from the FPG Chronicles / Barcelona

Updated on June 16, 2020
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Born without a clue. A lifetime later, situation largely unchanged. Nevertheless, one perseveres.....

...from Gaudi's point of view.
...from Gaudi's point of view.


We had also planned to go to Barcelona where my old buddy Wali had established a ceramics enterprise with his new Catalonian wife Roser. But Nick had lost his passport in Paris, so I decided to do a short solo side trip. The opportunity arose because a nice woman, Monique, from Marseilles who happened to be staying with the Zims wanted to go herself, had a 2CV, and didn’t want to go alone. One should not resist such serendipitous weaves in the warp of time, so off we went.

We had a very chatty trip, swinging up into the mountains and curving down the foothills on the other side. Barcelona looks frighteningly dark and industrial from a distance but reveals alluring intimacies once you get involved.

After some faltering halts and enquiries, we found ourselves outside Wali’s taller. It was set back behind a modest rusty gate and wall and beyond a fairly extensive vegetable plot. Monique was trailing behind as I entered through the open workshop door. There were many racks of pottery in various stages of drying and curing and a pervasive dusty odour of what seemed like dry cement. I heard movement through an open door to my left. I went over and peered in. Wali and Roser were sat with their backs to me, stooped over their clay. Roser looked up first. Her jaw dropped but she didn’t say anything. She looked at Wol and said his name. He turned right to her, then twisted left to look at me. Our eyes met for an instant, and then he turned back to his work. Then, in a sort of delayed reaction, his body jerked and he shot upright and looked at me again, clearly confused and disoriented. We all got very emotional for some moments but soon settled down into animated conversation and catch-up.

The first order of business was for them to create an enormous paella out in the front garden in the glorious warmth of the extended Catalan evening. All four of us hustled and bumped into each other in a gentle flurry of yakking and assembling and not a little tippling of rioja. When all was said and done, we sat in that suffused garden basking in the golden light, wondering if life could ever get any better.

It was Wali who introduced me to reggae and I’ve been a dependent ever since. “Guess who’s in town?” he said. I shifted my gaze from a tall gently rippling eucalyptus tree to his intense dark eyes and raised my eyebrows. “Jimmy Cliff,” he said. “No way,” I spluttered, but his head was slowly nodding.

The following evening Monique and I were all set to head out at about 9pm, but Wali and Roser had a few friends around and seemed so relaxed and unhurried that I thought they might have gone off the idea. We all eventually left the house at about 11 and got to the venue around midnight. A massive cavernous place, it was heaving but there was no sign of Jimmy. I thought we must surely have missed him, but after about half an hour he and his band appeared to tumultuous roars and proceeded to rock the place for a good two hours. It was bliss. We staggered out into the still dark early morning and Wali said, “Right, let’s find a cafe.” And sure enough, there were plenty of them open and teeming with business. This was the Barcelona life cycle. I loved it.

Monique and I stayed about a week and then, tearfully, headed north into the Pyrenees again.

© 2020 Deacon Martin


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