We were talking yesterday of some of the old times and I remembered this story about one of the many differences that exist between Spain and the UK; and while we should celebrate and encourage those differences - after all, Spain is a wonderful place to live and Britain isn't - this particular item may not be the finest example in Spain's quiver of attractions and curiosities.
I refer to the humble suppository.
Chris had long hair and a thin moustache. He favoured pink shirts and kept his things in an off-the-shoulder handbag. His girlfriend was a pretty looking Danish girl and was sat beside him on a train chugging slowly north towards Granada. They had arrived in Mojácar that summer of 1968 in a purple mini-moke, a type of low-slung jeep. Chris was a writer doing research on Carlos, a murderous ex-bodyguard of Trujillo, the assassinated dictator from the Dominican Republic, whose disgraced minder was now running a beach-bar in our quiet resort. According to my dad, Carlos made a good Cuba Libre and one should always try and forgive and forget.
Chris’ research, once he got around to it, involved a few talks over a glass of rum with Carlos about his ghastly experiences as a torturer, inquisitor and bodyguard and Carlos, a short black fellow with a nasty look to him, must have taken offence at one of Chris’ questions on one occasion.
Or perhaps he just had a hangover that day.
The jeep was found, smashed to pieces.
Chris and his girlfriend, Gitte, decided to take off to Granada for a week for some research and a release from the volatile Carlos. On the way to the train, Chris visited a farmacia to get something for a cold he’d picked up.
We are in the train again. It’s just left Linares where it had stopped for lunch. In those days, the conductor would go through the carriages asking what everyone wanted to eat and would then phone through to the station, where twenty seven portions of meat and fifteen of fish would be waiting, chips, salad and wine, together with a small plate of membrillo (a lump of quince jelly) for ‘afters’.
Back on the train, Chris sniffled again and remembered his package from the chemist. He opened it up and extracted a metal-foil wrapped bomb-shaped item. The carriage, drowsy from its lunch, watched with mild interest.
Chris had never seen a suppository before and, as he peeled the foil off the plug (principal ingredient: cocoa butter), he decided he couldn’t eat it so, after a moment’s thought, decided to ram it up his nose.
The carriage stirred in anticipation. ‘No’ said some old girl in black.
No?, thought Chris. Perhaps, since it’s a streamer, I should open another. He placed the second suppository, with its agreeable smell of cocoa butter, into his second nostril and sat back. The two suppositories dangled slightly from his nose and he had to hold them in place. His girlfriend tittered suddenly and the carriage, released, burst into laughter.
The man sat facing Chris lifted himself partway from his seat and made an explicit motion towards his backside. ‘Aquí’, here.
Chris, his face the colour of his shirt, excused himself and went to find the lavatory. He told us afterwards that he could see the tracks flashing by when he looked down the pan, and that there wasn’t really enough room to comfortably continue with the medicine.