Tuesday, December 18, 2007

I'm Glad That's Over
Of all the joints in all the world, the Salon de Juegos at Las Terrazzas was the last place I expected an introduction to Kate Brannigan.

Since I gave up teaching I don't care for holidays . Even a week seems too long to be away and it was quite a rush to get the reviews finished. In fact, I didn't finish writing about a November talk at Goldsmiths . The deadline wasn't until the 20th December but it wasn't easy to continue after a gap.
I think in future I'll settle for weekends in places with theatres - maybe I'll compile a list from the Internet. Even a trawl through a list of places in an atlas will be a start
What a pleasant bit of research. Off the top of my head I thought Stratford (upon Avon) Chichester and Scarborough I'll work my way up to a week for the Edinburgh Festival. That's a good idea - literary festivals. If the overdraft isn't too bad.

One advantage of being away was the chance for long-stretch reading. We'd decided to avoid check-in hell at Gatwick by taking only hand-luggage so book space was limited. By the time I'd put all the gadgetry in my case - hair-dryer, DVD and CD players and disks and chargers, plus the Chinese text book I'm working on, and Michael Billington's history of British theatre since 1945 , there wasn't much room for clothes, never mind fiction.

So I was thrilled to come across a Val McDermid volume as soon as we arrived at the accommodation, on the outskirts of Carmen del Puerto. It included two novels, called 'Crack Down' and 'Star Struck'. Even her single novels resemble half-bricks, so this was particulary good value at my favourite price : completely free. The battered cover had a printed sticker advertising The Bookswop, a venue I noticed later at the start of the 'Strip' , a line of shops and restaurants stretching for miles beside the 'playa grande'. Somebody had left the book on the snooker table in the Salon del Juegos. Readers, I lifted it.

The Goldsmiths talk was called 'Investing in the Creative Industries'. Industry makes me think of factories and it wasn't until I got home and did some research that I even found out what they are. There were some defininitions in Wikipedia, referring to things like the music business, films and other performance art. Funding issues are not ones I've thought much about, although they're mentioned enough, with bitterness, by Fringe directors. I don't know why I offered to write it . Maybe it was because the editor of the alumnus magazine was a particularly pleasant member of the Goldsmiths writing course. It was badly written, so I'm hoping it hides in a corner.

I did keep manage to fill a small excercise books with descriptions of Puerto del Carmen, suprisingly quiet and scenic, quite unlike the Costa del Sol. I always feel a bit dazed and disorientated in hot and sunny places, and the sense of lassitude is increased partly because I have to suit my pace to Roy's.
He exaggerates when he says I'm normally like a whirlwind - it seems to me I spend hours cooped up in my study at home, but I dash around the flat in between times, getting ready to go out. His own life is so regular: long slow breakfasting, a walk to Greenwich or Blackheath for 2-3 hours in cafes reading bridge books, then a session of actual play at one or another club in the afternoon. He meets up with an ex-BT colleague on Wednesdays, always in the same cafe near the RA, to go to a film or an exhibition. Once a month there's another crony, an ex bridge partner, who comes up from Epsom and they sit in the National Theatre foyer and chat. It would drive me mad. No wonder I am short-tempered after a few days of adapting my pace to his. It's what the Chinese call 'Growing old hand in hand together'.
Every day we walked down to the port to drink coffee overlooking the slipway of the tiny harbour. We read and I watched and photographed the wading birds and one or two fishermen on the rocks below. They seem to catch a lot of fish. A heron-like bird was identifed in an email from daughter Catherine as one of two types of egret. It was much more active than a heron - stalking about in the shallows and sticking its neck out at an odd angle to bring its head parallel with the water surface when it spotted a fish.

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