Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Where do the days go?

Now Janet has given me a friendly nudge, it's good to kick myself into action.

Some of you will know a little about my house purchase in Spain and that i started a memoir; cathartic to a degree but it does need lightening up, characters added in and a whole new feel now that the wounds have healed. So here is a taster of how it all started...roll on the time to rewrite and get to include all the fantastic characters in the town!


As the clock strikes 9

Morning chill softens as the sun eases over Town Hall
spotlighting on protective silent cannon.
Martin crosses the main square with Jess and Ben,
tongues lolling after their morning adventures in the campo.
sniffing absently at the benches, weeless cocking habitually.
Martin nods at José, seated, leaning with gnarled
hands on the equally gnarled walking stick.
José’s mirror image seats himself next
coughing from smoking too much Pueblo.
Cut and paste the bench-of-two repeatedly around the square,
change the clothing colours and hue, the odd hat,
maybe a year or two and we have the remnants of the
Franco revolt, openly chatting in habitual defiance.

The women appear now steps are swept and plants watered,
across to the panaderia in housecoat and slippers.
Then back inside to do more chores and straighten antimacassars.
Children scamper and play, screams and giggles and fun
respectfully enjoy the space, safe in the company of elders.
Not a swear word to be heard as balls bounce across the road
niños chase after them.
The winter sun begins to set as
the litter picker silently collects the butts of the day.
The square, quiet once more.
As the clock strikes four.

Chapter One

I watched the builders arms display what his words were saying as we stood in the mule shed under my house. Eyes raised to the rafters, elbows raised to shoulder height, he was gesticulating to the carpenter, his hands dropping down to the floor. As with all Spanish people, his voice accentuated the urgency of his words. Then there was a shrug and an open handed gesture. I knew immediately what he was saying without understanding the words; the whole house was in danger of collapse. I felt sick.

Welcome to my new home. My retirement dream. Five years dreaming, three years planning. Two minutes to cast a lead weight into my belly.

 Chapter Two

I kept myself together; mentally stepped outside this beautiful little village in the Alpujarras and like a matador with a cape, drew it around me to cloak me from the news. It all should have been so perfect, but today everything was falling apart; my relationship with my boyfriend had run its course, the previous builder had not done as instructed and now this. The chestnut beams were rotten to the core, a concern I had raised but been dismissed by the previous guy who accompanied me when I viewed it, who said that that they had been treated and were ok. He had poked at them in places and to be fair, the holes were only surface deep. Gut instinct didn’t cut in at any time. Now this qualified builder was telling us that if the beams weren’t replaced immediately, the house was in danger of collapse. I turned my back and walked away as Carl tried to tell me what Miguel had said. ‘I was told two weeks ago that a couple needed doing and I thought they had been done before I got here’ I said; so much should have been completed before I arrived. ‘And how safe is the hole in the wall for the new double doors without acrow props to support it?’ all three of us looked towards the rear of the building at the gaping hole. No lintel. No temporary supports. I already knew the answer. What was above? Three more storeys of house, all reliant on these original chestnut beams and the back supporting wall. For the second time in as many minutes I felt sick. Carl and Miguel looked back at me with sadness in their eyes; it wasn’t looking good.
We locked up the mule shed and arranged for Miguel to quote for the work to be done as soon as possible. I went upstairs, slid open the lounge door and gazed out into the beautiful view of the Sierra Nevada. I could just see through the mountains to Morocco on my left and to my right the sweeping undulations of the Lujar. The sun was going down on what should have been another beautiful day in May but I felt like it was my last day on the planet. I couldn’t face clearing up the debris that surrounded me, I needed to run and escape what was happening. But I wasn’t at home. I couldn’t just call up a friend and escape into their lives with my tales of woe. I had to face this on my own. A drink was required and some company and light banter; time to let Fernando tell me his worst jokes.

The next morning, with no one to turn to, or so I thought at the time, I set to, cleaning up the mess in my Spanish home. The lounge had someone’s smelly work clothes perched next to the television and a pair of boots kicked into the corner. Old bedspreads acted as dustsheets over my couch. The lower terrace was covered in sawdust, no wonder I was coughing in the night, the dust had been blowing into the bedroom. The kitchen was what can only be described as a builder’s yard. Tile off cuts were on every work surface from where the builder had been cutting them whilst doing the bathroom, all my plates were stacked, filthy dirty amongst the debris and a grease laden frying pan; it was like someone had been living here whilst I was away. With the clothes in the lounge, maybe they had. The rubbish bag was in the same place it had been five weeks previously and was oozing something from the bottom onto the marble tiled floor. A line of wine bottles snaked its way around the base of one cupboard and for some reason, there was a gaping hole where the cooker should have been. This was down in the entrance way, snuggled up to the over laden mini skip, old door frames, breeze blocks and capa fina bags full of rubble. The neighbours rubber tree plants were coated in a thick layer of cement dust; she must have been cussing me since the day I moved in.

Being May, the weather was warm and sweeping and mopping had to be done at a steady pace not British pace; I was learning the tranquillo way of the Spanish. The only place you got by rushing was stressed and tired. At 11.30, sweaty and weary I decided to go down to the bar for a coffee. I looked down at myself; dusty from head to toe, I wasn’t going to get changed just to go for coffee, so I sauntered down town and seated myself in the sun. Cafe con leche and tostados, perfect. I leant back and absorbed the rays and began to relax and remember why I wanted to be here.

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