Thursday, 25 February 2010

Week 21

I think there comes a time in life when the child-parent roles get reversed, and that time arrived this week when my mum and dad came to visit.

"Text me when you get back to your hotel," I said anxiously as they were leaving our flat in the early hours of Sunday morning after dinner and drinks. They were only staying a 10-minute walk away but I was worried they would fall down a pothole, get lost, mugged or similar. It wasn't just my concerns about their safety that highlighted a shift in our roles: my efforts to get them to eat anything remotely Spanish was like trying to get a two-year old to eat sprouts.     

On their first day, Will and I brought them for lunch to a tapas bar in the food market, La Boqueria, where you turn up, find a stool, squish in amongst the crowds, order some plates of tapas and enjoy. Or not. Mum wasn't happy that we weren't sitting on proper chairs, while dad's reaction to the little pieces of spicy sausage was to make a face and spit them out into a napkin. To be fair, they were a bit rank. On Sunday we went for brunch and mum was beside herself over whether the bacon would be crispy enough and whether the milk in her coffee would be the correct temperature.

That night, I desperately tried to think of somewhere suitable for us to eat. A tortillera was out of the question because mum doesn't like eggs.

"How about a Lebanese?" I ventured. No thanks. Frantically, I scoured the Rough Guide to Barcelona and found a restaurant called Cuines Santa Catarina where the food is described as "touching all bases - pasta to sushi, Catalan rice dishes to Thai curries". Surely there would be something here to suit? Thankfully, the meal passed without a tantrum.

So my parents appear to have developed the kind of dietary requirements that make Madonna seem unfussy, but I wouldn't want them to be any other way and I do miss them now.

Mr Pincers was a lot less talkative after his bath

More bad news from Barcelona this week. For most people, moving to another country would be an enlightening experience, one which would make them more tolerant and accepting of other peoples, but Barcelona has made me more of a curmudgeon than ever before. In fact, it is even worse than that: Barcelona has turned me into a massive racist.

It’s the restaurants and bars that have done it. By serving lovely food and drinks and staying open for as long as I want them to, these conniving institutions exact all they can from my meagre income, meaning that I have to stay in my flat and work all day. Unfortunately, my flat is above a trainer shop which blares out rap, hip-hop, R&B and reggae all day. Thanks to their inconsiderate attitude to volume control, I have been conditioned into hating these forms of music, just like Hitler would have done if he was still around.

It gets worse. Not only have I become an opponent of Music of Black Origin but by staying in all day, I am actually making myself more white. And when I do venture outside, the light is too bright for me, and my face scrunches into a violent squint. In the largely Chinese neighbourhood where I tend to buy my lunch, this tends to make me look like I'm ripping off some of Benny Hill's material from the 1970s. You know, the bits that definitely don't get played on TV any more.  

Suffice to say I am rather angry with Barcelona’s too-talented chefs and bartenders (and all people from ethnic minorities, obviously, but in a more general sort of way). My one consolation is that the UK will have a Conservative government by this summer, and as a card-carrying* hate-monger, they will probably offer me some sort of tax credits.

The only solution as far as I can see is to stop working at once and take my ignorant, pallid neo-fascism down to the beach, where it can limbo itself back into a lithe, tanned open-mindedness. I’ll leave earning money to Christina, who was a horrendous bigot before we moved here**.

*In retrospect, perhaps I shouldn’t have actually made myself a card, but it is rather nice.

**This is completely untrue, as is practically everything in this post. Sorry for wasting your time.


  1. You'll be hearing from our solicitor in due course - your inheritance could be drastically reduced! M+D