Dec 26, 2012

Why I didn't like Christmas

I must confess Christmas holidays was a time I literally hated. I never enjoyed it, as a matter of fact, during most of my childhood I was scared of Christmas and New Year's celebrations, and later when I became a teenager it became a time of very uncomfortable decisions.

The main reason why I was scared of Christmas was the fireworks. There were two kind of them that I was particularly scared of, the first one is known in Colombia as carpeta (meaning literally: a folder). This was a small amount of gunpowder wrapped in paper in the shape of a triangle. Once ignited it exploded with an incredibly loud BANG! The second one of these scary things was called volador (meaning: flier). This was a rocket that exploded in the air with multiple BANGS! There was absolutely nothing pretty about them, no colorful lights to awe the spectators, just one loud horrifying bang. Well, my gentle soul was terrified of such type of fireworks and during Christmas there were more carpetas and voladores that could be exploded in one single night. Every single Christmas my drunk uncle came home with bags full of those, and there they went happily to blow these things up at the balcony for hours until sunrise. I had not choice but to find the most distant and dark corner of my house to hide terrified of the incessant explosions. Until this day the smell of gunpowder still sends shivers through my back and set me on alert, ready to take flight.

As I grew older and became a teenager I might have been able to tolerate the fireworks better, but with it came an equally displeasing discomfort. My parents separated when I was still a baby, and during most of my childhood I spent the holidays with my mother and her family. When I became a teenager my father returned to my hometown, at least during holidays, so I was put in the awkward situation of having to chose with whom I wanted to spend the holidays: with my dad's family or my mom's family. This was terribly uncomfortable for me because even though I had a choice, I knew that my mom didn't want me to go with my dad's family. She never said it but I could clearly feel it. On the other hand, I didn't get to see my dad so often so he expected me to spend the holidays with him. It was extremely uncomfortable having to decide whether I was going to be on Christmas Eve with one family or the other one, without hurting anyone's feelings. It was never easy, and that completely ruined my holidays every time. Nowadays that I have been living in Europe, I have had the chance to spend very peaceful Christmas. And even though I wish I could spend it with both my mom and dad, and even though I miss them so much... I'm kind of glad I don't have to make that choice or relive those uncomfortable situations any longer.

Trafalgar Square Christmas tree
 Merry Christmas to all and a Prosperous 2013!!

Dec 8, 2012

Six months in London and two poems on the Underground

Ice Rink Christmas Tree
Ice Rink at the Natural History Museum

It's exactly six months since I arrived to London. To commemorate I'll leave you with two poems I saw on the Tube some of those days.

A Song for England

An' a so de rain a-fall
An' a so de snow a-rain

An' a so de fog a-fall
An' a so de sun a-fail

An' a so de seasons mix
An' a so de bag-o'-tricks

But a so me understan'
De misery o' de Englishman

By Andrew Salkey

Two Fragments
Love holds me captive again
and I tremble with bittersweet longing

As a gale on the mountainside bends the oak tree
I am rocked by my love

Sappho translated by Cicely Herbert

Dec 4, 2012

Tax avoidance in the UK?

The other day I was happy on the second floor of the double decker bus, on my way to work, when I saw on a bus stop the following poster:

It reads in small letter: if you have declared all your income tax you have nothing to fear. What is that supposed to mean?

Just to find out a few days later that companies like Starbucks using the loop-holes in the tax system, have paid no taxes on their entire revenues EVER in the UK!

And they try to put fear in the hearts of the populace? What hypocrisy.

Way to go Britain... way to go!