The Metro (newspaper)

Before she found out just how close to her house the bus stop was, and the fact that the one bus on that bus stop had another stop right outside her workplace, Paula learned the long way to the ‘underground’ station to go to work. ‘Underground’ because the train travelled completely over the ground on the whole journey from Paula’s stop to work stop.

Paula was thankful for this. It was definitely nicer to travel by train if she could see the light of day while inside the train. Some days, she even brought a book with her that she had got from the library. But she soon abandoned this practice because the journey was so short. Most of the other passengers had longer journeys, however. Some of them got on the train on the stop where she left, before the train would head for deep, central London.

So most of the passengers fought for a sit so that they could comfortably read their books, which they had brought from home, or their newspapers, which they had bought in the newsagents at the tube station.
Until one day all this changed. Suddenly one day Paula got on the train and the scene she encountered seemed taken from a horror movie. No one was reading any book from home, and no one was reading any newspaper from the newsagents. Every one was reading copies of the same newspaper. Every one was holding it in the same way, with both hands. So she could see the first and last pages, all the same, on the hands of every one now in the train. She looked at the name of the paper.


The letters were white on a blue rectangle at the top left hand side of the front page. The papers were the same size as a standard European newspaper, known in this country as “tabloid”, as opposed to “broadsheet”, which was various times the size of a normal newspaper and which was impossible to read all spread out, like these people were reading their papers now, without seriously disturbing the people around.

Paula noticed that herself and the very few passengers who had got on the train at the same stop as herself were the only ones without a copy of this new newspaper. She also noticed that, although they were trying to hide it, the other passengers were as scared as them.

She later knew that this was the first free newspaper given out at tube stations (only her own tube station would take ages to be provided with its own stacks of said newspaper). And that this first free newspaper would inspire very similar ones not only in other cities of Britain, but of the rest of Europe too.

But at the time, she felt first scared at the whole surreal scene, then weird and then slightly annoyed that copies of the newspaper were not provided at her tube station and she always had to rely on other passengers abandoning their copies on the train if she wanted to read it herself. There were not that many copies distributed at the beginning and even in the office it became an item of exceptional sharing, on the days when at least one of them workers had managed to secure a copy of the thing.

Birthday Party

John. Information Technology Engineer. Wants: babysitting Offers: Computer fixing.

Paula called him. She needed help in buying a computer and then she wanted it connected to the internet. At the time, only a fraction of the population had internet at home, and that was always via the phone line – either there was a phone conversation or an internet connection. They used the same line.
Paula had to get the phone line first. Then a phone. Then the guy, for fifty monetary units an hour, offered her advice on computer model and software to get. Even about the companies that were offering internet connectivity. Fifty an hour, noted Paula. She would have to look after his children for five ours in order to pay on of his hours. But it was worth it.

For her five hours were spent at a party. She was going to help John’s wife with the birthday party of one of their two children. Paula went there by bike. Her first trip on her new – or rather, newly acquired bike. It was awkward to bring her whole bag, and the A-Z book with her, and stop every few hundred metres, to check where she was, check the names of the streets on the street signs, check the names on the book. But she got to their house. She locked her bike with her new lock (this was new) to a tree outside – no stands for bikes in this residential posh street.
The birthday boy was three. Paula had been asked to arrive well before anyone would be due, but John’s mother was already there.
“Please do let me know if I am on your way, darling”, said John’s mother to John’s wife, Serena. John’s wife was cheerful and easy-going; she made every one feel at home.
Paula helped unwrap the ready-made pieces of a meal for the children. Serena explained to Paula where to put each part of the meal. That was not how it would be distributed, for she was only preparing it all at home, but everything would go to the local community centre, which she had hired for a few hours to have the party for her son there. She explained to Paula that her son was allergic to some foods, therefore what he would eat would be different from what every one else in the party would eat. Her daughter, although younger than the rest of the party guests that were expected, would be in the party as well, together with other brothers and sisters of the other children who would come. Again, there was a set of food for Serene’s daughter and another set of food for every one else. Once she had explained all this to Paula, she got out a piece of paper. It was the schedule of the party. From three to four there would be the welcome, with toys from the local community centre itself scattered all over the floor. Then would be the meal, which Paula would help get out of the trays while the children were playing, on a table a bit far away from the playground. That would be from four to five. Then at five, a clown would come, then a singer with a guitar to sign songs for the children.
Once everything that could be prepared at home was ready, they proceeded to move everything to the community centre. John was taking the kids with him on the car, together with most of the food, in trays, and things like confetti and plastic plates. There were some bulky things, like a bag full of small present bags, that needed to be carried on foot. Serene and Paula walked with these items. When they got to the community centre, John had her daughter on his arms and was carrying her inside – she was dressed in her fancy dancer costume and her ballerina shoes needed to keep away from the dirt of the street, so strict instructions had been to not allow her to step on the street on those shoes.
Paula started to prepare the plates for the children as Serena had instructed her while social activity was buzzing around her. John tried to help too, but he soon got swallowed by all the social requirements. One of them was to record the whole event on video. Serene for her part, had a little photo camera, also latest model, and took the occasional photograph, of the moment she deemed best.
The parents arrived. With their children. Every kid brought a perfectly wrapped present to the birthday boy, with a perfectly sealed card. Every card was opened and thanked. Then every card was left carefully attached to the present had come with, and then every present was left unopened.
“We will open the presents later at home, darling. Otherwise it will be a bit messy here.”
The birthday boy didn’t protest, and if he did he did so completely imperceptibly for Paula to notice. It was not a big deal anyway – all his friends were in the playground and all the toys of the community centre were in the playground too! There were small cars with huge sits and huge wheels, plastic horses to ride, even an inflatable castle. There were smaller toys too, like puzzles or simple musical instruments. All for themselves. For an hour.
It was all so programmed, so fixed. It left no room for improvisation. The kids seemed passive consumers of the entertainment to Paula, used to look at whichever direction they were told. No one protested when the time with the toys was up. They had a table full of food anyway. Or not so full. There were packets of crisps alongside them that the kids could eat from, but most of the food available was already neatly distributed in their individual small plastic plates. Fish fingers, chicken fingers, some peeled and chopped fruit, ham, bread. The birthday boy wanted to eat from the plates of his friends because his food was so different from theirs. He was probably feeling left out of the uniformity of their plates. His mother stopped him. He could only eat the chicken fingers and the crisps already on his plate. Serena explained to the other mothers that her child had so many allergies, he could only eat very specific food.
The parents stood around the community centre, against the walls, watching their children eat and generally having a good time.
Before anyone would have time to get bored with their food, the cake arrived. Paula had not needed to help with that one. It had been ordered to some specialist shop, and tailor-made. It had the birthday boy’s name and the number of year he had lived so far drawn on it, with childish calligraphy. Serena took various pictures of the cake. It took a great effort to keep the children’s hands off the cake while she was taking the pictures and she had to get angry at a few of them. Then they were allowed to taste it. For that, she took the cake away, put it on a table for easier cutting, and made the children queue orderly for it. While John duly filmed the whole process with his video camera, Paula stood there with plates on her hands, handing them to Serena, one by one, and then putting them on the table so that the children would not just eat their cakes randomly around the playground.
At the stipulated time, the clown made his appearance. All the children left their plates on the table, whether they had been emptied or had some cake piece left, and sat on the floor to watch the clown’s performance.
Then came the singer and guitarist. The singer made a point of getting the children to sign with her, and it felt like the kids finally could actively participate in the whole affair.
Then again at the stipulated time, the party was over. Before they left, and as a form of goodbye, Serena made the kids stand on a queue so she could give them their present bags. Paula had not helped with this either; they had been purchased like this from the sweets shop.
Finally every one was gone. Again John got her daughter on his arms so she could get on their car without stepping on the street, while John’s mother, Paula and Serena made sure they were leaving the community centre as tidy and clean as they had found it. Luckily, Paula thought, a few women who sounded like employees in the centre itself helped them in this task, telling Serena and the rest where things should be left once cleaned.
Paula arrived back at John’s and Serena’s house quite exhausted. She thought that had been it and she could leave, but that was not it. Serena got the presents from a huge bag and put them on the floor. The birthday boy could not hide his excitement, but he was too exhausted to keep up his smile, and that was not a present-unwraping exercise per se anyway.
“Please, darling, don’t make a mess. Don’t open a second present before I have finished with the first one. I ‘need’ to write down who has given you which present, otherwise we won’t be able to write proper thank you notes. Oh, last year”, she was now addressing Paula, “it was such a nightmare. He unwrapped all the presents before we could realise what he had done and we could not figure out who had given him what. It was so difficult to write the thanks notes.”
So now Paula realised, came the task of writing some kind of note for every one who had given him a present.
Serene started with the task of opening up each present and putting it back in the wrapping with secretarial efficiency. The little boy wanted to help by opening presents the way children do.
“Oh, don’t tear off the paper, darling. It will be so difficult to put it back together again with all the paper destroyed. No, darling, you can’t play with the toy little Jimmy has given you. We need to put it back in its box. Yes, all the pieces, darling. And now we need to open this one. No, not yet, darling. Let me see the card attached to it first. Oh, little Lorna. So this is little Lorna’s. Let’s see what she has given you. A puzzle.” Paula’s task was to write down the kind of present next to the name of the kid who had given the present. “No, darling, you can’t play with the puzzle either. We need to check the next present now.
The birthday boy soon grew tired of the exciting task turned into a chore by her mum and John eventually put both children to bed while Serene and Paula got on with the administrative task.

Trueque. LETS

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Paula always remembered Aisha in several occasions more but she was especially grateful for what she had taught her every time she had to move house and had to look for things like where the church or the market were.

Paula’s land lady was surprised that she asked her where the library was. People usually asked her where the pub, the shops, the gymnasium were; sometimes even the church. Paula had learned, thanks to Aisha, that the most interesting and least commercial things of the neighbourhoods of London were announced in the libraries.

Registering was one of the first things that she did. Also, with almost the same excitement that she found the fair trade store two years earlier, she found a group of exchange-without-money. People who exchanged services or things, services or things, as Luna had explained.
She wrote to the address that was on the cardboard note on the bulletin board ‘of the Community’ and she was sent a few forms in which she had to say what it could offer and what she needed. She offered translation services which then turned out that nobody needed, but when he was sent the confirmation of her subscription and with her what other people offered and required, and this encouraged her to offer assistance at festivals and occasional babysitting services.


Paula se acordó en varias ocasiones más de Aisha pero especialmente agradecida de lo que le había enseñado estuvo cada vez que se mudó de casa y tuvo que aprender a buscar cosas dónde estaba la iglesia o el mercado.

La casera de Paula se sorprendió de que le preguntara dónde estaba la biblioteca. La gente le solía preguntar dónde estaba el pub, las tiendas, el gimnasio, a veces hasta la iglesia. Paula había aprendido, gracias a Aisha, que las cosas más interesantes y menos comerciales de los barrios de Londres estaban anunciadas en las bibliotecas.
Inscribirse fue una de las primeras cosas que hizo. Además, con la misma emoción con la que encontró la tienda de comercio justo dos años antes, encontró un grupo de trueque. Gente que intercambiaba servicios o cosas, tal como había explicado Luna.
Escribió a la dirección que ponía la cartulina pegada al tablón de anuncios “de la comunidad” y le enviaron unos cuantos formularios en los que debía decir lo que podía ofrecer y lo necesitaba. Ofreció servicios de traducción que luego resultó que nadie necesitaba, pero cuando le enviaron la confirmación de su suscripción y con ella lo que ofrecía y requería otra gente, se animó a ofrecerse como canguro ocasional y ayudante en fiestas.

First bicycle, second hand

For the second and last time in a long time in London, Paula bought the Loot newspaper (for the last time). She was finally looking for a bicycle. She now lived about five miles away from work; the ideal distance to travel it by bike. Although she was not sure how comfortable she would be with the traffic, with the exercise. Still, if she managed to do that trip three times a week, she would save money in her travelcards. Even though she was only using bus passes mainly now.
There were more bicycle shops advertised on that paper than single second hand bicycles. Faced with such lack of choice, she checked out a couple of shops. Only one of them offered her a second hand bicycle. How much is that second hand bike, please? A hundred and fifty pounds. Hmmm. A lot of money. About fifteen weeks worth of a bus pass. As in, thought Paula, I will have to go on this bike to work every single day for fifteen weeks in order to recover the investment.
Paula had used a bicycle as a child. But it was a summer toy, and never a proper, needed means of transport. She was not sure she would be able to use it that often, that much. A hundred and fifty pounds was a huge amount of money especially taking into account that she may still have to spend that much on transport if she would not be able to cope with the traffic.
She told the shop assistant that she would think about it.
Then she called the one advert that was offering a single bicycle. Second hand, from a place in the outskirts of London. Fifteen pounds. A tenth of the price of the bike in the shop. Which admittedly was a beautiful bike that looked pretty first hand to Paula. But it was enough to use this other bike for a bit more than two weeks to recoup the money.
With time, Paula ended up having to spend about a hundred pounds having the many things that this bike needed fixing which she of course could not fix herself (“Sorry, darling, I sold you the bike in good faith, and you bought it in good faith, no I am not accepting a return”, had said the seller when she called to complain about all the things that did not work.
Paula grew to regret the decision of not getting the better bike, but that was many years ago, when she saw that of course she could use a bike every single day, and many bikes later.
But for the time being, Paula had a bike almost bigger than herself for a few years. She put mudguards on it after getting one of her office shirts rendered unusable after having it splashed with road water on a rainy day, she bought lights and she bought reflector clothing. She also bought a helmet. And a rack that she never managed to attach to the bike because the bike was not designed to have a rack on it.
Still, when Paula’s mum came to visit her, she proudly showed her her most valuable possession, her private means of transport.

Room hunt

Living with her landlady had not the best decision but she wouldn’t learn the lesson yet. In any case, she had only lasted there four months. Now she would have to move Tilda’s things with her to her new place, but that was the biggest of her worries. The biggest would be to find that new place. And she had less than three weeks.
Paula spent the next two weeks buying the Loot to find a room but there were ever only two or three rooms each week within her budget. Her colleague suggested to get the paper first thing in the morning, at six or so, to get the best chance. She did that too but could not keep up during the day, calling back landlords who had left a message in their answering machine. She was not allowed to make personal calls during working hours.
She took a day off from her holiday. She bought the paper at six in the morning and started to ring. At nine, phones started to give an answer. She arranged visits for later in the day. She went to one next to work. That was ideal location. The room was grim. Hardly enough room for the single bed. A wardrobe in the corridor, too small even for her bare two cases. And it was above budget, she had only come to visit it because it was so close to work. In another place, the room had too many wardrobes.
“There is not enough room in my room for a wardrobe, so I will keep it in your room. That is why you will have two wardrobes, one I will be using.” Paula stared at the landlady. “You already knew that, I mentioned in on the phone.” Paula controlled her stomach to hear more.
“You can use the washing machine on weekdays, because I can only use it during the weekend.”
Paula was already exhausted when she arrived to Richmond, to inspect the only room in south west London available that day for less than seventy pounds a week.
She identified the smell of food that was so London and yet so foreign, the moment that old lady opened the door. She led her up the narrow, carpeted stairs. The light was dim and the red on the carpet and the indefined colour of walls and ceileing did not help. A girl came out of a door Paula had missed on the way up.
A cat crossed the landing before they arrived. At the end of the corridor, another three cats looked at them from a kitchen.
“How many people share that kitchen?”
“My eleven cats, the thirteen girls who live here and myself. We are like a family.”
Paula did not need to see the room that was vacant to decide she could not live there. It was claustrophobic and it felt like this old lady was running some kind of harem. It would have been rude to refuse to see the room, so she allowed the old woman to open that door. She observed there was no keyhole. Paula mumbled some comment and the old lady snapped:
“Of course. It is my house. I need to keep an eye in all the rooms.”
she disguised her dissapointment until she was let out of the house, promised to come back once she could make a decision and broke down once outside. She did not stop walking until she found somewhere suitable and private enough to sit down. Then she cried.
It was not very late but it was winter time, so it had been dark for a few hours. The street was not busy, and if there had been people passing, she had not seen them. Then one man passed and asked her if she was all right. She just wanted to be left alone to cry.
“Yes, I’m all right.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes!” (I’ll just be even better when you disappear and I can continue crying)
She got back to the public transport system and was conscious that the day was over when she twisted one of her feet as she walked home from the last stop. The deadline to vacate the house was approaching and she hadn’t even found a half acceptable room. She remembered how, when she was little, she had wondered, “where will I be in 2000?” and she responded to the little girl now gone: Here I am. Looking for another room because my landlady is chucking me out. You didn’t expect me to be like this, did you?

She started to cry again in desperation when her phone rang. One of the landladies that had not answered their phone now wanted to make an appointment for the following day.


“Obviously this is not working”, the note read. Paula was coming from a late night at work to find a note stuck on her door. She had asked her landlady to leave letters addressed to her in the living room rather than getting into her bedroom while she was away, but she had not thought this would cause such bad vibes with the landlady. She had even packed away all her candles, and had babysat her landlady’s daughter for free as a further gesture of goodwill.
“I am hereby requesting you to vacate your room within a month. That would be before the 5th of January 2000. If you do not, I shall be obliged to dispose of your possessions …”
Paula noted that her landlady knew full well that she was going to go to Spain for Christmas. So that meant she had to find another place and move before the 20th of December, the date of her flight. Paula went to bed feeling sick.
The next morning she made a point of talking to the landlady.
“You knew I have my ticket to Spain already booked.”
“And that I was going to spend a few weeks there.”
“Now I will have to move my stuff within two weeks if I want to avoid you throwing it away.”
“I have paid you already the whole month in advance. So now you have my deposit money and the whole month. Are you going to give me back the rent for those two weeks that I will not be here?”
“The notice is for the fifth of January. Whether you choose to vacate it earlier, it is your own business.”
“So you are stealing that money from me.”
“That is your opinion.”

First move

It took Paula two hours to get to work after her first night staying in her second address in London. The maps didn’t guide her the way they should have and it took her double the time. So she had moved closer, but the train fares were not cheaper and her journey time was not much better. True, she lived in a house now. She would no longer depend on office hours to collect her post. She would no longer have to pay two pounds to use the washing machine. And she only had to share the kitchen with one person – her landlady.

“How is the new place?” Asked her boss.
“It’s good, thanks.”
“Did it take you shorter?”
“Actually, no. But I am planning to get a bicycle and it will take me shorter.”
It was true. She had not been allowed to have a bike in the hostel. She had no idea how she would get a bike, but she would. Somehow.

Shopping picture

“What, you have been here for a month and you have not gone shopping on Oxford Street?”
Luna and Paula looked at Tilda. Then Luna and Tilda looked at Paula.
“You ‘do’ need some new clothes.”
“I can’t afford them.”
“Yes you can.”
“It is not my priority.”
“Come on, we go to some shops. You look. If you don’t like anything, we stop. Deal?”
“No. But I have little choice, don’t I?”
“No choice, that’s what you have.”
“I am tired. I have been working all week.”
“That’s not an excuse.”
“I ‘am’ tired!”
“You can get a rest when you die. You come with us now.”

Paula did accept that this was a good point. After all the Spanish friends who had left London for good, she had learnt to enjoy whatever company she had while it lasted and try make the most of it. Tilda and Luna would not be in London forever and between staying and resting, and getting more tired walking on Oxford Street with them, she agreed to postpone rest for the time being. It took them about an hour to get off the bus on Oxford Street. Paula had no preference for any particular shop. She just let herself be dragged along.
“See, now ‘this’ is a t-shirt worth wearing at work.”
“It is too nice for work.”
“Then you put them on for parties.”
“I do not go to parties.”
“Paula, you are impossible.”
“No I am not.”
“Do you like this one?”

Eventually Tilda and Luna got tired before Paula had had enough. Eating out was not an option but getting a bus home was.
“Wait, let me take the last picture!” Luna looked at a fixed point and Tilda and Paula followed her glance. Two men stood one on each side of a shop door, each talking on their mobile phone, hopefully each on a different conversation. It was a funny sight and Luna got her camera out. Too late though. One of the men finished his conversation and disappeared into the shop. Far from looking disappointed, Luna looked at Tilda with a smile.
“You have a mobile phone don’t you? So does Paula. Now, you two. Stand on each side of that shop. Good. Paula, look to your left. Tilda, look to your right. Look up, both of you. Paula, not like that. You need to pretend you are talking on the phone. Look, like Tilda is doing. Yes. Now look up again. OK stand there for a bit. Nice. A bit more … OK thank you so much you too.”
Tilda laughed. Paula was not sure what she was laughing at but she had to admit the situation was funny.
“Tilda, you really looked like a disgusting posh model on the phone, and bored.”
Paula expected a compliment too.
“You didn’t look so good.”
“I think we looked just fine. The finest example of rampant bored and empty consumerism.”

Luna’s hair

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Paula had seen many beautiful sunsets, but that evening it was especially beautiful. Maybe the colours were brighter, or maybe the air was cleaner. Or it may just be that she was sitting in the park with Luna and Tilda. Luna was taking pictures of them, but especially of Tilda. Tilda always looked the best of the three in pictures and on the mirror. But today she had put make up on for pictures. She needed a portfolio – she had one but she needed to constantly update it, she explained, if she wanted to get a better job as a professional dancer. So she would probably use some of those pictures for her portfolio. Paula was worrying that the light was going away. At the same time, she enjoyed every second of it, and she enjoyed it even more every time she remembered it from then on. One of those, so sweet memories for a lifetime. Tilda had such a nice hair, and her beauty was so apparent that day. She had made up her eyelashes with a deep black mascara to make sure they would be well marked in the photos.

At one point, Tilda took her shoes off and sat barefooted on the grass and the light was perfect. Luna does not have a copy of that perfect picture any more. She sent Tilda the negatives and copies so that she could use them for her portfolio.

As she took pictures with her camera, the sun beams made Luna’s hair even more bright and orange. And just when every one thought Tilda was making love to the camera, she snapped:
“My God Luna. Your hair is so beautiful.”
“So orange. So bright.”
Luna left her camera on the tripod and when she was sure it would stay there untouched, she put her hands on her hips and bent the upper part of her body to the left. Then back up, then to the right. Then to the left again. Her hair moved above her head with the movement.
“What the hell are you doing, Luna?”
“I am displaying my hair for you so that you can appreciate better its beauty.”
She stopped. She was smiling with her own unique grin.
“Have you appreciated it as you like, or shall I move it more?”


Paula había visto muchas puestas de sol, pero esa tarde estaba especialmente hermosa. Tal vez los colores eran más brillantes, o tal vez el aire estaba más limpio. O pudiera ser simplemente que estaba sentada en el parque con Luna y Tilda. Luna les sacaba fotos a las tres, pero obre todo a Tilda. Tilda siempre estaba la más guapa de las tres en las fotos y en el espejo. Probablemente Tilda utilizaría algunas de e aquellas fotos para su portafolio, y ella era la única que necesitaba uno.

Mientras sacaba fotos con su cámara, los rayos de sol hicieron el pelo de Luna aún más brillante y naranja. Y justo cuando Paula y Luna pensaban que Tilda estaba haciendo el amor a la cámara, Tilda espetó:

“Dios mío, Luna. Qué pelo tan bonito.”
‘Tan naranja. Tan brillante.»

Luna dejó la cámara en el trípode y cuando estuvo segura de que estaba estable, puso las manos sobre las caderas y dobló la parte superior de su cuerpo a la izquierda. Luego volvió a ponerse recta, y luego se dobló de nuevo a la derecha, y luego a la izquierda otra vez. Su pelo se movió por encima de su cabeza con el movimiento.

‘¿Qué coño haces, Luna?’
‘Te enseño mi pelo para que puedas ver y apreciar mejor su belleza.»
Se detuvo. Sonreía con su sonrisa única.
‘¿Lo has apreciado bien, o lo muevo más?’

The tv room

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There was a tv room in the hostel-for-women where Paula was staying. For most of the time until Luna had come, the room had remained as vandalised as legend had it that it was once made. Then the management of the hostel decided to open it up, bit by bit. Paula did not enjoy watching tv. Comedy shows were the only programs where she could understand an acceptable percentage of what was said. Yet she found it enormously frustrating to watch all those people laughing at words she could not even catch. She did enjoy watching, in their original form, films she had seen doubled into Spanish. At least she could resort to her memory where her English would fall short.

There was one show she did enjoy. It took her all the way to her office job days to work out on what day of the week it was on – on her pub days, every day was so much the same, with Mondays not being that different from, say, Fridays.
There was one show made of cartoons that looked like was made for children. Yet, the themes seemed so much for-adults to Paula. The swearing was of an adult nature too, but it took Paula yet a bit longer to notice this too – her English took a while to get good enough to distinguish when too much swearing was ‘too much swearing’ for a kids show. But back in the day when she first noticed this show, she was so happy that she could understand almost everything every one said. There was only one character that she could not understand, but fortunately it was only one and he didn’t say that much anyway. That didn’t stop Paula from trying hard every time this character spoke, and feeling frustrated for not managing to understand him. This character always wore a red hoodie that kept most of his face hidden too. All the characters, Paula realised with time, wore the same clothes in all the episodes, making the colours of their clothing as much a distinctive feature of each one as their faces, or maybe even more so.

The day when she first noticed this show, there was a critique of those tv programs where the main content was funny home-made videos that were sent by the audience. The protagonist kids wanted to make a funny slapstick video that went too far and the only character whose speech Paula could not manage to understand got killed. Paula was horrified at the sight of the other kids laughing at the great resulting video, too excited at the prospect of winning some price to mourn the killed kid. Then she understood it was a comedy and was just sad that the character would be lost of the rest of the series.

When Paula managed to remember and note the day that this show was on air, she was surprised – and glad – to see this character was back on the show. And killed again. This character was killed in every episode.
Paula got used to this show and wanted to share it with Luna:

“See, there is this really funny show. It’s great. The greatest thing of all is that it is easy to understand. It’s called ‘South Park’.” Luna laughed at the idea that the main reason to like a show would be how easy to understand it would be. And Luna preferred ‘Friends’. Which was just as well because it was aired right before ‘South Park’. So they started to watch tv together, especially on Friday nights. Paula found it strange that Luna would like something like ‘Friends’. They were both comedies, but at least, she thought, ‘South Park’ made her think. ‘Friends’ made her laugh, but ‘South Park’ always had some critique of at least some part of the system. But Luna liked ‘Friends’. And the very person who had insisted in things like recycling every possible bit of paper, was now saying, in a half-jokingly way, every time Paula suggested separating their refuse: “Why do I keep hanging around with ecologists?”
It was Luna that talked to Tilda in the tv room.


Había un cuarto con una tele en la residencia para mujeres donde Paula vivía. La mayor parte del tiempo hasta que Luna llegó, el cuarto había permanecido tan destrozado como decía la leyenda que lo habían dejado una vez. Entonces la dirección del parador decidió abrirlo, poco a poco. A Paula no le gustaba ver la televisión. Los espectáculos de comedia eran los únicos programas donde ella podría entender un porcentaje aceptable de lo que se decía. Aún así encontraba enormemente frustrante ver todas aquellas personas riéndose de palabras que ella incluso ni podía atrapar.

Como sí disfrutaba era viendo películas que había visto dobladas al español, en su forma original. Al menos ella podría recurrir a su memoria donde su inglés quedaría corto.

Había un programa que sí que le gustaba. Le llevó todo el tiempo hasta sus días de trabajo en la oficina para averiguar en qué día de la semana lo daban – durante sus días de pubs, cada día era tan lo mismo, con lunes que no eran tan diferentes de, pongamos, viernes.

Hubo una serie de dibujos animados que parecía hecho para niños. Sin embargo, los temas parecían para adultos a Paula. Las palabrotas eran de una naturaleza adulta también, pero llevó a Paula todavía un poco más a notar esto – su inglés le llevó algo más de tiempo para mejorar lo suficiente como para distinguir cuando ‘demasiadas palabrotas’ eran ‘demasiadas palabrotas’ para un espectáculo de niños. Pero el día en que ella descubrió este espectáculo, estaba tan contenta de poder entender casi todo cada uno dice. Hubo sólo un personaje al que ella no podía entender, pero afortunadamente fue sólo uno y de todos modos no decía mucho. Esto no hizo que Paula dejara de intentar entenderle, cada vez que hablaba este personaje, ni de sentirse frustrada por no lograr entenderle. Este personaje siempre llevaba un hoodie rojo que ocultaba la mayor parte de su cara. Todos los personajes, Paula se dio cuenta con el tiempo, llevaban la misma ropa en todos los episodios, haciendo de los colores de su ropa un rasgo tan distintivo de cada uno como sus caras, o tal vez más aún.

El primer día que ella vió este espectáculo, fue una crítica de esos programas de tv donde el contenido principal consistía en vídeos caseros graciosos enviados por la audiencia. Los chicos protagonistas querían hacer un vídeo de payasadas divertidas que fueron demasiado lejos y se mató el único personaje cuyo discurso Paula no podía comprender.

Paula estaba horrorizada a la vista de los otros niños riéndose del genial video resultante, demasiado emocionados ante la perspectiva de ganar algún premio para / llorar al / afligirse por el / niño muerto. Entonces comprendió que era una comedia y se quedó triste por el personaje que se perdió para el resto de la serie.

Cuando Paula logró recordar y anotar el día en que se emitían estos capítulos, quedó sorprendida – y alegre – al ver que este personaje estaba de vuelta en el espectáculo. Y matado otra vez. Este carácter fue matado en cada episodio.

Paula se acostumbró a esta serie y quería compartirla con Luna:
“Ven mira, hay esto realmente divertido. Es genial. Lo mejor de todo es que es fácil de entender. Se llama ‘South Park’.”

Luna se rió de la idea de que la razón principal para que un show fuera bueno, fuera lo fácil de entender. Y Luna prefería ‘Friends’. Que ni tan mal, porque se emitía justo antes de ‘South Park’.

Así que empezaron a ver la televisión juntas,sobre todo los viernes por la noche. Paula encontró extraño que a Luna le gustaría algo como ‘Amigos’. Ambas eran comedias, pero al menos, Paula pensó, ‘South Park’ hacía pensar. ‘Friends’ hacía reír, pero ‘South Park’ siempre tenía alguna crítica de al menos una parte del sistema. Pero a Luna le gustaba ‘Friends’. Y la misma persona que había insistido en cosas como el reciclaje de cada trozo posible de papel, ahora, decía medio bromeando, cada vez que Paula sugirió separar sus basuras: ¿”por qué me juntaré con ecologistas? ”