A swift pass through the frontier, and we were on the road. An overcast day and an early start meant the journey was easier for us and the dogs in the back.
That morning Partner had met a neighbour who’d just finished a night shift and was dripping in sweat.
‘Air con,’ said Partner. ‘Turn it off in the car. Your body can’t cope with these drastic changes and you’ll probably end up with a cold.”
He continued, being a sabelotodo (know-it-all), ‘When I was in Darwin working in forty-odd degrees I avoided bars with air conditioning. Much better to stay in the same temperature. Air con means it feels even hotter when you leave that environment. I never had a vehicle with air con in Aus, just put the windows down.’
‘Thanks,’ said the neighbour, slightly bemused, wondering how many places Partner had lived in.
‘I lived all over Aus,’ said Partner, employing his mind-reading skills.
We arrived at the finca just after half nine. The sun had come out and it was roasty toasties. We said hello to next doors and shot inside.
In fact I shot into bed. Five o’clock starts don’t do it for me any more.
When I was gently awoken: ‘Get your idle arse off the bed,’ Partner was in a vile mood.
‘Why didn’t you tell me about the bill?’
Bill, what bill?
I picked up the Endesa (electricity company) notification and looked at it. Puzzled.
Dated 22 April. Um, we’re in August now. It referred to a bill dated 1 April of €25.77 which we hadn’t paid, and we were being advised our electricity would be cut off at the end of June. Which, clearly had not happened as the beer was still cold in the fridge.
One of my rather more anal characteristics is to keep paperwork. Especially bills. I keep them forever and a day. One never knows when some less than intelligent jobsworth is going to cock something up.
I went to my sophisticated filing system, ie papers thrown all over the place and immediately picked up said bill for April. Paid. (I was the sort of person at work who had the messiest desk ever but could always find everything. I was also undefeated as a child at Memory Game.)
So the bill had been paid, the electricity hadn’t been cut off, we didn’t need to apply for a new contract, and we weren’t going to be entered onto the register of debtors. In fact, we wouldn’t have been anyway, the debt notification was in the name of two or three owners previous. Despite the fact we originally went to the electricity company with the deeds to the house, they didn’t change the name of the contract holder, just the addressee. As though we were renting.
Wouldn’t you think if someone had the deeds to the house it would be reasonable for them to be the contract holder? So poor deceased old Roman was being threatened with going on the debtors’ list. I’m sure he’ll be worried.
But the mystery is, I hadn’t open the bill/debt notification/threat of cutting off the supply, before I fell into bed. Someone else had. It was also more than three months old. Where had it been? I am indebted to my neighbours or casual posties who opened it and finally chucked it in our letterbox.
And why is the electricity company threatening to cut someone off for €25? Because the bill is paid two days late? When all bills have been paid by us for the last fifteen years? We aren’t here all the time but we pay bills as soon as we come back.
What about poor Spaniards with no incomes who struggle to pay their bills? Do they get threatening letters too? This country has had major problems for years. When people can’t get jobs and are living on the breadline, being told their electricity will be cut off for being a day or more late for paying a bill doesn’t exactly help. It wasn’t even sent by registered post. Surely something as significant should be sent by recorded delivery?
It’s too hot to do anything. After pruning the wilting roses and wilting plumbago, I too wilted and went inside to fade away, and radiate, (guess the band, but Ark, you are banned from entering).
No air con, no fans. So that’s one reason our electricity bills are low. We try to use as little as possible, not just for cost, but for environmental reasons too.
And a tribute to El
He’s been our faithful cockerel for more than ten years. He died this week. When people tell you chickens have short lives, do not believe this.
Well-fed free-range chickens live for lots of years. Rescued chickens from battery farms don’t. I know, I’ve had both. The abused ones might get a few months of unknown freedom, but their horrid life takes its toll. Rapidly.
And why haven’t battery eggs been got rid of yet? Years ago it was meant to be 2000 and something. Now it seems to have disappeared into oblivion. Nasty evil practice.
Back to El. He came to us from Juan the Gitano.
No idea how Partner met Juan, but he did and they talked chickens. And Juan offered him a cockerel.
Next doors were horrified at Partner associating with a gitano. Juan and Partner even went to the bar together once.
Partner went up to see Juan to collect the cockerel. Juan wasn’t there. A suspicious looking woman approached the gate.
‘Hi, I’ve come to see Juan.’
‘What do you want?’
‘He’s giving me a cockerel.’
‘I’m his mother. Give me your hand.’
So he did.
‘Hmmm. OK, you’re a good man. He’s not here but I’ll tell him you called. Buenos días chico.’
Hellish difficult passing the gypsy test. But a few days later Juan turned up with El. Juan, Partner, and two of Juan’s gitano mates all trooped into the corral to take El to his new home.
Next doors were horrified again. Letting gippos into our corral?
Sometimes you have to trust people and take them on instinct. As Juan’s mother did.
A while later, we walked up the hillside. No trace of Juan’s home. Presumably illegal, built under tin chapas, it had just gone.
Juan, wherever you are, thanks for El. He’s been a cracking cockerel, and a great guard bird too, roo ti roo ti rooing at everyone.
We loved you El. And Juan, we liked you too.
In the interests of accuracy, I should point out that I wrote this three weeks ago, but have spent most of this month pleasantly but swelteringly offline. Summer hours you know.
Meanwhile, I spent an enjoyable few minutes browsing menus this morning courtesy of the Grauniad.
The first one was a
catering college high-end culinary academy, (can’t bear that adjective high-end, ugh) Tante Marie in Woking. They cater for vegetarians. Right. So that would be why they were including Parmesan shavings in meals allegedly suitable for vegetarians. No wonder chefs are totally incompetent regarding basic vegetarian requirements.
How many times do I need to say this? Parmesan cheese is not vegetarian. Never was, never will be, because to be called Parmesan it must contain animal rennet. I helpfully emailed the high-end culinary academy, and even included a link to a Vegetarian Society approved Parmesan-style cheese, Bookham’s Twineham Grange. Nice roughseas. I’m sure they’ll send me a nice thank-you email.
The next interesting one was The Pony and Trap in Chew Magna, complete with its Michelin star. They didn’t bother with v designations but did appear to have meat/fish/fowl free meals. And scoth eggs. Scoth? And ewe’s curd. That would be as opposed to ram’s curd presumably?
To Brit readers, have a lovely long weekend.