One of those Spanish evenings. My daughter’s friends, walking the dogs, bump into my friend Pablo, who lives up in a house on the edge of the forest. Pablo is one of those Gallegos who, having known me for several years, have now suddenly decided that, despite my Englishness, I’m worthy of being a real friend. The girls return and tell me about the meeting. As Pablo speaks no English and they no Spanish, this had been fraught with misunderstanding. Next thing he’s at my gate, inviting me and my ‘daughters’ to a glass or two of wine at his house. This is a real honour but I tell him the chicas are actually my younger daughter’s friends and the real things are indoors, getting ready for a curry dinner which I’m preparing for some friends from town. I invite Pablo to take a look at the curry and – like most Gallegos – he dismisses it as fit only for dogs. Or - because it’s spicy - for Mexicans. He then berates me for raising the subject of my roof – which he wants to repair – when we met at the recent bullfight. When I add to this gaffe by trying to say something about this, he makes it clear, with well-chosen expletives, that there’s a time for talking about roofs and a time for talking about wine. Of which I gain the impression he’s already had a glass or two. Nonetheless, he manages to squeeze in there’s no way he’s going to replace my tiles for a mere thousand euros. Though ‘mere’ is not the word he uses. He then departs to get me a couple of bottles of Rioja. On his return, I thank him profusely for the wine. He admonishes me again for not being able to get my priorities right and then departs, insisting I take up the invitation for a copa or two at his place. Which I doubtless will.
Talking about having fun . . . We have our final fiesta of the year the weekend after next. This is the medieval fair – the Feira Franca – which was only inaugurated ten years ago but which now consumes the entire old quarter. Preparations for this have already begun downtown. As this lead time of a more than ten days is vast by Spanish standards, this serves to endorse my regular contention that the Spanish are never more serious and efficient than when they’re planning to have fun. In fact, this may be the only time they go in for any planning.
Talking of fiestas . . . Up in Brión this week, they celebrated some failed attempt by the British to storm the city a century or three ago. From the foto in the local paper, the British troops were apparently kitted out in floor-length kilts and bolero jackets. And they wore on their heads that Spanish symbol of (American) capitalism – the stovepipe hat. So, no wonder they lost.