An Old Blog Post Won’t Ever Let You Down…

I wrote this some time ago for a post I put on a CW website associated blog. Anyway, here it is;

 English Meetings

     I have a student who works in Real Estate. That’s rare enough, nowadays, but she’s from Romania. She does classes because she wants to go back to working in the garment industry. I’m helping her perfect her portfolio/presentation/interview pack. We refer to this weighty document as all three. Her plan is to write directly to the top man at places like H & M, D &G and so on and ask for an interview. It’s possible she has already written some letters. I think she’s a little mad, but I don’t say so. She pays me, after all. She takes three hour chunks of my life; 3 times a month. An intense person, her voice is both loud and penetrating: not a pleasant experience at a range of 3 feet. There’s a room at the Doctor’s surgery that I use free of charge: there’s a sign on the wall. Speak quietly please. Remember that this is a Doctor’s Surgery. The sign was made by me. It’s the least I can do: I’m sure the noise drives the Doctor mad. Last week, the class (she calls them meetings!) began with her apology for not preparing anything. This of course meant that she was going to talk and I was going to listen. My task was to steer her towards telling me something remotely interesting, to take my mind off the voice. Anyway, at one point she raised the subject of the recent finding of a body in a well on the outskirts of Alhaurin. The well was on a finca; a house in the country with a modicum of land. She told me that she had rented this property out for a while. First to a French couple on a 12 month let and then a French man who disappeared after one month of a six month contract. La Romana looked quite pleased with herself as she slipped in the titbit a friend from the Guardia Civil had given her. The remains of the corpse were wearing Marks & Spencer pants. So the deceased couldn’t possibly have been French. I didn’t have the heart to mention M&S’s ventures into France 10 years ago and the proximity of Gibraltar. Still, the second option is unlikely, and who would wear 10 year old underwear? By the way, towards the end of that 3 hour session, my student showed me an e-mail from a big-wig at Hugo Boss. Good for her. And one in the eye for cynical old me.

Nothing Much About Nothing Much

A sunny day today. I often park some distance from where I have to be. The exercise must do me good, I suppose. Coín’s a nice old fashioned town. It has narrow streets and those streets are so convoluted. There must be 50 ways to meet your mother. It’s the kind of town where the locals do meet their mother, mother-in-law, cousin, or even the person who they sat next to in school. Naturally they stop to pass the time of day.  Sometimes it feels like everyone else on the street knows each other and nobody knows me.

I quite like it, to tell the truth. “Being an “Outsider”, I mean.

I’m not a great one for “get-togethers”. Nowadays, a group of more than four makes me feel uncomfortable. Oh, you probably wouldn’t be able to tell. But I know I have that secret flint, the icy core, inside. Always been that way. Sometimes I’m amazed that I got through 23 years of Air Force service, although it was a close run thing, at times.

As a guiri, I’m not expected to understand a single word of the average Andalucian’s effort at Castellano (posh Spanish). But I do. It’s great material for someone who thinks they’re a writer, as I do, with however little justification. The Coínos are as unguarded in their own language as your average English tourist on the Costa – although with less risk of being understood by a “foreigner”. “Guiris“: that’s the word they use for foreigners. It’s not awfully respectful. They used to use it for any stranger in town, which, for many years, applied to the Guardia Civil, who were prohibited from serving in their home town.

Some days I miss an England that doesn’t exist now. Local pubs – Witherspoon-ed out of existence. Village cricket? Only in certain counties. Jumpers for goalposts? There’s no grass to play on. If I’m honest with myself it probably ceased to exist the year before I was born. My adolescence coincided with the 70’s: the Brown Decade. Go on, google fashion and home decor images from that decade: everything was brown. The cutting edge of design was something in orange. That’s got to have an effect on someone, hasn’t it? No wonder punk arrived with such a bang.

Some of this distance between me and other people is down to a dread of meeting new people. I just know they’re going to say ‘Where are you from?” I don’t really have an answer. Not one that approximates any kind of truth. So I give them the construct I’ve been giving out for over 35 years. It takes around two minutes for me get to ‘So I’m probably more Scottish than anything…’ Yeah, I know. What kind of answer is that?

Anyway, that’s why I don’t have that many friends.  

So, if you feel that you are my friend, you probably are, this is just to give you a clue about why you’ve always found me a little odd.