Posts Tagged ‘Tarifa’


In Practice, Production on May 20, 2012 at 3:36 pm

So, Valentin has attacked me in my sleep. He has pounced at my face and clawed me above my left eye. There’s a deep red gash that is very long and that I kept having to explain to the kids at school.

“Mi gato.”, I would shrug. “Yo estaba dormiendo anoche y……yo no sé….algo asustó a mi gato o….algo…ah…lo ha asustado?…yo no sé…una mosca…eh…cualquier…”

Such a pleasure for these people, to listen to my assault on their language. To stand by and watch as I single-handedly ruin it. They do quite well, generally, it has to be said, under the circumstances, in terms of remaining polite.

Please, please stop, their faces beg. We don’t want to know your stories, or about the things that have happened to you, if it means listening to this.

But I needed them to know. Apart from the fact that I didn’t want the gash on my forehead to be quietly attributed to some sort of alcoholic mishap, it had been a first for me, being attacked in my bed. It’s as though a rite of passage has been successfully navigated. In a way I feel as though I’ve shared an experience with the James Bonds and Chuck Norrises of this world. More

Los Mapas

In Presentation, Production on April 29, 2012 at 1:01 pm

This is a map of its route. It began, as an idea perhaps, in Augsburg in 1678. The idea container became a brewer of beer. I would have liked that. He didn’t. And so, the idea and its container went north, through heavily forested country and farmland, over the Donau, to Nuremburg, where Johann Homann taught him to engrave.

He returned to Augsburg with the skill but it wouldn’t be till 1744, towards the end of his life, that the idea would find expression on paper. From there who knows how many journeys, how many copies, how many owners, till in the latter half of the 20th century it was picked up in an antique shop in Dublin, Ireland and found a home with us in leafy Lucan.

Since then it has been restless. Before long it was gracing walls in Madrid, baking in the summer heat of Spain’s central meseta. After that a return to blustery Ireland, to Dublin, then Dundalk. It crossed the Irish Sea by boat and might have settled in the gently rolling country of Hampshire, England. But it wasn’t to be.

It would have satisfied the container, I think, to see his idea take its longest trip yet, over the blue curve of the Atlantic to the New World. More

El Perro

In Presentation, Production on April 23, 2012 at 10:05 am

So you know that (not always apocryphal) story people tell about having a tomcat or a dog for years and years and years- something called Tiger or Rover or Leon or Dasher. Then they tell you about how it goes missing one day.

The owner/couple/family search(es) high and low, desperately worried and anxious for their four-legged family member. Little Timothy is beside himself. There’s a vigil in the front room and neighbours pop by to offer pre-emptive condolences. Hours, days pass and then they happen upon the animal in some unlikely spot right under their noses – behind the shed, in the shed, whatever. Only it isn’t an animal now; it’s a whole new family, and it turns out they’ve made a fairly serious error in naming their pet.

There they are, five new puppies/kittens to take care of and one messed-up, deeply gender-confused parent. After all, if you’d been known as Butch your whole life you would probably have started believing it yourself. You might even have begun to explain that secret yearning to be called Lady or Princess to yourself as some sort of psychological disorder.

But no, you were right all along – just as you suspected More


In Practice, Presentation on April 10, 2012 at 8:38 am

“So is this the Royal and Very Illustrious Fraternity of the Holy Christ of the Expiration, the Virgin of the Greatest Pain and the Piarist Brotherhood of Jose de Calasanz”, asks K,  “or is it the Ferverous and Penitent Brotherhood of the Holy Christ of the Good Death and Our Lady of Love and Railworkers?”

I can’t help chuckling to myself at her schoolgirl error.

“No, no you silly bean”, I gently chide, patting the back of her hand.

I’ve been brushing up on the processions in my little Semana Santa booklet, complete with timetables, recommended viewing locations and little illustrations depicting the various get-ups that would identify the cofradias, or brotherhoods, and their penitent, pointy-hooded nazarenos. Apart from the colour of their costumes there would be nothing to distinguish one nazareno from another; all of them covered from head to foot, their identities concealed by capirote, capa and capuz. I recognized the conical yellow headwear and black túnica that we’re looking at now immediately.

“It’s the Pontifical and Royal Confraternity and Brotherhood of our Lady of Solitude and the Descent of Our Lord.” More

El Saltón

In Presentation, Production on March 25, 2012 at 1:07 pm

So I’m ambling down towards the Batalla de Salado a few days ago, all headphones and shades, when one of those hoppy things (cricket, grasshopper, whatever) collides with the side of my face. I wouldn’t think anything of it, to be honest, if it wasn’t the size of a trout; as it is I almost fall over.

Hours later, I will still be reeling.

By the time I recover awareness of my surroundings sufficiently to continue on my way, I am in the middle of a pedestrian crossing and surrounded by tooting car horns.

I’ll be on the alert from now on, I’ll tell you that.

Fucking huge.

It was flying, actually; not hopping. It had these ridiculously under-sized wings that just about kept it airborne, though not in a dignified way. I doubt it chose to smack me in the face. It didn’t really look like it had a great many choices at its disposal, trajectory wise.

Here’s a question. It’s for both creationists and evolutionists. Play nice, though.

Anyway, it’s this; More

La Cazadora

In Plenary, Production on March 16, 2012 at 11:51 am

Across the rippled silver sand and down to the water, the sky vaulting above me and teeming with stars. I can see the band of moist sand before my feet get wet; a strip of shine where the waves wash in.

I’ve been to this spot before but not at this time. It’s a second viewing; the kind of revelatory glimpse of a place you only get once you’ve seen it a thousand times, and then see it anew. Out in front of me a succession of cargo ships navigate the Straits, twinkling like a chain of fairy lights.

Beyond them the fainter flickering of Tangier, its lighthouse and medina. And spanning my field of vision from the Isla de Palomas on my left to the huge dune up at Valdevaqueros on my right, the black Atlantic. Sand, water, lights; the world is made of these long horizontal layers and of the noise the waves make.

And of the vertical sky. Orion stands over me, high in the sky and dead ahead. When I first knew K we would stand out back of the house we shared in Dublin and I would point it out to her; Mintaka, Alnilam and Alnitak, the three stars of his belt; Hatsya, the tip of his sword. She would humor me by listening. It was the only constellation I could see from our yard that I could name. More

Gran Día

In Presentation on March 9, 2012 at 11:07 am

October 23rd, 1958 was a big day.

It was a Thursday, and at around eight o’clock that evening something bad happened at the No.2 colliery in Springhill, Nova Scotia. Bumps are underground earthquakes and are probably set off by our infernal digging. They are common enough and were often ignored – there had already been a bump an hour previously. The eight o’clock bump, though, was huge.

A hundred and seventy-four miners were in the deep, deep shafts of No.2 and only a hundred would see daylight again. Under the circumstances this was good going – rescue teams came from far afield. It even became the first major international event to be broadcast live.

After the bump, the Dominion Steel & Coal Corporation shut the mine down and it never reopened. Lives had been lost, others devastated and a town robbed of its principal source of income. The disaster is now an entry in the annals of North American folklore. It has been written about in any number of books and sung of by artists from Peggy Seeger & Ewan McColl, to Peter, Paul & Mary, to U2.

That said, most people are probably more familiar with the other thing More

Mierda, y otros detalles.

In Plenary, Production on February 29, 2012 at 1:11 pm

I’m staring at poo.

It’s a shapely stool – well formed and regularly shaped, but the colour is just wrong; a dreadful pale hue. Truly awful.

It’s one of a number of turds I’ve had a good long look at recently. I’m not sure why I stare though.

Perhaps I enjoy savoring the rage.

No doubt there will be more to look at tomorrow. One of the motifs, the little details of daily life, currently: pieces of poo.

Winter is reductive – the head goes down and the eyes are drawn away from the far-flung horizon. They focus on the minutae at our feet. The world is scanned, bit by little bit – unconnected dots; attention hopping from one to the next without time for drawing the lines as one scurries from one warm spot to another.

Life is grainy; a composite of discrete things.

It’s 9.35 in the evening as I step off the bus at the first of Tarifa’s two stops, on my return from work. I’m just inside the town which spreads out downhill in front of me, and I take a right into a neighborhood of uniform, almost Soviet-style apartment blocks, away from the casco where we used to live. More


In Uncategorized on February 19, 2012 at 4:11 pm

January and February. The eleventh and twelfth most popular months of the year, in no particular order.

It’s been a schlepp. The year has begun with some important changes for us, but what a schlepp. Up to our necks in boxes, budgeting and assorted banalities. Also, bunny replacements. We’re just getting over it now – lifting our heads and looking towards the horizon again, the year ahead.

Mentalities opening out like spring blossoms.

The cold hasn’t helped. Siberians – why can’t they keep their weather to themselves? We’ve been cold down here at the southernmost point of mainland Europe for weeks. Process that for a minute. Southernmost point. Cold.

Of course when I explain to our cousins in the north that we’re getting daytime highs of 13, 14 and 15 degrees the sympathy is limited. Those are just the highs though – our lows have been low and the houses down here are built to refridgerate, so when it’s 6 degrees outside, it’s 5 degrees in the living room.

For fahrenheit people, simply take the celsius figure and dip it in hot water, leave to dry naturally at room temperature for two hours and then soak again overnight, More


In Presentation, Production on February 12, 2012 at 5:57 pm

So after all the recent upheaval, we’ve had a baby.

Any big move is going to be an emotional time, and will inevitably turn thoughts toward domesticity, future and family; so we just went ahead and did it. As a facebook friend posted the other day, sometimes you have to take a leap and build your wings on the way down.

And we are certainly feeling that way this morning – hurtling toward the earth with our hammer and nails and a bag of feathers. Life is going to be different. We might be accused of not having thought this through. But we will learn as we go like we usually do.

Regular readers will be confused. No, you haven’t gone crazy – not nearly enough time has elapsed since I wrote about the topic to have done this the biological way. Neither of us is ever going to win any prizes for patience, but two weeks would be tight, even for us.

We’ve adopted.

So strange and new to have a little one in the house! Not a particularly comfortable feeling, I have to tell you. The weight of responsibility, the anxiety, the pressure. Also, it’s a slightly creepy baby. More