My lovely friend Roger (not Federer) sent me a message last night asking if I was OK, since I have been so quiet – that, and a few other comments from friends recently made me decide to brush off my blog boots, and get writing again. Although, having said that, one of the things I have been doing is writing, since I am doing a course on ‘writing novels’ and, blimey, that is tough. Two hours each week on a Zoom call and then a load of homework!
All these years of writing press releases, websites, brochures and so on and now I am finding out all sorts of new things – not least the need to include conversation in every piece of writing (something that I never, obviously, did/do in marketing materials (other than making up quotes for people), and which I find really difficult. So forgive me if I include a few pieces of conversation here today, just to keep my hand in!
Then, tennis; the weather has been fantastic down here for ages now (sorry), so I have been playing quite a lot, a consequence of which is that I also spend a reasonable amount of time with the physio each week, but that’s OK. My knee is holding up, and I have even started running a bit (actually, my writing teacher suggested for one of our tasks last week to take a walk or run on our own and open our minds to what we see around us in order to generate creativity for our writing – something that I taught myself last year when I was out counting show-jumping steps, observing ant-life, hugging trees and so on).
This year, whilst going on similar routes with my running/walking, I have been thinking about and observing different things: why are palm trees so symmetrical? Do they automatically grow like that, or is it the way they were originally planted? Why are there so few butterflies nowadays? When I was a kid, I was fascinated with them (along with various other things), and I could name about 10 different types that could be seen on a regular day in the country. Now, I have really only seen a couple of variations – maybe it’s because we are in Spain (Spanish [butter]flies? I can hear Jan smirking already). Then; the sea, and why we are always drawn towards it; also why does everyone still wants a tan, even though we know it isn’t good for us? Actually that reminds me of the other day, when we were walking on the beach and one of the black guys (is it OK to say that?!) that sell handbags and so on (and I am a sure bet, so they always come up to me) approached and said to Jan ‘Where are you from mate’, to which Jan replied ‘the Czech Republic’, and he responded ‘Ahoj!’. Talk about surprised! It transpired that he came from Gambia and he had learned Czech from the many Czech ladies that apparently visit there….(I’m not saying a word)… Anyway, we chatted a bit (no purchase made for a change) and then as a parting shot he said to Jan ‘look at you, you’re nearly as black as me!’. And it is true. If we stay here any longer, he probably won’t be allowed back into the Czech Republic, if and when we do go….
So, anyway, back to tennis. We spent the last two weeks watching the ATP 250 Andalusia tournament that took place in the Puente Romano tennis centre down the road; it is an annual event (although not last year for obvious reasons) and is usually (a) sold out and (b) hugely expensive, plus (c) it doesn’t normally attract any of the top guys. But this year, with so few other tournaments, loads of them turned out, and we got a ‘season ticket’ for a couple of quid. Fantastic. Highlights included the fact that it was blazing sun every day, which meant that we topped up our tan even more (see above), also that we bumped into various Czechs that we knew during the course of the event (you might ask how that is possible, but basically every time Jan hears someone speaking Czech he jumps on them and starts a conversation, with the result that we have become friends with quite a lot who live here, and we also sat (by complete coincidence) right next to one of our good friends from Prague, who came down to support), and then the final, which was magnificent (one of the top Spanish guys, against the new ‘young-Nadal’) who was urged on by Jan throughout the whole match (below one of the videos that our friends took of us on Spanish TV – and if you can hear someone shouting out ‘vamos Jaume’ that was him).
Oh, and I almost forgot (how could I?) Bjorn Borg there to present the prizes. Bjorn Borg!!! Of course, younger people reading this might ask who he is (the boys standing in front of us said it to each other and a rather grand elderly Spanish guy next to us surprised us by leaning over and saying ‘he’s a f… ing legend boys!’)… Sadly, he was one of my heroes (45 years ago… kill me now).
Moving on, but I will come back. There has been quite a lot in the media recently (I have really, really, tried to keep away from it, but haven’t always managed) discussing whether it is the vaccine rollout that has reduced the numbers in the UK, or maybe it was more the very strict lockdown for the last God knows how long. Sitting here, we would say that lockdowns have as much effect as the vaccine – in Spain, the vaccine rollout has been slow, but due to the ongoing caution (particularly the social distancing and masking) the numbers are very low… with the result being that we have been living a ‘new normal’ life for sometime now – as can be seen from the video – so far, there have been no spikes in cases, despite the quite big crowds at the tennis… but everyone here, as I keep on saying, is very well behaved, especially when it comes to masks.
This time last year, all the talk was of lockdowns, masks and when/what/how it is all going to end. This year, well, most discussions seem to be about vaccines. The UK, due to some dubious jiggery-pokery by BJ and his merry-men (imagine our surprise) managed to get hold of many more of those than anyone else in Europe, with the result that they have managed to get at least one dose into a good proportion of the population; the Czech Republic is struggling (seems like we will get other countries hand-me-downs and a large batch of Sputniks), whilst Spain is toddling along, doing a reasonable number each day. And yet, the talk is still of vaccine passports – Saga Holidays must be doing a roaring trade, since in most countries anyone under the age of about 70 is still waiting. I do get it that the older and vulnerable need to be protected, but if we are to get life back to normal, and, in particular, the economy, it seems to me that it would be good to get some of the people that drive such things protected soon!.. Just saying….in the meantime, though.. this made me giggle
Finally a footnote. I heard from a friend (actually closely related to Saga Holidays but for different reasons) that a certain Pat Cash had arrived in Puente Romano for a few days. I am afraid I have to go now…..!