Spain 1976

I thought I had been good to the bearded stranger. He arrived with his backpack. His Spanish wasn’t great but we talked and I agreed to let him stay in one of my rooms. I unlocked the metal grilles to let him in, showed him everything and told him the rules. Breakfast at 8am, front gate locked at 11pm, no noise please. He asked me about flamenco. Seville is full of good flamenco and I recommended a place.  Its in a local cellar, good food, fine painted walls, two bands so one keeps going while the dancers rest: a place for locals. The drinks are expensive but he looked underage anyway. Under 21s aren’t allowed but they’d probably let him in.


Ah flamenco! I loved it in my youth. The fast fingers on the strings of guitars, the hips and hands of the dancers, the way in which the audience is surprised and entranced by the changes in the rhythm, making shouting tuneful…….

So what did he do? He went to the flamenco. He came back at 1am, found the door locked and rattled at the grilles until I grumpily came downstairs to let him in. He told me the dancing hadn’t started till 10.45pm.

Even if what he said in Spanish before going to his room really was ‘I need to leave at 7 in the morning to get my train’ I decided I hadn’t understood. I went to church in the morning as usual and came back at 7.30 to find him rattling on the inside of the locked metal grilles. His turn to be grumpy!