Siesta time, half time and tea time

I for one did not vote to Brexit (I prefer to mix it), apply for an Irish passport or emigrate – I am already here! However, had I chosen a different part of the Iberian Peninsula for my laid-back life in the sun, some kind of ‘exit’ would definitely have been on the cards, and not only because my preferred game is Bridge.

Because, according to recent reports in the press, the Spanish siesta, long a source of envy for Britons and much appreciated by yours truly – ask anyone who has dared to ring me during the hottest time of the day – could be consigned to history.

The country’s prime minister Mariano Rajoy (shouldn’t that read ‘killjoy’?), obviously an insomniac, says he wants to eradicate the three-hour post-lunch snooze.

The siesta, a centuries-old tradition, was originally brought about because of the impracticality of agricultural workers toiling outside in the baking heat – and what a very sensible institution it is indeed.

Currently, Spaniards start work at 10am and break at 2pm, often not to be seen again until the following morning. Now you may think, as I do, that that is wrong. My working day under the sun starts at 8am and frequently, such as at this moment, much earlier in front of the keyboard. A much cooler approach, methinks.

If Mr Rajoy’s equally little-known Portuguese counterpart António Costa were to harbour ideas of introducing any similar draconian measures, I would take to the streets in protest – provided it wasn’t between the hours of 2pm and 5pm. I mean, banning my siesta is the equivalent of England outlawing tea and scones, the French forbidding mistresses or the Italians condemning pasta and pizza as unhealthy!

Returning to the Brexit … I experienced my very own life-changing exit last month. As regular readers of this column might remember, I have been playing Mafia Wars, a multiplayer social network game, since a bad motorcycle accident ‘grounded’ me for a time seven years ago.

It turned into a kind of addiction and 2,189 consecutive days’ play took up several hours of my life 24/7. And I was not alone. On Facebook, as of August 2010, Mafia Wars had up to 45.5 million monthly accounts created. As of April, 2013, reported approximately 100,000 daily users out of 500,000 monthly users. As of November 18, 2014, MetricsMonk reported that the game had 450,000 monthly active users.

Well, I have been freed of my vice, involuntary or not, and it feels great. On April 5, 2016 it was announced via Zynga’s (the game’s creators) forums that Mafia Wars would close down on June 6, 2016. Players were informed of this via an in-game message. The game was taken offline shortly past midnight PDT on June 7, 2016. I am free, I sleep longer, I talk to my cat and I still have a girlfriend. Summer is here!

On the bigger stage, parts of the now Anything-But-United-Kingdom have voted to turn their backs on the Treaty of Lisbon and thus Europe, fuelled by the leave campaign’s xenophobic exploitation of the current continent-wide migration crisis.

Germany’s biggest-selling tabloid, Die Bild, made a last-ditch effort to avert that scenario with the following concessions:

▪ We’ll acknowledge the Wembley goal
▪ We’ll stop making jokes about Prince Charles’ ears
▪ We’ll stop using sun cream on the beach out of solidarity with your sunburn
▪ We’ll reserve a place with our towels for you on the hotel sun-lounger
▪ We’ll introduce tea breaks
▪ We’ll turn our clocks back an hour to be in synch with you
▪ We’ll do without a goalie in penalty shoot-outs with you to make it a bit more exciting
▪ We’ll send (German national football manager) Joachim Low to guard your Crown Jewels
▪ We’ll introduce an EU regulation banning a frothy head on beer
▪ We’ll all come along to the Queen’s 100th birthday
▪ We’ll willingly provide the villain in every Bond film

Alas, all to no avail. Without boring you to death, do people seriously think isolationism will provide an instant cure to Britain’s social problems? What was David Cameron thinking in acquiescing to such a referendum, precipitating not only his own downfall, but at the same time empowering such political mavericks as Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson?

Next up we could see Scotland and Northern Ireland, who voted to stay in the EU, opting out of the UK as ordinary Britons woke up on June 24 to find that their holidays had become considerably more expensive overnight as a result of the pound going into freefall.

Enough said, and speaking of which, the longest day of the year has come and gone, July is with us and the Algarve is beginning to seriously fill up. The latter annual phenomenon manifests itself with long queues at supermarket check-out tills and petrol station pumps as well as, particularly this year, overcrowded bars showing a seemingly endless series of to-date-very-boring Euro 2016 matches.

The knock-out stages will hopefully have provided more excitement – England were practising penalties ahead of their pot-boiler with Iceland – and, as you are reading, I confidently expect EU powerhouses Germany and France to heroically battle out the second semi-final ahead of Sunday’s Championship match.

Unfortunately, England and the rest of Britain will not be there. They will hopefully be basking in the brilliant sunshine on the Algarve’s glorious beaches – if they can still afford to and get a visa!

By Skip Bandele

Skip Bandele moved to the Algarve 20 years ago and has been with the Algarve Resident since 2003. His writing reflects views and opinions formed while living in Africa, Germany and England as well as Portugal.