Season’s cheer and greetings!

Welcome back to my blog dear reader! It is a pleasure and an honour to be back in your company again.

I must start by apologising most sincerely for my neglect and my absence from the airwaves – which is more commonly referred to as the Internet. There is a reasonable explanation and for me personally a very, very exciting one.

First things first, I will briefly address the changing, and for the most part, disturbing and profoundly unpleasant developments in world affairs since we last touched base. June saw the UK depressingly vote to leave the European Union and November witnessed the election of narcissist in chief turned commander in chief, Donald Trump, as President of the United States of America. We have also seen a deeply tragic worsening of the situation in Syria, Aleppo in particular, and a number of high profile terrorist attacks in Brussels, Berlin and Orlando. It is no doubt a challenging time for the world, and progressives in particular, but as President Obama eloquently outlined we can proud of the fact that in no time in human history have we seen more democracies, fewer people in extreme poverty, advances in medical research and innovation, record breaking improvements in gender equality, and unprecedented numbers of human exchange and intermarriage (between varying cultures and same sex couples). More work always remains though.

This article will now be a break from my usual format, my esteeemed guest and reader, and the preceding paragraph represents my sole comment for the time being on world affairs. I would now like to be granted the opportunity to talk a little about me, and as the title suggests, bring a little of what I hope will be welcome cheer into our lives.

I now wish to tell the world that I am living and working in sunny Madrid, Spain. I have been here since my last entry in May and the city has quickly become one of my favourites on this fair planet of ours. Move aside, Los Angeles, Paris, Barcelona and London for I have a new beau. Madrid is packed to the rafters with art, museums, history, theatres, parks, palaces and nightlife (the latter of which I have sampled in a proportionately modest amount I can assure you dear reader!). My home life has been nothing short of perfection and exceeded even my high expectations. The apartment I occupy is, like any self respecting belly dancer, amply proportioned I am pleased to say, with an eclectic mix of furniture and knicknacks. My stellar housemates are a rich array of the bold and the beautiful, from a reclusive Chinese student to a larger than life guitar playing Basque. Let me introduce you to them.

In alphabetical order and with a one word adjective introduction we have:

Alex – heavyweight. Not a heavyweight in stature or size by any means but he does feel like a burden when he returns late at night and insists on collapsing on top of me whilst I’m reclining on the sofa. A sharply dressed Chinese student with a penchant for water colour painting (which in my opinion he underestimates his talent for!) he is a workaholic in his studies. When he is not studying however, he can often be found stressing out over his Ted X projects (to which he is a martyr) or traversing the grand sites of the Continent. He is a thoughtful and unstintingly pleasant individual and his claim to fame is replying “drawing….??” when he fails to understand you.

Borja – undiscovered genius. An engaging, intelligent and admirable stickler for true liberal values and reason, he gets thoroughly annoyed by intolerance and ignorance (which is not a criticism by any means as I merely choose to suffer in silence when confronted by such illiberal views!) and he challenges the opinions of the untutored at every turn.  As a fellow student of politics we have sparred over some issues but I have nevertheless never found his arguments lacking in intellectual depth or clarity. A truly kind and thoughtful guy, his English is virtually flawless and he is a kindred, forward looking spirit for me in cultural learning and mental advancement. To know him is to love him.

Iker – loco. My Spanish may not be perfected as yet but I know this word and it fits like a glove! Although technically no longer my flatmate (for which I have shed bucket loads of tears!) we remain close. A committed humanitarian he has on many a night regaled me with entertaining and sometimes heart rending anecdotes about his time working in a shelter for drug and alcohol addicts. A lover of life and a talented musician he remains, to this day, disgusted by my use of a knife and a fork to eat pizza! An effervescent and more friendly person I have yet to meet in spite of his constant desire to make me jump during horror films.

Flavio – bambino. The youngest in our household he is a trenchantly proud Italian and Roman (as his name may suggest!). He is a firecracker and since arriving has provided us with a crash course in the rich Italian vocabulary of curse words. He is a fundamentally kind and loyal person but please don’t get him started on politics. He was also disgusted by my typically British eating habits, this time when I had the audacity to buy microwave pasta! A party loving student the house is rarely quiet with him around. I once called him crazy but he ‘modestly’ replied saying “I am not crazy, just a little above the line.” I leave that for you to interpret dear reader.

Miguel – a Chinese student he is a somewhat elusive character. Rarely chatty or outwardly sociable his philosophy seems to be to hibernate the days away. He regularly disappears from the house on his travels and returns unexpectedly. Always relatively polite to me he is a housemate who I would have liked to get to know better.

Miguel, along with Iker, will be permanently leaving this month and we will have two new housemates but I will endeavour to keep you abreast of news in this exciting and exhilarating experience of mine and I hope you enjoy it. Politics will remain a passion  of which I hope to write more about but I hope you appreciated and enjoyed this detour into my new world. Until the next time dear reader…!

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