Archive for the ‘Spain’ Category

A gem on every page

April 4, 2016

Fifteen years ago I was holiday with my then-girlfriend (now wife) in Zahara de los Atunes in southern Spain.  Three things are especially memorable.  Mrs W told me she was pregnant; Islamist psychos flew aeroplanes into the Twin Towers in New York (the horror of which we watched unfold on a television in a village bar); and I read Stephen King’s “On Writing”.

kingThe copy that I read then has long been lost.  Perhaps I threw it out: I remember finding its presence a little intimidating. There is so much good advice and encouragement included in it that it seemed to be reproaching me for not following it.  How could I have read this book yet still be slogging away as a producer of largely crap TV, instead of actually, you know, writing?

Then someone last week tweeted me one of its countless bon mots.  Perhaps it was:

Fiction is the truth within the lie.  Or

Description begins in the writer’s imagination but should finish in the reader’s.

I can’t remember.  Stephen King quotes are pretty common on Twitter.  Anyway, I bought it again and stayed up till 1.00 a.m. last night, rediscovering the wisdom and fun in its pages.  I laughed at this one:

We are writers; we don’t ask one another where we get our ideas from.  We know we don’t know.

Not only is it true (however unsatisfying, “I don’t know,” is the only answer to the question “Where do your ideas come from?”) it revealed something to me that had till now only been on the edge of my realisation.

And that is: I am a writer.  The way that I smiled in recognition at that quote means that I am a member of a club that includes Stephen King!  A lowly, just-published, starting-out, probationary member perhaps, but still…

Whether or not you like Stephen King books (and I think everyone should read at least one or two just so that you know something of one of the world’s most popular novelists) he’s pretty illustrious company.

He’s bossy too.

The road to hell is paved with adverbs. 

I have  just picked up Time Travelling With A Hamster and opened it at random.  One one double page I found two adverbs, “expectantly”and”warily”.

Sorry, Stephen!




I’ll never tire of Spain

May 18, 2015

My friend Tom Kallene is a Swede who has lived in Spain since forever.  He told me once that the moment he set foot in Spain, he knew he would never live in Sweden again.  Like a transexual who believes he has been “born into the wrong body,” Tom was born the wrong nationality.

It’s a view I can sympathise with.  There is nothing that is not rather wonderful about Spain, and there’s nothing new about pointing it out.  From the weather, through the food, the glorious wines, to the way the Spanish people approach the business of living life as if dying simply didn’t matter.

Prawns ham and yet more sherry

Prawns ham and yet more sherry

Nowhere are Spain’s treasures on better show than at the spectacular Jerez Feria de Caballos every May.  For a whole week (if you can stand the pace and I can’t) this comparatively prosperous Andaluz city, founded on the sherry trade, gives over its massive, dusty show ground to endless small and large “casetas” – temporary structures with tables, chairs, bars, kitchens and – crucially – a dance floor.  The music is loud and never ends, the sherry (almost always the dry Tio Pepe “fino”) is drunk in vast quantities, either neat or diluted with Sprite for a “rebujito” and – thanks largely to the array of ham, fresh prawns and other snacks on offer – public drunkenness is a rarity.

And everything and everyone looks great.  The splendid horses that parade around the feria are groomed just as much as the handsome men and the very, very beautiful women.  (I would add another “very”, but in deference to the lovely Mrs W I’ll leave it at the two.)

Getting an early night at the Feria means getting home before four a.m.

And one day, I promise I will learn to dance the Sevillanas the joyful regional dance (often mistaken by visitors for Flamenco).  I’ve been saying it for years: this time I mean it.