Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Expats Spain

My new book Expats Spain

This is the go-to book if you are thinking about moving to Spain covering those questions which will crop up and often, yet suspiciously, remain unanswered.

Some people buy a villa or apartment and retire on the coast whilst others live on the outskirts of some quint pueblo and fill their memoirs with funny stories of quirky locals and strange animals they have raised. And then there is the other side...
Mark Shearman moved to Spain in 2002 with his partner and four year old daughter. His observations are from a successful building contractor, owner of an estate agency and journalist.
He has included some amusing anecdotes and articles, which all promise one thing - the truth. http://shermdonor.blogspot.com.es Reading Flip Flop Flamenco Mark's novel about a shaming debt collector will also give you a flavour of what it is like to live as an expat on the Costa Blanca.


Friday, November 6, 2015

Spanish Cultural Test

Spanish cultural test was released in October 2015 for those foreigners wishing to become Spanish nationals and hold a Spanish passport.

Over a hundred thousand foreigners from around the world annually go through the arduous processes of applying for Spanish citizenship. The deadline in October for the last day's free service caused a rush-on.
Applicants must prove good citizenship and a sufficient degree of integration into Spanish society, for example, being able to speak Spanish and taking part in social activities, which I presume they refer to fiestas and public demonstrations. Also what must be included are two positive endorsements from Spanish citizens, and a good conduct statement from the police - a small part of the paperwork and process.
Most foreigners should have held a residence permit for ten uninterrupted years before they can apply for Spanish nationality. There are exceptions...

The cultural test is part of the integration qualification process, it seems being able to speak the language and knock up a kick-ass Paella on a Sunday is not enough.
In the past controversy has risen after complaints that these tests were not being conducted fairly and there was no set standard. Judges where compiling their own questions some of them had a high level of difficulty and some were trick questions, like knowing the name of the national anthem and its lyrics. The anthem 'The Marcha Real' - the Royal March has no official lyrics.

The Cervantes Institute has released a new exam, which aims to test applicant's knowledge across the board about Spain and the Spanish way of life putting an end to these non-standardized tests. The cost is €85.
Some of the questions range from politics, famous actors, and sports questions. Is garlic the best ingredient with albondigas (meatballs)? Just kidding - here are some real questions:

    What river connects Barcelona and Madrid?
    El Tajo - El Ebro - Ninguno - El Ave

         In what year began the second republic?
         1492 – 1977 - 1936 - 1931

    Which of these is the name of the famous fiesta in Cádiz and the Canary Islands?
    El Carnaval - La Semana Santa - Los Sanfermines

Source of the questions from: http://verne.elpais.com/verne/2015/01/12/articulo/1421064968_522049.html

Some other questions that should be in the test:

What is the best time to move your dining table and chairs using the push method?

  • 10:30pm

  • 11:30pm

  • Any time after 12:00 midnight

When should you use your indicators?

  • When manoeuvring into a different position.

  • When double parking outside the lottery shop.

  • What's an indicator?

What type of situation is best to shoulder shrug?

  • When not having fun

  • Sounds serious and not fun

  • Shoulder shrug with bewilderment at the question

How many Spanish people were drunk in the first half of 2015

  • None

  • Some were poco baracho

  • A few were pocito baracho

Who are the best lovers in the world

  • The Italians

  • The French

  • Yourself and other Spanish passport holders

If you would like to test yourself just for fun there are several practise websites: http://www.testdenacionalidad.es/ www.testnacionalidad.es.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Sunday, October 18, 2015

White Board Presentations


If you would like a whiteboard presentation creating send me details and i will give you a quote. 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Expats Spain

Release date - October 20th

No bulls were harmed in the making of this book or any other animals, punctuation may have been strained, grammar rules broken, that is not the author's fault, but the school he was sent to. A great place to learn how to fight or talk your way out of a fight, watch the teachers spend the majority of their time organising strikes for more pay and better students. Consequently, there wasn't much to do apart from throwing snow balls at buses and date opinionated school girls - who wanted so much more...
I found music and a sense of fashion, unfortunately no one else agreed, hence the constant invitations to rendezvous after school at the gates, confusing, as we didn't have any school gates. Some students found if you wore Margaret Thatcher badges it upset the militant teachers and some actually broke down and cried when the Tories won the elections. School days seem to brighten, the teachers in the last year of school started teaching, just before most of us braced for the road ahead, which had UB40 singing about 1 in 10 being unemployed. My last school report from head of house simply read: 'I found mark to be admirable - nuff said!!!'

Questions that go unanswered - Anecdotes about living in Spain - All based on real events.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Is Tough Enough?

July saw the finals of the women's world cup football with the UK coming in a respectable third as they played off against our favourite rivals Germany and the Americans, who still feel the need to call the game soccer, won over Japan - kudos. Certain things that stood out again, not only the level of skill proving every bit entertaining as their male counter parts, yet again proving just how tough these female athletes are some journalists comparing them to the men. Close up camera shots of multi-million Euro players like, Renaldo being palmed on the chest and dropping to the floor like a bad actor missing his cue and then making an embarrassing meal of it. Subjecting paying punters to a few minutes of rolling around on the ground holding his face and screaming for his mama. 

Whereas American rugby seven's players Georgia Page broke her nose, jumped up and made a crucial try-saving tackle, her face smeared in claret with a come-on-let's-get-the-game on attitude - that's rugby tough.

You will see some male players take a hit and wince in pain and bypass the Oscar performance and chin through. Watching the women’s' world cup last month you saw a lot more chinning through than grass hugging and the aggression level was on a par with the blokes.

Living with the female of the species for over thirty years, admittedly spread over three or four, they all had one thing in common. They never seemed to get jungle flu. The kind that drops you into a stupefying, thumb-sucking, mummies boy grasping your last will and testament while flicking through the medical books on rare fatal diseases. They simply had colds and soldier on hardly showing symptoms and seem to recover fast – often saying: "If men had to go through the excruciating pain of childbirth the human race would have become extinct long ago," or as they say in the Midlands men are just mardie.

So why is it that woman seem to be tougher than men at least mentally?

Tests have been conducted, well to be honest - hold it - I could fill this space with brain scan info and impress you with research into this and that, but there isn't anything conclusive because pain in my opinion is down to the individual person those who have had a lot of it know what to expect.

Losing the love of your life is painful it's a longer emotional pain and again down to the individual.
When I was younger, and without really knowing, I had something inside me that automatically blocked out emotional pain; often being accused I could have watched my family being butchered on a Sunday and be at work Monday morning embarrassed at everyone giving their condolences. I used to treat my relationships like it. I was there I loved them, if they disappointed me I would leave.

Bottling everything up works well in groups of men who admire your resolve whilst moving in formation through a jungle armed and programmed. Fighting so certain western powers can sustain its oil thirst. It's a short lived grenade waiting to explode and one day it will happen sat in a car looking out to a grey sea whilst singing along to Coldplay's Yellow, holding a recommissioned service revolver you bought from some short, thick-eyebrow geezer in Nottingham. You are faced with unhelpful self-talk, "come on, you're this far - have you got the minerals - end the pain."

Something happens, you drop the bottle of Jack Daniels, Coldplay's song stops and you actually start feeling sorry for yourself remembering what the old man said when you used to cry as a boy and hate his cold reaction. You then miss the old bastard and burst out crying. You can't believe you're actually crying because being macho you've always said the last time you cried was when the midwife smacked your backside, so you accompany it with laughter - it's too late, you are crying like a fat girl on hearing the doctor say “no more chocolate young lady” and you can't stop.

You let it go, years and years' worth - you shout, "okay I'm a woman with emotions I don’t care, it feels so good oh-my-god it feels good." It's liberating. The pain doesn't stop there you realise what a complete ass you have been the past ten years and think, if I was a women what would I do now? To which you realise a woman would say - fuck it, now you have defragged your brain, move on. Unwrap the chocolate bar, find a bottle of white wine, worry about your thighs tomorrow and stop crying you lightweight!

We can talk about men being physically stronger, that has nothing to do with pain thresholds because we are all different and whilst having a high pain threshold can get you through a lot of after time pub fights it doesn't serve you well when your body is crying out for you to see the doctor because something is seriously wrong.

My old man used to say: 'It's all in the mind' - when he would tweezer out a splinter in my six year old finger, suggesting I was moaning like a spoiled rich girl who and had her shoe allowance stopped - take the pain, put yourself in a happy place and eventually I got it.

The next week when he was pulling out another splinter he'd said you didn’t bat an eyelid son where did you go? I said I was buying high heel shoes that seem to disturb the old steeplejack now who was wincing like a chocolate starved girl.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Bull Tormenting - Twelve Deaths this year from Bull Running in Spain

Bull Tormenting

My latest rant has been bubbling inside for years. I covered the subject in my novel Flip Flop Flamenco. Each summer, something kicks off and it sparks my hatred for such things happening in my adopted country.

If you want to see blood-thirsty pack animals: tormenting, toying, and torturing its victim then get yourselves to the many towns in Spain when the hot sun has them baying for blood.

The first time and last, I attended one of these despicable fiestas was in a small village, Jalon valley - a decade ago. They, as usual, erected steel bars to protect the doors and windows of local businesses and provide a safe place for the village idiots to stick their limbs out of.

The bull, which they usually have some kind of cute name for, was released and straight away darts were thrown at it - panicking the animal. Someone rushed by and prodded it with a sharp stick drawing blood to the cheers of his drunken peers. When the bull moved too close to the steel protection railings, cowards reached out and pummel the bull with bats and lengths of four by twos, more darts pierced through its skin.

The scared bull looked around for help, but nobody was coming and nobody looked on in sympathy, there was no empathy and compassion here. The laughter from women got louder, mothers, who you would think had at least a sliver of humility, spat on the panting, watery eyed mammal. A youth sprinted in front smacking its face with a rolled up newspaper barely making it to the safety of the railings on the other side of the street as a bottle smashed in front of the bull - after deflecting off its bloody rump.

This went on for hours until it finally and inevitably happened. A slowcoach chanced his luck, jogged near the bull. The desperate bated animal swung its horns catching the ass-clown. Tossed him in the air got a few swipes in and gave him a hoofing. Now he was no longer cute and fun bull, he was evil bull. You think he was being punished before, what comes next is despicable and makes you ashamed to be there and part of the same race as these heathen.

I've seen some bad things in my life and been toughened by experience. Watching drunk cretins risking their lives in the name of fun makes you sick and angry. Not all Spanish are like this and as I look around at certain Spanish people, deemed the more educated, you could see shame creep across their faces, not daring to protest for fear of reprisal, rationalising with self-talk - this is tradition we have been doing this for centuries.

The father and sons pulling off the heads of chickens competition had been done for centuries, but that has stopped - hasn't it?

The latest incident in the town of Coria in the Province of Cáceres. A 43-year-old man, during the
San Juan bullfighting festival, unfortunately died after being gored through the protective railings by the tormented bull, whose cute name was 'Guapetón', which translates as "super handsome". It soon changed to evil bull who must die and was shot to death by a local man wielding a shotgun - using fire arms illegally, witnessed by two local policemen and others who cheered with lusty, blood thirsty delight.

Welcome to Spain the sun is always shinning - at least for some species.

Monday, August 24, 2015

ShearArt Book Covers

A book cover will spark a readers initial curiosity stopping them in their tracks to read the title.

A professional book cover will garner 25% more interest in a book than one thrown together with a few stock photos. Using stock photos can confuse the reading as there will be another book with the same images. The reader will give it a pass thinking they have read it. An author, especially a self-publisher author, who has control over their book, should regularly change the cover. This does not need to be expensive. ShearArt Book Cover design has hundreds of premade book covers and offers an affordable design service under $50. They also include exclusive rights to their illustrations.