Tuesday, December 23, 2014
Coo-ee, coo-ee, Mr Shifter, Light refreshment?
There is a frost on the ground outside our house today as I type. We have two blokes, José Miguel and Manuel his brother, tearing up the old concrete and laying a path between front and back gardens and building a patio.
They started work yesterday. It was cold then too. Maggie asked if they wanted a cup of tea, or as they're continentals, a cup of coffee. They politely turned it down and waved a bottle of water at her as though that were a suitable alternative.
When I was a Mr Shifter in the furniture shop here and I delivered stuff to British houses a drink - hot or cold depending on the season - was always the first offer. In Spanish houses it wasn't unusual to be given a drink but it was always at the end of the job as the sweat dripped from me. Water was the normal offer with beer coming a close second. The purpose was different though. In Spain it is for practical reasons - like thirst. For we Britons it is a social custom too.