Friday, 7 May 2010

Week 32

 A few years ago I lived on a small alley off Shepherd’s Bush Road. There was a park nearby, which enjoyed a enviable location between a large police station and an extremely cheap off-license. This park was a must-visit destination for Gentlemen of Leisure who, having checked out of their accommodation at the police station, would head straight for Best Wine and then the park, the nearest spot where one could hold the sort of impromptu liquid-based picnic that these chaps seem to enjoy so much. While the park was obviously the place to be for al fresco drinking and goading one’s aggressive dog, it was lamentably under-equipped where bathroom facilities were concerned. Luckily our front door, situated as it was on a nearby alley with plenty of cover, provided a ready solution to their straining bladders. My flatmate and I used to fantasise (usually after picking up some urine-stained post) about running the leads from a car battery through the letterbox, electrifying any stream that touched the door, but we never went through with it; neither of us wanted to have to step over a dead tramp first thing in the morning.
    Here in Barcelona, we also live on a small alley, and again we are regularly visited by people who mistake our front door for a servicio. Everywhere in the winding streets of the gotico you’ll see the tell-tale streams, usually emitting from some shaded corner. Again, it’s an area that invites such activity: there are lots of nice bars, and plenty of cover for someone who is just at the right level – drunk enough to hose down a wall, but not so drunk that they’re not shy about someone seeing their little fireman.
          I’m not going to pretend that I’ve never done it myself and luckily we’re on the second floor, so it only bothers us when we’re going in and out of the building. However, the stench in the little porch where the post-boxes are was getting a bit much last week, so I went down to the bottom of the stairwell and began sweeping and mopping. A full two hours later, I had swept and mopped my way right up to our door, and the whole stairwell was clean as a whistle.
    Then, just ten minutes after I’d finished, Christina beckoned me to the front door. The old lady from across the hall was re-mopping the stairs! She cannot have been unhappy with the quality of my work – you could have eaten your dinner off those steps – so I can only assume that my neighbour was trying to mop up some of the credit for my labour. She thought she’d let some of the others in the building see her mopping, and they’d assume it was her that had done the lot! Well, I’m not having it. I want you all to know: it was me who did the stairs, not that bucket-come-lately from Flat 2.

 A modernist vase in the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya

You know those nights out where you spend a bit too much money and although it feels like someone is standing on your head for the entire following day, it was cash well spent? Well, Tuesday was not one of those nights. We did, however, manage to spend 100 Euros without leaving the building.    

It was 11.30pm and we'd decided to head out to a bar with my sister who was visiting. We closed the door to the flat and instantly realised that one set of keys was in the lock on the other side meaning that we couldn't get back in with the keys we did have. Thus ensued the following:

1. Will set about trying to lever the door off with a makeshift crowbar (a broken stair railing)/throwing himself at the door in a bid to break it down/trying to pick out the pesky key with a hairpin;

2. me wondering whether I was to spend another night in the youth hostel around the corner (see week 20) and angrily calculating how much this latest fiasco was likely to cost;

3. my sister feeling quite awkward.

After an hour we conceded that a locksmith would have to be called. Will did very well with his Spanish over the phone and a cerrajero was with us within half an hour. He prised the door open with a screwdriver and we parted with 100 Euros.

By this time it was almost 2am. We had a cup of tea and went to bed. But hey, at least we didn't have hangovers the next morning. We might have spent a lot of money, but we definitely had no hangovers and no fun. Yeah!   

I don't know what to make of this   



  1. Can't wait to see your floor mopping skills in action here - Rosie will supply the raw materials needed.
    Have I really read the number plate of the van correctly???

  2. haha i don't know what i would make of it either :b