Before we left the UK to reside in Spain I enjoyed nothing more than a good old moan about the country I was born in.
I knotted my eyebrows and ranted to my ageing neighbours, bemoaning how all the decent high street shops were now empty and abandoned but then on returning indoors to the sanctity of my home I suddenly realised that everything I’d ordered this Christmas was from Amazon online, I’d bought nothing locally.
I regaled anyone that cared enough to listen upon the decline of decent job opportunities for the over forties but then conveniently failed to mention that I’d quit my previous employment because the obligatory nylon uniform was itchy and unflattering and the hours unsociable.
I bemoaned the fact that not one of my Carol Vorderman inspired dresses fitted around my middle aged torso anymore but then consoled my aching heart with a Grints Sausage roll and a can of Cream Soda.
But the topic I loved moaning about most, my favourite subject of all time, was of course the British weather.
I genuinely think the Government should declare the 15th of August a National public holiday in the UK. We could name it ‘I’ve moaned all winter that I’m frozen but now I’m too hot and can’t fit in my shorts or use a hosepipe’ day.
But NONE of the above things can even walk in the shadow of the biggest Spanish contender, the Muhammad Ali of anguish and stress in your local region of choice; ladies and gentlemen I give you the Numero uno subject of strife here amidst the expats … local bureaucracy!
Let me elaborate. As an employed person with a contract, my husband was now in the envied position to gain us all state healthcare, so armed with only confidence and naivety we both headed over to our nearest clinic, grabbed a ticket from the deli counter inspired number system and took a seat in line. The Spanish, knowing full well that we Brits as a nation are a lazy bunch, had sourced a couple of bilingual volunteers to sit behind a desk to help with the form filling. Once our number was called we plonked ourselves down in front of these saviours and came face to face with a pretty young local woman and Blanche from the Golden Girls.
“Hello, we are new to the area, and we need some healthcare please” I proclaimed in an over enthusiastic tone.
“Where do you live? Do you own or rent” enquired the elder of the two assistants.
“Ermm… We don’t actually have a permanent address as yet, we are staying up a mountain in a wooden shack next to a goat farm but we are hoping to move into Fuengirola centre pretty soon…to escape the Kitty eating vampire slayer” I replied with good humour.
“Do you have an NIE” interrupted the Spanish interpreter without acknowledging my ice breaker.
“My husband has one through his job, I’m going to apply for mine, I promise” I replied nervously.
“Residency? Social Security Number?” I shook my head, sinking further into the chair. My thighs making an unattractive sucking noise as they tried to detach themselves from the plastic seating.
“Then may I suggest you go and get all these items first and then when you’ve moved into your permanent accommodation, head over to the town hall and register for empadronamiento” smiled the elder assassin through her shiny non government funded white teeth.
With tails firmly between our legs, we reversed out towards the exit, mumbling our thanks and headed into a wall of humid air, clutching our dose of reality like a poor consolation prize.
“Well, that went well” sighed my husband “shall we go and cheer ourselves up with a glass of something cold which doesn’t require a prescription?” I nodded my affirmation, trying not to think about all the things we had to do to enable us to claw our way into the Spanish system. A familiar voice shouted her final farewell to us down the steps
“And don’t forget all your British documents needs to be apostilled too!!”
Looking up towards the midday sun I sighed and whispered to my spouse “Sod the glass, better make it a bottle”.
To be continued – Episode 8