Aug. 19th, 2008

peterbirks: (Default)
FRIDAY:

The alarm went off at 4am. The previous evening we had been to see Never So Good at the Lyttleton, a four-act play about Harold Macmillan. Jeremy Irons played the older Macmillan and he was startlingly good. Anna Chancellor played Dorothy and Anna Cartaret played Macmillan’s mother. The 'other' Glenister brother played Bob Boothby. Eden, Selwyn Lloyd, Churchill (also marvellous played, btw) and Neville Chamberlain all turn up, but Rab Butler appears to have been written out of history by Howard Brenton.

This was one of those plays that you remember seeing for the rest of your life (Henry Fonda as Clarence Darrow had a similar impact on me) and it’s nice to be reminded that TV and film actors from the UK can, as a rule, still use stagecraft in the old-fashioned theatre.

However, it was a long play – not perhaps the best of moves when you plan to catch the 8am from Gatwick to Malaga.


++++++


Quite incredibly, the trip went stageringly smoothly. Jan and I both indulged in a little schadenfreude when it started to piss down with rain as we drove into Gatwick. The valet people were there to pick up the car. We checked in. We went to the Aviation Lounge. I read the FT and ate two cakes, while drinking my coffee. Jan had the coffee, avoiding my chocolate cake and FT.

There was only one slight threat to us catching our plane. Jan needed to discuss lipstick with one of the sales staff at the Duty Free Shop, or whatever they are called these days.. Complicated stuff, lipstick. I was forced to point out to Jan that she could if she wished spend the week in the terminal discussing beauty products, but that I planned to catch my plane.

I had texted the holiday people to say that, since our plane landed at noon local time, we would probably be arriving to pick up the keys at between 3.15pm and 4pm. Jan pooh-poohed this (and, remember, she is the glass half-full person and I am the glass half-empty). First, she said, there would be the queue for customs, then there would be the wait for the baggage, then there would be the queue for the car, and then the traffic.

"HALT!" I said, immediately. “Queue? For the car? This cannot be so.”
“Welcome to my world, Pete”, said Jan.

So, get this. The plane left on time. It arrived on time. The chap sitting in the window seat was gay, Jan informed me.

“How did this come to be known?” I enquired, having ascertained that the entire conversation between the pair had been when Jan offered him a sweet.

He was a man, on his own, gong to Spain. And he was quite well-dressed in a casual way.”
“Hardly conclusive proof”, said I.
“He had varnished his nails”.
“Closer”, admitted I.
“He was reading Hello”, said Jan, before adding her final flourish, “and he was enjoying it”.
“Fair enough”, said I, conceding defeat.

++++++

We then zipped through customs. The baggage arrived promptly. THERE WAS NO QUEUE FOR EUROPCAR (although, by the time we left, keys in hand, there was – they work at their own pace, there). We found the car, the later to become infamous Seat Ibiza 1.6 (Diesel). We got out of the airport. We got onto the relatively empty motorway. We arrived at destination at, wait for it, 2.20 – and that was with a brief stop for a drink. So, that makes house to house (effectively) in 8 and a half hours. Good going, I reckon (certainly far better than our return). Good marks to Easyjet. Although, to be frank, they aren’t exactly cheap any more.

The house’s owners came to meet us and I then had my first taste of attempting to drive the hulking monstrosity that was to await me every time I opened the front door. First, I mistook the brake for the accelerator (although it’s better to do this than to mistake the accelerator for the brake), because the pedals were four inches too far to the right and the dashboard got in the way of my knee. I can only conclude that most drivers of Seat Ibizas are either contortionists or walk with splayed feet. Then I sensed that the gearbox was a bit strange. I knew that it had five gears, but the power ratios just seemed, well, out, if you know what I mean. But, we got there. On the way through the small town of Estacion Jimena (the stations for these towns had to be built some way from the original mountain towns, and other, “accompanying” towns then sprung up around the stations) Jan pointed out a baker's, a butcher's, and a fruit and veg shop. Jan, being from Manchester originally, is naturally wise in the Spanish country ways.

A quick unpack, and then a drive into town for provisions. My Spanish verges on non-existent, although it improved as the week wore on. But we managed our tour of the local spermarket with only one hitch – not getting the mixed seafood from the freezer weighed by the woman who was serving vegetables. How remiss. Oh, and we forgot the potatoes and could not find any fresh milk.

Dinner was yummy. Many compliments to Jan for a dazzling seafood and sald confection.

A coffee by the pool, and Jan had a swim. A good first day. Did I mention that it was over 30 degrees at midnight?

_________some spanish pictures (3) )

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