En Madrid 1
By Parson Thru
I think I’ve found my bar.
It’s dark now and I’m back in my room, but I took old Jack down for a saunter among the cafes and the plane trees of Plaza Manuel Becerra earlier. Under those trees, I loitered for a while on his pages – I probably never turned more than three or four. I don’t need to anymore. I read “On the Road” maybe four years ago and I’ve turned so many more of his pages since. It occurred to me this evening (after the first two hectic, brain-scrambling days of my teaching course) that the characters, events and observations of these books exist outside of time – as long as there is a human being to read them. First person: I thought of the characters and actions that live in these pages – how the people are all long-dead, yet live in this plaza today.
I love that man – there’s no doubt about it. He would have been in his element here. Just for an hour or so before moving on. I thought about my own digs as I watched the flow of humanity around me. Mothers and their daughters – the mothers too old, the daughters too young. How most of the tables were occupied by people in their final years, eking out the last rays of evening sun.
It’s a nice district – safe and pleasant to walk around. I said only the other day that I didn’t want to live in squalor, fighting off pick-pockets and muggers. At the same time, I need chance encounters with potential kindred-spirits – shadows of the Madrid night.
La escuela is pretty-much what I hoped it would be and is stretching me. On Monday, I need to turn up with lesson-plans for my first three teaching sessions and be ready to teach real students by lunch-time. Bowel-loosening moments. Never mind – it’s what I came here for.
I can just about remember the names of my fellow-estudiantes after two days. I’m settling in.
What of Britain?
Family? The love of my life? This was never going to be easy. We have to work it through. The weather, you can keep.
Tonight, I unpacked the guitar. I’m sitting in my room after dark in my shirtsleeves with the window open, the sound of the city outside. This, at least, is as it should be.