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.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

And the other six dwarves

Thirty one years ago, in the Bar Lennon in Valencia, the barman turned out to be the chatty type. Having to talk in a mixture of mime, tortured Spanish and broken English was no obstacle to his chattiness. He sang the European anthem. He invited us to the beach and, amazingly, we and he turned up the following morning at the appointed time. He and his pals frolicked, stark naked, in the sea whilst we two Brits toasted ourselves to the colour of boiled crabs and ate all the food.

Jaime has been an occasional friend ever since. Time passes. He turned 60 on Thursday. I would be even less impressed to see him in his birthday suit nowadays. Pepa, his long time minder arranged a surprise party in Fuentes de Rubielos​ in Teruel where the two of them have a business renting out a country cottage.

It's 300 kilometres from Culebrón to Fuentes so we had to get up earlier than we would have liked on Saturday morning. We made good time though and we were only 10 minutes late for the agreed 12.30 congregation. The birthday boy wasn't due till around 1.00. When he arrived he looked suitably surprised, he grinned, he pumped hands and he hugged people effusively in appropriate measure.

The venue was a concrete floored, chilly, ill lit storage space underneath the municipal swimming pool. It looked like the sort of place where the tractors and the ride on lawnmowers are parked for the winter. A big square table had been set up in the corner to take advantage of the natural light from the frosted glass windows. There were about 15 or so party goers. We had plastic chairs, a paper table cloth and plastic cutlery.

The guests, included a man we met for the first time probably at Jaime's 50th and who never took off his mountaineering style anorak. The tall German woman I met on that beach at el Saler did a lot of the cooking, Jaime's 86 year old aunt seemed to take a shine to Maggie. A man, who we think deals in frozen seafood, had a great line in card and other magic tricks. Presumably he's available for bhamitzvas and weddings too.

I must say that I felt we were playing at being very Spanish as we sat on plastic chairs in the middle of the sunny street chatting and nibbling on crisps and olives whilst the mountain of meat and various styles of sausages were cooked on the municipal street barbecue.

We ate the meaty feast in the garage. We drank beer and wine and sparkling wine with Happy Birthday sung in three languages and gifts handed over to a suitably appreciative Jaime.

And when the eating was done the crowd started to drift away. A few of us went on to the village bar for a coffee​, maybe with a splash of something. By late evening we were the only guests left.

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