Ghosts of Spain, and coincidences
London's such a huge place that during my 14 years of living there, accidentally bumping into anyone I knew was a rare and amazing event. Here in Madrid, despite it still being a large city, it's not on the same scale, and passing friends and acquaintances in the street is a surprisingly regular occurrence - maybe one in three of the times we go out of an evening or weekend. The Spanish say el mundo es un pañuelo - the world is a handkerchief, which makes me think of sneezing, but I think is just supposed to mean "it's a small world".
I was reading Giles Tremlett's superb book Ghosts of Spain a couple of weeks ago, late at night, and in it he happens to mention in passing the name of his local bar, La Goyesca, in Madrid. Since I live on the other side of Goya, I wondered idly if the bar was anywhere near me. Then I shut the book, and went to bed, and would have undoubtedly forgotten the name entirely, except that the very next morning, on the way to find our new GP's office, we took a street I'd never been down before, and there it was, the same bar. Qué casualidad!
So as a small tribute both to how much I enjoyed the book, and to coincidence, I decided to draw it.
If you haven't read Ghosts of Spain, it's one of the best introductions you can get to contemporary Spanish history and culture, and it's also full of further insights for guiris like me, still adjusting to life here. Not only is it written from the perspective of an Englishman who's lived and worked in Spain for over 20 years, his personal experience goes way beyond your average ex-pat: he's met Kings, Prime Ministers, ETA terrorists, franquistas, forced labour camp survivors, and jailhouse flamenco champions, to name but a few. Whether moving in these circles or the more familiar ones of bars, markets, schools and hospitals, the writing is always enthralling and informative. Find out more about it here.
Following Brexit, the author also has a petition at Change.com seeking double nationality for long term British residents in Spain, which, although that doesn't mean me, I think is worth signing.