Sauntering the streets of any city eventually gives you your own ‘patch’. I don’t mean a small area of green – usually wilting – but somewhere you gravitate to, whatever the time of day, when you need to get out of the house and take a walk. Nowhere is better than anywhere else, mainly, I suppose, because it’s yours. What you see in a ten-minute stroll is probably totally different to what anyone else sees – but so what, it’s your patch. You may live within two hundred metres of my flat but your patch will be different. Mine revolves around a barrio called Ruzafa in the centre of Valencia.
I wander into a Bolivian bar. I’ve been here often enough for a quiet beer, but this weekend it’s fiesta time so the place is packed. The music is probably really good Latino, but I can’t hear it above the noisy family chat at the tables. Gracias a Dios, at least here the spoken word – more often shouted word – gets precedence over a €15.65 CD of Los Mejores Canciones de …….
I lean on the bar. In a John Wayne movie the peons sat at the table nursing their half glass of beer would have glanced out of the corner of their collective eye and settled into an uncomfortable silence, waiting to see ‘wut the stainger wus hea faw’ while he ordered his shot of Red Eye. Me…I’m totally ignored, mainly by the barmaid who is completely enraptured by the dusky, low-slung hombre with the shoulder tattoo and nearly razored skull. He’s the sunny side of nineteen, I’m in the shadows of – well, never you mind – bald, a bit overweight, skin like a recently discovered Aramaic parchment. Even I’d ignore me!
Eventually I’m rescued by a lady of a certain age wearing a pair of surgical rubber gloves. I’m not certain exactly what her age is, but at least it’s closer to mine than the infatuated chica salivating over tattoo boy at the end of the bar. Somewhere between a badly done to forty-five and a pretty nifty sixty-two, I’d guess, given the grey hair and slight – more than slight, actually – over-trouser roll not quite hidden under the loose polo shirt. Still, who am I to argue – at least she’s got hair, and my polo shirt hangs like an A-frame dress.
I toy with the idea of what the rubber gloves are for but my fantasies are soon floored when she plunges her hands into a sink full of dirty glasses, rinses one and pulls me a glass of beer. I drink it and leave, ruminating on the possibilities of buxom wench and a pair of Marigolds.
If you would like to know more about Spain, visit my web site, www.derekworkman-journalist.com , and http://derekworkman.wordpress.com . http://valpaparazzi.wordpress.com are random thoughts about life in Spain.
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