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, July 12, 2013

The story of a summer day

It's definitely summer now. I suppose summer is a special time of year around the world but here, on the Mediterranean coast, it seems to have a distinct significance. The expectations for summer are somehow much greater than they were, for instance, in the UK.

And mention of the UK gives me the perfect cue.

We were in the UK last week. I've spent less than a couple of weeks there in the last nine years so, as things change, at times I found myself feeling less like a local and more like a tourist. Interesting place I thought. Full of life, lots of bright ideas all around. Very dynamic. It was also all a bit frenetic. Full and in a hurry. Traffic was incredible, cars everywhere and the poor old TomTom was going mad with beep beeps for radars. I was deeply impressed with being able to wave my credit card at the terminal on the bar and pay for a pint of bitter without codes, PINS or ID. I was a little less impressed with paying three quid for a bottle of water.  It was nice speaking English though sometimes people didn't understand me or I didn't understand them. Even when that happened though I knew that what I was saying was correct and the problem lay elsewhere. I liked the casual - treated as equal - style of the people in bars, hotels and shops though it was sometimes a bit oppressive - as though by being pleasant they had a right to ask personal questions or comment on things that were nothing to do with them. Much less bowler hat and firm handshake than the England I left though well done to that man at passport control who wished me good afternoon as a greeting and a pleasant day as farewell.

So being in England delayed doing what all proper Spaniards do for the summer which is retire to the country or retire to the coast for the months of July and August. Obviously they don't really. They have to go to the office, go to the supermarket, get their cars serviced and fill in time sheets. Not on the telly though. There everyone drinks beer (in moderation) and leans their good looking semi naked body against the good looking semi naked body of a person of the opposite sex as they grin happily surrounded by friends and family engaged in a never ending barbecue or communal meal. The setting is usually on a beach, in a back garden or at a swimming pool. People with mobile phones behave similarly. Yogurt eaters too. Those with indigestion are able to get back to the fun with the help of appropriate medication.

Our summer sees us back in Culebrón. Wage slave work is forgotten for a couple of months though in my case so is a pay packet. The chittering birds and Eddie the squawking cat ensure that there are no long lie ins but who needs to stay in bed when there is no timetable to keep? The sun shines. It really does. It shines every day and when it doesn't there is something very wrong, The colour turns ochre and yellow. There are more village and town fiestas, performances and events than you can shake a stick at. We do all those jobs that we have avoided all year. In the last couple of days I have finally bought that fire extinguisher for the kitchen, given the palm tree a short back and sides practiced a pagan form of topiary on our ivy hedge, done a nonseasonal pruning of the fruit laden fig, peach and almond trees and worn shorts and sandals. I bet George V never wore shorts. I avoided them for years. This summer though I've decided I'm going to look like every other man in Spain and abandon the long trousers. I've drawn the line at flip flops. Even those fun loving Princes surely don't wear flip flops in public? We'll have to visit people as well, maybe buy some new furniture. We have other, serious, jobs to do too. This year we are determined to finally get a Spanish will after trying halfheartedly for the last three or four summers. Yep, lots of important jobs. I hope I can wear long trousers when we go to see the solicitor. I'm not sure shorts are appropriate when negotiating the price of a Welsh dresser either.

But first, as just reward for all that pruning and lopping, digging and dragging, I think a glass or two of local vino is called for.

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