Monday, January 06, 2014

Dancing with the Priors

This is a picture of a retired British couple enjoying a birthday dance outside their home in Vera, Almería, sometime last September. The 'Dream': to retire to Spain, buy a house, a car, furniture and possessions; to dine under the stars in quaint little restaurants, enjoy a bottle of local wine, travel around the country and stay in a few hotels. The chance to broaden one's horizons and spread a little wealth among one's new neighbours...
Silly, really, but there are upwards of 750,000 Britons, and many many other Europeans, doing just that in Spain.
But this couple is different from those many hundreds of thousands of foreigners, rejoicing in their new life in what should be Europe's answer to Florida. This is Len and Helen Prior, whose house was inexplicably demolished by the Junta de Andalucía six years ago, on January 9th 2008. Since then, Len and Helen have lived in their garage, which unaccountably escaped the attack. Now, they also have a tent, which is just as well, as they have been camping in their own ruins following the loss of their home. Their water comes from a hosepipe and their light is provided by a generator.
The most famous 'English' residents in Spain, as far as the Spanish are concerned, are Richard Vaughan (who is an American and provides English classes over the TV) and Michael Robinson, an ex-footballer and now Spanish TV pundit.
Yet, the Priors are infinitely more famous. Unwillingly perhaps, as all they wanted was to retire peacefully in a country they thought was safe, but Helen and Len have occupied more column inches and more minutes of TV time across Europe than any other ex-patriate couple, ever.
Now the Junta de Andalucía, apparently eager to impoverise still further the province where the Priors chose to live, with its 38% unemployment (far higher in the small towns of the interior) is demolishing more British owned homes in Cantoria and threatening to do so in another dozen small, moribund, dry, hopeless towns of its far-away satrapy of Almería.
The Priors meanwhile have put on another piece of dance music... .

Later: The article appears in Spanish at El Ideal.

No comments: