Saturday, July 30, 2011

Things I Saw in Barcelona

Ok, we've only been here not a wet day. The word not was meant to be in brackets but I can't find the bracket sign on the Spanish keyboard. Well it's Barcelona, what do you expect? The home of the throngs of Spanish students who hang around the suburbs of Galway in packs every summer and  say 'th' for 's' and are much more touchy feely than Irish teens and prefer drinking Nestle Ice Tea to going bush drinking with hip flasks of vodka.
But seriously, I'd seen the postcards, I'd Googled it, and Galway does have a Tapas bar, so I did have some idea. I was thinking about my first ever awareness that there was a country called Spain. It was at about age 8 when I started collecting stamps. We got ones with Espana written on them, and a man's head. It was, of course, Franco. So disappointing. I liked the stamps with Magyar on them and wonderful pictures of all sorts of great things that seemed to be going on in Hungary.
Franco is dead now so to get back to Barcelona... it's the same anywhere really: no matter what you see in picture or movie form, it's different when you're there. Yes, I've seen a good few of the wow factor places so far, and I've had numerous platters of tapas, good Rioja and some fancy aperitif. But I saw things that make it a journey rather than a holiday. A woman hanging clothes over the balcony on some back street, a child getting slapped by a mother who was a slapper in more ways than one. An ancient couple holding hands on the dusty afternoon pavement, sat in a city park and ate water melon, that sort of thing.

Yesterday we went on the cable car over to Montjuic, if that's how you spell it. There were three people ahead of us in the queue, two men and a woman. One of the men smoked a pipe, let's say, more in an annoying leftover hippy way than in a very British Gentleman way. They were Spanish, not surprising considering I'm in Spain I suppose, and he started playing music out loud from his phone and singing along to it in a very annoying, cannot sing sort of way. But come on, I'm on holidays, who cares.
The couple he was with would have been your average ageing hippy kind of couple, what drew attention to them was that the bloke was on a wheelchair and was in a really bad way. No speech, skin and bones, muscular spasms - just about hanging on in there if you ask me. His head rolled, his legs tangled and his arms went everywhere. She seemed to be getting through to him though, and you could see she was pure mad about him - kissing him, holding his hand, the usual carry on of any couple I suppose.
Damn it was a journey getting on to that cable car. First the half hour queue, then the lift up to it, then another long wait and eventually in we all got - or at least attempted to get.  Yer man's wheelchair wouldn't fit into the cablecar. In, out, front ways, side ways, not a hope. So his missus and the other guy, I decided the other guy was his brother, lifted him out of the chair and carried him on to the cable car. Then they held him up to the window and you gotta believe it, but when that man smiled and made noises that we all understood to be the same feeling of elation that we all got trundling across the bay on a cable car, you could have cut the air with the emotion on board.
When we got to the top the three of them said bye to all of us and waved as they went back down on the cable car. Myself and herself headed towards the nearest bar and we said nothing, because after all, we're two lesbians, and if one of us gets emotional the other will get even more emotional instead of just saying 'ah would ya ever get a grip on yerself'.  So I said nothing, but I thought to myself 'and there I was this morning, the mother of sorrows because I don't have the figure of a model'. I have to say, I didn't feel sorry for the guy at all, I felt uplifted because he demonstrated that life is great no matter what shape you're in, as long as you go out there and live it.
So we drank white wine and walked through the cactus garden and I felt a connection with the guy on the cable car because if anyone had asked either of us at that moment why we were doing what we were doing, we could both quote the great Bill Clinton and say: 'I did it because I could!'

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Last year we were robbed – if you read the blog you’ll remember :  a shower of shits rummaging through the house at 5am, until herself decided to take them on in her negligĂ©e. Then there was the bit with the cops coming to the house which was more like a live setting for a Father Ted goes Crime Scene, and later how even though I was the one who was robbed, I still get into trouble with said cops because one of my many dodge mates managed to get the laptops back from under a bush up the back roads. (Got my little Bobbi Brown make-up kit back too, and my driving license.)
Well this year’s burglary was more virtual, so to speak. I log in to my lovely little blog and there it is gone. I kept on typing and retyping all the variations to the word Arsekick that you can think of, just in case it was me, not them, but no, it had been taken over by some strange website with the word Spank in it.

Where do you go to find a stolen blog? I mean, it has to be somewhere, and who’d want it really? Well eventually the I.T. manager where I work ( I have a new job, I’ll come to that later) found it for me. Apparently, html has it’s own little lost and found office, and whatever he had to do to get the blog back I can only say: be nice to I.T. managers, for theirs is the kingdom of the internet and they shall inherit respect from every other department in the company.

But you haven’t missed much – I’m still not finished writing the definitive modern Irish novel, and I’ve kept off the streets which really deprives one of a good muse – although now that I’m back in the corporate world that may all change.

While I was offline I wrote the blogs in my head, and they are now gone to the place where some psychiatrist might find enough material for a PhD.  One of them was going to be about dying my hair blonde and how the boxes of dye say stuff like ‘honey blonde’ or ‘platinum’ but in reality it’s ‘straw yellow’ which is better than the original ‘donkey’s ear grey’ so I won’t complain.
Then there were the two business trips to Germany where I wanted to write about how the trains are always late and that although I thought the Germans had become very cosmopolitan, they are actually getting worse but fair play to them for starting to sell proper cheese and onion crisps, you couldn’t get them back in the day when I lived there, and also, fair play to Lidl for bringing those little Nurnberg sausages to the rest of the world, because there was a time I only ever got to eat them on German trains.

And then we were up North to my beloved Belfast. It was a long weekend with the kids. Now that they’re teens we can do grown up things together, but the bottom line is that they cleaned me out and for a deluded moment I thought it was love and bonding when they smiled and hugged me for spending hundreds of pounds sterling on some designer label clothes that look the same as the ones in Penny’s to me, but how would I know, because as they soon reminded me – I know nothing.
 But that in itself is a blessing really, because if I’d never had kids I’d never know that I know nothing, I’d only know that I’d have no kids and too much money. Shucks. On the way back we had a family chat in the car. I told them what my wishes were should I pass away, I told them how to get on with their lives, and to celebrate my life and not mourn me should I get run over by a ten-ton truck. I got emotional, and they were silent. They were so silent that I began to worry I’d upset them but then I noticed that they all had their headphones on and hadn’t heard a word I’d said. That’s probably got something to do with me knowing nothing though.
Took a spin around the Newtonards peninsula but was afraid to get out and walk on the beach because of all the flags. There was definitely a blog in me on that one. And the peace line – we saw the peaceline in Belfast. In my head I was thinking it would be a nicely painted line with peace written on it – ah no. Berlin eat your heart out.

So we’re off to Barcelona tomorrow – myself and herself that is. A week. Odd choice for two people who hate the heat and want a nice quiet break, but there you go, see, I’m just some imbecile who knows nothing…