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Friday, 30 September 2016

High Spirits!

This is this month's Derby Telegraph article, further relating my shameful carryings-on in 1970s Spain.  Here's the link to the article on the DT website High Spirits and this is what it looks like in the print edition:

and, in case you can't read the article from this image, here's the content:

Last month I was shamefacedly admitting my teenage drinking excesses during a holiday in Majorca in the early 1970s.  I would love to say that this month marks my embrace of a healthy lifestyle with good regular exercise, but I would be fibbing.

Three highlights (or possibly, lowlights) of that holiday spring to mind. 

The first was the Medieval Banquet.  This was a pretty ubiquitous feature of Spanish holidays at that time, which involved being carted out to some mountainous retreat where you were treated to chicken in a basket, plied with unlimited amounts of wine on the table, had a waiter pouring more of the same down your throat (cue raucous laughter if you messed this up and finished with it pouring all over you) and finally consumed some dubious spirit to round the night off.  Partially fed and enormously drunk, you then staggered out to watch a jousting match with various locals dressed in allegedly medieval costume. 

The one we attended was made all the more dramatic by a thunderstorm playing out in the surrounding mountains, ultimately leading to a power-cut (not unusual in Spain at that time, there were power cuts most days) and the whole place being plunged into darkness.  The jousting was also more dramatic than intended, as one of the players was knocked off his horse with considerable ferocity and, presumably, hurt himself as he was still on the floor surrounded by a crowd when we had all ambled off to the bar.

The second lowlight was when we discovered a nearby ten pin bowling alley.  I've always enjoyed ten pin bowling, largely because it's the only 'sport' for which I've ever shown any aptitude, so I was particularly pleased about this.  The first unusual element was that the whole thing was outdoors, set in a garden of sorts.  From the front, it appeared to be a standard bowling alley, with multiple lanes and all of the usual paraphernalia.  It was only when we began to bowl that the awful truth emerged.  Although it was a regular bowling alley in all other senses, the aspect that was different was that it had no mechanism behind it at all.  The whole thing was entirely operated by very young children!  Pins were reset and balls returned by kids no more than 5 or 6, who then tucked themselves in behind the pins (where the mechanism should have been) whilst the balls were hurtling down.  That this was clearly an unsafe pastime was evident from the number who were sporting plaster casts.  Such were the joys of Franco's Spain.

The third and final lowlight was when the three of us decided to go for a night on the town.  Dressed to the nines, we made a start at 'El Leon Dorado', our local pub across the road.  The idea was that we would then head off to the nightclubs.  We ordered a pint and then a round of shorts.  I decided to show off by demonstrating how to swallow a whole shot of brandy in one smooth movement.  The barman, obviously aware that this was an idiot worth cultivating, kept refilling my glass and I kept 'Bogarting' them down.  I even fell for being served a shot of Tabasco (of which I'd never heard) with which I did the same, and then had to pretend that my throat wasn't on fire and my eyes watering fit to burst.  All of these brandies had a predictable effect and I dread to think what the Hotel Receptionist thought when, forty five minutes after us leaving, all dressed up for a night out, Kev and Den returned dragging a near-comatose me to be returned to the room.

Apparently, they had a brilliant night out in the nightclubs, whereas all I remember was wakening some time toward noon the following day, still fully dressed and with a mouth like something small, furry and foul-smelling, had hibernated there.  Certainly not my finest hour.

Next time I'll tell you about our next door neighbours and their unfortunate proclamations, how we met some BBC types and how we managed to upset the hotel cleaning staff.