Random incidents . . .

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INCIDENT 1: Sitting at a table on the main plaza in town drinking tea. To the left is a row of shops; to the right the headquarters of the Guardia Civil with its sentry turrets and gun-slots. A young guardia emerges from the building and passes our table. He’s carrying a large plastic sack – about the size of a pillow – that’s stuffed with what appears to be chopped hay and dried leaves, all mixed up together. “What’s in that sack?” I say to my wife. “Dunno,” she answers, “What do you think it is?”. “Dunno,” I say. “I suspect it’s cannabis . . .”

The officer strolls towards the shops and enters the pharmacy. Through the plate glass window we see him place the sack on a set of weighing scales – one of those big sets you stand on – retrieve a ticket from the slot and stick it on the sack. He then walks back past our table and through the doors of the headquarters.

I am left to ruminate on whether I would witness a similar sight in England – a young police officer lugging a sack of cannabis from Darlington police station, across the zebra crossing, past the Glittering Star, the Tubwell Tap and the Golden Cock to the town centre Boots pharmacy, then weigh the sack and walk back again. I don’t think I would.

There again, it might have been a sack of sweepings the gardener left after clipping the ornamental bushes outside the chief’s window. We’ll never know.

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INCIDENT 2: Driving slowly along the seafront at La Herrradura when I hear a man shouting loudly and aggressively. Shouting is uncommon in Andalucia, unless it’s the type borne of excitement, or the bellowing of two old friends greeting each other across a busy street and conducting a conversation for the world to hear.

I see a stout man with a shaven head, no shirt, baggy shorts, tattoos on his arms.

“You f**king gobshite b**tard. Come back here and I’ll f**king paste you. F**king b**tard c**t.”

A Brit. A fellow countryman. I feel thoroughly ashamed. For the very first time my attention is drawn to the advantages of Brexit with its secure borders and need for visas making foreign travel more complicated.

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INCIDENT 3: A beggar has detached himself from a group of three sitting on the church steps and he’s heading my way. Beggars fall into two categories in the Alpujarras: Spanish beggars are weatherworn, scruffy and smell of underarm sweat; northern European beggars are hippy types with long hair, dogs, and smell of underarm sweat and patchouli. This one’s Spanish.

I possess an inability to deal with beggars. They send me into a moral quandary. So I’ve developed a strategy: if they are merely sitting on the pavement with a cup in front of them, I walk past; if they approach me asking for assistance, I give it. This chap’s approaching. He’s small with tight curly hair and his clothes are scruffy. He looks like he hasn’t washed his face for weeks.

“Señor, can you give me a euro for I need to catch the bus to Granada,” he says. “I am a lawyer and I have to represent a client in an important court case.”

He’s probably aware of the startled expression on my face. His eyes are twinkling. He knows that what he’s saying is outlandish rubbish and he knows that I know this. But he’s delivered his line with the deadpan humour and precision timing of Les Dawson or Jack Dee, and he deserves a euro for sheer brazenness and ingenuity.

I slip him a euro and off he trots to his mates on the church steps. I recommence my journey, impressed by the entrepreneurial skills of the beggar, but mildly anxious in case I ever require the services of a lawyer and enter an office to find him sitting behind the desk.

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20 thoughts on “Random incidents . . .

  1. Very cool random observations Cuz. With incident one, would I be correct in suspecting the young GC in question was the owner of a large and very scary firearm? The Guardia Civil terrify me at the best of times and I’m not even Catalan.

    Incident two, all too common sadly. Witnessed a similar thing at the bus station in Alicante and the look of disgust on the faces of the two young Swedish ladies I spoke to was a wonder to behold.

    Incident three reminds me of my theory that only a certain amount of ‘travellers’ at every Spanish bus station actually posess the required amount of money for their journey. Being a rather obvious ‘guirri’ I am actively targeted but I have to applaud your lawyer friend for his initiative 🙂

    That said, I can’t wait to get back to Spain 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 1. Hi Cuz. Yes, you are completely correct. The young guardia had a very chunky firearm in a big black holster. I suppose you don’t get that in Darlington. Or perhaps it’s just a matter of time. 2. Can’t understand these people. Perhaps they revel in being what they consider to be a typical Brit abroad. Sad world. 3. Thanks for teaching me a new Spanish word. It has always amazed me how so many Spanish people have sussed out your nationality before you’ve even opened your mouth.
      Cheers, Alen


      1. Soy guirri professional! I think the blue eyes and pale/bright red lobster skin might have something to do with it. My ex’s neice used to call me a gamba! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh, absurdities, Alen. Where would we be without stories that arise curiosity and explanations. Your story about the ‘Green Lebanon package’ made me think of an experience I once had.
    I was on my way up a bus. When I’m going to pay, someone pushes me and I drop three Euro on the floor. An elegant dressed woman gather the money from the floor. I stretch my hand towards her thanking her for the help. She looks baffled at me, telling me that she just found the money so the money belongs to her.
    I don’t want to start a quarrel, so I find more money and get my ticket.
    I am determined to forget about that boring character. Several stops later, the woman is tripping down through the aisle with several exclusive appearance packages.
    As she is going down the stairs, she loses the most beautiful package just in front of me. Without thinking, I take it and put it out of her reach. She asks for the package. My answer to her is that what one finds on the floor can be kept. She surrender when she sees my facial expression and disappears on the street leaving me with a big smile on my face.

    PS I once helped a holidaymaker in Mallorca with the soup. He was too drunk to choose a spoon. He was Danish 🙂

    PPS Send my love to your lawyer 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There are some good stories there, Hanna. Did you give the woman her package back or did you keep it? And it’s hard to eat soup with a knife and fork. I hope the Danish man was grateful.
      These sorts of incidents happen from time to time. There are also the ones that would make fantastic photographs – but usually you don’t have a camera with you. I was walking through Salobrena down on the coast a couple of years ago and there were three old ladies sitting in a bus shelter fanning themselves with traditional Spanish fans and laughing their heads off. It would have made a great photo, but I had no camera. And I once had to stand aside on a mountain path in Poland while a line of 24 nuns passed, all carrying rucksacks. I didn’t take a picture because I thought it might be considered intrusive. A friend of mine later said: “Shy bairns get nee chocolate,” which is in the Geordie language and very true.
      Cheers, Alen

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks for those lovely examples, Alen. Luckily you have the ability to describe them in a vivid way. I will remember the one about a shy child don’t get any chocolate 🙂 But you have to show decency when taking pictures of other people. It is always a matter of balancing. I would have done exactly like you.
        About the package. You were to ask me what was inside the package, assuming that I had kept the package for myself. Then I could tell you that it was the Tall Tale I just told you and now you are suppose to laugh 🙂 🙂


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