News of my death has been greatly exaggerated. The Nog has been quiet of late, coping with the loss of my heart’s desire, sweet maidens from Mother Russia, and doing battle with the farmers and fishermen of southern Norway resulting in a mild concussion for our Celtic hero. The extra long days are in full swing, screwing up my sleep patterns even more.
But that will be the subject for another posting dear readers, for much more news worthy has been a long awaited break from work, lemmings and and stupidly priced goods. I finally took the opportunity to make my way once more to that most capricious, tempting and passionate of ladies, Madrid.
Words and my slobbering maw fail to express my eternal love for this city; true, it does not have the cosmopolitan atmosphere of Barcelona, or the romance of Granada or Sevilla, but Madrid cares not. The original “leech” capital city, founded because the Spanish court couldn’t be arsed anymore to travel around their vast realms, there appears little to recommend it but once you take those first tentative steps into the blazing sun, or sit back on a plaza with a cool beer in the middle of the night, you will be ensnared. And the girls, by the devil! The girls!
Hotel was not quite what I expected...
During this trip I did absolutelty nothing – no museums, cathedrals, nada. I have already seen most of what Madrid and it’s surroundings can offer. Activity was limited to drinking, eating, wandering and meeting up with long lost pals in a relaxed, if not lazy, manner.
One highlight of my trip was meeting a close friend, Esther Claudio, contributer to The Comics Grid, who is very interested in comics and she has even gone as far to study and write about them most academically. It may well be the basis for a thesis in her upcoming Masters Degree and soon she will be organising a comic convention in the Madrid suburb of Alcala de Henares in November. If time and money allow, I shall voyage again to Iberia. She has also had the dubious pleasure of meeting John le Baptiste, and she inquired about him and his activities:
“He’s been working on some teaching gigs recently and looking to publish a book.”
“Really? Great! But I’m so jealous! How I hate him! He’s dead to me now. Does he have a girlfriend?”
“Yep, he’s recently moved in with her”
“Tell him he’s gay as well”
To me this is a great example of the Spanish way of combining passion with crushing logic.
Cafe Central, Madrid
My appearance being the polar opposite of most Spaniards, as well as my ability to go pink when exposed to any light stronger than what is emitted by a fridge, I do somewhat standout in Madrid. Thus I am somewhat an item of curiosity by the locals when I purchase goods and services in their own language, and occasionally, dialect. This does have advantages, learning recipes for some good gazpachos, local night life tips, and even a glass of vino on the house. Compared to the mute Norwegians, whose sole aim when provided with alchohol is rapid self destruction, it was very refreshing to deal with chilled out and open madrlienos. But make no mistake, the people of Madrid can party hard when they want to.
I revisited on of my favorutie Madrid haunts, Cafe Central. This place near Puerta del Sol is famous for its Jazz nights and I still remember my first concert there: a packed joint bopping along to a bunch of Spanish scruffbags whoes lead singer barked liked a dog. I still sing “bow-wow” occasinoally to this day. This time however it was a Basque group who performed music inspired by thier area and took Thelonius Monk as their role model. I sat there lost in the music, sipping good wine, and whether it was extreme pretention or just too much fire water, I was struck by an epiphany: Here all is well. I am at peace. Dear readers, as the tuba player crooned his solo into the night, a tear came to my eye and my love affair with Spain was reignited.
I have promised myself to visit Iberia (for Portugal is also worthy of a gander, Porto is next on that list) to rejuvinate my soul and be a soothing balm for those long, quiet Nordic nights. I’ll upload some choice photos too.