Sunday 15 September 2013

Steady as a Rock

After a summer of circumnavigating Britain and Ireland, coupled with single handedly installing a new septic tank system, and a complete bathroom, then cooking and cleaning for 6 weeks of guests, we finally have managed to get a few days break. Today we are in Spain. We have no dogs, no Brits, lots of local food and little understanding of the lingo – and it is bliss!
Now it is well documented that, shut away in our little corner of the Europe, I have little regard for world news unless it affects me personally. In my well documented opinion, newspapers have two purposes involving fish & chips and kindling, respectively. Thus I was blissfully unaware that ‘call me Dave’ Cameron had been having a wee scuffle with the Spanish over that lump of Britishness, Gibraltar. Until now, that is, as I can just about see the outline of it from the beach where I write. Even then, it brings no surprise, as Britain tends to be at loggerheads with most of Europe over something or other. It appears that ‘concrete-spike-fishing-gate’ as the press have labelled the skirmish – (is it any wonder I don’t read their illiterate rubbish?) - has sparked something more than a slanging match over fishing rights, which is currently blowing up into such a disproportionate political stoochie that now the Spanish government are proposing slightly more indignant retaliation against our efforts to protect part of its coastline. Not content with imposing a go-slow at customs, causing 8 hour queues through its border, they are now making noises about charging everyone fifty quid each to get in, as well as instigating tax investigations into the wealthy inhabitants of the Rock. (No, not Peter Bill, we are talking the Gibraltar Rock!). Still, their ability to throw four-star onto the flames of international embers doesn’t bother me one fig, as it is not a place that holds much interest to me. Until now, that is. Because the b+stards are now taking it out on me, personally, to which I whole heartedly object.
For just one week we are abiding in a comfortable little apartment in the pretty seaside town of Conil de la Frontera, hoping to get some sleep. What it didn’t say in the brochure is that it backs on to the only main road in the area. This in itself would be of no consequence, were it not also the only access to a massive ‘rave’ discotheque, just a mile away, which goes on until 5.30am every night. As this property is owned by Brits, I am convinced there must somewhere be a Union Jack flying over it, as every Juan seems hell bent on loudly singing what I can only guess are freedom songs as they pass our window. Some even revert to blowing their car horns, just as a note of nightly acknowledgement to their fishing birthrights. By day two of no sleep, I have decided to retaliate myself, as any good internationally proud citizen would, and take the law into my own hands. On our roof terrace, I have spotted a reel of hose pipe which, with a little effort, I have now managed to connect to a tap. Aha. Take that, you noisy louts, I whisper, as I cowardly shower them from above. But does that stop their shenanigans? Nay, it does not. In fact, the revelers are now under the belief it is raining and, as this place is as dry as a British Rail sandwich, they are quite pleased with a little precipitation. In fact one well-built young lady is so excited that she whips off her top and starts dancing in the street while her pals all join in with what can only be considered as Spain’s answer to singing in the rain! Ah – maybe I dozed off and dreamt that bit!
Anyway, now the 4 day long fiesta, which happened to be on in this town when we arrived, has ended, I was hoping that a little normality may resume, and the peaceful status quo be restored. Not a bit. Having kept me awake all night, the local government have seen fit to target our apartment once more, this time by digging up that same said main road. I kid you not, at 7am, a pneumatic drill noisier and less tuneful than Status Quo themselves now hammers incessantly away at the tarmac, right under my window. Exactly what their need for a man-sized hole in the middle of the street is, I have no idea, but once again my cowardice comes to the fore, in case it is especially to put me in and smooth over again by siesta time!
I will admit that I am now getting incrementally more psychopathic and, unless I manage just a few zeds very soon, I may do something my family might regret. Thankfully, at last I did find solace on the near deserted beach, with its calming sound of the rolling waves affording me chance to drift off. Except, now the back of my legs are redder than Tiananmen Square on Labour day, and I am barely able to sit down. As I shuffle shamefully home through the dunes, back to where the workmen are jigging about with their jack-hammers as though they have a bad case of ‘St Vitus Dance’, I can detect a chorus of muffled sniggers as Le Ingles passes by in search of some relief via ice-packs and a padded cushion.
To cap it all, I have one more significant problem. To keep down the weight on our hand-luggage on good old Ryanair, who’s intent it is to charge me a million quid fine if I am so much as a milligram over ten kilos, I decided to leave my laptop at home and work from my tablet. Now for those who believe that a tablet is something that can cure a headache, think in reverse. Every time I touch the screen, pictures, icons and strange words appear and my own stuff disappears off into some sacred hyperspace from whence there is no return. When I do manage to type legible words, it converts them into hieroglyphics which are even harder to understand than the local waiters. To type this article, it has taken me nearly 24 painful hours, to the accompaniment of Carlos the Hammer and his pals, and I have threatened the blasted thing with some swimming lessons on an hourly basis.
Why, oh why, did we leave the tranquility of our cosy farmhouse in silent France? There is a saying: ‘the grass is always greener on the other side?’ And it will be oh so wonderful to get home and find some. Maybe I should check out the local dealer who scares the bejessus out of me from the nightly shadows of the street corner and try one of his roll-ups to see me through?!
 Oh, wait a minute; here comes lunch. An aromatic dish of clams and cuttlefish in inky black rice, accompanied by a chilled bottle of local blanco from Cadiz and some cool music, and once again all is right with the world.
Hasta la vista, laptop.