Sunday, January 27, 2019

The Carpetbaggers

Not all of the foreigners who move to Spain do so to retire gracefully, or work for a company or for themselves in an honest way. It is said that we come in three flavours - those who live from money from outside (pensions, transfers or remittances), those who make their money here in some way, and those who live off their wits - which usually means conning their fellow foreigners (bamboozling Spaniards is not a good idea, they know the system better than we do).
So, I've been swindled a number of times down the road, practically always by people I know: people who originated from my home country.
I wonder why they come here. On the lam from the police maybe, or from the courts, or indeed from their circle of friends or associates. They come here as carpetbaggers, with an invented past which would normally not bear much scrutiny, only here of course (under normal circumstances), nobody cares.
We have more captains of industry, senior military figures and retired police chiefs than would seem humanly possible. They tend to be very proper.
You may also find these people in the bar (indeed, it's quite likely), where they will sell you a house, or furniture, or an investment scheme. 'Don't worry', they say, 'I speak the lingo'.
Amusingly, an obscure newspaper from the Costa Blanca appears to have caught one. They say the person evaded justice in the UK and has been here for twenty years. Next week, they promise to reveal who this is. I wonder if this will come as a surprise.
I'd give you the link, but Google says it has 'been pirated'.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

The Garrucha Pipa Theatre is No More

The news is that the old Cine Tenis down at the far end of Garrucha, the open-air summer cinema also known as the Cine de Verano and the Pipa Theatre, has been sold. I am told that next door's Mercadona has bought it to expand their shelves with more dog-food and gin.
The nearest cinema now appears to be one remaining open-air joint - I think - in Vera and then the expensive ones an hour up the road in Aguilas (yes, yes, with features in English) or the other way in Almería (the Yelmo in the Torrecardenas shopping mall also has English-language films, at least on Tuesdays).
But who goes to the cinema any more?
The Cine Tenis was in fact doing pretty well. Summer crowds would take to the pipa-theatre (so called because of the fearsome din from the appreciative audience). This noise was exacerbated by the fact that the bar was open all the way through the show, so one could stand at the back, leaning on the bar and sip a cold frosty as James Bond elegantly dispatched another villain.
The noise of course was increased still more by deafening and slightly fuzzy speakers which made sure that, however bad your Spanish might have been when you arrived, it would be a lot better by the end of the show.
I reckon I learnt my castellano from my regular visits to the cinemas in Turre, Mojácar, Garrucha and Vera in my tender years. They were wonderful times, as for about ten pesetas, you were treated to a spaghetti western (made in Tabernas) starring Giuliano Gemma, or maybe Anthony Steffen, or Bud Spencer, Terence Hill or any from an innumerable list of other oddly-named Italian stars...
One three-reeler in Mojácar, a cowboy film - they never used to show anything else - was particularly memorable, as they showed the third reel before the second one, which, we all agreed, rather added to the plot.
Then my dad bought what became Mojácar's first video machine, plus just one film, 'The Life of Brian' on VHS, and life was never the same again.
'I say Billy, could we come by and see that film of yours?'.
I had to operate the machine and mix the drinks.
Later on, Bambi de Bruin opened a club in Garrucha where you could rent poorly recorded films for a few pesetas. It was a good business... 
While it's a sad truth that there aren't many good films being made any more (except for 'Mad Max IV', obviously), it's still a nice idea to go to an open-air cinema, grab a beer and some pipas, and watch a show.
If you can still find one.