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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The day after the night before


After a combination of red wine, cava and sangria, together with high velocity rockets and sundry explosions I took to my bed at a relatively early hour of this morning.

Apart from desultory bangs the district has lapsed into a funereal silence and only the rubbish strewn beach with assorted bodies lying or staggering about tells the Holmesian eye that business has been afoot.

The firecrackers, whooshes and explosions went on throughout the night accompanied by the drunken (sic.) sounds of Catalans having a bit of a time. It’s only one day in the year and it was not as cataclysmic as last year.

I think that the construction of the paseo which obliterated the low dunes in front of our flats has given a sort of air of propriety to the whole beach and made the sands more open and less ‘secluded’ as people no longer have to trudge through sand to make their progress along the playa.

The flat is a depressing place in which to live at the moment as, according to Toni’s Master Plan, all the packed boxes are lowering in the living room. This forces us to live in a space which looks as though it is the set for a scene from a 50’s play by an Angry Young Man.

As everywhere and everything will be closed today (with the obvious exception of our restaurants) I fear that today will be a somewhat lackadaisical one. It might give me time to adjust to the fact that I am going to have to go to school tomorrow and it’s a Thursday. But it’s going to feel like a Monday.

Having seen its enticing cover through the glass of one of the gigantic cupboards in the staff room, I extracted ‘The Alchemist’ by Paulo Coelho. In spite of the fact that it had the depressing words ‘The International Bestseller’ along the bottom I started reading it.

The cupboard is the exclusive preserve of our science teacher and I guessed that she had bought the book for some trifling amount of money from one of the stalls in our Fiesta.

By the time she caught me guiltily reading the purloined volume I was well into it and with a little persuasion and an assurance that I would finish it before the end of term (!) I was allowed to take it and devour it.

It is a relatively short book with big writing and wide margins. Its faux folk/fairy tale style is supposed to encapsulate heart-warming ‘philosophy’ about listening to the self same calorific organ and tuning into the ‘Language of the World’ and omens and other rubbish of that sort.

It reminded me of nothing more profound than Jonathan Livingstone Seagull or the adventures of Grasshopper in the Kung Fu television series which were always accompanied by Chinese cracker philosophy.

This edition of the books comes with a Preface which I first assumed was an elegant joke after the manner of Borges, but I now realize is actually pompously serious. It is filled with ludicrous assertions and writing of the “hand of God is firm, but infinitively generous” type accompanied by descriptions of “My Teacher” (his capitals) and a cosy little anecdote about the Baby Jesus.


The book itself is described as “symbolic” as if this is something the unwary reader might miss, whereas its symbolism is so obvious that it makes the Monty Python ‘Fish Dance’ look like a restrained model of subtle choreography.

His story of “Andalusian shepherd goes on journey to find treasure near the Pyramids but actually it is back home where he started” is derivative nonsense and luxuriates in its Significant Story style and makes Grand Statements as if this justifies a basically weak narrative.

The critic of The Express said, “Coelho’s writing is beautifully poetic, but his message is what counts . . . He gives me hope and puts a smile on my face.” ‘Nuff said!

I actually think that this sort of book is pernicious, but I am going to lie about it as it came highly recommended by a colleague in the English Department and the science teacher is going to find it profound. What price intellectual honesty when weighed against professional harmony! And please forgive the arrogance that reeks from that last sentence!

The Little Men have still not arrived t5o clean up the beach which looks revolting. People are still sunbathing amid the rubble from last night, but last year the clean-up had already started – perhaps it is a function El Crisis that the usual cleaning process is so delayed.

The lethargy which was overpowering at the start of the day has now become habitual now that we are at the middle of the day. I have not packed a single solitary extra item today. We have run out of boxes and, as it is San Juan there is no likelihood of any box selling outlet being open. Stalemate. Until tomorrow when I will suddenly realize that I am going to sign the new contract the next day and I will be galvanized into frantic action.

The day after tomorrow after 5.30 pm we will have signed the contract and can start moving the items we are most concerned about. And perhaps as soon as the reality takes over I can find something else to obsess about!
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