On my way to heaven

I was planning to write about experience with rental cars but… I need to get this out of my chest: I hate my future gas company; which is quite interesting as I don’t have a contractual relationship with them and the only reason why I am mildly looking forward to having it is because that would mean I will have hot water on daily basis. Consistently. Having said that, I hate them and hate them with passion. With a lot of passion indeed.

The story is as follows: the previous tenant of my new house decides it makes sense to ask the company to cut the supply as he is moving out. If you are not impressed, please, bear with me. As opposed to the UK, where it looks like having electricity, water and gas is part of your human rights, together with getting a ride in the morning on a cramped train carriage at extortionate rates, in Spain, they do actually cut the supply and take the meter away. Very unsure about why you would do that as surely the next occupier will need it in the future. Anyway, I called the company to let them know that the process should be stopped and the meter should stay (if common sense is missing, let’s try with a kindly reminder). Big problem: I need a CUPS number (which is your gas supply identifier). Apparently, an address is not enough to identify the location. Alternatively I can provide the previous tenant’s details (data protection gone out of the window as no one should give me those details?). So, I tried by foot: drove to the office, get them to do it (magically, there were no weird requirements once they saw me face to face). And then they threw at me a request: they are the sales division, could I kindly call the distribution division which owns the network to remind them? Oh dear…

So I obediently called the company the next day: surprise surprise, I needed CUPS and the previous tenants’ details. At some point after a lot of frustration and calling a couple of times, I managed to get them to check the property supply on the computer. No, there wasn’t any request to stop the cut of the supply. And there and then I realised that I was underestimating them: in their TV ads, they promise to keep your house warm and make it homely. The ads include a couple of kids, not sure if they are delivered with the meter or they come at an extra cost. The thing is this company doesn’t keep your house warm. They do so much more: they feed your soul. They make sure you develop patience and persistence, you learn to love the rest of the human beings no matter how imperfect they are (and I promise there is quite a lot of imperfection here to deal with), they make you wiser (you have to learn so much about their different divisions, the ID numbers, their processes, their bill (?)…) and they also set you on your way to heaven. Because, hey, you have won your place up there after all this martyrdom for something as simple as hot water. Anyway, with my hopes high to go to heaven I called the sales division and they could see my request.

That is, they could see it and it would take 15 days to change the status of the account (isn’t it just one field in the system?) so that I can give them my bank account details and sleep tight at night knowing I can have a hot shower the next morning without going to the gym.

So to sum up, I am exhausted and unimpressed. I  may or may not have gas by now (who knows, if they cannot figure it out between divisions…) but it doesn’t matter because I don’t have electricity either. But I have good news: I am winning my nice place for eternity in heaven and my company, aware of all these efficient processes around them, allowed me to stay in the flat they have for visitors near the office for any amount of time (close to centuries by now).

Lara Jones

PS. I wrote this post more than a month ago. 7 weeks into the process, I do not have hot water but I have an antisabotage device which not only prevents me from sabotaging the pipes, it also prevents the gas engineer from installing the meter. The worst is that the device looks to me like the wiring on a champagne bottle… So welcome to my world. And then they wonder why I hate monopolies…




Bride´s sister: never ever again

Last weekend I was the bride’s sister. I didn’t volunteer or anything, it just happened to me. And oh boy, how much I underestimated the effort. Had I known how much I was going to run after my sister’s veil, surely I would have sacrificed a couple of inches of heels in favour of sensitivity on my toes (which I have lost at the moment…).

It all started pretty normal: boy meets girl and the girl happens to come home with a ring one day and be my sister altogether.

Now, the morning of the wedding was slightly different to the glamourous and relaxing experience I had been fantasising about. At quarter to eight on Saturday (Saturday!) my sister decided it was time to start the run like headless chickens activity to get to the hairdresser. An hour later I was sporting glossy waves and massive shades to hide the lack of makeup (am I the only one who bumps into everyone the one day in a decade that step out of the house without makeup?).

The crisis started shortly after: a fight for the mirror with direct natural light (I thought I would win this one after losing my bed the night before under the excuse of ‘I am the bride and the one and only who cannot be ugly tomorrow’). I should have known better: In a house with only two permanent residents and one of them being my dad, there is not an obvious need to keep several mirrors with natural light for multiple sessions of makeup happening simultaneously. The next crisis was a self-inflicted one: one should never ever try something new and, in particular, I should never ever try something new that involves glue: I managed to finally stick the fake eyelashes. I also managed to stick my fingers together as a result.

After a lot of stress, with all the eyelashes aligned (a few self-grown and a million fake), I put myself into my dress just to be told the photographer was about to arrive. Perfect! Make up done, nails destroyed (as usual I decided to do my nails right before anything else which always results in tragedy), dress on… Hang on: why is the bride not dressed? Oh, we needed a picture of the dress hanging… That was why.

So the photographer came in, took a few pics of my sister, the dress, the make-up pots and… it was time to get my sister dressed: someone should have told me or upload a tutorial in Youtube. It was 4 of us to dress one bride: how difficult could it be? A lot!

First, my mum tried to get the dress from the ceiling hanger: too heavy for her. So I climbed a little ladder to get on top. My sister, in knickers and bra (because we have never seen her naked since she was three and she was not planning to change that on the day) got underneath. And the 4 of us (including one of my sister’s friends, my dad, who happened to be the godfather in a swallowtail and my mum) started looking for her through the dress. My dad start fretting that she is going the  wrong way (the wrong way inside a dress??? How many turns could she take?) when I finally saw the head and started shouting: ‘I can see the head, I can see the head, just push a bit!’ For a minute, the only reason why I thought I wasn’t a midwife was because I was still on top of the ladder. Finally the head emerged and I realised I looked like the goat the gipsys take with them across Spain, stopping at every single town, singing for her and getting her on top of the ladder. With the only difference that the goat is self-sufficient to get up and down and I wouldn’t figure out how to do it.

I finally managed to get down just to land on the next issue: my sister had gotten rid of her bra to get herself into the bra attached to the dress. All good until I hear: ‘could you please hold this boob for me?’ Excuuuuuuuuuse me!! Can I hold what?? The same sister I hadn’t seen naked for more than 25 years was now asking me to hold her boob? And then I hear: ‘What is the problem, can you hold this one or not, I need to hold the other one to try to get the bra into the right place’. And there I was holding one of my sister’s boobs… Before that I couldn’t even tell if they really existed or they were a legend as I have never seen them!! Never mind!!


So once my sister was dressed, we managed to put on the veil the wrong way and then correct it and get downstairs, the next challenge started: getting her into the classic car allowing enough breathing space for my dad and without staining, wrinkling or destroying the dress. At last we managed and gave her instructions to wait to leave as we (all the helping women) needed to make it to the church and she had forgotten to book a parking space for us. Therefore if she wanted to get out of the car, she really needed to give us time to walk from the parking lot.

We parked, got off the car and my mum started running on her heels as if there was no tomorrow (my sister had forgotten to leave some stuff at the hotel and she was on a mission to get to the reception before my sister made it to the church). So basically my sister’s friend and I were left on our own devices. Not a very good idea considering she didn’t know the town and I had been so busy moving countries that I didn’t know where she was supposed to get married. Running after my mum and when we had finally lost her, we saw a man in a swallowtail. So we followed him trusting he was a guest and knew his way. We could have ended up in any other wedding... We were following him merrily while I fought my headdress which happened to be all I wanted (flowers and feathers) together with my worst fear (own life), when we saw the bride’s car at the top of the hill. Oh dear, we were now making it there after the bride. So we did the only thing one can do in that situation: we ran even faster in 5 inches of heels… Breathless and stressed we got there to start kissing hello all my sister’s guests, just to turn round and realise my sister was stuck inside the car. So while my mum ran again wildly towards the groom to give him a flower to match my sister’s bouquet, we ran like ostriches (legs first, body hopefully following) to help my sister and fulfil our fantasy of being Pippa Middleton just for a while (basically the sex object rather than the know-it-all sister in law). Shame my bum’s size is more aligned with the Kardashians than with the Middletons. So we walked after my sister, managed to be discreet and not seeing but keep the veil looking good, we didn’t trip over the ancient church door that seemed to have been put in there to prevent anyone not enough faith from making it alive to the inside. And we finally made it to the first row (yes! She remembered to book us that place; only she forgot to tell one of the witnesses to sign the marriage certificate that she should also be there). So while the priest made an effort to carry on with his job, the whole of my 1.75 metres plus 12 centimetres of heels plus 10 centimetres of headdress tried to move quietly around the church to find the missing witness. If you have ever tried to move around with my dimensions you know, moving discreetly is never a reality. If you add up to the equation a headdress that elevated another 10 centimetres over my head, that was mission impossible. But finally I managed to make it back to my place with the witness.

So the rest of the ceremony went on, with me only panicking on the 10 times the priest mentioned children and asked my sister and my brother in law if they agreed on having them. My sister, who has always being against pregnancies, bodily functions, anything that drools without control and anything that she doesn’t consider glamourous started to move uncomfortably on the seat (as much as she could considering the dress was around 15kg, and so rigid that after the ceremony we asked her to reverse as it was easier than turning her round…). And we all started praying: ‘please, God, make her just accept it or this will be over…’. So she did (yes, we owe the church around 100 lit candles for the miracle it delivered).

And the rest went with only a couple of difficult occasions: when people asked for the newly married couple to kiss (my sister and kissing in public don’t go together… more praying) and when someone decided to give her a whip. Luckily my sister was on the mood. Any other day that person would have been shouted into the thinking corner.

And that is it, my sister is married and I cannot feel my toes any more.




Lara Jones


Lara Jones is back! And what a journey!!

It has been three years since I last wrote for this blog. In these 3 years I had 2 jobs, 2 boyfriends (sequentially, not in parallel) and candida in my digestive system. For those not familiar with it, it is pretty much like having the mushrooms in which the Smurfs use to live camping in your stomach and feeling as if Azrael were chasing them.

Right now, I have one new job (congratulations to me), zero boyfriends and zero husbands (just clarifying it as there are two main ways to get rid of a boyfriend: dismissal or promotion to the husband position), zero mushrooms in my tummy (hopefully) and a new city to live in: Granada, which takes me into the topic of reversing the process and becoming a true Spaniard again. And obviously, my blog is in English now.

I have to say, once I signed the contract to move back to Spain it felt great. It felt great, that is, for about 15 minutes (5 of them spent in the loo). My mental peace was broken by googling up ´Eurostar Pets.  Because one of the things that is constant in my life is Jones´s cat and one of the things that Eurostar doesn’t do is to transport pets. Not even hamsters. So, what do you do with a cat that looks as if he has eaten the world population of hamsters and is such a drama queen that he will merrily be grumpy on the first cold day of autumn till you cover him with an electric blanket¨. Yes, oh dear… Mental peace out of the window.

After a lot of research I concluded that there were two main options to deal with the fact that the UK is the only country in Europe where you cannot fly with animals in the cabin (drama queen not suitable to fly as luggage…): pay 1,000 pounds to get him in a pet taxi from London to Paris or do it myself adding 8 hours to my return trip. Because 1000 for a 5 hour drive sounded to me more like extortion than business, I decided that driving to Paris and catching a flight from there to Madrid, where my mum would kindly lose her mind while fighting the fur balls of Jones´s cat would be best. What could go wrong?

Well, for starters, the night before departing, just as my handyman was telling me off for having drilled on the wrong edge on the window which resulting in complete destruction of all the plaster around it, migrants were taking over the Eurotunnel railway. The result¿ trucks were delays by 6 hours the following day and blocking the entrance to the Eurotunnel to car… It was 10 am when I made it to the terminal with a very upset cat and just enough time to check in. If the British side of the Eurotunnel was complicated, it got even better at the other side: ´dear passenger, we cannot let you out because there are migrants running on the railway´. And there were! However, in my mind these so called migrants were Syrian refugees. To my surprise, the ones I saw were black as coal. I know that according to the British way of doing things, I could be sued for saying this, however, please, note, I am not saying it in a bad way, I am just describing the fact that they were clearly Africans and not from North Africa. I would merrily use a more accurate term of their race but the first time I had to sign up for a GP (general doctor for those not familiar with the UK terminology) I spent around 15 minutes trying to determine my race. Other than being clear that I wasn’t black or mixed race, I found very confusing to have to choose among 20 different options. What is more, 6 years later I haven’t still worked out what is the difference between White Irish, White British and White Other (which is the one I chose as I didn’t feel I was Latino). Does bacon and suspiciously orange baked beans create an exclusive set of feature that grant different illnesses to white British people_ Please, email me if you know the answer. I am really curious.


When I finally made it to Paris, I offer my super stressed cat a tray with dirty cat litter, which is what blogs about moving cats advise you to do. My cat, which occasionally seems to have more common sense than cat lunnies, looked at me as if I were completely mad, which seen from the outside would have been a fair assessment (carrying dirty cat litter for 500 km, anyone?).

Checking in the cat was also a super interesting experience: it took 3 people to check him in only to send me to pay for his ticket to another desk where the assistant had gone for a coffee and came back at French pace (she would have been sued, fired or both in the UK for making me wait for the whole of 10 minutes).

The flight itself was as expected: I went through an excruciating process to check my cat in, spent a whole morning trying to find a cage that was allowed in the cabin (thank you Amazon, physical stores were hopeless) and how do I end up? Sitting by a crying baby (no cage here, no complicated check in, no silence at all).

When we finally arrived at my parents, I opened the cage and… I just managed to see the back legs of my cat disappearing underneath the bed ottoman. I always wondered where the Tweety´s drawers found inspiration to make the cat super flat when jumping out of window or being run over by a car. After seeing my 7 kg cat flattening himself to fit under a bed that was 4 inches (10 cm) high my doubts dissipated. Flattening is part of a cat reality!!

The way back was equally colourful: The boarding pass that the 3 french people finally managed to give me in Paris for my return flight didn´t work (they had checked in the cat again by mistake, so much effort such a poor result); I realized way too late (after checking in) that I was flying to a different airport to the one where my car was parked (oh dear…), 4 migrants crossed the motorway in front of me as I pulled to take the Eurotunnel exit (again, unknown race but black like coal or like the 3rd of the 3 wise men 2000 edition as the once in the 80s, with no real Africans in Spain, they used to lose the painted black as the parade progressed) and just to put the cherry on the cake and after passing successfully the two passport controls I was pulled to a side as part of a random control. They said random though I suspect they deliberately chose the blondie in the British car with the puffy eyes (10 hours of travelling on that day so far) to have some fun.

The random control consisted basically in challenging me to see how far away I would stretch without being rude. It all started very well: ´passport, please´ and then the odd questions started: where do you work, what are you doing crossing the Eurotunnel, why were you going to Paris. It all got amazingly complicated as I explained the whole story about the cat and being unable to fly him in the cabin from the UK. Could I proved I had flown? Well, only as long as I managed to figure out where the boarding pass was in the sea of fried corn (God bless French gas stations and their fried corn), make up, wallets and cups I had on the side seat. Could I prove I had parked at Paris Airport? Hmmm, where are we going with all this? Am I accuse of anything? Is the car alright? The custom officer reassured me that everything was fine just to continue asking: did I have the V5 (car document proving the ownership) with me. Well, no? I have always been told I shouldn’t carry it with me because the resistance of British people to have a personal ID means that anyone could sell it on my behalf if they got hold of it. But, and this is a big but, he had an answer for that: isn’t it a legal requirement in France? Well, hon, let me make this clear to you: I spent 16 hours the day before transporting my cat, I had spent another 10 hours on that day coming back, I am smelly, sticky, hungry and so tired that I am starting thinking that a night in the police station for slapping you may not be such a bad plan after all so please refrain yourself from being a know-it-all or I cannot guarantee your personal safety. Needless to say, instead of saying that I ended up just wanting to go to a corner and cry, especially when on his second attempt to be super clever and push me closer to slapping him he proclaimed: well, if you don’t have the document I can check it on the computer. Well, why don’t you just do it, make yourself an English breakfast tea and get cozy in your office? Gosh, after paying all those taxes for years, all I get is an idiot with little to do who thinks that rather than preventing migrants from crossing unsafely the motorway, it is better to stop the blondie with the dirty cat litter in the boot (so difficult to justify without being sent to a mental health institution).

At some point, he decided that he had enough ticks on the boxes to justify what he had been doing for the day and let me go. And I decided to go to a Costa coffee to get the biggest portion of caffeine my body could deal with, which is your drug when you had suffered from mushrooms in your tummy and you cannot have muffins, cakes, cheese or anything remotely satisfying to eat.

I finally made it safely at 9 pm, 12 hours after leaving my parents´ and with my life expectancy reduced by 5 years.

Lara Jones
P.S. Dedicated to Babul, all your fault if I am writing this in English