Justice, at a price

What a week it was!  Great for me, not so great perhaps for Esperanza Aguirre, President of the Partido Popular Madrid branch, who resigned amidst yet another corruption scandal in the party!  Oh well, good news for some it definitely was!

I also had my first ever visit to the inside of a Spanish courtroom and I went through many emotions whilst there – disbelief and disappointment amongst them.  I was there to support my friend whose son was up on charges for resisting arrest (I really don’t blame him) and I was impressed by his maturity, honesty and handling of the matter in the courtroom.

However, I was more than a little surprised and occasionally stunned by the other participants in this drama!  At one point, one of the lawyers for the prosecution told my friend’s son to kindly address her and use the formal you, the same as she was using to address him.  I’m sorry – what did she just say?!

As a speaker of Spanish and having grown up without a formal you in English, I have long had my own issue with the usted, the formal you.  I waiver between feeling insulted when it is used to address me, especially with those who are younger than me, as well as feeling quite uncomfortable.

It’s one of those situations that has me constantly on my guard – do I use it, dare I not use it?  As a consequence, I have made many mistakes in my 24 years of living in Mallorca, sometimes not using it and receiving very clear messages that that is not acceptable and occasionally being given the freedom to throw it to one side.

The moment the youngish lawyer said that to my younger friend, I realised just how great the gulf is between people.  At no point had the young man lost his respect to this individual; at no point was he rude to this person or any of the others – six more esteemed colleagues including the judge were in the courtroom.  I felt it was entirely unnecessary for her to stop him mid-flow and point this out to him especially as he had not really addressed her with the informal you.  It seemed a clear case of “mind your place” and “I am so much more than you” and it was a shame, especially as the qualities demonstrated by this young man on this particular day were those that make the world a much better place – honesty, respect, humility, repentance, a willingness to move on and above all, a better wisdom and understanding about himself and life in general.

The soap opera continued with the testimonies of the other three young men implicated in the case, and again they were consistent with the story, as well as honest, open and respectful.  I could not say the same for two of the five police officers I managed to hear.  What a situation!  Their stories differed and at times made no sense, indeed the lawyers for the defence were as puzzled as the rest of us.  At one point, when the same lawyer for the prosecution, read out – once again – the list of insults my young friend had apparently hurled at the police office, the policeman actually said he was used to such insults but couldn’t explain therefore why such a physical altercation ensued.

Obviously I don’t work in law enforcement and can’t comment on the training received, but I can comment that what I saw that day were two officers disillusioned with their jobs, burnt out with the absurdity of it all, but more worryingly, buying into stereotypes as to the type of people who surround them.  I can more than imagine that on a regular basis they have to put up with aggression, bad manners, physical threats, rudeness, insults and more, but I can also see that they “see” certain people in ways that are not real.

It is time we looked beyond the make-up, beyond the stereotype and that goes for both sides in this case.  The policeman could look beyond the young, male skater and my friend could look beyond the uniform.  Perhaps if two years ago they could have been given the opportunity to truly hear the other’s story, we could have avoided this sorry spectacle of waste: energy, time, money and spirit.  Perhaps the police officer could have heard a young man’s passion for his sport, needing to practise it every day, living a life that is creative, disciplined, supportive and adventurous.  Perhaps my young friend could have heard of a man’s dreams that led him into the force and perhaps how those dreams were not all he imagined.

We have to go back to court in one month to hear what the sentence will be.  The prosecution changed her mind and now wants three years instead of two.  I hope it gets thrown out where it belongs and I hope my young friend does not have his life ruined from one mistake.  Sadly, that’s all it takes nowadays, one mistake.  However, if you’re a politician or a member of the royal family in Spain, you can be let off for planning a longterm systematic theft of public funds!  There’s still time though, watch out people, justice might just catch up with you.

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Midsummer birthday

birthday; celebrations; mallorca; binissalem; lions club; baldea mallorca; samira dance; dj hernan

Birthday boy & hostess with the mostess

You can tell I don’t go out much if I’m going to write my blog about it!  But I went out at the weekend to a really fabulous party!  It was to celebrate my friend’s husband’s birthday and they were putting on an evening’s gathering for a few friends.  She had me make three cakes for the party and I spent the day chilling and baking before popping them round and then going back for the party later.

I have to say that my friend managed to put on a most amazing evening!  Everything about it was perfect!  The food was to die for and yes, I had seconds.  There was so much of it that I didn’t get to sample the vegetarian couscous that was served up later but I enjoyed salad, quiche, hummus and the most amazing courgettes topped with sour cream – I have asked for the recipe!

There was a DJ playing in the garden along with didgeridoos, steel drum, pipes and a set that lasted most of the evening.  It was the perfect backdrop to chatting with lovely people as sunset came.  I caught up with a couple, neighbours that I’ve known since first born and their middle child were best friends in primary, what fun we had.  I met another woman who became a bff almost immediately and I was gutted to learn that she doesn’t live in Mallorca but she promised to visit when she’s back in September.  I chatted with one of the mums from school and infact all conversations during the evening were fun, relaxed, meaningful and interesting – what a privilege!

Then the very attractive and exotic Samira arrived, dressed to dance her belly dance and how absolutely intriguing was she!  She danced a couple of numbers for us and I couldn’t take my eyes off her, neither could most of the men and I heard one ask his wife if she wanted to learn how to dance like that!  After this, the floor opened and the birthday boy who loves to dance, got up and off they went.

It was at this point I went to find second-born who had been out and about in the village and I really appreciated having been to such a cool party only a few doors away from my home!  On the way out of my friend’s house, I stopped by the gift table and my happiness was complete at knowing some of the most generous people.  She had put out a collection box to collect for two worthwhile charities here in Mallorca.  The first, Baldea, the animal protection association that Petra is part of and who do a great job on the island with a spaying programme of stray cats amongst other things.  Then there was the collection for the Lions Club Palma who have an admirable programme called “Food for All” – feeding the homeless and those living on the poverty line.  On top of the amazing food she cooked and the drinks she served up, the DJ and an exotic dancer who entertained us, she still had more to give!  No gifts required for hubby, instead a super collection was going to those in need and can you believe that each association received 235€ from this awesome party!

Thank you Petra and Rainer for a truly special evening – it was truly a memorable experience and I can’t wait for next year!

DJ Hernán Livolsi                       www.hernanlivolsi.com

Oriental dancer Samira              www.samiramallorca.com

Animal protection Mallorca       http://www.baldea.org

Lions Club                                     http://www.lionsclubpalma.com

Delicious homemade cakes       ME!!

8 years on…

Father and sons

Father and sons

Can you believe it?  Eight years ago I was about to embark on a most terrifying journey – divorce!  It was the most crushing summer of my life, nothing compared to the pain I went through and my immature way of handling things.  I hurt, wow did I hurt.  I was angry and that’s not a nice state of being to either experience or to witness.  During this journey my parents were my rock.  Although I never talked in depth to my dad about things, he was the one who initiated all the telephone calls, handing me over to my mother to go deeper into things.  I got through through all of it thanks to their unwavering support – to me, the boys and to the boys’ father too, they never stopped respecting him as their father.

My best friend Lana, godmother to second born, was also my rock.  She was between living here and back home in Croatia that year but she was there at the end of the phone or right by my side when she would visit.  She was the voice of reason, the voice of calm, the voice of practical common sense and thanks to her I was able to make sure that on a practical, financial level, everything was taken care of for the boys.

It is now eight years since and I rejoice at having received the gift of final separation of a relationship which had fallen dead on its feet without either of us realising at the time.  The journey has been intense and so worthwhile.  I have learned that I do eat more when stressed and I envy all those women who lose tons of weight when they separate, alas it was not meant to be for me!!

I also discovered some really good girlfriends who have been there for me during those hard times and since.  Interestingly enough most of them have left Mallorca since and whilst I miss them very much, I recognise that they were here at a very important time of my life and I thank them from the bottom of my heart – they helped rebuild me.  I am learning to reconnect with people again, slowly but I am getting there and I am starting to see a way forward.

I have done a lot of great things since that summer of 2007.  I went back to work and enjoyed five and a half years in the best job I ever had, working for Planet Space.  I still enjoy connecting with my old bosses and colleagues from time to time, taking along a cake for them to enjoy or just popping in.  I started a Peace Centre which was an ambitious project, stalled but not forgotten.  I have my own weekly radio show, “The Happiness Café” every Monday morning at 10am on Mallorca Sunshine Radio – there’s a plug you can’t ignore!  I am proud of that show and what it stands for and invite you to follow.

The best of all is now, 8 years on, as my ex, our sons’ father has come to live next-door-but-one!  Yes he has taken number 2 in our street and there is only number 4 between our houses.  I am so happy, my hand on my heart, this is the best thing to have happened to our family and no words can describe the joy I feel at having Rob living nearby.  To see how happy the boys are is to feel that Rob and I have come a long way since June 2007.  He still annoys the hell out of me but I am doing his washing until he gets his own washing machine.  The laugh I had with first born when he realised I was hanging out his dad’s washing is priceless – you should have seen the two of us in the garden with me begging him not to tell his friends!  Second born is just a happy bunny, he doesn’t like us arguing but hey, we’re still learning, his father and I!