Posts Tagged ‘Gibraltar’


In Presentation on March 21, 2013 at 9:49 am


The sea is far below me, the cliff top far above and the curved cliff face on my left as the narrow track curls around it and reaches a ravine that’s not much less sheer than the rock to either side and covered in sub-tropical vegetation – deep greens in the form of ferns and palmitos, great leafy plant life speckled with the yellows and purples of spring.

Here the track becomes a set of old, uneven steps, steep and winding up the ravine in twists and sharp turns towards the top. Looking up at the zig zag stonework – almost swallowed up by foliage – and then over my shoulder out to sea and that other continent’s coast, it’s not the kind of spot where you would expect to bump into anyone. And yet, I hear voices.

They’re coming from behind and since I stop here to sit for a minute, they soon catch up. A pair of Englishmen – one is tall and straight-backed, wispy white hair blowing in the breeze, aquiline nose held high and appears, even up here after quite the hike, to be sauntering along as if on a quiet stroll round his own garden. He looks like I look when I take the few steps from the front door to the buzón to check for post, only taller and with better posture.

I feel a bit better when I see his companion, a stubby man with a snub nose, hair not so much white as dirty grey and beginning to stick to his head with perspiration, a few straggles of it escaping from beneath the temples of his glasses. More

La Vaca Roja

In Plenary, Practice on November 27, 2012 at 11:11 am

Hercules is a name that will strike a heroic note in the modern mind, by and large. Heracles, for the pedants. Strength, courage, indefatigability, perseverance, all that stuff. He murdered his wife and children, which on the surface of it might have precluded hero status, but we seem to have forgiven him.

Perhaps we’ve done so because of the penance he made. Apparently quite upset with himself over the wife-and-child thing, our hero prayed to Apollo, who gave him an out. He was sentenced to twelve years in the service of Eurystheus, King of Mycenae, who put him to work on twelve labours – feats so incredibly difficult they were deemed impossible .

Hercules had Hermes and Athena on his side but even so, by the time he had faced and conquered the Nemean Lion, the Lernean Hydra, the Cerynitian Hind, the Erymanthian Boar, the Stables of Augeas, the Stymphalian Birds, the Cretan Bulls, the Mares of Diomedes, the Belt of Hippolyte, the Cattle of Geryon , the Apples of Hesperides and the Hound of Hades , our man was well and truly rehabilitated in the mythology of ancient Greece, and subsequently Rome and finally, of course, our own mythologies, burnished to a modern sheen More


In Practice, Production on March 8, 2011 at 11:12 am

 I sit at the foot of the bed, staring slack-jawed at a Russian news show. One of those satellite channels you only ever come across in hotel rooms. The panel members are using words like “financials” (can you really pluralise that?) and “bullish” (where, I wonder, is the missing “t”?).

K is lying on the bed, casually leafing through a property development brochure. We’re in a chalet on the grounds of an exclusive golf club and resort. The suit has had another dusting off and is hanging on the wardrobe door as she gets up to run a bath.

I think I may have died and gone to hell.

Now the dance, the ridiculous waltz of preparation; K will castigate me for not getting ready. It’s nearly time! Why am I just sitting here? Why am I not shaving? Why do I always do this? There will be raised voices, maybe even a couple of tears. Then I will get ready. In precisely ten minutes. And then she won’t be ready. When she finally is (multiple costume changes and two completely different hairstyles later) I must admit she doesn’t look too shabby. We go to the clubhouse. More

The Rock

In Presentation, Production on December 20, 2010 at 9:35 pm

I’m on top of the rock, just beneath the crest. Here the steep slopes that face West and overlook the town below give way to the sheer cliffs that characterise the Eastern face. I am at altitude and it is dark – black dark. I am perched on one of the narrow laneways that have somehow been eked out up here and I am bent over, bracing myself against the torrential rain and high winds that feel strong enough to blow me off my feet and to my death below.

I am not of a nervous disposition but this feels dangerous – the sodden and lofty views of the lights of La Linea and Algeciras across the bay a constant reminder of dizzying altitude and my precipitous position in this maelstrom. More