Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Suspended in time between pole and tropic
The other day I was told that someone was going to ask me for classes. In turn I enquired about the person who had asked about me. From just a first name my born and bred Pinosero informant was able to tell me who it was, who the family were etc. As I said, it's a very small place.
On Sunday we had Villazgo, the local event to celebrate the granting of a town charter to Pinoso back in 1826. Maggie and I saw the original document, signed by the King Ferdinand VII, when we did a little tour of the town archive. Fernando VII is often labelled the worst king that Spain has ever suffered. As we walked from the parked car to the main stage for the event we bumped into someone we knew. Maggie knows tens of people through her work at the estate agent. We said hello, we chatted, we said goodbye and five metres later we bumped into someone else. And so it went. Several encounters later I left Maggie, to be nice to people, whilst I headed for the stage. Even as my surly self I found myself exchanging words with three more people on the way to the, now half completed, opening ceremony. As I half listened to the speechifying I chatted to a neighbour from the village. I didn't know the person who was giving the speech but the neighbour did. A couple of people amongst the great and the good on the stage nodded at me. Apart from Maggie's celebrity we've been here a long time; both of us work in town, pointing my camera at most of the things that move in Pinoso also gives me a certain notoriety and, because we're Britons, our presence is more noted at some of the events we go to. As we wandered the Villazgo stalls and stands we spent much more time talking in English than Spanish but we probably spoke to nearly as many Spaniards as Britons. A couple of the British conversations somehow turned to questions about snippets of Spanish history. History which I knew.
On Mondays I work both the morning and the afternoon at the local language school. It doesn't really make sense to go home for lunch. For the past few weeks I've gone to the same bar but sheer happen stance meant I was short of time today so I went to a different, nearer place. Not a bar I use regularly. In fact the last time I was in there was last August! The bar didn't advertise sandwiches nor did they advertise the pop-like beer I often drink. I ordered as I shed my coat and faffed with my backpack. Then I set down to read a bit of Eliot (I just had to slip that in, I don't read a lot of poetry but for one reason or another I'd decided to revisit the Four Quartets which I last read, in its entirety, as I travelled to and from my first youth work job in Leeds in the late 1970s). When it came to coffee time I asked for an Americano, the woman repeated the word with a quizzical look, so I changed my order to the older, more Spanish name, for a watered down espresso.
One of the conversations I had today was with someone, a British couple, who are a bit fed up with Pinoso. They find the place a bit humdrum, a bit limited in its horizons, a bit short of decent food, half closed half the time and all closed the rest. It made me realise that I'm not. That I quite like the food, that I like that I know a few names in the town, that I can cobble together enough Spanish to have a conversation of sorts, that I know what's going on both locally, historically and nationally and that, despite my natural reserve and my well cultivated surliness, I'm pretty much at home here.