Friday, 16 June 2017


The street is still. My head aches, just a little. My the skin on the back of my legs sweats against the plastic chair, but it's cooler here in the shade than anywhere else.  
We sit beneath a Coca-Cola umbrella outside the only bar in Fuentes de Valdeperos. We don't know this town, or this bar. The three old men sitting in the other chairs under the other umbrellas are not particularly friendly, but we don't mind. We don't need to be their friends.
My beer glass drips with condensation. It leaves big rings of water on the plastic table-top. I make an olympic symbol. Paddy fishes an ice cube from his gin and tonic and sends it skittering across the pavement. The town is built of pitted, pale-yellow stones, massive blocks. The bar is built against the church, a monumental structure that looks like it erupted out of the earth a million years ago. Its roof bristles with stork nests, each of them full of stork families. Just up the street is a castle, newly restored, a real sky-scraper Disney kind of place that dates back 800 years. You can go inside for 2 euro, if you get there during visiting hours.
There's another spectacular castle just a couple of miles up the road, at Monzon de Campos. We've never managed to see inside that one, either.
There are castles all over Palencia, lonely old keeps on hilltops and out in fields and stuck right in the middle of tiny towns. Museum ticket-takers must be some of the loneliest, most under-employed people in Spain. They are always overjoyed when we show up, but more often than not they have to tell us No, so sorry, you've arrived too close to lunchtime, you'll have to come back some other day.   So we go. We walk round the Plaza Mayor, we follow the fancy paving past the most historic buildings. There are no people in the streets.
Our only fellow humans are huddled under the umbrellas outside the bar. The bar is why we stopped at Valdeperos, really. Paddy just had minor surgery on his left eye, and he felt a gin and tonic coming on. We were driving north from Palencia, a route we almost never take, and there was a huge castle over there, one I'd never noticed. Castles mean tourism, which means there's probably a terrace bar there someplace. And bingo.  
So we sit. No one says anything. The sun has stunned us all silent.  
The street is narrow. A car eases by, the bumper passes a foot or two from the back of my chair. It's the museum lady, heading home for lunch.
The sun dazzles the face of the old church. Its bell strikes two.
The storks on the roof answer back, clattering their bills, making a sound that says to me, "you are in Spain." "This is Spain. Castile. It's summer."

1 comment:

Julian Lord said...

I had a dream last night.

I was invited to a beautiful midnight dinner party, though when I arrived it turned out to be a sordid drink and munch binge, where some self-important young and jolly gentleman sought to pretend that some swigs from near-empty bottles of beer was somehow generous.

Then they sought to fill me with food, but I was not hungry.

My attention drifted instead to the gloriously chromatic beer bottles and lables, after the cheery little trickster gentleman of the receding hairline suggested I drink what I wish, except that looking in detail at the intensely chromatic and detailed labels provided me with such as 5.7%, 6.2%, 6.5%, 6.7%, 7.2%, well beyond what I wanted in the 4% or less.
The bottles and labels exotically defined themselves from Hungary, and Rumania, and Norway and beyond.

A fool kept on attempting to force drink down my throat, with dubious promises of food later.

My brother suddenly was there ; after his attempts at control, I wasn't, but I ran and left.

He wished to spy on me from the roof, I lunged into the entrails of the baroque marketplace maze in order to be free of him.

Looking incidentally for beer or other provender, accidentally, from the men closing their market stalls, still seeking one simple cold beer, I wandered though the frustrating commercial maze of closing shops 'til I reached the vast central area, as day was breaking.

Two men, perched above, were sending powerful jets of water to rid the marketplace of all dead fish, scattered veg, and all manner of ill-littering, though they quickly started to laugh and to point the nozzles at me.

I stumbled.

To find myself extricated into some manner of tape chaos, and a large iron plaque carried on my back, horizontally -- alone.

Too slow to avoid the water jets of the two cleaners now, I nevertheless angle the iron plate just right so as it can lift me easily into a hovering position, though I am surprised.
I can fly, and it is easy.

I drift into another corridor, my wing helping tremendously, and I am a magic person flying without limit.

The men are all closing their shops, but anyway they have nothing I like.

It is time to leave, to escape. I throw off my rusted metal wing, then hover a bit, then put feet on the ground for practical reasons -- you cannot walk on thin air.

I seek an exit, am told no, but check the jackets shop next door -- indeed, despite protests, pushing past the tired salesman, uninvited, I am outside. Bar tables extend under a covered walkway ; and the initial trickster man finds me a beer, that I no longer then care about.

If only I could understand where I am in Paris, I could walk home.

Paris is a strange mix of architecture of the 50s I never knew, the decadent elegance of the 70s, the utilitarian utopia of the 90s (my time), the present technologism, and a future monumental science-fiction banality.

I walk along the length of the chaotic market structure towards an empty road, it's dawn and so still red-eye early, and as I wonder about my journey home, a young woman, utterly familiar despite being a stranger, tells me take the Metro 1€, or grab a lift on a motorbike (free) or take the aeroplane.

And indeed, installed happily in her plane she smiles and waves as her pilot ensures her safety, then jumps in and taxis her away.

A tall and balding gentleman approaches me, do I need a motor-bike taxi, no, he returns to the busy motor-bike rank, and as the morning light brightens, it occurs to me that the extensive shining bridge is a landmark I know, so I know where to go, but also that it has been made incredibly wider and longer for aeroplane runway purposes.


Not the métro, and certainly not the motorbikes -- but the aeroplane ? Or I walk ?

Then I wake.