In Practice, Production on February 25, 2013 at 8:20 pm
I text L to see if we’re doing the intercambio, suggesting the usual Sunday afternoon at the alameda, or perhaps a copa tonight in the old town, as Tarifa celebrates Carnaval this weekend and we could do a bit of people watching and practice our Spanish and English respectively. He gets back to me and agrees to the latter so we arrange to meet at the old mudejar arch that leads into the little pueblo.
We’re not at all in the mood for revelry but at least pitching up and enjoying the others in their costumes comprises some kind of participation. We’ve been living very quietly recently and it’s good to take part in these things, especially I think in Spain where festivals and celebrations are given such great importance in a community.
We stroll towards the archway, anticipating the titbits of tasty historical information that L habitually drip feeds us. Tonight they’ll be Carnaval themed no doubt. When we see that his friend, P, has come along it confirms our expectations; they’re both real history and culture freaks. I don’t believe I’ve ever had a conversation with either of them that hasn’t, at some point, involved the Phoenicians.
K often finds herself an amused observer, sitting back as three men who may or may not know what they’re talking about talk about it in broken English or stuttering Spanish. More
In Plenary, Production on January 12, 2013 at 12:44 pm
K is just where I like her: beside me.
We sway a little in our seats as I look across the aisle at a couple of bored-looking boys, obviously brothers, who remind me a little – because of their physical resemblance – of my brother and I when we were young and lived in this city for a short time.
We’re on the metro, linea 1, heading north beneath the city towards Pinar de Chamartín and the boys seem too young, as we would have been, to be unaccompanied. The doors open at the Plaza de Castilla stop and I see that they aren’t – their father has been sitting opposite them, beside us, and now stands and calls for them to follow him onto the platform.
We came here fatherless, my brother and I, for a new life in a new and exotic country, in a big new city and a hot summer, with our mother and her new Spanish husband. I was never to get on well with him. That’s life for you. The two boys don’t remind me of my brother and me in every way; the elder has his arm around the younger, who rests his head on his brother’s shoulder and dozes. My big brother and I fought tooth and nail, relentlessly. That’s brothers for you.
I was going to do this on my own; the plan had been that K would go shopping while I wandered down this memory lane of mine. More
In Practice, Production on September 14, 2012 at 2:43 pm
There’s no answer.
A part of me is sure this is the place. I directed us here from the passenger seat without hesitation, once we figured out how to get off the highway that hadn’t been here last time and took the tiny road up. I remembered it all – that the road bore to the left as it rose and then curved into the lower edge of the mountain village, then another swing left and, soon after, this big brown gate on the right, of stately design in a grand stone wall. A worn crest carved above it.
Behind the wall and to our left a more modern house in bare brickwork confuses me. The old house is hidden from our sight, so another part of me is thrown – the bricks of the “new” house were bare thirty-two years ago when I was last here. Surely it would have been finished – rendered – by now? Could it be the house I knew?
No answer. I begin to doubt myself and we wander uphill to see if I can recognize anything else, and to see if I can find somebody to ask. At the top of the road we meet an ancient woman carrying some logs in a bucket as she emerges from the darkness of her apparently electricity-free house. Surely it can’t be in this day and age? Maybe she’s just thrifty. More
In Plenary, Production on June 8, 2011 at 9:02 am
Poulshone, County Wexford; Ireland‘s sunny south east. Usually that’s a comparative term and somewhat misleading but not this year – the hottest summer anyone can remember.
The hottest since ’47 in fact.
I’m sitting on a patch of beachgrass and shading my eyes as I look across a dune at the little house with the cool-tiled, sand-strewn floor. That’s where I need to get. It is Aisling’s house, or Samantha’s or whatever her name was.
Dad is still alive.
The arc of sky above me is polarised by memory; an impossibly deep, dark blue – the expanses of sand below it a blinding white. Seurat style dots of other colour in the distance; tiny swimsuits wavering in the heat where sand sinks beneath water. Buckets, spades, armbands and inflatables; orange, pink, yellow – shark shapes and crumbling castles.
An ice cream afternoon. More