I’m back in a freezy, frosty Ireland to give the final update in the Spanish edition of Project Connor.
I am an absolute telly whore. I’d do anything for a good episode of the Gilmore Girls or a sparkly number on Strictly Come Dancing. This isn’t particularly good for me. Telly on the internet has been the death of me. I absolutely love reading and I haven’t done as much as I used to before I discovered internet TV. There was no TV in Lanzarote, and I started reading again. Yay! In four and a bit days, I read two excellent memoirs – The Naked Civil Servant and The Glass Castle, and made a good start on Hangover Square, which is shaping up well. So, the holiday has not only relaxed and refocused me, it has also helped me get back to my first love. No, not carrot cake – reading!
Besides myself and Arbutus, there were four people in the hostel. And between them, they had the makings of a very, very bad sitcom. The first we met was a trim little man with a mullet. Having taught Spaniards for four years, I know that Spanish Spaniards are unlikely to have a mullet, so he was almost certainly Basque or Catalan. I was right – he was Catalan, from a little mountain village. And he wasn’t vaguely Catalan. He believed in armed revolution, and had spent six months in Mexico with the Zapatistas. He was happy with us being Irish, as I assume that he imagined that we were fervent supporters of the IRA. He was a true mountainy man. He was hiking, trekking and cycling around the island, equipped with compass, knife and true grit. Every night he produced a fish, which I imagined he caught between his teeth. He skinned, boned and cooked it. I think this may be the answer to Ireland’s obesity problem. I don’t think I know a single person, under the age of forty, who would know how to skin and bone a fish, and I can’t imagine if they did they’d do it while on holidays. Our Catalan friend was a real Indiana Jones figure. He was locked out one day, and appeared at an upstairs bedroom window, interrupting a naked Dutch boy after his shower. There was nothing he couldn’t do, and my last sight of him was under a car, with a bicycle light taped to his forehead putting the chassis back together, after the car had been towed out of the sand by a jeep.
The Dutch boy (he of the interrupted nakedness) was in fact a man. He was 25, but had a lot of the 16-year-old about him. The first time I met him, he told me that he was going to wash his face, but then he looked in the mirror and realised that his face was perfect. It didn’t get much better. He corrected the others’ English an awful lot, often laughing at them, with the result that I started correcting his, which I would never normally do. He tended to dominate conversations, with statements like “I would eat anything once, but I’m not sure about human flesh” (while eating spaghetti bolognese) and “My girlfriend loves my sperm” (he wasn’t eating anything at the time). In fairness, he actually reminded me a little of the twelve-year-old me. I had to mind him, because Arbutus really couldn’t stand him.
While I was keeping the Dutch boy out of Arbutus’ way, he often talked to the Russian girl. She had come on holidays alone, and spent the vast majority of the time complaining. She didn’t like the small, rustic fishing village. She didn’t like the fact that the Catalan Indiana Jones didn’t speak English. She didn’t like the fact that we weren’t driving her around enough. And yet, when a man paid attention to her, she lit up, and seemed to be a completely different person.
The final person in our little group was a Spanish woman who was the spitting image of Maggie Gyllenhall. She dressed in baggy Indian clothes, and looked a real earth mother. She described her work as a corporal psychotherapist, and I think she did group-counselling with groups of ill people.
Our rag-tag group went for drinks together twice. The little pub in the fishing village was lovely. There were two rooms – one with a pool table and a table-hockey table, and the other with an ice-cream freezer and a bar, with music videos being projected on the back wall. The whole village seemed to gather there. Small children played by the bar, the surfers, teenagers and hippies hung out in the pool room and the fishermen were clustered around the bar.
I got drunk one of the nights, but not the other. We were drinking Coronas, which were probably the most expensive drinks in the bar, but still only cost €2. I wasn’t counting how much I drank, and I wasn’t counting calories in general, but I stuck to three meals, and had no sweets. The meals weren’t small, but I was in control. Control is nice.
I exercised a certain amount of control over cigarettes too. I had none on one day, two on two days and five and six on the other two days of the holiday. Because I’m six, I avoided smoking in front of Arbutus, for fear of being given out to.
Anyway, that’s it from my Spanish adventure. I’ll be weighing in in a while and I think it’s going to be a good one.