Friday, 25 June 2010

On Wednesday night, we joined thousands of other people on the beach for El Noche de San Juan, the enormous party Catalonia (along with lots of other places) holds to celebrate the summer solstice. Anyone trying to get some shut-eye on El Noche de San Juan would be advised to try another country; not only is it a huge party – much bigger than New Year’s Eve – it is also the night of fireworks.
I absolutely love the fifth of November. Fireworks and bonfires look and smell brilliant, there’s lots of food and drinking, and it’s the night of the year on which we remember Guy Fawkes, the brave and sensible man who tried to blow up all of the country’s politicians. The fireworks displays I’ve seen in London are jaw-dropping displays of pyrotechnical expertise, but for sheer disregard for personal safety, the Catalans have us beaten hands down.
Your typical Catalan plan for the evening seems to be something along the lines of: start with a few beers, then wander down to the beach, carrying a huge bag of fireworks (while smoking, obviously), lighting them and throwing them at other people, all of whom are also carrying huge bags of fireworks. Arrive at the beach, where thousands of people are now randomly letting off fireworks in every direction. Continue drinking and letting off fireworks until midnight, when it’s time to drunkenly attempt jumping over a bonfire, for ‘good luck’. If you survive this and the ensuing four hours of Bacchanalian pyromania, celebrate by going swimming, drunk, at sunrise.
The best thing about is that it’s a family event. Everyone, from Nan to the toddlers, is armed to the teeth with explosives. Four-year-olds could be seen tossing lit fireworks up into the air, or at each other, while their mothers looked proudly on.
It’s a real pity that in the UK, you can’t throw a firework at someone else’s child for fear of being slapped with some sort of punitive lawsuit for frightening them, or causing them stress, or blowing a couple of their fingers off. This means that British children are growing up soft, while their Catalan contemporaries get a head start in the art of offensive fire. If you live in Britain and you care about your country’s future defence, it is your duty to go out right now and throw a lit firework at a small child. It’s the only way they’ll learn. 

Note the use of chiaroscuro in this picture of a small boy setting his dad on fire

After 10 months of living with Will, I'm a little worried that I'm turning into him. Perhaps it's inevitable that when you spend a lot of time with someone you start to take on their traits, much like dogs who resemble their owners.  
Here are some examples of my increasingly Will-like behaviours:

1. Complaining about the noise from TommyGun Sneakers. Initially, I didn't mind. It's cosmopolitan! I told myself good-naturedly. Now, after almost a year of incessant urban beats being piped into my brain from Monday to Saturday, I've realised it's not cosmopolitan, it's a bloody nuisance. But I haven't gone as far as using retaliation tactics. This week, the man downstairs turned up his music to drown out the music from TommyGun's. In turn, Will turned on our music, turned up the bass and placed a speaker on the floor. As I witnessed this spectacle, it afforded me a glimpse into the future. Today it's a speaker on the floor; in 10 years' time, he'll be furiously cutting down our next-door neighbour's tree because it's hanging over our garden fence in Surbiton.

2. Using the tablecloth to wipe food from my hands. I am ashamed to type this because when I first noticed Will doing it, I was livid.   

3. Picking my nose. 

It's just as well we're moving back to the UK in four weeks. I have friends there. Nice, fragrant female friends who will re-introduce me to The ways of Being a Lady. An evening with three excitable and/or pre-menstrual friends, a Sex and the City boxset and a Natasha Bedingfield CD should do the trick.   

I don't pick my nose actually, it's just Christina who does that

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