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Corona quarantine diary
论题张贴者: Mervyn Henderson

Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
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Tax brake Sep 29, 2020

This year, like all taxpayers here, I am privileged to present the government (or rather, the Provincial Council’s tax department) with the usual pound of flesh on my toils in 2019 by tomorrow, 30 September, instead of the usual July payment. They took pity on us in these corona times. The swag is now ready and waiting in my account for the taxman to throw into his big bad bag, but I can’t help thinking there’s something rotten in the state of the world when I’m paying X times more in ta... See more
This year, like all taxpayers here, I am privileged to present the government (or rather, the Provincial Council’s tax department) with the usual pound of flesh on my toils in 2019 by tomorrow, 30 September, instead of the usual July payment. They took pity on us in these corona times. The swag is now ready and waiting in my account for the taxman to throw into his big bad bag, but I can’t help thinking there’s something rotten in the state of the world when I’m paying X times more in tax than the President of the United States. And I don’t own one measly golf course or a luxury hotel, or even a B&B.

Somebody said to me yesterday, “Well, that’s it, he’ll never win a second term now.” I’m not so sure. Sitting over here in Bilbao, I simply can’t help feeling a kind of horrific, twisted admiration for the man, so over there in places like the Midwest, where people who don't usually count apparently count even more, it must be so much more up close and personal. Think of all the lies he’s told and all the tricky situations he’s got out of up to now, and they’re still rooting for him. Why should this one be any different?

It’s a cinch, really, because you have your line of defence all good to go: You have losses, so you ask how can I pay taxes if I’m expected to keep the economy going? You have profits, so you ask why should I pay taxes to offset all the losers with failed businesses if I’m expected to keep the economy going? When the heat gets turned up, you turn your attention to Sleepy Joe’s son, and trash him along with anyone else you can think of. When the writing’s on the wall and they start asking too many questions, you cry Fifth Amendment. And when you’re really on the brink of the precipice, you say I’m the President of the United States of America, for Chrissakes. Easy as pie. Apple pie. Good ole' apple pie, baked by momma out in the Rust Belt, in the Real America, the Hardworking America, the Americans’ America. Let’s bake American greats again.


[Edited at 2020-09-29 09:50 GMT]
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Chris S
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Kevin Fulton
expressisverbis
 

Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
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To Cry in Madrid Sep 30, 2020

Cry is right. Too right. The people of Madrid are crying foul. Demos and protests starting in. The thing is, they’re not at all sure who they’re crying foul about. Is it the local government or the central government? Who knows? All they know is that another 8 areas have been added to the 37 already earmarked for special watch (not 27 – I got that wrong last time), but a few more might well have been added by the time I’ve posted this. It’s touch and go as the nation holds its breath t... See more
Cry is right. Too right. The people of Madrid are crying foul. Demos and protests starting in. The thing is, they’re not at all sure who they’re crying foul about. Is it the local government or the central government? Who knows? All they know is that another 8 areas have been added to the 37 already earmarked for special watch (not 27 – I got that wrong last time), but a few more might well have been added by the time I’ve posted this. It’s touch and go as the nation holds its breath to find out, er, who’s in charge around here.

The man wheeled in to act as the local “Covid 19” spokesman in Madrid resigned after only two days. Can’t say I blame him. Blame. Now there’s a word that’s even bigger than “virus” these days. The PM blames the regional government for not taking effective action, and the regional government blames the PM for not helping out. And don’t even bother asking the rest of the Spanish government – mild-mannered, soft-spoken Health Minister Illa is losing those mild manners and that soft speak by the day as he’s thrown into the thick of the endless going-nowhere blame-game talks between the two authorities.

One of the Deputy PMs and a couple of other ministers from the militant left aren’t helping either – their blame’s veering off elsewhere, blaming King Felipe for shedding his neutrality in a phone call to a load of senior magistrates to express his regret for not attending one of their important meetings in Barcelona the other day. Felipe wanted to be there, but it seems the government wouldn’t let him go up to Catalonia amid a lot of independentist yelling ahead of the imminent defrocking of the Catalan president for disobedience a few years ago (refusing to remove a “Free Political Prisoners” poster from the façade of the Generalitat seat of government).

You might wonder, by the way, why the Spanish government has more than one Deputy PM. It’s not a new thing, and there have been up to three Deputy PMs in the past. Do they need two or three? Naturally they don’t, but they have to create a few dummy posts to keep the minority in the coalition happy, or if not happy, at least not so unhappy.

If only it were just their votes the PM needs in Parliament, but no. With very few exceptions, Sánchez needs just about everyone’s votes! Including those naughty Catalan nationalists and those naughty Basque nationalists, and also the votes of the even naughtier Basque nationalists. You can imagine how the spat about the King and the reliance on parties who don’t want their people to form part of Spain sit with the right wing, and let's not forget the even naughtier right wing. So you can also imagine how little time everyone involved has to address the urgent matter of Covid. And you can definitely imagine what the people of Madrid think about it all.



[Edited at 2020-09-30 13:24 GMT]
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Chris S
expressisverbis
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Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
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To Cry in Madrid (II) - Stop press Sep 30, 2020

Didn't see the late night news and hadn't read the paper this morning either due to work, so I missed the latest.

Turns out the playground tantrums finally led to an agreement, and as of tomorrow or Friday almost 5 million people in Madrid will be going into lockdown (apparently they finally used the L word). Will it work?

Of course it'll work. What could possibly go wrong?

[Edited at 2020-09-30 16:40 GMT]


expressisverbis
 

expressisverbis
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A partial lockdown, no? Oct 1, 2020

Mervyn Henderson wrote:

Didn't see the late night news and hadn't read the paper this morning either due to work, so I missed the latest.

Turns out the playground tantrums finally led to an agreement, and as of tomorrow or Friday almost 5 million people in Madrid will be going into lockdown (apparently they finally used the L word). Will it work?

Of course it'll work. What could possibly go wrong?

[Edited at 2020-09-30 16:40 GMT]


Today I read that Spanish Government ordered a partial lockdown in the capital, and surrounding areas affected by Covid-19 after the rise in cases.
I do not know if it works.
Here the cases are increasing again, despite so many restrictions.
Our PM says it is not sustainable in economic and social terms to face a second confinement, but after 14th October we will see that...
Since this "thing" has appeared, I am always hoping for the best and preparing myself for the worst.
Also, sometimes I think political measures or decisions can be as deadly as Covid-19.
I am still confident, and I do not get discouraged easily.


Mervyn Henderson
Angie Garbarino
 

Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
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Yes, partial Oct 1, 2020

A partial lockdown means that you can still go out at any time you like, which none of us could do in March/April, but no groups of more than 6, I think it is, no shops, bars or restaurants open after 10 pm, and no travel between safe/unsafe areas - for want of better words - without good reason, and documents to prove it. And no travel to those parts of Madrid either from outside, unless you're passing through. They have checkpoints in a lot of streets. Sounds like a nightmare for the police to... See more
A partial lockdown means that you can still go out at any time you like, which none of us could do in March/April, but no groups of more than 6, I think it is, no shops, bars or restaurants open after 10 pm, and no travel between safe/unsafe areas - for want of better words - without good reason, and documents to prove it. And no travel to those parts of Madrid either from outside, unless you're passing through. They have checkpoints in a lot of streets. Sounds like a nightmare for the police to enforce.

They're also using the army for certain operations, mostly logistics and so on. Me, I'd have had that lot in from the very start - without the uniforms, because that makes people nervous - after all, they're not doing much else, are they? I mean, Spain's not at war with anyone, is it? So they might as well make themselves useful and earn the pay they're getting anyway instead of lying around on their bunks in the barracks and marching around and saluting each other all day long.

[Edited at 2020-10-01 16:34 GMT]
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expressisverbis
 

expressisverbis
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Food is the key Oct 1, 2020

I believe you need to bring back your Friday popular recipes to delight our taste buds and to lift our spirit again.
No partial or full lockdowns will ruin that.


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Christel Zipfel
 

Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
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Viva Hooky Street Oct 2, 2020

A couple of twists this week in the Spanish courts. All the former suits at Bankia were acquitted of charges of creative accounting and misuse of funds, when the bank carried off its public listing years ago, but Bankia didn’t last very long, and had to be bailed out after they found a rather large hole in the numbers. The IPO had been cleared by the Bank of Spain, they said. And it had, which makes you wonder. Anyway, the white-collar wide boys included former chairman at the bank, Rodrigo Ra... See more
A couple of twists this week in the Spanish courts. All the former suits at Bankia were acquitted of charges of creative accounting and misuse of funds, when the bank carried off its public listing years ago, but Bankia didn’t last very long, and had to be bailed out after they found a rather large hole in the numbers. The IPO had been cleared by the Bank of Spain, they said. And it had, which makes you wonder. Anyway, the white-collar wide boys included former chairman at the bank, Rodrigo Rato, but in his case it merely meant he stayed in prison anyway, because he was already halfway into a stretch of four and a half years for the “black card” affair at Bankia.

But yesterday, a few days after the verdict, it was announced Rodders gets to go back home with an electronic tag, on account of his age (71), health, and the fact that he had shown remorse (and gave back some of the dosh).

The black card thing was that early on Bankia’s top brass were all issued with the bank’s plastic, and they put it to good use – restaurants, gifts, holidays, whatever, or simply cash withdrawals to the daily limit. Only one of them refused to use it, saying it was immoral and risky. None of the others in C-Suite, apparently, ever realised that this was tax evasion, because nobody declared nowt, or that the totally unnecessary and unjustifiable expenses constituted theft from the company. Some said they “just thought it was extra pay” (and you can imagine they weren’t earning a pittance), and incredibly Rato (the Chairman, remember) said he wasn’t sure of the details, because the CFO took care of that kind of thing. Me, I’d expect the man running the show to be aware of the details, otherwise what’s the point of him running it?

Especially since Wodney had more than a bit of form in economic issues. He was one of those Deputy PMs I was talking about recently, and Finance and Treasury Minister too when José María Aznar’s Partido Popular was in power in the early noughties, in those heady days when Spain and everywhere were busy building up their impossible bubble.

He also had a spell as MD of the IMF in Washington after that from 2004 to 2007, but didn’t like it much and resigned early. Never saw the Lehman Brothers thing coming just around the corner, but then neither did his replacement Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who also ended up in jail for a while. Perhaps both of them had their mind on other things. What is it about Managing Directors of the IMF and trousers? DSK couldn’t stop dropping his, Rodders couldn’t stop trousering other people’s money, and Christine Lagarde couldn't stop her friend Bernard pocketing over 400 million even before she got to the post. Keep an eye on that Georgieva lady, who's wearing the trousers now at the IMF.


[Edited at 2020-10-02 10:23 GMT]

[Edited at 2020-10-02 10:24 GMT]

[Edited at 2020-10-02 10:30 GMT]

[Edited at 2020-10-02 10:33 GMT]
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expressisverbis
 

Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
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Tax brake II Oct 2, 2020

And, just to finish off the week:

“Tax brake I” a few posts ago reminded me of a slightly scandalous anecdote from many years ago. I was translating at all hours for an agency in a certain Spanish city which was well in with the political party that had had a majority for yonks in the regional government, the town hall, the provincial council, and all the rest of it. The owner of the agency was family to some big wheel in the party. Every month I clocked up endless jobs for all
... See more
And, just to finish off the week:

“Tax brake I” a few posts ago reminded me of a slightly scandalous anecdote from many years ago. I was translating at all hours for an agency in a certain Spanish city which was well in with the political party that had had a majority for yonks in the regional government, the town hall, the provincial council, and all the rest of it. The owner of the agency was family to some big wheel in the party. Every month I clocked up endless jobs for all those organisations, plus The Party itself, and every month I sent the agency an invoice plus VAT and minus income tax.

One day the agency rang to tell me they were asking all their translators with considerable turnovers that month to, well, not put in any tax at all, just present the number of words and the rates and multiply, and that’s what I would receive, and in cash, too, at their office, not by cheque or transfer. To my shame, I said Fine (I had never done this before, and have never done it since, for that matter), and wrote up the invoice at the end of the month as usual, minus the additions and deductions. It was then I noticed all the items, which were 99% all those public entities. I rang the agency, and said, “Isn’t this a little too flagrant, a little obvious, a little risky? I mean, all this is public stuff, you know. They’re bound to notice.”

It still hadn’t clicked with me.

There was a slight pause, and the lady said, rather embarrassed, “Yes, but this no-tax thing wasn’t our idea, you know. It was theirs.”
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Chris S
expressisverbis
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Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
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Food for thought Oct 3, 2020

Thanks for the vote of confidence, expressisverbis, but my repertoire really isn't that extensive. I should have done more of it years ago, when I didn't have the time either. I like cooking, but not when I have to fit it in between translations. Even the Basques who, as everyone knows, invented food, occasionally murmur that I should put in for a cookery course. It's just a murmur, though.

Today I've contented myself with some fishy rice and langostinos. Out at 8.30 this morning to
... See more
Thanks for the vote of confidence, expressisverbis, but my repertoire really isn't that extensive. I should have done more of it years ago, when I didn't have the time either. I like cooking, but not when I have to fit it in between translations. Even the Basques who, as everyone knows, invented food, occasionally murmur that I should put in for a cookery course. It's just a murmur, though.

Today I've contented myself with some fishy rice and langostinos. Out at 8.30 this morning to the market for the langostinos in fearsome rain and wind, too. I'm under strict instructions from the Basques who, as everyone knows, invented fishy rice and langostinos, to make sure I fry those langostinos in garlic at the very last minute before I add them in. None of the amateur business of letting them cook in the hot fishy stock. Not allowed over here. Punishable by law. Naturally I bow to this superior knowledge.

[Edited at 2020-10-03 11:27 GMT]
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expressisverbis
 

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Oh, langostinos al ajillo... Oct 3, 2020

Mervyn Henderson wrote:

Thanks for the vote of confidence, expressisverbis, but my repertoire really isn't that extensive. I should have done more of it years ago, when I didn't have the time either. I like cooking, but not when I have to fit it in between translations. Even the Basques who, as everyone knows, invented food, occasionally murmur that I should put in for a cookery course. It's just a murmur, though.

Today I've contented myself with some fishy rice and langostinos. Out at 8.30 this morning to the market for the langostinos in fearsome rain and wind, too. I'm under strict instructions from the Basques who, as everyone knows, invented fishy rice and langostinos, to make sure I fry those langostinos in garlic at the very last minute before I add them in. None of the amateur business of letting them cook in the hot fishy stock. Not allowed over here. Punishable by law. Naturally I bow to this superior knowledge.

[Edited at 2020-10-03 11:27 GMT]


The garlic shrimp recipe is perfect for those who want to eat seafood but have little time to cook.
Many thanks, Mervyn! I will include it in my meal plan for the coming week.
I prefer eating rather than cooking, but today I made a carrot cake roll.

Please to not pay much attention to its look, it is a bit clumsy like me

IMG_20201003_162817_resized_20201003_042938017


[Edited at 2020-10-03 15:35 GMT]

[Edited at 2020-10-03 15:35 GMT]


Mervyn Henderson
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Carrot cake Oct 4, 2020

Thanks again expressisverbis, for the carrot cake. Looks divine!!

But...

... I made the mistake of showing it to the Basques who, as everyone knows, invented carrot cake, and they said Mm, interesting, and we'd really need to reach out to our experts for an in-depth analysis, but our initial impression is that perhaps the carrot/sponge ratio is a little too high on the carrot side. They asked if I wanted the full report with graphs and refererences to ISO and the Basqu
... See more
Thanks again expressisverbis, for the carrot cake. Looks divine!!

But...

... I made the mistake of showing it to the Basques who, as everyone knows, invented carrot cake, and they said Mm, interesting, and we'd really need to reach out to our experts for an in-depth analysis, but our initial impression is that perhaps the carrot/sponge ratio is a little too high on the carrot side. They asked if I wanted the full report with graphs and refererences to ISO and the Basque Culinary Center (yes, it exists, with US spelling and all) and the rest, as usual, but I politely declined on the grounds that after all this is a "non-domestic event".

So here today it's leftovers from yesterday, from the day before yesterday (the classic spicy red bean + chorizo stew) and a very ripe avocado that's been crying out to be processed for a few days now. I had thought of an ingenious concoction to combine all three in a daring avant-garde dish, but I copped out, I desisted on the impossible challenge, and they're all going to be served up separately and cold, cunningly disguised as Non-Guacamole with Spicy Legumes and Marinated Rice. I can't risk a bad mark, you understand. It's scary.
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expressisverbis
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100 K Oct 4, 2020

What can it all mean?



[Edited at 2020-10-04 09:09 GMT]

[Edited at 2020-10-04 09:09 GMT]

[Edited at 2020-10-04 09:17 GMT]

[Edited at 2020-10-04 15:10 GMT]


expressisverbis
 

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No, Merv, please don’t go! Oct 4, 2020

So basically you’re trying to get enough of us to chip in saying “No, Merv, please don’t go!” to take you to 100,000?

Well, I for one am not falling for that. Oldest trick in the book. (Or is that firing ping pong balls out of surprising places?)

No, you’re going to have to earn those final hits. After all, we’re all wondering how the Little Translator and Sergeant Garmandia have been getting on during lockdown...


Mervyn Henderson
expressisverbis
 

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That's ... Oct 4, 2020

... the spirit, Chris. Good for another few hits!! Every little helps.

Alternatively, I could just hit the thing a few hundred times a day myself if I really wanted to waste my time!! But I don't think it's going to get there regardless.


expressisverbis
 

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To Sigh in Madrid (fast running out of these now) Oct 5, 2020

Going back to the format I was using for most of March and April, today’s headline in the paper: “A project in deep crisis”. Yes, total despondency. Loss after loss. Last but one in the league table during the crisis. Except this is the local paper and what they’re sighing at is Athletic Bilbao’s away loss against another Basque team, Alavés. They also lost the previous match at home to Cádiz, hence the sombre mood. I suppose it’s the same everywhere. When spirits are down due to t... See more
Going back to the format I was using for most of March and April, today’s headline in the paper: “A project in deep crisis”. Yes, total despondency. Loss after loss. Last but one in the league table during the crisis. Except this is the local paper and what they’re sighing at is Athletic Bilbao’s away loss against another Basque team, Alavés. They also lost the previous match at home to Cádiz, hence the sombre mood. I suppose it’s the same everywhere. When spirits are down due to the economy and the virus, the only vain hope left is the town’s own group of overpaid ball-shufflers.

What probably isn’t the same everywhere - probably, because I’m willing to stand corrected if anyone else points out the same phenomenon where they are - is that the Bilbao team has one golden rule for its players. They don’t have to be born in Bilbao, of course, but they must be Basque, or from Navarra, which is lumped in with the ancient Basque territories. None of this signing up just anybody, oh no, can’t mix footie blood. Basque players born on the other side of the border are accepted too, and one of their ex-players, Bixente Lizarazu, from St Jean de Luz, now commentates on French TV, I’m told.

Anyway, let’s travel further south to Madrid and sneak into a teleconference to take a behind-the-scenes look at the latest online meeting between That Woman Ayuso and That Man Sánchez. For reasons of expediency, abbreviated to “DoS” (Daughter of Satan) and “EiC” (Exorcist-in-Chief) respectively:

Scene: a computer screen showing a dark room. A chorus of wolves howling mournfully in the background. On screen a figure suddenly rises up in an all-black cloak, hooded head bowed, both arms slowly rising to the horizontal, palms up. With a snarl the figure snatches back the hood to reveal a deathly white face, blood-red lips and heavy black liner around menacing eyes, and a shock of black hair waving freely around her head. The eyes roll back horribly white and red-veined in their sockets as she begins to moan hoarsely: “All hail to Thee, my Lord and Master, my Dark Prince, my …”

Screen flickers and Sánchez suddenly appears, grinning all supercilious.

EiC: Oh, just “Pedro” will be fine, Isabel. No need to stand on formalities here, you know. We’re all friends now. All on the same team. All on the same page. All on the same …

DoS (glares at screen, leans down, turns off small floor fan, whereupon hair falls down to her shoulders. Sits down.): Just my morning meditation, Pedro. To counter the stress of running a region the size of Madrid, you know.

EiC: You should try yoga, you know, like me. To counter the stress of running a country the size of Spain, you know. Which includes Madrid. Where I’m quite pleased with the way things are going, now that you’ve agreed to let me implement my measures instead of your measures.

DoS: Now you’ve agreed to let me let you implement your measures along with my measures, which were working anyway, I too am pleased.

EiC: Splendid. After all, you did say that implementing my measures in preference to your measures would lead to chaos, and that hasn’t been the case, has it?

DoS: No, but that’s probably due to the knock-on effect of the measures I had already implemented before I agreed to allow you to implement your measures in addition to my measures. In the transversal sense, I mean. Plus I ultimately have the option of complaining about your measures not working if it all goes south.

EiC: What do you mean by transversal?

DoS: Transversal means what every politician means it to mean. It’s that kind of word. It’s …

Two men dressed in black suits appear in the room behind her, carrying a long rectangular box.

Man: Here you are, Miss, the Super Premium Eternal Rest. Noble pine, superior brass handles, and red velvet interior. Where do you want it?

DoS (looking round): Oh, er, yes, can you just leave it there and that’ll be all, er, thanks.

Man: Yes, well, here’s the bill, Miss. To be paid in cash. Government of the Autonomous Community of Madrid. No VAT. That was it, wasn’t it?

DoS: Yes, yes, er ... (steals a glance at screen, and starts) … I mean, no, how dare you, sir? It should be made out to me personally, because I’m paying for it, and obviously it has to have VAT. Just get out, will you? I’ll sort it out later.

Men leave – turns back to screen, flustered.

EiC (smiling smugly, half-standing to peer closer at the coffin behind her): A death in the family? I’m so sorry. Tut-tut, Isabel. Unjustifiable expenses? You know I’ll have to report this to the Cabinet. And it might get leaked to the press, you never know.

Female voice calls off screen: Pedro, Pedrito, get a move on, will you? We’re going to miss all the fun at the party down in Cascais. The chauffeur says the pilot’s ready to go at the aerodrome.

EiC (flustered): Er, coming, coming, Bego, dear ...

DoS (smiling smugly): Tut-tut, Pedro. Unjustifiable expenses? Taking that official Falcón plane again? Just you and Begoña? The wife who suddenly got a plum job just after you became PM? You know I’ll have to report this to my own regional cabinet. And it might get leaked to the press, you never know.

EiC (sighs): Let’s just call it quits, shall we? (disappears from screen)

Wolves begin their low howling again on Isabel’s screen, along with diabolical cackling as the single word AZNAR appears on screen, above a sinister face with a toothbrush moustache, smiling evilly.

DoS (arms rising again): All hail to Thee, my Lord and Master …


[Edited at 2020-10-05 10:24 GMT]

[Edited at 2020-10-05 10:36 GMT]

[Edited at 2020-10-05 11:07 GMT]

[Edited at 2020-10-05 12:20 GMT]
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Anycount & Translation Office 3000
Translation Office 3000

Translation Office 3000 is an advanced accounting tool for freelance translators and small agencies. TO3000 easily and seamlessly integrates with the business life of professional freelance translators.

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