Mark Visits Spain


They're all mad, don't you know. Entirely, unabashedly, stark-raving mad. Madder than a bucket full of Frenchmen. Ridiculously mad. Obscenely mad. There are possibly only two things in this universe more absurd than the Spanish, the first are those pointless miniature umbrellas that people have in their cocktails, which serve no known purpose. The second is the Welsh, obviously.

You may think I am being harsh, and you have every right to your opinions, but it is essential that you realise you are wrong and I am right. What gave the Spanish occupier of the Irish Pub the insight to believe he could behave in such a way is currently beyond my comprehension. How he saw me to be the sort of chap he could gyrate in front of, is a matter only he can know. Personally, I was thrilled, as I needed the respite from the almost painful boredom.

I was never made for Spain. I wilt in the heat and accomplish nothing of purpose. I can manage a couple of hours in the Sun, but really only if preceded by a dip in the wet bluey-looking stuff. I enjoy the sound of waves lapping against the shore, and the comfort of a soft, sandy beach. I have arrived at the sort of age, however, whereby I prefer a pebble beach, and for two key reasons. Firstly, my underpants and their contents are subjected to less infiltration and inconvenience. Secondly, skimming fodder. For me, once I have dunked my barnet, meditated my stresses away, and read a few pages of a good book, I am fairly well done with beachlife.

Had I arrived here better armed, I could have entertained myself with stand-up paddleboarding or packrafting the shoreline. As I left my packraft back home in civilisation, and I do not own a SUP board, these options were out. I flew out to Alicante and deposited myself in some smaller seaside town, Elche, on the Costa Blance, in advance of the arrival of a dear friend, Ian, so that we can both compete in a race that has been cancelled. Due to this fact, we shall simply enjoy a running holiday. As I am wild camping until his arrival, and as there appears to be no great running ground one can engage in with half a tonne of equipment lodged upon one's back (including a laptop), I am resigned to days by the sea, reading books, and strolling and hiking about a bit.

In short, I am bored. When my laptop battery runs out (in a matter of minutes), I will have no purpose at all. Indeed, it was foreseeing this state of affairs that led me to pen this article, rather than a more productive occupation such as working on the old PhD. By the time my brain had been engaged in the academic style, I would have had no time to write anything. I am a simple man, and it takes a while to get the old faculties up and running at an acceptable kilter.

It is midday. I packed away my camp late, strolled into the village to check my emails, and then sat upon the beach for a bit. Having done all I could to occupy my day already, I felt despair at the thought of simply wishing away the hours until time to pitch my next camp. Is this why so many Brits retire here, to simply while away their time before snuffing it? Quite possibly. I would argue that decomposing into compost is considerably more exciting and lively than the other activities here on offer. There are a good number of cyclists and runners hereabouts, but otherwise people seem to occupy themselves between home, the beach, and in cafes. Indeed, cafes and restaurants are all there seems to be, aside from apartments, a police station, a supermarket that stretches the definition of 'super' to new, lower limits, and a post office. Oh for a museum, an art gallery, and a watersports facility. A man can dream (actually I later found a watersports hut, but had insufficient funds to engage the boy in my services). I later discover that paragliding is common hereabouts, but I have no sail, skill, or funds to hire.

It was an act of dire desperation that brought me to the Irish Pub. Most of the local infestation is of Spanish origin, with perhaps a sub-5% English contingent. I thought this place would at least facilitate my listening-in to the fascinating lives of Brits abroad. There are two English couples, sat together and talking nearby, but they really have only the most mundane topics of conversation. Indeed, they are talking about phone calls and their suffering in the heat. I am glad that I have to focus to listen, because at all other times I can disengage and enjoy the general din of indecipherable background noise.

There are three excellent points on my current locale that I wish to share. Firstly, none of the staff seem able to speak English. As I cannot speak more than three words of Spanish, I am considered practically bi-lingual to these folk ('Ola', 'Café', 'Gracias', in case you were wondering, mes amigos). Secondly, everybody is rather friendly. As folk arrive here, they smile and we exchange greetings, which is rather pleasant. Thirdly, the obscure chap who accosted my attentions, which spurned me into writing this article.

Previously, he was sat at a table finishing his coffee. He then set himself about the task of heading off, on some unspeakable business, no doubt. However, before leaving the area - which consists of three cafes-cum-restaurants, all sandwiched together - he was to inflict himself upon a few luckless inhabitants of the tables between his starting point and the pavement. I was first, and - I regret to inform - I bore the brunt of the assault. The chap was in his late forties or early fifties, portly, wearing a red t-shirt, shorts, and with grey, curly hair.

I made it clear that I was English and unable to speak his language. This, I am pressed to assure you, was no deterrent. He eyed me as a chap worthy of intercourse, and, as the foreign intruder, I did all I could to accommodate his advances. We shook hands and I learned his name to be Fredericko, or some close approximation of this. My first impression, as he launched himself upon me, was that he wanted to convey that Spain is changing, but my unfamiliarity with his savage tongue prevented me from gleaning more about the how's, why's and wherefores. He continued, the next topic of discussion being sunglasses, as he showed me his Ray Bans and I reciprocated by allowing him to wear my far superior Bloc eyewear.

His final topic of monologue was the most baffling. I cannot really aspire to believe I understood the crux of his message, but it involved women. Women were mentioned a great deal. I should add, at this point, that the table I am currently pervading is directly to the front of the café (pub my arse), with a couple of steps leading down to the main café square, so its location is not hidden from view. Indeed, it is perhaps one of the two most conspicuous and overlooked tables in the area.

This is an important point, because what followed was Fredericko gyrating, simultaneously moving arms and hips in opposite directions and with much excitement, performing an act that can at best be described as enthusiastic air-bumming, which he felt necessary to repeat on three distinct occasions within his otherwise eloquent soliloquy. Again, aside from this absorbing performance, and the repeated word 'women', I cannot really tell you I grasped what the hell the gibbering mad buffoon was on about. All I can tell you, with any real confidence, is that I was absolutely right to have chosen this spot for my morning espresso. As the French might say, je ne regret reian. Spain is looking better already.



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