is Skybus which flies from Lands End Airport (LEQ), near St. Just-in-Penwith, to St. Mary's, Isles of Scilly.

                                          The Skybus 8 seater 'Islander BN-2B'.

Until a few years ago it was called St Just Aerodrome and  the planes took off in a field which was a bit bumpy (rabbit holes) and the field got waterlogged after a heavy shower. In 2014 they laid  a concrete runway and changed the name. It is now thoroughly modern, with flashing runway lights, a new cafe serving 4 kinds of coffee and a televised safety film.

Land's End Airport
What a rude pilot!

After a gruelling six hour drive Mrs.S. and I arrived, parked the car and went to check in. We weighed our bags on a machine (15kg maximum per person) and we were well under. Then I saw a notice saying we had to have 'Photo ID'. Mrs. S. didn't have any. I didn't want to leave her behind  (I had my driving licence) so I tried to blag our way past the 'security' lady. If you can do a Cornish accent, read the next bit aloud using it.

'You have to have proper ID. This is a proper airport.
(they use the adjective proper as often as possible in Cornwall)

'I've got mine but my wife hasn't got any' 

´Has she got a bus pass?' (cheeky mare!)


'That credit card will do. Pop your bags on the belt'.

A chap who looked just like the policeman in Doc Martin started calling out the weight of each item.

'8, 5, 8'

'Hang on a minute, we've just weighed all those. That bag never weighs 8 kilos!'

'We're talking pounds. Proper job.  What about those other bags?'

'Hand luggage'

'Too big. pop 'em on the belt'

'But that will take them over the weight limit'

'Don't worry about that. Now who's going to be weighed first?'

 We stepped forward in turn and placed our feet on the two foot-shapes on the floor.

'That's all fine. Proper job. Go and have a cup of coffee and a pasty and we'll give you a shout when your flight's ready.'

                                                             'Proper job!

The flight to St. Mary's (the big island) took 15 minutes as there was a head wind. Paulger's Taxis whisked us down to the quay where we waited for the 12.45 'Spirit of St. Agnes' to ferry us over to the most south-westerly of the inhabited islands, St. Agnes, ancient home of the Hickses and Leggs. 
All the other islands used to be one big island (Lyonesse) but global warming around 500AD caused an inundation and the islands of Bryher, Tresco, St. Mary's and St. Martin's were created (previously the hilltops) and that's  all that's left of Lyonesse.

"So all day long the noise of battle roll'd
Among the mountains by the winter sea;
Until King Arthur's Table man by man,
Had fall'n in Lyonesse about their Lord,
King Arthur...."

(Morte d'Arthur

We've been going to Scilly since 1977 (it's an addiction) and we are still classed as 'visitors' which is fair enough, but when we go to one of the other islands we become 'trippers' which irritates me a bit. To be an 'islander' you have to able to prove your family was living there when Adam was a lad.
Our kids still keep going back for holidays too. It's a very peaceful place. Crime is is virtually non-existent (although there was a murder in 1976 (incomers on St. Mary's) and a minor crime wave in 1975,( also on St. Mary's) .
In the 70's Mrs. Sánchez and I were happy to let the kids run wild around 'Agnes' until teatime, confident that they would come to no harm. Paedophiles hadn't been invented then  and children still ' made their own amusements'. It's much the same today. There are no snakes and you are more likely to smell a pasty than smell a rat; the latter were all bumped off a few years ago.

The real truth is that St Agnes is a very dangerous place. I had no idea. A friendly cricket match last week against a pub team from Cheltenham was abandoned when a St Agnes player nearly had his left eye removed by a cricket ball and then one of the opposition dived for a catch and broke his collar bone. A couple of days later the coastguard helicopter was called out to evacuate a sailor who had damaged a hand in an outboard motor propeller. (Agh!)

                        Coastguard rescue helicopter hovering outside our bathroom

And then there's The Lobster Man. Half man, half lobster, he haunts the lanes of St. Agnes on misty nights. You may laugh but all the 88 permanent residents of St. Agnes treat him with respect and always wear some seaweed about their person if they find it necessary to pass by the Island Hall in darkness.
There is a saying here;

'A pasty a day keeps the Lobster Man at bay'

I may have had this very saying in mind as I collected our lunchtime pasties from the bar in The Turks Head, the island's pub. These pasties must be in short supply because there is a sign outside the pub telling one to ' pre- order pasties before 11.00am' and I was looking forward to sinking my gnashers into one of these piping hot savoury pastries. As I reached for my wallet a voice from behind me that I did not recognise said,

'Are you Juanito?'

I turned to face a tall and considerably broad male figure silhouetted against the sunlit window.

'Do I know you?' I asked, as I squinted to make out his back- lit features.

'No. I'm , *****, the owner of the pub. I believe you had a problem here last night.'

The pub had changed hands since we last stayed on St. Agnes. I knew nothing about the new owners. I tried to remember a 'problem'

'Last night. Down to the pub at 9.15. Ordered drinks for Mrs. S and myself. Barman says, I'm shutting the pub at 10.00. I was disappointed. First night. First drink at pub. As I put the drinks on the table, feeling a little disgruntled, my phone dinged. 
A knife and fork symbol in the top left hand corner.'

'Your are in the Turks Head, St. Agnes. Can we have your opinion?' 

'Not wishing to disappoint and more than willing to share my dismay with someone I wrote:
'Pub shuts at 10.00pm. No food after 9.00 pm. Only game in town.'
We drank our 'Sea Fury' ale and left'.

'No I didn't have a problem.'

'You gave us a bad review on Google. You only gave us one star'.

'Oh, sorry, I just said you were shutting at 10 o'clock.' They asked me.

'Well,  I'd like you to reconsider your review'


I was suddenly aware that my pasties were cooling on the bar, the sunny pub garden and Mrs. Sánchez beckoned and I still hadn't paid. I handed over the money and picked up the two plates. He was still there. I could make out his features now. We had never met. I had never seen him before. I had another 6 days to stay on the island with only one pub and only one other (expensive) place to eat in the evenings. Curiosity overcame my need to eat and drink for the rest of the week.

'By the way, how did you know I am me? How do you know my name?

'I spent 20 years in IT so I know how to find out about people.'

He showed me his 'phone. There was a gallery of photos of me. Some not very flattering.
He'd been waiting for me to come in with these pictures to identify me.
I started to feel very uncomfortable. Creepy, right?
Phones, computers, the internet; nowhere to run, nowhere to hide from cyber stalking.

Not such a peaceful island then.

The Turks Head (no apostrophe) is a lovely pub with an amazing view over the islands.

We've had many great evenings there over the last 40 years with family and friends. The beers always good and lots to choose from on the menu board.

A couple of days later ( still managing to get food and drinks at the pub) Mrs. Sánchez and I wandered into the little church at Periglis  in Cornish (church cove) to have a look at the stained glass windows.

The 'new' stained glass windows in the church
The top one on the left depicts two of the pilot gigs which used to row out to ships as they approached the English Channel in order to to put a local pilot on board to guide the ship through the deadly rocky western approaches. The Western Rocks are some of the most dangerous in the British Isles. The Bishop Rock Lighthouse ( the most westerly lighthouse in Europe) was built to keep ships away from these rocks, underwater reefs and ledges. 
There are 580 registered shipwrecks around The Isles of Scilly.

A gig usually had a crew of 7 including the 'cox'. Their long and slim design and the six oars made them fast boats; fast enough to outrun the Customs boat too.

                    Two gigs racing. The St. Agnes gig Slippen is on the right

The gigs often went out at night in high seas, usually competing with gigs from other islands to be the first to put a pilot on board. It's how they made a living. Many islanders lost their lives attempting to save the crews of ships in distress. 

There's a plaque on the wall of the Church which sketches the story of the schooner 'Thomas W. Lawson' which was wrecked in 1907 off the small uninhabited island of Annet, just across from St. Agnes.

The story of the Thomas T. Lawson is a gripping tale of greed, heroism, tragedy and hubris. (I've never been too sure about hubris) and I think it's worth telling in more detail. So here goes. 

                                                          The Thomas T. Lawson

At the time the Thomas T Lawson was built (1902) the majority of freighters were using steam power or a combination of steam and sails. She was originally built to carry coal along the East coast of the United States. Freight operators had found that steamers were uneconomical because a third of their cargo space was taken up by coal for the boilers, then there was the cost of the fuel itself. So John G. Crowley paid $250,000 dollars to have the biggest pure sailing vessel ever built. No other sailing ship had so many masts  but it was 'a turkey' from the start. Its massive deep steel hull and inadequate sail area made it handle 'like a beached whale'; it couldn't  get into many of the coal harbours and it did not have an auxiliary engine for manoeuvrability in light winds. Its only engine was a small 'donkey' which was used to winch  the heavy sails and to operate the pumps and the steering. Powered winches meant a smaller crew and more profit.

By 1903 transporting coal wasn't very profitable so Mr. Crowley had it refitted to take a cargo of oil and on November 17th. 1907 off she set for London with 58,000 barrels of oil - but not before replacing 6 of the crew, who refused to work for such low wages, with mostly non-English speaking unqualified seamen, two days before the off.  The full complement on board was 18 including the captain, George Washington Dow, two stewards an engineer and  two helmsmen. (no mention of a cook!).

Two days out she ran into a series of terrible storms and was not sighted for 20 days. By the time she reached the Celtic Sea, west of The Isles of Scilly, she had lost most of her sails, all but one lifeboat and the pumps had clogged up.  On Friday 13th. December, with hardly any sails and no engine the Thomas T Lawson couldn't be steered effectively and, to make matters worse, the crew  failed to spot the Bishop Rock Lighthouse. The ship staggered up Broad Sound on the wrong side of Bishop Rock towards the treacherous rocks of Annet. 

                                      Annet (Minmanueth is a the top left hand tip.)

Near Gunners Rock (just out of the picture, top left) Captain Dow dropped two bow anchors to ride out an impending gale and await assistance. Lifeboats from St. Mary's and St. Agnes came out and requested the captain to abandon ship, which he refused to do several times, trusting his anchors, but he agreed to take on board Billy 'Cook' Hicks, a Trinity House pilot from St. Agnes. As the storm gathered force one of the anchors started to drag. 
The St. Mary's lifeboat had to return home with an injured crew member, The St. Agnes boat had lost a mast and so followed suit after staying alongside the ship for 4 hours in the most terrible high seas and gale force winds. Falmouth was cabled to send a tug which never appeared.

                                            The Western Rocks, Isles of Scilly

During the night the port anchor chain broke, then the other one. The ship was doomed. 
Soon after 2.30 am. watchers on St. Agnes saw the ship's lights go out. She had crashed into Shag Rock and broken in two.The cargo of oil gushed out into the boiling sea.. All the masts broke off and fell into the rocky maelstrom  killing all the crewmen, who had been ordered to climb up them for safety. Billy Hicks was among them. Only three men out 19 remained alive; the captain, the engineer, Edward Rowe and crew member, George Allen.      
 Every man was wearing a lifebelt but all 16 were killed by falling masts, getting trapped in the rigging , smashed against the jagged rocks or drowned in a mixture of sea water and oil. Bodies recovered after shipwrecks are rarely intact.

  The St. Agnes gig 'Slippen'

By morning the overwhelming stench of oil across St. Agnes told all. The ship was lost.
 But what of survivors?.The St. Agnes lifeboat couldn't get out of Per Conger bay. Meanwhile Edward Hicks, the son of the pilot Billy 'Cook' Hicks,tried desperately to raise a crew to take out the pilot gig Slippen to look for his father and other possible survivors.
Eight men, including Edward launched Slippen and struck out into the huge waves for Annet.
Above the howling of the wind and the crashing of waves they heard a voice calling for help and found a sailor, George Allen, who was badly injured, and took him back to St. Agnes, where he died later. He had been the only survivor, it was presumed.

Young Edward Hicks would not give up hope and that afternoon the crew of the Slippen set out again and this time came across the engineer, Rowe, who had been washed up on the Hellweathers Carn rock. He had swallowed sea water and oil, but was without serious injury. They threw him a rope and pulled him into the boat. 

                                                   Hellweathers Carn Rock

He told them he'd seen the captain alive on some rocks not far away. Edward grabbed a rope and plunged into the sea, clambering 50 yards through sea and rocks for 50 yards to rescue Captain Dow who had a broken wrist. For his bravery the U.S. government gave him a gold watch. All the Slippen crew were also given gold medals.

Lucky, indeed. Not so lucky  the crew members and St. Agnes pilot who may have survived if he had accepted help early on.

The next day, Sunday, the St. Mary's lifeboat and gigs from the other islands went out to look for the bodies of the rest of the crew. A grisly task .Their remains were buried in a grave on St. Agnes.

Today the Thomas T Lawson lies on the sea bed to the west of Shag Rock. It is a popular site for divers. 

Edward Hicks's grandaughter, Mandy Pearce still lives on St. Agnes with her husband, Adrian. They used to be flower farmers and owned The Bulb Shop on St. Agnes (now 'Potbuoys'). We know Mandy quite well and a had a chat with her last week. I'd no idea until days later that she had this connection to the Thomas T Lawson

There is a little school on St. Agnes for the nine children on the island of primary school age. The nearest Secondary School is on St. Mary's.
The schools here break up two weeks later than on the mainland so we were able to go and watch the concert that they put on outside the school. It was very good indeed. Although there aren't many children, there is a wide age range.
As 'Young Mr. Grace' of Grace Brothers used to say ' You've all done very well'.

The concert
                                                               Young Mr. Grace

As we sat watching the show, the St. Agnes Post Office Van went by. Yes, 88 residents and they have their own Post Office van. Proper job too!

And their own BT van!

Pie News

No pie news this time because everybody eats pasties here but if you are ever on St. Mary's, get yourself up to Kaffehaus on High Lanes and have some of their delicious  Apfelstrudel. 

 Juanito Sánchez August 4th. 2017.



Saturday, 15 July 2017

Man not in Álora goes shopping and almost clears a bus.

Man not in Álora goes shopping and almost clears a bus.

                                                         Craster Kippers

Yesterday I went out to buy two dog whistles (two dogs, so two dog whistles, right?). After reading my previous blog I decided the best place to go was J. Hudson & Co. (Whistles) Ltd. which by a fortunate co-incidence has its premises in  Birmingham where Mrs. Sánchez and I are 'veraneando' (summering) at the moment. I was hoping to combine my trip to Britain's 'Second City' centre with a visit to Birmingham's world famous Indoor Market to buy a watch strap, a pair of Craster kippers and some pork scratchings. Also a neighbour of ours who manages a sunglasses shop had implied that he could 'fix me up' with a pair of designer frames. A busy day ahead, then.


How I imagine I will look in my new  Ray-bans

Unless you are a vegetarian, never go into Birmingham Indoor Market with full pockets and an empty stomach. 
The sunglasses tip turned out to be "to' pa' na' " (todo para nada in Perote talk) (all in vain) ; my neighbour wasn't at work that day, so, with  Craster Kippers, watch strap and pork scratchings in the bag, I flashed my Centro Concessionary Pass at the fat layabout at the Moor Street Station barrier and boarded the next train for The Jewellery Quarter. It was a warm July afternoon.

 Birmingham's world famous Jewellery Quarter.

The Jewellery Quarter is in the Hockley district of Birmingham and was a bit run down for a time even though for 250 years it has been a thriving centre for jewellery manufacturers, jewellery shops, bullion dealers, watchmakers and repairers, you name it.The Birmingham Royal Mint is just down the road. That venerable establishment  was banging out 1€ and 2€ coins until 2013.
These days The Quarter  has bars, restaurants, a Museum of the Jewellery Quarter, a Pen Museum, (see blog  9/3/14) and a Coffin Museum (they made coffins for Joseph Chamberlain, Winston Churchill and the Queen Mother).

I was looking for J. Hudson & Co. (Whistles) Ltd. on Barr Street. I had it on Google maps so I turned left after leaving 'Jewellery Quarter' station, down Vyse Street and found Barr Street which turned out to be a very long road full of fringe businesses selling mobile phone paraphernalia, 'solutions' and boarded up warehouses. After walking for 15 minutes in the wrong direction and another 15 back, Barr Street ran out at the A4540 internal bypass. After an uphill walk to a footbridge and another 20 footslogging minutes I found the rest of Barr Street and located  J. Hudson & Co (Whistles) Ltd. just up from Ced's Car Alarms and Porky's Cafe.(Mmmm.) . By this time the kippers were making their presence felt.

 244 Barr Street, Hockley.

They are obviously not expecting passing trade. You could call it one of Birmingham's hidden treasures. The building looked abandoned, like many of those in this god forsaken backwater but I rang a rusty bell and a young male voice asked me what my business might be.
'I wish to buy a whistle or two.'
'Wait there I'll be right down'

The door was opened by a freshed -faced bespectacled youth who led me up an old, creaky wooden staircase with faded tiled walls to the 'Whistle Room'. Birmingham ought to adopt it as 'The Whistle Museum' (and it probably will as my new best pal, Carl Rice, Lord Mayor of Birmingham reads this blog (I think)). 
All available wall space contained cabinets full of J. Hudson & Co.(Whistles) Ltd. products, past and present, including the world famous ACME range of megaphones, bird callers, bosun's whistles, reed horns, police and infantry whistles and, of course, that world famous 'teachers' friend', the 'ACME Thunderer', immortalised by the world famous Liverpool Beat Poet,  Roger McGough.

 'He Who Owns the Whistle Rules the World'


The Acme Thunderer.

 I had one myself during my brief but eventful career at Christ's Church County Primary School, Beswick, Manchester. 
(If any ex pupils read this, perhaps in Russia or the Turks and Caicos Islands, please resist the urge to contact or pester me in any way or I will take out a court injunction against you. So watch it!))

I told the enthusiastic George (Pepys!) (who reminded me of the the lad, Geoffrey, assistant to Hetty Wainthropp in the very popular TV detective series , 'Hetty Wainthropp Investigates, which can still be seen on the Drama channel), that I was looking for two dog whistles as I had two dogs, one with perfect hearing and one with a moderate to severe bilateral hearing loss. He performed a number of facial contortions indicating deep thought and replied,

'I think what you want is not 'two dog whistles' but a 'two dog whistle' and we have just the thing. It will turn out much cheaper than buying two dog whistles. What colour did you have in mind?'

'I think yellow'.

So off he went into the bowels of 244 Barr Street. (he may have been the only person in the building for all I know) and returned with two yellow plastic whistles. One played at a lower pitch than the other. I chose the higher pitched instrument as it is common knowledge that dogs hear higher pitched sounds than humans.

'The deaf dog will be able to hear this and the other will hear any whistle. So you only need one', he explained. 

'I'll take two'. 

Such wisdom and in one so young!

 The Acme 210.5 dog whistle.

"I'll take two!"

George told me he had been working there for  four years, starting as an apprentice in the warehouse. He really liked his job and was happy to answer my questions and let me take some photos.

The Titanic Display. Acme Thunderers were used to marshall people into the lifeboats as the Titanic was sinking. In 1991 an original one was sold for £3100.

Hudson's make a wide range of bird and animal attractors 'for the ornithologist, game enthusiast and country folk'. 'Cuckoo', 'nightingale' and 'duck call' all seem reasonable but who would want 'Pig grunt and squeal' or 'rabbit squeal'? George said there wasn't much call for the pig squeal caller these days but the 'sheep bleat' is still popular in Wales.

George Pepys posing in the imposing portal of J Hudson & Co (Whistles) Ltd.
244 Barr Street, Birmingham. 

 If that wasn't enough excitement for one day, the kippers and I passed by Porky's Cafe and headed back up to take the train back home. Perhaps it was all the excitement or the heady, smoky, fishy aroma emanating from my plastic carrier bag but I ended up on the wrong train.
There appeared to be a sigh of relief from the other passengers as I jumped out at Solihull station.
I called Mrs Sánchez, who is the 'go to' person on all matters of public transport and she advised me to take a 76, 6 or 5 bus 'if I could find the stop'. 
Luckily my Centro Concessionary Pass is good on the buses too!

I found the stop and got on the first number six.  No double seats empty. I sat next to a very presentable Solihull lady who got wind of my kippers immediately, as we say up north.
I was grateful for a call from Mrs. S. to see how I was getting on as she needed the car and I'd parked it at the station. It took the heat off me (and the kippers) a bit, and I was saved from further embarrassment when two burly lady bus inspectors boarded the bus. I flashed my pass confidently but the chap in the seat in front got nabbed. No ticket.
Things got nasty and escalated. 

'This bus is not moving till you get off!'

'I pay your wages to bully me. I have epilepsy. I am disabled. I not moving.' (He was a bit foreign).

' Leave the bus, sir, or we will evacuate the bus and transfer the passengers to another bus and wait for the police.'

You could tell that the other passengers were hoping for the evacuation option as the kippers, by this time, were half cooked.

After a seemingly interminable stand-off, they tossed him off. The poor chap took the walk of shame down the aisle of the bus and got off. I think the kippers broke his will.

The lady next to me got off two stops later.

What an exciting day. We had the kippers with scrambled egg this morning. Delicious!

This week's competition

How many whistles/harkers/megaphones can you see in this poodle picture?

Answers, as usual with the  £10 administration fee to Sánchez and Sánchez. Box 311. Alora, Malaga.

Juanito Sánchez July 14th. 2017

Monday, 29 May 2017

Whistle Blowers, Sanguineous Sausage and Revolting Catalans.

Whistle blowers, sanguineous sausage and revolting Catalans

Antes que nada (First of all) I must offer my apologies to Julian Clary and his lawyers for a mistake I made in the last edition of this venerable but humble organ.
King José 1st. of Spain (Joseph Bonaparte) was not really married to Mr. J. Clary, star of the stage and witty radio panellist . His wife was, in fact,  Julie Clary who was born nearly two hundred years before the popular entertainer and animal lover.

                                Julie Clary Bonaparte ( Born Julie Clary in 1771; died in 1845)

                                                Julian Clary, popular entertainer.

You've got to so careful these days when you write an extremely popular and informative blog like this. A simple typing error can get you into all kinds of trouble.I hope that this will be the end of the matter.

I missed the Eurovision Song Contest again this year so I missed Great Britain's sucess in scoring some points. Here in Álora not everyone was rooting for the Spanish entry, 'Do it for Your Lover', sung by Manel Navarro Quesada, a Catalán 'teen idol' who allegedly (careful Juanito) only qualified as Spain's entry by rigging the votes. Manel's reply to the accusations of skullduggery was a 'corte de mangas' to the studio audience who were booing and hissing him. 

Here's Manel giving the corte de mangas to the audience.

Here he is giving a victory 'V' sign at the Eurovision  final.

This was just before for he sang a gallo (bum note) The judges responded by returning the V sign and giving him 'nil points'.
Spain came last. Manel is now known as 'El gallo' (The Cockerel/ Bum Note).

 It doesn't matter to millions of Spaniards because he's Catalan and therefore to them,'not Spanish'. That's why his name is 'misspelt'. There's a lot of animosity towards Cataluña because it is trying to become independent from Spain and because  Barcelona FC.  keeps beating 'real Spanish football teams' like Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid. (sometimes)

                                                Catalan flag (blue version)

There was a Catalan referendum in  2014 which resulted in 88% of the 35% of the Catalan population who could bother to vote voting for independence. This was a non- binding referendum (why didn't Cameron do that?), so when the Catalan government announced it was going to declare independence anyway, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said 'No way José!' (¡Ni hablar de la peluca, José!) even though the Catalan president was called Artur (Arthur) Mas. Mas is now banned from holding any public office for two years. The new Catalan President, Carles Puigdemont is a big fan of Nicola Sturgeon and together they have formed a new 'We Want Independence' club. 

                                         Nicola Sturgeon and Artur (Arthur) Mas

 Members so far include the USA, The Turks and Caicos Islands, Yorkshire and London. 

Progress with Pretty Boy George (Monty)

The 'Man in Álora' office has been inundated with enquiries about the Sánchez Spaniel, Monty, now 5 months old, and in particular about how he is finding life in Álora.

Well, apart from the heat and the oily food he has voiced no complaints so far. All the local strays and 'homies' of the Plaza Baja presume he is 'son a 'Bro' Tomás, innit. (Tommy's son)  and so they're scared of even 'sneak disssing' him, let alone 'getting crunk wid him' as they say round here. 

                          Plaza Baja  perros showing respect for 'el Niño de Bro' Tomás '

The only sign of disrespect was up at the castle when a crazy macho (male) Shar Pei  'went postal' with Bro Tomás. Tommy flashed his Perote snarl and snap and the ugliest dog in the world 'did one'. Monty was well impressed, I can tell you.

His training programme se dió en un hueso ( hit a snag) a couple of weeks ago when Mrs. Sánchez realised she can't whistle. Like most problems these days it was solved by Dr. Google who suggested a dog training whistle. Apparently the only whistle any self respecting canine will respond to is an 'ACME 210.5'.

                                                            The ACME 210.5

Contrary to popular opinion, a dog whistle doesn't have to be inaudible to the human ear -  as long as the dog can hear it. Dogs can perceive a far higher range of high pitched sounds than humans but,  how do you know  a silent whistle's working if you can't hear it?

                          A British bobby blowing a  'ACME Metropolitan' police whistle

During my brief but eventful career as a teacher I was obliged to be 'on playground duty' every few days. The only compulsory equipment for this thankless sacrifice of my morning coffee break was an Acme Thunderer whistle, as essential a piece of teacher kit as a police whistle was to a bobby before they invented walkie-talkies and a referees whistle was before.....oh, they still use one and it's usually the 60.5 model.

Acme Thunderer 60.5 (200 million sold by year 2000)

'A primary school has introduced a ban on whistles on the grounds that the “aggressive” noise can scare children.
St Monica’s Catholic Primary School in Milton Keynes has said instead of using whistles at the end of playtime, staff must raise their hands to tell pupils when it’s time to stop.
The ban was revealed by Pamela Cunningham, a teaching assistant at the school. In a letter to Country Life magazine, she said she still keeps her hand-carved whistle in her pocket “just in case” the children don’t spot her hand in an emergency.
Alan Smithers, a professor at Buckingham University, has described the ban as "crazy".
He told The Sunday Times: “We have become extraordinarily oversensitive. Does this means children are not going to be able to play football and hockey because the referees use whistles? 
“What about fire alarms? Sharp noises are very good signals. This seems crazy to me.”
The decision has also provoked a reaction on social media, with Twitter users describing the ban as “idiotic” and “ridiculous”. John Roninson, who works for a stage lighting company in Huddersfield, wrote: “Some mornings you wake up and wonder if you're in a parallel universe.”'

The Independent. 22nd. May 2016
' 'Hand carved whistle??? Not an ACME Thunderer,then.

                                       World War 1 Hudson Whistle, dated 1915.
Anyway, all these ACME whistles and many more are made by J Hudson & Co. of 244 Barr Street, Birmingham They have been making whistles there since1883 when Joseph Hudson discovered that you could make a more powerful sound by putting a pea in the whistle.
They still employ 100 workers, make over 5 million whistles a year in 93 different shapes and sizes and export to 119 countries.

It was the sound of a J. Hudson whistle that sent thousands of British soldiers 'over the top' to die pointless deaths in World War 1 but  their best seller was the 'Metropolitan' which was issued to London's policemen instead of 'rattles'.
They saved a few lives too. 
Today Hudson's Tornado 2000 is 'the most powerful whistle in the world' and can reach 122 decibels which is very loud.

 Good News From Álora
Tenacious followers of this honourable publication may remember the tragic loss of water at Alora's Roman Fountain on La Canca. Mrs. S and I used to obtain all our drinking water there as did hundreds of Perotes. Rumours were rife about what had caused the abrupt termination of supply. The appearance of a big commercial citrus fruit plantation nearby was linked by some  very cynical commentators to the 'sequía' (drought)
Now we have water again!
                                                                  Last week

                                                                  Last year
Too late for us. We had a very expensive water purifier installed last year so we can use the town's tap water.
Congratulations to all involved in restoring the flow.

Noticias sobre las morcillas  (Black pudding news) (Skip this, Clive).
For black pudding enthusiasts I would like to recommend El Bar Nuevo in Casarabonela for its outstanding morcilla.
    Only a few picturesque kilometres away from Álora, Casarabonela ('Bonela' to residents and frequent visitors) is home to a morcilla casera (home made black pudding) which is de puta madre (the dog's bollocks). It is quite dfferent from the morcillas I have tucked into around Málaga and nothing like the famous morcilla de Burgos which has been my favourite until now. This scrumptious sanguineous sausage is the closest I have come in Spain to the world famous Lancashire liplickingful  Bury Black Pudding.
                        Morcilla casera. El Bar Nuevo de Casarabonela (and chips)

You can buy this porcine delight at either of the two carnicerías (butcher's) in 'Bonela. The  nearest to Álora is just through the town archway on the left. Mmmmmm.
¡Qué aproveche!
Juanito Sánchez.  May 29th. 2017