Don Insomnia

In Plenary, Practice on October 10, 2010 at 1:10 pm

K will be here in less than two weeks and I realise now that the Tarifa that will welcome her will not be the one that welcomed me, two months previously. It is already quieter than it was when I arrived in August at the height of its booming tourist season. I was stepping over surfers in the street at the time and every night was a noisy affair, the little squares filled with tables and chatty diners; the bars pulsing to house, hip hop and jazz.

Already a number of outlets have closed – the wifi place at the top of my street that always seemed to be both staffed and patronised by the English, a boutique on the same street that sold clothes which I imagine would be classified as “shabby chic” for horrendous prices, the other little wifi place just opposite the apartment that also sold those stupid looking beach shoes with the individual toes…

I assure K on the phone one afternoon that it is only the sillier stores and bars that will shut down for the winter and we will be left with what we came here for anyway – Spain. Spanish shops, Spanish bars, Spanish food. Then it occurs to me that I haven’t bothered to verify this.

Later over a sandwich at one of the little tapas places I sometimes go to I ask the landlady if “these” bars, pointing at hers and the one in the adjacent square are open “todo el año”. Her facial expression is one of torment as my mangled Spanish lurches out of me and limps toward her like something out of a horror movie but she seems to know what I am asking and responds in her heavily accented machine gun Andalucian. Her response goes on for approximately two minutes and I pick up around thirty percent of it; the other bar closes in November (this is shocking news – the bar in question, El Perulero, is the one that affords me views of my beloved little cinema in my favourite little square) but she is open all year. However from November onwards she does very few tapas, concentrating on raciones (full portions), media raciones (half portions) and montados (sandwiches).

Mixed tidings then. There is a bench in the square so if needs be I will sit there in the rain with a thermos flask and a packet of crisps, to be with my little cinema.

Also, I just don’t think there’s any reason to have individual toes in a pair of shoes.

So it looks as if we will have a few places to dive into out of the wind and rain come January, although in general this town does indeed seem to go to sleep for the winter months. I wish I could. Go to sleep, that is. This week I get almost none – the bar at the end of our lane seems intent on finishing up the season with a bang, and the noise that it usually generates on a Saturday night has been replicated on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday…by Thursday I am experiencing the bona fide symptoms of sleep deprivation and can barely function. I am glad, for once, that K isn’t here yet because if she was then the owners of the bar would be dead. I have a set of ear plugs waiting for her and there’s a bottle of Fino sherry in the fridge so they should be reasonably safe, for now.

Needless to say, managing a classroom of teenagers under such circumstances is an acute challenge. But enough of my personal trials – it’s time for the first competition!

Everything I have ever loved in life I have given a name. We probably shouldn’t get into that in too much detail here but suffice it to say that our car is called Molly because we bought her in a place called Mulhuddart and because cars are girls, and our lagomorph is called Bounce, for obvious reasons. That’s just to give you a feel for the wavelength – it’s time that the little cinema had a name and I’ve decided to assign the task to you, the teeming hordes of readers. You can submit your entry in the comments section below. I will make a final choice by the end of November, based entirely on whimsy and caprice, and the lucky winner will receive a copy of Miguel Cervantes’ Don Quixote. That’s right, you heard me; a whole copy, with all the pages!


Another thing – people have all different kinds of toes, don’t they? Long thin ones, short stubby ones –  how can those shoes even work?

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  1. Cinema Tapasido – a bit like Cinema Paradiso, but with a Spanish twist. (Somehow I don’t rate my chances with this one! lol) Great idea though.

  2. In fairness that isn’t a bad opener Jools!

  3. I think I should wait for Steve to get back from the East Coast – he enjoys a challenge! This promises to be interesting!!

  4. i’m shit at naming things so i won’t even go there…

    i pity you, learning to speak spanish in andalucia, i’ve lived here for 4 years and i still only manage to catch about half what someone from andalucia says… but i envy you the weather, so i guess we’re even!

    and you’re right.. the shoes are stupid…

    • I don’t know if you’ve ever been to Ireland but being in Andalucia, and particularly in the province of Cadiz, feels like being in County Kerry. I don’t understand those people either and they (I’m told) are speaking English!!
      There’s a lot of smiling and nodding…
      Also you chickened out of the comp!

  5. “Mirador de Africa”… highly original… but i desperately want this copy of Don Quixote ^^… or will i just borrow yours?

  6. Fotomusco — It is based upon an ancient Aramaic word meeting requiring buttered popcorn. The word shares etymological roots with the earliest Indo-European word fatimicia which means goes well with a red wine. All in all, an obvious choice.

    • Obviously my previous post was an attempt to catch the careless reader. I meant the word “meaning” but typed the word “meeting”.

  7. Ah I was wondering when Fotomusco would come up – a little too obvious, perhaps?

  8. I am big on the obvious. That should be clear by now. Obvious even.

  9. Robin, that was wonderful writing-really enjoyed it. Your descriptions reminded me a little bit of Hemingway. Sounds like an interesting place you’re living, very colorful. Since I associate Spain with the sun, how’s about Cinema de Sol.

  10. I’m so terrible at these things but I would like to contribute. How about “The View from Here” which I hope translates to something better than Google translate suggested – La vista desde aquí.

  11. Not terrible at all! I must say everyone is being quite highbrow about this – I thought the clues I left in the post would have indicated that “Cynthia the Cinema” or some such would have done just fine…La Vista Desde Aqui is an honourable entry…

  12. By the way Rob you don’t stand a chance of ever fitting into one of those single toe shoes 😀 so i think your aversion is pure envy 😀

  13. I really enjoyed reading this piece. I am usually quite sparky when it comes to thinking up names but feel that your cinema is deserving of something of Spanish origin – so as my Spanish is zilch I can offer you:
    The Flamenco Flicks;
    (when all else fails use a good old bit of reliable alliteration!)

  14. I like the Mirador de Africa. Its been a few years since i was last in Tarifa but it made a lasting impression.

  15. When I first read this post I had no idea what shoes you were talking about (being landlocked in Alberta, Canada might account for this) but this past weekend I attended BlogWorld in Las Vegas and the guy sitting next to me in one of my sessions was totally wearing them. Horrifying!

    My entry: Cine Mira. Two words of the few words my basic Spanish teacher drilled into me that actually sunk in.

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