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La Viña Loca VI:
Five Dais Named Lowe (Part 2)
III: Dai Rain (Dai Lation)
And it's a hard, and it's a hard, it's a hard, and it's a hard,
And it's a hard rain's a-gonna fall
Robert Zimmerman: A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall
At this point I have a confession and apology, especially for our European readers.
I am a rain god. Sorry about the ‘summer’.
This statement is the result of careful consideration and research. The facts speak for themselves.
In the summer of 1997 I was sufficiently deluded to think myself a love god. I distributed roses and bonhomie at the Proms and, all around, folks seemed to be happy and in love. Then, as I have already mentioned (Tortilla 11) a less than successful vacation was only rescued by the magic that is Cádiz and this in turn provided but a brief respite from folly. I have recently consulted a professional philosopher who met me at the time and apparently the technical term for my state of mind was “being a complete twat.”
This is no place to go into details. Suffice it to say that the short term effect was a brain somewhat more unhinged than usual, a lamentable alienation for the poor frisada and, after a short sharp encounter with the jagged edge of reality, a period of deep depression the following year for Yours Ruefully. And a very wet spring and early summer, the weather only improving as my mood was lightened by la frisada’s superhuman patience and TLC and the excitement of her job offer from the land of the mountain and the cheese.
But one summer does not make a demo, so let me take you back to 1985 when my then wife and I turned out to have been incompatible for thirteen years. Without a hint of bitterness, I refer the reader to Ambrose Bierce’s century old definition of incompatibility as someone more attractive who lives nearby; and to the meteorological records for that dreary Spring.
The week of thunderstorms that followed the disappearance of Collisacious, my pet tortoise, in 1964 is just one of the many minor instances that could be offered as corroboration, should any more be required.
For, this year, following the apparently final departure of la frisada, the north of Europe has seen a summer as wet, cold and miserable as any in the last half century. In Nottingham, Trent Bridge briefly became an inaccessible ford, as the river came within one inch of its 1947 record. And in Switzerland, villages in the Rhone valley were all but wiped out by mud slides. And the rain it raineth every day.
The bad news is that, where I am, the sun is up, the sky is blue, there’s not a cloud to spoil the view. We have had six or seven bursts of rain in the six months since I moved here, but that’s only slightly up on normal. So bang go my hopes of popping across on the Tangiers ferry and offering my services to areas hit by drought for huge sums of money (relying on the fact that money cannot buy happiness, let alone love, and thus spoil the effect). Where springs my sorrow, there flow my tears. Sorry, chaps.
What I did not foresee was the way in which the apartment in London would burst into similar fits of sobbing. But for two hard-to-turn-off hot taps, there had been no major problem with plumbing for all the eight years of bliss we had shared there. Except for once when the bath was slightly over-occupied (make up your own story) and the time when the old washing machine decided it liked filling with water so much it wasn’t going to stop, it had certainly never troubled the good folks downstairs. Convivial neighbours seem ever harder to find in perfidious Albion these days and, having found some, it is not a good idea to provide them with unsolicited additional showers. Washer feeds leaking? Shower pipes cracking? Sinks overflowing? Don’t be silly. Why on earth should anything like that happen? Certainly not all three. Impossible.
Therefore there was little to worry me during the fortnight of packing belongings and making farewell visits to friends and family (Dai-a-tribe). The flat was prepared for the unsuspecting sitter in an atmosphere of calm if downcast confidence which now seems so ironically misplaced and about which I shall no doubt laugh, on those days when my medication is sufficiently reduced and the straps loosened.
Armed with a huge suitcase and a one-way buzz ticket to Jerez de la Frontera, I left the treetops of Hampstead one suitably dismal English morning, little dreaming of what was to come. Apres moi, le deluge, indeed.
IV: Dai Guide (Dai Rection)
Oh, show me the way to the next whiskey bar
Oh, don't ask why. No, don't ask why
B Brecht/K Weill: Alabama Song
How nice it would have been had someone been able to keep me company on that outward journey. How pleasant had I met Daniel, who sat next to me on the flight, in the departure hall before checking in. How sensible it would have been to check up on weight allowances and excess baggage charges before plonking three tonnes of samsonite on the conveyor belt. How fortunate that they accept credit cards.
It was bad enough that buzz, unlike easyJet, do not sell single flights at their lowest, ‘done deal’ price. This made the flight to Jerez only two pounds less than the previous return. And even on a Saturday in early June the flight was hardly full of overloaded travellers. Nonetheless, rules is rules and at least I was still well up on the deal compared with a ‘normal’ airline’s fare, even after the cost was bumped up by 50% by the books, CDs and weightlifting equipment (okay, forget the last bit). More to the point, Jerez airport is only 25km from Cádiz.
Daniel was heading for the Gadir language school to learn Spanish. His apartment would not be available until Sunday but buzz only flew on Saturdays. However my spare bed was available, in gratitude for which he kindly paid the taxi fare from the airport to la casucha. And he proved an amiable drinking companion for that first night and a cause of terminal sunburn the next day.
All my own fault of course. I was so glad of the opportunity to show someone round my little town (after all I’d had a place here for all of three weeks), that it didn’t occur to me that he might not wish to confine his sightseeing to shady streets. Especially not that he might be interested in those parts that young women were prone (or preferably supine) to expose on beaches. In the sun. The hot sun. The ultra-violent sun. No prizes are offered for guessing who left his Panama hat and sun-block cream behind. Was my face red, as they say.
Being a scholar and a gent, I escorted him to the school, which was quite near to the chica-strewn Victoria beach. It gave me a chance to check the place out, as it might not be a bad idea to enrol. The sooner I could order more than a beer and any tapas I could point at, the better. The woman who greeted us was charming and the place looked pleasant enough, professional but relaxed. As she took down his (please!) details, I idly watched her colleague’s George Clooney screen-saver. Noting my deep lack of fascination, she suggested I might prefer to watch hers, which consisted of a series of action shots of Anna Kournikova.
— Is sh-she a student here? I panted, reaching for my credit card.
Apparently not but if she ever enrols I can have her as soon as la recepcionista has finished with her — or rather, I imagine, what’s left of her. How nice to meet a woman after my own heart — or should that be groin?
V: Dai Tidy (Dai Laffing)
Try to imagine
A house that's not a home
Mud: Lonely This Christmas
It is a fact, universally acknowledged, that to a single man in possession of a dwelling of any size, it cannot be called home until it is a complete tip. Quentin Crisp’s great message of hope was that one should never do housework because after four years the dirt stops getting any worse (“It’s just a matter of not losing your nerve”). Sadly, I may not be in la casucha long enough to test this but the principle can still be applied.
“The Elephant Gades” is a wonderful little vehicle which goes around our streets, sucking up litter in its flexible trunk. Like the twentyfour-hour dustcarts, it bears the legend, Cádiz – ¡como la plata!: Cádiz – like the plate! Now, I can only assume that this is some reference to cleanliness but, if so, these people have plainly never seen my kitchen. I didn’t need Mr Crisp to tell me that plates need never be washed until they have passed the fish barrier.
And I have come to the conclusion that many of life’s problems could be solved by employing two naked Thai women. Many critics object to this with questions like, why naked? why women? why Thai? and even, why two? This simply betrays the complete lack of imagination prevalent in society. And the sordid assumptions made by those who don’t ask are even more disheartening. Why can’t people look at the positive aspects instead of carping about details? In my case, they would come to my room each morning and, jabbing me with pointed sticks, make me get up and get on with my work. They could sort out my books and papers, do the shopping and bring me meals or cups of coffee. If I started shirking, for instance using the computer for games instead of work, the pointed sticks would be there again. More Tortillas, more damn novel, a better life all round. And people say to me I should simply be more self-disciplined! Honestly; where’s the fun in that?
I was thinking of setting up a business called Two Naked Thais but it looks like somebody already has: very successfully, judging by their huge fleet of delivery trucks. Does anybody know how much they charge?
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