UNDERSTANDING SPAIN — Back to the Land of the White Bentley


Alderley Edge — Puerto Banus without the climate

Alderley Edge — Puerto Banus without the climate

This blog is a bit random as I’m not actually in Spain — I’m back in The Land of the White Bentley — that’s Alderley Edge, folks, or Puerta Banus without the sun.

It’s actually quite a nice day here — unseasonably warm, although not warm enough in my book for the artic blast of air con that’s making my nipples freeze in Costa.

I’m in Costa, not because I like their coffee or their tea, which is as weak as a gay estate agent’s handshake, but because it has wifi.

Now, I’m going to go all Spanish here: I’m desperate to get back. I’ve been in the UK —

Crossmaglen Police Station all locked up now— it's Ireland Jim, but not as we knew it

Crossmaglen Police Station all locked up now— it’s Ireland Jim, but not as we knew it

including a week in Ireland— for two weeks now and the novelty has worn off.

Not only do I miss the warm autumnal sunshine that Marbella is now enjoying but I’m fed up with crowded roads, crowded bars, short-tempered people whose accents I can’t understand (mostly, but not exclusively in the North of England) and the hypertensive cost of everything.

And I can tell that you’re dying to know what I’m doing here so I’ll put you out of your misery: it’s party time! One of my oldest friends celebrated a landmark —that’s his 60th by the way — birthday by having a surprise party in Derry, Saturday before last. Of course, it isn’t totally a surprise for him as he has to do the cooking, but one of his daughters arrives from London village unannounced, as do I from Marbella. And don’t we all have an utterly fabulous time?

And then I have a bit of time to kill as, for their wedding present, I have given said daughter and husband the run of my apartment in Marbella, not knowing that I’m going to be living there back in March.

No matter — let’s use this time productively I think.

And so I have a weekend staying at my daughter’s gaff in Exeter and had booked to fly back to Spain last Monday with the intention of exploring the lie of the land to the west — Algeciras… Tarifa… Bolonia… Cadiz and perhaps take the ferry across to Tangier for a couple of days.

I’m about to plan my itinerary and make some bookings when two things happen: first, I have a phone call from this rather whacky bloke — I’m sorry mate, if you’re reading this, but I think whacky is probably as polite and politically correct… I mean, you were seriously off the scale in 1978 and you’re still not back on it.

Anyway, he’s telling me that there’s a big Borough Road College reunion next Saturday at London Welsh. How can I resist? Well easily, actually, as the last one of his reunions I went to involved a day’s travelling for me and ten minutes travel time for him, to have lunch with two others from ‘back in the day’, one of whom I can’t remember.

The other thing is that I receive an email from the woman who has just commenced a year’s tenancy of my Cheshire apartment to inform me that she and her partner are moving out, as they don’t like the colour scheme or something like that. Apparently he’s allergic to something and they can’t live there any more. So now, I’m back to square one.

It’s nice to have a bit of time on your hands but not so nice to have too much of it, particularly when I have no wifi, telly or gym membership.

So I go for a run this morning. I love running, and although these days I jog along at the speed of traffic on the M6 on a Friday evening, it sort of frees up my mind and gives me the opportunity to have a good think.

Some of my most brilliant writing ideas have been spawned when I’m jogging.

And this morning I find myself thinking of this: CVs, how stupid are they? They’re all utter bullshit… all of them.

Ian — There's a feckin' ferret on your head!

Ian — There’s a feckin’ ferret on your head!

Of course, being the wrong side of 60, too old for an Ian Madigan haircut but still stupid enough to seriously consider having one, I don’t need a CV.

But I always find it interesting when someone asks we what I do for a living.

Of course, the reply very much depends upon who’s asking and in what context. For example, a security guy at Manchester airport who had somehow managed to avoid the ubiquitous sense of humour by-pass, recently asked me about my profession, while giving me a frisk that could almost have passed as a full body massage.

He goes, “You’re in good shape — ex-services mate?”

“Northern Ireland,” I reply, noncommittally, but not totally untruthfully — I was, after all, born and educated there.

He goes, “SAS?”

“Can’t say’,” I reply, “Bound by the Official Secrets Act.”

He goes, “Savvy… if you told me you’d have to kill me?”


Beats your average Security pat down. Like, for instance, flying back from Belfast to Brizzzzzle last Friday, this ‘security official’ who didn’t look old enough to shave yells, “Oy, you with the pacemaker, come through now!”

To which I reply, “Son, see that good-looking young bird over there? Been dating her for two weeks and she didn’t know, until you very kindly informed her, that I have a pacemaker.”

She is, of course, as fictitious as my clandestine Irish undercover career.

So back to my CV, to what I do for a living; correction, should really be ‘did.’

Well, I taught for twenty years until I couldn’t stand the sight or sound of kids any more (as Jimmy Saville didn’t say)… I was a Personal Trainer (I know I shouldn’t cap it up but I was a Very Good Personal Trainer)… I owned and ran (probably should say ruined) a restaurant for three years… ditto an equestrian centre… wrote freelance for a few years (still do) and coached rugby on and off since I had to pack in playing aged 25. Oh, and I was Events and Commercial Manager at a top public school, which cannot be named for legal reasons, and this was the only time I had a job that I considered was actually a proper job.

So that’s what I do/did for a living, amigos; fascinating si? Am I missing anything out?

Oh yes… qualifications: the obligatory 2:2 in Education and four Masters Degrees, only one of which I actually completed — although I did get a distinction in this one.

You can probably tell from this blog that I’m a bit bored so, this morning, I do what I normally do when I’m bored — book a test drive in a very expensive and high-powered car.

So 11.30 sharp and I’m in Porsche Wilmslow to take out the new Boxster — the 718S. I

The new Boxster 718S — truly a fine thing and a good way to pass a dull morning

The new Boxster 718S — truly a fine thing and a good way to pass a dull morning

have, of course, absolutely no intention of buying one as I’m perfectly happy with my two year-old Boxster GTS, but it is a fine thing and the salesman starts racking up the figures. There’s an orange one (I think it’s red but of course I’m colour blind) in the showroom with all the toys and only sixty miles on the clock.

Two coffees in and I’m talking gibberish to the salesman now; the rictus smile he’s been wearing since I clocked one-forty on the by-pass is replaced by a leer. He can smell a sale and is talking ‘deal of the century… end of the month… figures add up… I’ll fly out to Marbella and bring your GTS back for you…’ He’s like a shark circling an Italian cruise ship.

I walk away. But he knows, like Arnie, I’ll be back.

That’s it for today, Chicos. The little hand’s on six so now it’s Guinness time.

Hasta pronto!







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