Today is our 5th day here and for me the most important part of our agenda is the Barcelona/Arsenal game tonight. I know its not exactly conducive to my work here, but non the less it is important to me as we could progress to the next round if we beat them tonight.  After all they (Barcelona) are the best team in the world by a mile. We have booked a table in one of the “restaurants” here for the game. The restaurant is owned by an artist who has gone to town on his place, which also doubles up as his home. I will post pictures when I get back so you can see what I mean…Yesterday, after writing the Blog, we went to visit the new school building that we helped to design on our last trip. This is the place that will be the base of our education program so is very important. At the moment it is half built, but we can see how it is going to shape up when it is finished. It was great walking through. It really gave me a sense of what we are doing here is coming to fruition and will be a success. To meet all the people who we are going to work with in the school, wo are also very excited, gave us a massive lift and really makes me want to do more. I can’t wait to fill this building with equipment and start teaching in it.Back to the big match day, which perhaps more importantly is also International Women’s Day. Whilst the rest of our group began with a long series of meetings, I went with Hamdi to visit a mechanic friend of his called Cori. I met Cori on my last trip and he gave me a lot of photo’s of the occupied territories that I posted lat time.After a little while fixing the front suspension a load of musicians turned up with Bebbe from the band Tiris. It seems that they all want to record music when our van finally arrives. All of a sudden all of these musicians are mechanics and get involved with the fixing of the car although it soon becomes apparent that none of them are actually mechanics and just get in the way.The young guys who work for Cori and I have a good laugh about the fact that everyone is a mechanic here or at least think they are. It turns out that they are checking the car out for a possible purchase and it is shocking to hear that the car is worth up to 2500 Euros. Back home this car would sell for £2-300 at the scrap yard: the front window is completely smashed, all the suspension is shot, one of the rear doors doesn’t open from the outside and one guys thinks he knows the solution and adjusts the child safety latch within the door and seems very proud that he has potentially fixed the problem. However, once he shuts the door it becomes evident that he hasn’t as the door will no longer open from inside either so he shrugs his shoulder and blames the car. It doesn’t start without you opening the bonnet and attaching a wire, its what we would call a Wreck…

So I headed off to the first of the International Women’s Day events to do some filming and check up on the state of their audio equipment. Immediately I could tell that it wasn’t too good as the system has no top end and the voices are completely muffled and virtually inaudible. Combine this with the chatter from the crowd and I could here nothing of what was being said. So I headed off to buy some water from a local shop and ended up spending an amusing time buying souvenirs. Basically we spent a long time haggling and discussing the international exchange rate but, thanks to some persistence and a fair bit of other party intervention –of course everyone suddenly becomes an accountant -, I walked away with the souvenirs for a fair price to me and the shop keeper.

Late afternoon we went to the large hall that was to house the evening’s event. Nick and I leant a hand to Selmu to set up the equipment. When we got there Selmu had already set up the sound system and was setting up the stage. We were there to help but decided to observe exactly what their skill levels are to have a better idea of how much work we need to do.

We noticed that Selmu was using two mixing desks, which at first we were impressed with as we thought that he was using one for monitors and one for FOH, but we were shocked to find that he was using one for mic’s and the other instruments. This just meant twice the headache, so we explained that there was no need for this and we re-patched everything to the better desk. Once we had changed a few mics and cables that were not working we were ready for sound check, which turned out to be ok and, as long as he didn’t fiddle too much, the night would be fine. However, this wasn’t the case and soon the volume crept up and up and we were back to the screeching mid-hi’s that I have heard from all the PAs here. Not wanting to completely take over I gave a few bits of advice and left him to it. I couldn’t stand in front of the PA any more as my ears started to hurt. There’s definitely  a lot of room for improvement here…

I headed outside for some air and ear relief and walked straight into a bunch of young kids who, when realising I was English, gave me their best English which consisted of swear words that the had clearly learnt from gangster rap. I wasn’t impressed and soon got bored of it and moved on.

Time was ticking and I realised that it was getting close to kick off time. So, myself, nick and a young man I met last time I was here, Whalie, headed off to find the restaurant we had “booked” a table in. Upon arrival we saw that there were many young Barca fans also waiting for the game, so we settled in to wait for kick off with a plate of chicken n chips.

And so to kick off. For those who don’t get football I’ll explain that this is a Champions League game played over two legs, home and away. We (Arsenal) won the leg at home 2-1, which is great for us but also not so bad for Barca,  as they scored an away goal which counts for a lot over two legs. Basically it means that if Barca win this leg 1-0 they win the tie with the away goal rule, but if we score an away goal too they will have to win by two goals to win.  Look it up if you want to know more after all I’m not here to teach the rules on football but sound engineering.I couldn’t help showing my frustration when Barca scored, which then alerted me to some of the men who did not want Barca to win so we bonded on that and I found out that they weren’t Arsenal fans but Real Madrid fans: the sworn enemy of Barcelona. Either way “we” Arsenal fans cheered when we pulled one back, which meant we had our away goal and that Barca now had to score two goals to win. But with the referee clearly a Barca fan and sending off our best goal scoring opportunity for nothing but a technicality, Nick leaves to head back after this and it didn’t take them long to pull those two goals out of their extremely talented hat and win the game 3-1.

It was great to interact with the younger element of the camps in a non-work atmosphere and have a genuine laugh and almost cry with them. They are not very different from young people back home or anywhere else I have been, although there is no alcohol here so they are less-rowdy. I didn’t see any real arguments that you might normally see with alcohol.After the game I headed to the back of the restaurant where Danielle, Hamdi and his wife were having dinner in the owner’s house. Soon we headed back to the house in a new car that Hamdi has borrowed. Bebbe from Tiris actually bought the Mercedes wreck we were in earlier for €2300. Yes that’s around ₤2000 for a car we would scrap if it was in the UK as it wouldn’t get past the entrance of a MOT centre back home…