I’m sat in our office, a converted bedroom I suppose in our rather large house. It’s the kind of house that wanders slightly, one room decants indecently into another. Small windows and thick walls keep it cool. There was never any architect involved with this house, so the ceilings are a bit too high and no one can say for sure just how many bedrooms there are.
Which is why it was easy making this particular one into an office. There’s even a single bed in here in case I get lost and need a rest.
Only, the dog usually gets there first.
The walls of this room are heavily decorated by paintings, as is most of the rest of the house, even the kitchen, as artists have always been welcome here. Paintings are useful to cover the walls and add a mood to a room, but an old farmhouse in the campo has another secret reason for hanging posters, canvases and sundry other memorabilia on the heavy walls. This is to do with the small creatures that live behind the paintings, scampering sure-footedly from one to another or calling for a mate with a small series of amorous belches.
The local Spanish think that they are dangerous in some obscure way and have little time for them, but the ‘salamanquesas’ or geckoes are fine little fellows. They eat the flies and the mosquitoes. One has just galloped along the wall in front of me, ignoring the fact that it’s vertical, and has harvested a slightly surprised looking daddy-long-legs.
Sometimes they attract the attention of the cats, or one of the two duendes that live in the secret spaces between the walls of this house. The duendes are the ‘little folk’ that torment the innocent. We leave bits of bread and milk out for them and they generally leave us alone. When a gecko is faced with real danger, he will release muscles in his tail which will obligingly fall off and wriggle for a while, allowing – with luck – the more important bit of the creature to scamper back behind a handy landscape. So, some of our lizards have a missing tail, or are in the process of growing another one.
So, the geckoes and I help each other out. I attract the mosquitoes and they keep the duendes amused.