Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Today, I returned to another of my old haunts - the art nouveau Café Moderno

This is a place I've previously described as an oasis of calm and quiet . There are no TVs at all and the music is played very low. Plus, it's good. In fact, I asked the waitress if it was on a CD I could buy. No, she said, it's all on a USB pen. Would I like to borrow it and load it into my laptop? Indeed I would! And, oh, what memories of my youth. Including the first two records I ever bought - Nutcracker by B Bumble and the Stingers and Summertime Blues by Eddie Cochran. The first of these left me with a lifetime ambition to play boogie on the piano. Which I'm still working on. All that was missing were Green Onions and Soul Limbo from Booker T and the MGs. The latter is so invigorating I play it in the morning to get me going. You can hear it here, if you like a lot of bass, or here, if you don't.

The café is so serene I felt a bit of a pariah when I sneezed. But then, as my daughters will confirm, my sneezes can be quite something. Anyway, I felt I'd committed a crime against the ten or so silent denizens of the place, most of whom were reading the papers, as if we were in an (old-fashioned) library. Actually, there were only four or five other customers; I'm always taken in by the guys in this tableau.

Come the summer, come the chap who spends his days sunbathing on rocks on the nearest beach to the city and then walks the two miles back home, through the centre of the city, shirtless and carrying a radio played at maximum volume. One would be forgiven for thinking he was trying to attract attention to himself. Rumour has it he used to be a pimp and/or a brothel owner, before he took to torso-exhibiting. But I can't vouch for that. I will try to snap him over the next three months.

I've mentioned that begging is now so relentless in town you scarcely have a minute to yourself before the next one comes along. Inevitably, I've come up with some sort of hierarchy, to ensure I'm giving wisely. So:-
- Musicians: Certainly the gifted performers and singers, who - presumably licensed - tend to occupy the pitches near the Peregrina church. Possibly the accordionist, if he plays more than one tune. Certainly not the scrawny drug addicts who murder tunes on pipes. I wonder how their dogs stand it, day in and day out.
- The well-dressed men who sit on steps - Not so far but maybe I should.
- The Rumanian women outside the supermarkets - No
- The gypsy women sometimes occupying this spot- No
- The cigarette-lighters pusher - No.
- The fancy pens pusher - No
- The coins-juggler on the corner - No
- The veteran panhandlers - No
- The ancient gypsy crone who's been cursing me for ten years - Decidedly not.

Finally . . . A strange experience under the setting sun this evening. At a bar near the main square, I asked for an Albariño wine, only to be told they didn't have it. Ditto Rioja. They could offer me a Ribeiro wine and, though this is a decent white, I felt a protest was needed and moved to the adjacent Savoy bar. Where I found the waiter from what is now The Corner bar, who honoured me by not asking for payment when he brought me the elusive glass of Albariño. He reminded me what the bar had previously been called. But I've since forgotten it again. Just too many things to remember these days. Or at this age. Who knows.


Ferrolano said...

Colin, now after reading this, your latest blog, your FB comments make more sense. And BTW, I prefer the second version of Soul Limbo, featuring the old 45 record.

Colin said...

Me. too.