Good Friday 22nd April
Never let it be said that an Anglican upbringing failed to “take” when you realize that whatever moral imperatives that I have developed are in some way related to the experiences that have been foisted on me by allegiance to some selected tenets of The Church in Wales.
I have an uneasy relationship with Good Friday. As someone who, on more than one occasion, has gone to the whole of the three hours of the Good Friday service and actually listened to the sermons therein I cannot be easy in my mind if I do not mark the day with some sort of observance.
This used to be quite easily discharged by the mere visiting of a church, but even this easy burden was sometimes difficult – especially when the demands of tanning had taken me beyond the normal range of an Anglican church and indeed Christianity!
A slight change of plan meant that my “conscience” would be satisfied by listening to a performance of The Saint Matthew Passion. At the beginning of this new dispensation the performance had to be live but problems presented themselves almost at once. On one occasion I was going to be in northern France on Good Friday and, true to my beliefs I demanded that my host find me a performance of The Passion so that my devotions could be observed. I was disconcerted to hear, just before I set off of our southern neighbour that the best my host had been able to do towards finding a performance of the masterwork by Bach was a ticket for Snow White on Ice or some such confection!
In a development (or degradation) of the original theology the need for a live performance was replaced by the listening to a recorded performance. At this rate, and following the way that theology normally develops, all that will soon be necessary will be the reciting of the name of the work and all will be well!
Today, however, burning gently on what is left of the beach of Maspalomas, I dutifully listened to the whole of the great Protestant reworking of the Passion of Christ – and went for a swim at the conclusion of each of the parts. It was not too difficult to know where I was in the Passion story (even though I listened to parts II and III before part I) from my fugitive scraps of German and my memory of numerous performances of the piece itself. It was then not too difficult to relate the story (in its widest sense) to the little dramas that were taking place around me on the sun beds. All human life was there!
The top of my head is now burned to a crisp and is shedding skin at the same rate as a Labrador scatters hairs – which in my case, to quote The Naming of Parts, “I do not have” upon my head to keep the skin in place.
My fear is that this Great Shedding will extend itself neck-down and leave me a pure white making it seem as though I have been on Retreat in a monastic cell rather than enjoying the fleshpots of Gran Canaria. I have abandoned Eroski own-make “after sun” and gone for Nivea aloe vera infused lotion as a last ditch measure to keep my skin stuck on.
An easier approach would, of course be to limit my exposure to the sun; use more shade and be reasonable in my approach – but when you take the trouble to come to islands off the coast of Africa it seems churlish not to tend to excess!
Toni has had the last of his antibiotic injections and is looking forward (!) to having an alcoholic drink! Tomorrow night, Holy Saturday, he intends to have as many as three (count them) drinks in one night! For Toni this is the equivalent of binge drinking!
We are just about to go into dinner when I will have a drink of wine with my meal and Toni will have to be content to look at me drinking it. Roll on tomorrow!
Wednesday or Thursday the 20th or the 21st April.
By way of enlivening the holiday Toni’s cough became so pronounced that we had to go to the local all-night doctor. Bronchitis having been diagnosed we then had to rush off to the last open pharmacist.
The directions to this fabled purveyor of medicaments was a little vague and it was left to me (sic.) to run up and down the street minutes before the closing hour trying to find this allegedly open shop.
It was, of course closed and we therefore had to go to a completely different and distant neighbourhood in some god-forsaken dark hole to find that they were open but the didn’t have the drugs!
An eventual return to the original doctor produced a single dose of the antibiotics that were promptly injected into an, as yet un-tanned part of Toni’s anatomy.
Getting the other doses this morning was easy in our local dispensary, but the cost of €25 for a simple injection from the all-night doctors, coupled with the rather arbitrary €50 for the nights consultation with an extra €35 for drugs makes the illness rather expensive.
Toni’s use of the internet produced a doctor who could inject the antibiotics for a more reasonable €4 – a saving of €21 per shot. Given that Toni is due to have five shots the savings mount up!
We visited (as is traditional for one day when visiting Maspalomas) Las Palmas and wandered our way through El Corte Ingles (also traditional) and then had a menu del dia to complete the tradition.
Our way back to the sunshine of the hotel was drenched by a tropical downpour. We returned to heat of our resort with incongruous globules of water marking out our car as one which could only have come from a car wash!
We did manage to get in a swim before the call of an early dinner and the spiritual preparation for the final of the King’s Cup. Which has now gone into extra time!
Due to a combination of bad luck, a disallowed goal, blatant cheating and terrorist tactics by a once great club now degenerated into a bunch of unscrupulous cowboys, Barça failed to win last night.
As is traditional in Spain with El Clasico the result is celebrated by the setting off of fireworks, each explosion causing Toni a little shudder of disgust as he was made to realize that the “baddies” had won!
We have now got into the routine of going to a district of questionable propriety so that Toni can have his cheap injections of antibiotics to try and cope with the bronchitis. We do not count the cost where health is concerned.
The beach, or what is left of it, was packed today and I actually managed to stagger towards the sea, trying to avoid the cruelly shaped stones which seemed to be attracted to the tenderest parts of my instep.
The clear stretches of sand leading into the sea are deceptive as there are stone shelves and large lumps of rock to discomfort the most intrepid of swimmers. I did manage an unconvincing and ungainly entry into the sea and was promptly knocked over by stone laden waves. My exit from the foaming brine was no less unglamorous than my entry – but at least I have swum in the Atlantic. Job done.
Tuesday 18th April
I am the first to admit when I am wrong. That is not strictly true, but it can stand as an opening of questionable validity.
I thought that hiring a car to take us to the beach and carry up from the airport to hotel etc. would be something that paid for itself over the length of the holiday. The general principle still holds good, but, as in so much of life, it all depends on the parking.
Of which there is none in the general vicinity of the beach. The beach which is not there. [See previous blog for the Scandal! of the missing beach.]
Today, using a route to the beach which I knew when I first took a holiday on this island, we should have been able to park within hobbling distance of the beach. We could not. Roads were closed, narrowed, blocked and otherwise not available for use. We ended up parking by the golf driving range and that is a bloody long walk to the place where we wanted to be.
We walked for an inordinate length of time beside the empty waterway whose depth and extensiveness of structure just shows what happens when it does actually rain in this area! We then walked more to the lighthouse and then even more to our hamaca.
Today could not have been more different from yesterday. A blazing sun, very little wind and the depressing sight of massive earth movers rebuilding the defences of the kiosks which were all but washed away yesterday.
After liberally dosing myself with what appeared to be scented cooking oil I lay back and fried. My forehead now has that tingling, prickly tautness that suggests I should have put my cap on at an earlier stage of my somnolent taking of the rays.
The trek back through the dunes (an ostensible short-cut) resulted in bad tempered exhaustion and when we finally reached what is laughingly called civilization in these areas, we still had a lengthy walk back to the car.
A warm soapy shower restores faith in mankind and we were able to go to lunch in something approaching civility.
The meal was in a Norwegian restaurant and the waiter was, naturally enough, Catalan. Toni was delighted to be able to speak his natal language and to make general comments about the widespread nature of British, Catalan and Italians in every part of the world making them sound like a sort of human plague – which is not an unfair metaphor I would think.
We may have to swallow our economic pride and admit defeat with the cheaper-to-go-by-car philosophy and take with enthusiasm to the concept of the hotel bus as the way of getting to the beach. Or not depending on our state of monetary perversity.
The Holiday Watch has been adjusted for a second time. This is only to do with the strap and my non-standard wrists and not with the mechanism of the watch itself which , as far as I am aware, is working perfectly well. As I am only really confident about the big hand and the little hand, I cannot say whether the other dials and numbers are as they should be. They do however look pretty and business-like so I am quite happy.
I think that the watch strap may need to be adjusted a third time, but this is only at the buckle and I think (fond hope) that I may be competent to do that alone. The trouble is that this involves a spring-loaded bar which (from past experience) has a disconcerting habit of, well, springing away from one and disappearing in a nook (or cranny) from which it may never again emerge. I am, however, prepared to take the risk rather than have to endure the look of weary resignation on the face of the charming assistant who has been slaving over the strap for the last two days.
The risk was duly taken and the result was that I really need a half-stop to make the adjustment exact. I will have to compromise and put up with a slightly tighter than usual strap, because the watch is chunky and very solid and has a disconcerting habit of trying to escape from my observation.
I have not yet had the courage to press either of the two buttons on the right side of the case and I have not intention of using the central one until I have to. In the meantime I will merely observe the charmingly light blue (sorry Stewart) triangles as they pursue their differently paced circular tracks around their own little dials.
Our marathon walk this morning and afternoon took it out of us and we slumped on our respective beds for a well-earned siesta. The only movement that we have made before the time for dinner has been for Toni to find an ONCE ticket as a well considered part of his financial plan for economic security.
My contribution to the financial discussion was to suggest drinking one of the Mini Nevadas of sec Cava by Freixenet to make the money worries go away! It works for me!
The sky at the moment looks like one of those jobbing Dutch landscapes with artfully scattered clouds under-lit with professional facility and emphasising the contrast between the lower, darker cloud and the bright cumulo-nimbus. This is all very well and artistic, but I don’t want any bloody clouds in the sky: I want uniform, boring blue with a big blob of yellow.
The weather, like the beach, is not quite living up to expectations. It might seems a little greedy, as we have been able to sunbathe every day that we have been here and, apart from a dusting of rain (if such an uneasy metaphor can be allowed) on the first evening it has been blowy, but fine. However, any impediment to uninterrupted sunshine, up to and including the night, is a source of bitter resentment from my good self and I have returned to my bad British habit of checking the weather each morning with nervous fingers twitching away the nets to find out if the sun has deigned to shine.
My reading matter is now well behind schedule: it has now been the best part of three days and I haven’t read a single one of the eight remaining novels in the Brandstetter series by Joseph Hansen. I need to get down to the serious business of reading the novels if I can get away from the equally serious business of eating, drinking and sunning myself!
I can but try!