Blogs in this series

Life in Culebrón is a disconnected series of pieces about the banal and ordinary of everyday life in an inland Alicante village seen from my very British perspective.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Salt and ornamental rocks

A young man is sitting at a hotel bar in Los Angeles having a beer. A young woman approaches him and says "Are you in the rock business?" "I am", he says. "Well, if you'd like to sleep with me I'll be back here at midnight". The young woman leaves. The young man drinks his beer pensively and, after a while, turns to the barman, who overheard the whole exchange, and says "Not the sort of offer we geologists get very often".

Thirty or so years ago I did a degree in geology. Tonight at the "House of Wine", a sort of local exhibition and conference centre in Pinoso, there was a presentation of a new book about the local mining industries, mainly salt and marble, based on the writings of some old time geologists. I thought it might be interesting. I even took money to buy the book.

The book had been sponsored by a local savings bank and the town council so first the bank manager and then the mayor said hello to the thirty or so people in the audience. The mayor passed us on to the local councillor who had persuaded a local academic to write the book. The councillor thanked everyone and then passed us on to the academic. The academic said thanks to the mayor and the bank manager, to the councillor and to us. He took about three minutes to describe the structure of the book then he passed us back to the local councillor who quoted a bit of Cervantes about knowledge being a good thing. Then it was time to get a drink and some nibbles.

There was no talk about the salt or marble industry. The PowerPoint display that was running on the screen behind the top table was never commented on. There were a few copies of the book around but they seemed to belong to the mayor, the bank manager, the councillor and the academic. There were no books for sale. There was no mention of how to get hold of one of the books.

Lots of people nodded at me but nobody actually spoke. I felt completely lost. I eventually summoned up the courage to ask someone if I could have a look at the book she had tucked under her arm. It was the worst Spanish I have spoken in two years. The book looked quite interesting in a sort of geological way. I didn't eat any crisps or drink any wine. I just came home.

No comments: