Land of men in tights

2008-04-16 00:00

By the time you read this, I will be gone. Not, as some of you may hope, to the afterlife, but to somewhere far more erotic. Spain.

And not a moment too soon, either. There is blood in the water and dark shapes are circling. Treachery is afoot and it’s time to get out of town.

Spain seemed like a good bet because it’s a lawless country with no police and only a handful of corrupt politicians in charge. Hang on. No. That’s us.

Spain is a well-run democracy full of beautiful women with fiery temperaments and a rebel movement that can’t really be bothered to blow up too much stuff. Having said that, wouldn’t it be funny if ETA planted a bomb in the very café that I was drinking in? Hilarious.

Brenda seems to be under the impression that the trip is going to be some sort of second honeymoon. Well, I suppose it couldn’t be any worse than the first. What am I saying? Of course it could. At least we survived the first, even though I will carry the scars with me for the rest of my life.

I have been trying to interest Brenda in bullfighting but she says it is a cruel and barbaric sport practised by cruel and barbaric people. I told her that if she insisted on talking like that in Spain, I would have her arrested by the Guardia Civil. Then I showed her a picture of the famous bullfighter Manuel Rodríguez Sánchez in his tight, sequined trousers and scarlet cape. Her eyes glazed over and she began breathing heavily. I quickly pointed out that a bull by the name of Islero gored him to death in 1947. She seemed disappointed.

“Don’t worry about that,” I said. “Wait until you see me in action.” If there’s one thing that will rekindle the guttering flame of passion, it will be the sight of me leaping over the barricades and single-handedly challenging a giant Córdoban bull to do his worst.

Obviously I won’t hesitate to reach for my ankle holster and whip out the old 9 mm Para-bellum if el toro gets too cheeky. That’s how we South Africans fight wild animals. None of this girlie sword stuff for us.

Apart from an inexplicable reluctance to gun down their wildlife, Spain is very similar to South Africa in many respects. They had General Franco. We have General Mbeki. The Basques and the boers both want their own homeland. We have Vladimir Tretchikoff who was influenced by his mother. They have

Salvador Dali who was influenced by lysergic acid diethylamide. Their street life is as vibrant as ours in Khayelitsha or KwaMashu except that in Barcelona people generally don’t wind up in hospital, jail or the mortuary after a good night out.

I read on a website that “Spanish men tend to maintain eye contact with females for longer, although this does not mean anything”. Yeah, sure. “Hey amigo, I’m just taking your wife for a walk down the beach. Relax. It doesn’t mean a thing.”

The rules of the road seem similar to ours: drive as fast as you can on whichever side of the road has the least amount of traffic and stop only for petrol.

When it comes to the winter solstice, “the tradition in Spain witnesses the jumping of men over men which is a symbolic representation of victory over illness”. In Cape Town we have men jumping on top of other men which is a symbolic representation of a society going to hell in a hand basket.

Spain is known as a wine-drinking country. We are known as a country that drinks wine, beer, brandy, vodka, cane, ethanol, formaldehyde and, if it’s very late on a Friday night, blood.

Another fine tradition we share with Spain is the siesta. The only difference is that while the Spanish close their shops and offices for a few hours in the afternoon and go home to sleep, our people keep theirs open and sleep right there on the counter in front of us.

The money might take some getting used to. Thanks to Tito Mboweni, a couple of sheiks with more wives than they can handle and a bunch of narcissistic coked-up teenagers in the New York Stock Exchange, the rand is like Monopoly money compared to the euro.

I bought a wad of the stuff on the black market last week. And please understand that I don’t mean black in any pejorative sense. Even though some of my best friends are white they have close ties to the black market, which must count for something.

Thousands of our money got me a few brightly coloured notes with boring pictures of old buildings on them. This trip is going to cost me a fortune. With beer coming in at around R35 a pint, I doubt that I shall have much money left over for luxuries like food and accommodation.

Never mind second honeymoon, I have a strong feeling this is going to end in Brenda being deported and me clinging to the legs of a Flamenco dancer and begging for refugee status.

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