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THE DISGRUNTLED EXPAT

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George will complain about anything, including ‘the natives’, as he calls them, the Spanish language, food, health service and the weather.

I had dinner with George again last week. As regular readers will probably remember, George is an elderly friend of ours, whom we have known for many years. I sometimes wonder why I bother with George, since he spends most of his time complaining.

George will complain about anything, including ‘the natives’, as he calls them, the Spanish language, food, health service and the weather. I often wonder why George did not pack up and head back to his home town of Preston in the UK many years ago, such is his distain for all things ‘foreign’.

George is a ‘professional complainer’; however, when I am in the mood, I do find him amusing and it always provides a healthy balance to my own rather more optimistic view of expat life.

George grunted as he sat down in his least disliked restaurant, as I made my first mistake of asking him how he was. We then spent a good fifteen minutes discussing his various ailments, his feet, his heart, his doctor, the hospital and the ambulance service before, thankfully, our starters arrived.

For a few minutes, George was silent as he began to tackle his prawn cocktail. He seemed to be enjoying it, although I could be wrong. Suddenly, he put down his fork, glared at me accusingly and asked, “What have you done to the weather?” I was a little taken aback, since weather control is not one of my jobs. “Well, I guess, it has been a little cooler than usual,” I replied.

This was the response that George wanted and he began to recount news items and weather statistics, which claimed that it has been the coolest in the Canary Islands for at least 30 years. He hadn’t come to the islands for this sort of treatment and he was actually thinking of returning to Preston.

“I’m going home,” George announced in a deliberate voice. “I’ve had enough of all this nonsense. I can’t stand the cold weather and the health service is going down the pan here.

Do you know that I had to wait for two days to get an appointment to see the doctor? I could have died waiting all that time.” I didn’t like to tell him that some friends who had recently visited told us that they had to wait two weeks before they could see their doctor in the UK.

George was actually considering returning to his home town at the tender age of 80 plus. Since George has been threatening this in all the years that I have known him; it seemed highly unlikely. I said nothing, since I have risen to this bait many times before and have learned my lesson.

George did have a point. It has certainly has been a little cooler in the Canary Islands than normal this year, and the coolest January since 2006. Don’t get me wrong, we have had some lovely warm, sunny days as well, with temperatures in the high teens and even low twenties, but it is certainly cooler than normal.

Of course, expats and particularly those from the UK, continue to enjoy complaining about the weather, wherever they are. In fact, the cooler weather has provided endless entertainment and conversation for some, which I guess has been a blessing in many ways.

The main problem has been the wind, which I am told has been more than 35 per cent stronger than usual for this time of the year. The gusty wind has been cold, which has helped to bring down temperatures across all the islands.

Of course, the cooler weather is hardly noticed by our visitors from Scandinavia and Germany, who mostly spend their days in shorts and flimsy tops. Given that their countries are much colder, they do wonder what all the fuss is about. On a more positive note, our Canarian friends and neighbours tell us that they are enjoying the cooler weather, and wish that they could have more of it. You clearly cannot please everyone.

Returning to George, who had by now tackled most of his main course of roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, seemed disappointed at the long silence from me in response to his announcement.

“I’m going home. It’s been a long time, but I’ve had enough,” George repeated loudly, wiping horseradish sauce off his white beard.

“So when are you leaving, George? We really must meet up before you go. I’ll help you to pack, if it will help.”

“I’m not sure yet. I will probably wait until after my next hospital appointment, and I really would like to see a bit of Carnival. I’m also going on a day trip to one of the other islands, but I can’t remember which one. I’ll also need to find somewhere to live in Preston.”

“Well, do your homework before you go, George.” I added, seriously. “It’s been a bit cold in Preston recently, so maybe you should wait until the better weather.”

“Maybe you are right. I fancy a desert.”

“Why not, George. Anyway, I hear that we are in for another lovely warm day tomorrow.”

If you enjoyed this article, take a look at Barrie’s websites: www.barriemahoney.com and www.thecanaryislander.com or read his book, ‘Expat Voice’ (ISBN: 9780992767174). Available in paperback, as well as Kindle, iBooks and Google Play editions. iPhone/iPad and Android Apps: ExpatInfo, CanaryIsle and CanaryGay now available.

© Barrie Mahoney

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