They were already queuing to get back into the hostel for their lunch when I parked outside on Christmas Eve, risking leaving the car in the “Personas Autorizadas” spaces. The line snaked right to the corner, and you could see in their posture a sort of resignation, an aspect of helplessness. All of them standing, mostly motionless, just waiting, with nothing else to do and nowhere else to be, until the hostel staff open the door to let in the waiting people. Continue reading
Church halls pretty much anywhere in the western world all look remarkably similar. This one was just like the one in Yorkshire I went to in the 1960s as a Brownie, and the one in south London in the 1990s when I hosted fundraising jumble sales, and then in Somerset in the 2010s when I ran charity training courses. This one, though, was in a small Axarquía town in inland Málaga province. Continue reading
My fifth Christmas in Spain. I thought that must be wrong, but it’s not. Four and a half years since I bought my house, three and a half years since I retired and moved here full-time. Such a short time, yet it feels like forever. Continue reading
First of all it was remiss of me not to thank you all for the lovely thoughts and messages you sent following my heart attack. I really did appreciate every one of them – “the kindness of strangers” means a lot.
Since then I’ve been doing a lot of catching up. Trying to slow down, catching up with old friends, and catching up with long-delayed tasks. Continue reading
Some people are easy to like. Belén, for example. Kind, generous, pretty, gorgeous eyes, and she works more than 40 hours a week as a volunteer, cooking and serving meals for homeless people at Los Ángeles Malagueños de la Noche. One of life’s special people. So when it was her turn to need something, dozens of strangers who had never met her were willing to help. Continue reading
She’s not at all an unpleasant woman. Not as far as I’ve seen, and nor does anyone mention they’ve found her difficult. A bit grumpy at times, but then this is not the life she had imagined. Perhaps a bit judgemental, not really willing or able to see that nobody else wanted to be there either. Doesn’t participate in group activities, seems to sneer slightly at the art and craft workshops. But pleasant enough, a nice smile, easy to chat to. Continue reading
Language is cultural as much as grammatical. The Spanish don’t say “my” as much as we do. I don’t know if that’s a cultural thing, something to do with not wanting to boast, not wanting to appear too proud, or what. It felt odd at first, but you become accustomed to it. “The head hurts me” to the doctor. “The tooth hurts me” to the dentist. No need to say “my tooth” – after all, nobody else’s tooth is likely to hurt me. Continue reading
You gotta have roots. Life would be just … I don’t know … just too transient and superficial without roots.
Living in a new country, you have to find ways of accelerating the process of putting down roots. A sort of Baby Bio for immigrants. Continue reading
Suddenly Paqui began to sing. The room fell silent, and even the aggressive guy in the corner, who had been talking to himself and shouting randomly, looked up and listened quietly as she sang a saeta. It was Mercedes’ birthday and twenty of us gathered to celebrate with her. She received her gifts with gratitude as enormous as her smile, and she closed her eyes tightly to make a wish as she blew out the candles. People laughing and chatting – smiles that could light up the darkest of spaces, the darkest of lives. Paqui finished her song and received applause, shouts of “¡Óle!” and a hug from Mercedes. Continue reading