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Friday, 21 November 2014
Abroad Thoughts From Home
When it comes to writing, I'm afraid that I tend toward lethargy. I have plenty of good ideas, but putting these down on paper is invariably a job for tomorrow. One way I have found to overcome this procrastination problem is to write something, anything, and see what happens.
Clearing out my office today (I promised my wife that I would do this now I've retired), I came across this example of 'writing and seeing what happens' from 2007.
It is half past two, November 17th, 2007. We're chasing the sun around the pool next to my aunt and uncle's villa in Marxaquera, Spain. The blue water of the pool ripples invitingly as the pump mechanism cleans and filters the water, but it is far too cold to risk a swim. Up in the villa, my aunt and uncle, now old hands at this 'Spanish winter' thing, having been here for over 20 years, sit in front of a roaring log fire and watch English T.V. Whereas we, grateful for the chance to break free from the eternal greyness of the U.K., resolutely squeeze every drop of sunshine from the day in a way that would never occur to us back in England, even in the height of summer. Right now we too would be huddled in front of a roaring central heating system, as likely as not watching T.V.
Today we are reading. This is something that we're always threatening to do at home but never seem to find the time. In the same way that the sophisticated keyboard, bought for my birthday some years ago, languishes in the wardrobe and will be played (I tell myself)when we have some time (by which point either it, or I, will probably be defunct).
Last night we 'went for a Chinese', which seems a peculiar thing to do in Spain but, on reflection, Chinese cuisine has become an international guarantor of certain standards of quality, reliability and edibility. I have eaten and enjoyed Chinese(ish) food in New York, Amsterdam and Moscow, so why not Spain? In any case, I had a good idea of what I was going to get, and I was not disappointed. Chinese food has the same comforting quality of a well-known international brand, like McDonalds' I suppose, although I wouldn't seek out a Big Mac anywhere unless I was truly desperate.
The interesting (arguably) thing about the visit to a Chinese was that, although we were there from 9 p.m. to midnight, the restaurant was filled with families and groups of young people just having their evening meal quietly and without fuss. There was no invasion of drunks from the nearest pub, no atmosphere of intimidation and no yobbish behaviour. In other words, there were no British, apart from ourselves.
Contrast this with our flight here from Manchester. All around us were a group of twelve middle-aged men on a long weekend trip to Benidorm. A few rows forward were a similar group of ladies, presumably bound for a vacation of fairly identical content. I had seen these groups when I entered the airport, dug in at the nearest bar buying gargantuan rounds of drinks and talking loudly. By the time of the flight, their volume had increased in direct proportion to their alcoholic intake. Although they were, by no means, belligerent, they dominated the atmosphere of the 'plane. In many ways it was like being transported back to school. Suddenly, farting had become a source of constant amusement as had visits to the toilet and slightly risqué lyrics to popular songs. Eventually, and not unexpectedly, they had to be 'told off' by the flight attendant for not adhering to the 'Fasten Your Seatbelt' sign. Somehow, there was a sense of completion to all this, as if boundaries had been tested to the limit and now, having been established, the competition was over.
How the heck we ever ended up with an empire, I'll never know!
You can find a lot more stuff, usually better prepared than this, at Phil Whiteland's Amazon Author Page