Saturday, October 09, 2010

In this best of all possible worlds!

There are those who aver that programmes like “This house is a ruin” are unspeakably vile and useless. These programmes are where a gaggle of self congratulatory mawkish opportunists descend on some unfeasibly large family living in squalor; rip their house down and rebuild it in as consumeristically vulgar a way as possible and then stand back and collect the communal tears of gratitude before moving on and wiping their victims from their minds, before settling vulture-like on the next bunch of wastrels.

This programme is the apotheosis of the “deus ex machina” much beloved as a narrative device by Dickens where, having got his hero into an impossibly difficult situation, resolves it by having a long lost uncle or distant relative suddenly appear, promptly die and leave all his money to the hero so that he can live in genteel, jobless comfort.

In the same way “This house is a ruin” showers consumer durables on one deserving family to the greater glory of the television company which produces their meretricious trash and to the accompanying glory of the system that produced the poverty in the first place.

Useless, vile and positively bad one may think. But not by me.

As soon as the programme started on the television I made my excuses and decamped to the Third Floor. I would, I thought, reclaim my Bryson book (“At Home: A short history of Private Life”) which I had lain at the side of the sun bed as I lay out in the gentle heat this morning. As I opened the door to the terrace rain started and I was able to rescue the book with only a few drops of moisture on the back cover. So expeditious was I that there was not even a suggestion of the horrible warping that detracts from the pleasure of page turning if what you are turning is like a thin piece of corrugated cardboard.

I am prepared to bet that saving my book is the one positive effect of the programme. I am sure that they do not revisit their victims and show how they are coping a year or two on. How the family, suddenly at the cutting edge of technological innovation, copes with things going wrong and breaking. I wonder what the repair and replacement policy is for poor families suddenly gifted with high value, high maintenance equipment with a very finite life!

But they can rest assured that they have one grateful “viewer” because as soon as I saw the programme I was driven from the living room and was able to save my book two floors above. Well done! And thank you!

I refuse to see today as merely Saturday; I prefer to think of it as Day 1 of a four day holiday. As I have already done a little light sun bathing one aspect of any real holiday has been fulfilled already and I feel myself positively refreshed in my determination to get some “tasks” done.

By way of a change we went to Cubellos for lunch. This is a smallish town whose name has been hijacked and affixed to a sprawling new (seemingly relatively empty) residential development stretching along the sea coast.

We chose a restaurant next to the beach with a clear view of the sea and also with what seemed like a reasonable menu del dia for €10.50. It was a meal of mixed fortunes. The paella starter was shockingly bad with the rice dry and the whole thing absurdly salty. The wine was watered! But the chicken main course was tasty and succulent a piece of fowl that I have eaten in years. The sweet was as immediately forgettable as one would expect with a normal menu del dia.

The fact that we were sitting outside in a brisk wind but also generous sunshine and a view of waves crashing (for the Med) on a breakwater was almost enough.

Our way back was interrupted in Sitges for an orgy of buying in the cheap German supermarkets which included (as by law you must) an Object of Doubtful Use But Bargain Price.

Today this took the form of a box containing three or four door hooks of the sort that fit over the top of the door and which you therefore don’t have to screw in: a good thing when your property is rented. These have already been “installed” and look to be more than decorative. Give me a few days and I might be able to upgrade adjectives to the coveted “useful” status!

Tomorrow The Family descends. If the rain does as well I may have to take semi-permanent refuge on the Third Floor!

I have just checked the weather and, although there is scattered cloud, the rain has stopped and I can clearly see stars or planes, or possibly both – I am no expert in this area of ariel identification.

This could mean that tomorrow, like today, could defy the gloomy prognostications of callow weathermen and be bright and sunny rather than stormy.

One plan for the morrow is to go into the Garaf National Park and search for mushrooms. This is a national pastime and there are television programmes devoted to sad folk with wicker baskets pouncing on various fungoid growths with expressions not unrelated to some sort of sick pleasure.

As I am sure that this activity necessitates walking; and walking in places where paths are bent grass rather than carefully laid paving stones, I am not totally convinced that this sort of thing is necessarily better than finishing off my Bryson.

Still, as one says about all those things that one will not want to do again, “It will be an experience, won’t it!”

Which sentiment, when you think about it, is hard to gainsay.

Bring it on!
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