Sunday, 28 August 2011

A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian

by Marina Lewycka

In Corralejo library, there is a small section of books in English. Most of them are the cheap paperbacks that one buys in the airport and then happily leaves behind once the holidays are over. Still, I was able to find a great book to read: A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian.

As an elderly engineer decides to marry a woman almost fifty years younger, his two middle-aged daughters have to act. Vera and Nadezhda (now Mrs Divorce Expert and Mrs Flog-’em-and-send-’em-home of Tunbridge Wells) put aside their differences and unite in face of a common enemy; that is, their new big-bosomed stepmother and her wunderkind from a previous marriage. Absolutely brilliant.

A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian: A Novel
My sister and I will take no chances. I draft a letter to the Home Office Immigration Department at Lunar House, Croydon, setting out the story of Valentina’s marriage to our father and her relationship with Bob Turner. I don’t care about being a good liberal any more. I want this woman taken away. I describe the living arrangements — separate beds — and the fact that the marriage has not been consummated, because I believe the Establishment will take the view that penetrative sex is what marriage is all about. I am pleased with the primness of the letter.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Zeno’s Conscience

by Italo Svevo

My friend, colleague and bandmate Sergio presented me with this book when we last met on occasion of my leaving for Fuerteventura. He said that it is kind of classic and it comes from Trieste. Trieste!

I had an uneasy relationship with this place. Until 1993, the only thing I knew about Trieste was that it was the name of bathyscaphe that reached the bottom of the Mariana Trench. I was not even sure in which country Trieste the city was. The history of Trieste suggests that I was not alone in that. Then I spent most of 1994 right there. During that year, I discovered Italian food, Italian coffee, proper gelato, Jovanotti, Cab Calloway, the World Wide Web, the naturist beach, Dolomiti, Venice, Milan, Sardinia, Hungary and, finally, Leeds. That’s right: as soon as I set my foot in Trieste, I was trying to get away from there. And as soon as I left it for good, I started missing it. The phrases I brought from my time in Trieste include piccoli problemi and pozor na psa. Where were we, anyway?

Ah, forget that. No special Triestine connection is actually needed to enjoy Zeno’s Conscience. The style reminds me of Kharms. The (anti)hero is a really lovable type. And who would have thought that sixty tons of copper sulphate could be made into a running gag?

I have never suffered from miserliness, and Giovanna immediately had her glass filled, to the brim. Before she could finish saying thanks, she had drained it, and she immediately cast her bright eyes on the bottle. So it was she herself who gave me the idea of getting her drunk. But that was no easy undertaking!

I couldn’t repeat exactly everything she said to me, in her pure Triestine dialect, after she had drained all those glasses, but I had the profound impression of being with a person to whom, if I hadn’t been distracted by my own concerns, I could have listened with pleasure.

First of all, she confided to me that this was precisely the way she liked to work. Everybody in this world should be entitled to spend a couple of hours every day in just such a comfortable chair, facing a bottle of good brandy, the kind that doesn’t cause any ill effects.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Dragons and monsters

by Timur Kulikov

Paper, gel pens.



The artist at work

Tuesday, 16 August 2011


I must admit that, since I moved to Fuerte, I was a bit neglecting this (and my other) blogs. So why on earth did I start another one? To promote myself, that’s why. Also, to give Posterous a try. (Sorry Blogger.)

With Posterous, one can easily create blog posts by email. I tried this and it works like magic. Of course, it’s always possible to come back and edit this post with web editor.

So people, if you have nothing better to do, please visit and maybe even share the link with your Zumba friends!

More photos of Fuerteventura @ Shutterstock.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011


a film by Juan Fernando Andrés Parrilla and Esteban Roel García Vázquez

You don’t need to have any experience in dealing with Spanish bureaucracy to appreciate this short film starring Carolina Bang and Tomás del Estal. If you had such experience, you will love it.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Qawwali Flamenco

by Faiz Ali Faiz, Duquende, Miguel Poveda and Chicuelo

This 2 CD + DVD box, which looks more like a hardback book, was not fitting in my media storage boxes. (These latter now should be in a container, hopefully moving towards Fuerteventura). So I took it with me in a bag, along with a few other difficult-to-replace CDs (such as SBB Anthology).

For the most part, the qawwali—flamenco fusion works beautifully. Of course, it is debatable whether such things as “pure” qawwali or “pure” flamenco exist. And yet, if I had to choose my favourite song of this set, it would be “pure” qawwali (in context of this record), Mast Qalandar.

In addition to an hour-long live concert footage, the DVD contains the 17-minute “making of” documentary, which I watched for the first time here in Corralejo.