It’s morning and with full steed, I take to narrow streets of Barcelona to get a sense of what city life is like, but as the Spanish have their siestas between 9 – 5, there’s no one around. There’s is nothing going on, it resembles the livestock of stables near a Findus factory. Horse jokes are still relevant, right?
With lack of entertainment being supplied by the general populace and uninterested by the intriguing architecture, I look to the pavement. There’s something particularly European about it, the arrangement of concrete and ominous stains and its colourful array of varied browns. I’m not disgusted by this, as I know, if I’m ever drugged and dumped in a random location, I could treat the pavement as a barcode and know instantly where I am in the world, within a square mile.
I grow weary of scanning the pavement and look up. I now seem to be on a hill overlooking the city; mountains in the distance guard the medley of sun-baked colourful lowrises with a few buildings poking out to the break the uniforms cityscape as is flows into a very blue Mediterranean sea. It’s all typically picturesque, so much so, I took a photo and descend from the hill to stop off in a café for a quick coffee.
Taking my espresso, I look round to observe the café’s patrons and where to sit. On each table, there was a lonely middle aged women looking forlornly at the table, at least they were until I walked in, like the stallion I am, that’s when their eyes lit up and followed me around the room like the rays that follow your hand from a static electricity plasma lamp.
There was one in particular, an overweight haggard version of Vivienne Westwood. Perusing my attention by subtly adjusting her hair as if she was in a shampoo commercial and pouting her lips as if the bottom half of her face was caught in vacuum cleaner’s hose.
Being the coward of confrontation and awkward moments, I down the espresso right there and then, scalding my throat in the process, place the coffee back on the counter to the owner’s amazement and to put it politely, get the fuck out of there.
After I see a lady being pickpocketed by a man trying to steal her entire belt, which was met with lots of running, shouting, threatening and people not caring too much as they’re glad it wasn’t them, my day became much less exciting.
I was on the verge of returning to the café and hook up with Vivienne Westwood and run away to the hills of Grenada and make sweet, sweet love. I, however, decide against that idea and instead, hunt for graffiti in the Raval.
Departing the plane in Barcelona, the sky is pure blue that descends into a hazy brown of filth from air pollution, a signature sight that’s unique to Spain.
For some unbeknownst reason patience is running low for the Spanish passengers around me which considering the fact that our plane was 20 minutes ahead of schedule, seems, well, slightly odd. The lady in front of me is most frustrated and lets her feelings known to the passport officer, though she’s probably passing on praise passionately for a lovely flight.
I take my turn. The officer, grabs my passport, quickly analyses it and throws it back to me and without a smile tells me to go. I can only assume he doesn’t like hearing about people’s positive experiences and has somewhat irked him.
As my flight is early, I’m forced to hang around the arrivals hall waiting for my friend. In amongst the short conversations of constant refusal for a taxi with the local salesmen, I get a good look at the people arriving home to Spain and I can’t quite put my finger on what’s not normal about the situation.
I continue to observe and dissect the evidence in front of me to find a conclusion to this abnormality. A lady wanders the concourse wearing the skin from every animal featured on Noah’s Ark with a man looking like a reincarnation of Bob Marley as a white geography teacher. I could criticise this, but I imagine somewhere in London there’s a Spaniard criticising on how everyone dresses like they’re from Buck Rogers.
It then comes to me, what I’d failed to put my finger on, what short arms the Spanish have.
Arriving to my place of temporary residence, off the main street through an inconspicuous door, into a dark narrow stairwell up to a small cosy flat, I decide that getting groceries is the adult sensible thing to partake in at this very moment.
As I approach the local supermercats (or as I like to call them, Sperm Cats) I’m greeted by a homeless lady with a pot asking in the Spanish equivalent for spare change. Not knowing Spanish, I say no by giving a half smile and a shrug, she seems fine by this and I enter the store with no further hindrance.
The store is amazingly foreign and seems to only sell 4 items; croissants, sliced meat, toilet paper and wine, cheap wine, €1 for a bottle. Naturally distracted by this, I fill my basket with Spain’s finest rocket fuel pick up some croissants and pat myself on the back on a successful shop.
Leaving, the homeless lady, again, grabs my attention and instinctively I half smile and shrug. She seems upset by this until she spies my bag of groceries and her emotion changes. “Ahh, you’re English, eh? So obvious.” I’ve never been mocked by a tramp for buying alcohol before. Unsure how to cope with the situation, I simply extended my half smile/half shrug turn to full versions and casually walked off, dragging along with me load heavy bags making the soft sound of tinkering bottles and my own sadness.