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I finish teaching today for the Christmas break. All week long I have been using Christmas as an excuse to break away from the text books and do something a bit different.

Now I think it's perfectly understandable that Spaniards do not know that Brits eat turkey at Christmas or kiss under miseltoe but I find myself amazed that the songs Santa Claus is coming to Town and White Christmas have also passed them by. Bruce Springsteen was only known by one of the eight adults and, much more understandably, by none of the youngsters I asked. I talked about the sales figures for White Christmas and the way it has been outsold by Elton John's Candle in the Wind (The Diana version) and Mull of Kintyre by Paul McCartney. Quizzical looks all around. I was pleased when the English version, on DVD, of Who Wants to be a Millionaire stopped asking, to Spanish youngsters unanswerable, questions about Eastenders and asked who the director of Jaws was. It's an old film but surely the name Steven Spielberg would ring a bell - not a bit of it, the options of George Lucas, Robert Altman and Francis Ford Coppola were also non starters.

My Christmas quiz, proceeded by the politically correct question as to whether they minded me asking questions about the biblical Christmas story, took ages to explain. Of course they weren't Muslims or Jewish! Now I don't think I've read the story myself since I left South End Junior school in 1965 but I was flabbergasted. Really, Joseph and Mary had to stay in a stable, Joseph was a carpenter and shepherds came to see the baby? This in a country that is still nominally associated with Catholicism in a big way.

The crowning glory though has to be one elderly lady who is a bit confused by the whole English thing. "What colour is Santa Claus's suit?"  Coca Cola would be appalled after all the effort they have put into giving the old chap a bit of a makeover from the 1930s onwards. "No, it's not green, it's red."


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The one time state, now private, telephone company here in Spain is called Telefonica. Its reputation is not good. People complain that the service is expensive and poor.
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