In Plenary, Production on April 4, 2014 at 9:30 am
Until the Arabs came, this was the end of the world. Everything to the west was monsters and mystery; everything to the south was sultry, secretive and uncivilised. To the Syrians and their Berber hordes it became a new frontier, and a potential route to the domination of Europe, but until that moment, for the people they were about to conquer, it was the edge of the known. For some it still is of course – Europeans are in plentiful supply who would willingly go no further.
Sitting on a bus and looking at the back of someone’s head can be a bracing business; we never see the back of our own heads and it’s probably just as well – this evening’s guy has hair cropped short with salt and pepper flecks and a line of imperfections along the rim of his ear (spots or old wounds of some sort) that he continually rubs and picks at. He has a way of sneezing that makes me wince even though he’s doing it in the opposite direction: a series of near silent convulsions after which he checks his hands, his jacket and the window for mucous. My hand’s been resting on the miserly ledge at the bottom of my window and just behind his seat; I pull it back a little and breath as shallowly as I can, impatient to get off and suddenly conscious that a blemish at the back of my own ear may be disgusting someone at this very moment, grey hairs involuntarily counted, greasy collar disapproved of. More
In Plenary, Presentation on December 21, 2011 at 6:18 pm
Less than an hour’s drive from Tarifa, over the mountain, through Algeciras and around the bay, is Britain – probably the most distinctive physical feature in the whole of southern Spain. Many of you will know, of course, that Britain is a small, over-crowded and heavily urbanised island but you may not have been aware of some of its lesser known attributes; the commanding views of Africa’s northern coast, the small but stubborn population of Barbary Apes (unique amongst all apes in that they are in fact monkeys) and of course the tell-tale British surnames; Tewkesbury, Finlayson, Parody, Netto, Buttigieg, Benady, Santos, Spiteri, Zammit, Xerri and Crisp.
The main bulwark of the British economy is money itself. Investments, insurance, pensions and numerous other products I have a very poor grasp of are sold from here. Poker, a possibly related activity, is also popular. After that it’s booze. After that it’s cigarettes. And after that it’s you; the tourist. You come to get in the cable car and go see the monkeys. Then you buy some booze and cigarettes. Then you leave. It’s almost as if you came here for gambling, booze, cigarettes and monkeys! You certainly don’t come, I would hope, for the food.
Britain is peppered with traditional pubs – recognisable by their grim exteriors and sticky carpets. More
In Presentation, Production on October 5, 2011 at 9:22 am
The Cory’s Shearwater. A compact and aerodynamic sea bird with greyish brown colouring and a distinctive white, dark trimmed underwing. There’s a little valley that slopes down to Tarifa town from the hills behind it and the skies above the valley are packed with them. There are many more than I’ve ever noticed before – more even than the ever present gulls it would seem. At first I imagine that they’re back in this part of the world for winter having spent summer further north. A little reading later and I realise that they are not arriving; they are gathering for departure.
The Shearwater doesn’t have a north-south migration pattern. They summer in the Mediterranean (and why wouldn’t they?) nesting in the cliffs of the sea’s many islands and in the winter they migrate to the Atlantic, fanning out in every direction – some of them as far north as the coasts of Ireland and Britain. Rotten choices for a winter getaway if you ask me but who am I to speak? This year, I’ll be following them.
For birds migration is life; life is migration. They’re rather good at it. Routes are well established and pinpoint timing is instinctive. There are no questions. You don’t hear about any dissent in the ranks; anti-migration movements or campaigns for a sedentary lifestyle for example. With the approval of the people at Nike, they just do it. They live it. More
In Plenary, Practice on November 26, 2010 at 12:28 pm
You know that feeling you get when you’re sure you’ve left the iron on? Or you think you might have? Or the gas. Or in K’s case, the straightener (an iron for hair). You know you’ve left the house a thousand times before and you know that to date it has always been there when you get back – a house, not the charred remains of one – but you just can’t shake the feeling that a disaster is unfolding even as you consider whether it is or not. Unfolding, that is.
And then you get the negotiation with self; well, even if it’s on it was propped up on the safety thingamy at the end of the ironing board so it won’t burn through anything. Or the straightener is on the bidet (did I mention we now have a bidet?) which neither of us has had the courage to use as yet so it’s bone dry and, as far as electrical fire risks go, approximately a zero. More
In Plenary on August 27, 2010 at 1:59 pm
If there was something missing from this blog so far, with its focus on our move to Spain, life in Andalucia and the little town of Tarifa, it was a post about County Donegal in North West Ireland. Did you spot that? Consider the issue addressed.
We had always wanted to go to Donegal – K had never been and I only had the dimmest childhood memories. With our move imminent we finally got out there a couple of weekends ago. It would be our last chance to do it for a while – and I’m all about last chances – so off we went. More