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Friday, May 02, 2008

sun, wine and catheters...

So Granny is back. Just about. (You know that feeling when half your head still seems to be elsewhere..) Beloved's bad back is better and the goat....the gravid goat...has given birth; at last. To twins, one of which died shortly after. The lone twin is flourishing and very pretty but alas, male, which means his life won't be long either, unless someone decides he'd make a good daddy; but he won't be pretty by then, his smell will be worse and he won't be on this land. For sure.

Birth then; and death - or pending death. As in life you know.... Something Granny knows all too well after her trip to Malaga - or rather somewhere near Malaga where her brother lives in the sun, in his expat enclave. A week which was a strange mixture of the sybaritic, the farcical, the very sad and the bizarre. But isn't all dying like that - the prolonged kind of dying Granny's family go in for? - when you are reminded continually of life and living and still more so when as here the illness takes place in a perfect climate, sun, no wind, not too hot, cool at night; swifts, blackbirds, hoopoes, palm trees, jacarandas, a glass of wine and gambas pil pil at the pool bar. A foreign place just about, which made the excess of English furniture imported by Granny's brother from their shared childhood - sideboards, French-polished dining-tables, china cabinets, bookshelves full of Bulldog Drummond, the life of Churchill, of Margaret Thatcher - crammed into a small Spanish townhouse the more evocative on the one hand and comic on the other.

To all that add catheters, wheelchairs, groans, confusion. Big Brother, as is to be expected in such circumstance is not a well man. To lung cancer add colon cancer - the later cured but the cure has left him very weak, add an infection spotted by Little Sister (not so little sister) a nurse, add anti-biotics - and a night in a ritzy Marbella clinic - B B, is a BUPA man - and he will be better for quite a while. He was in fact so much better that the evening after he came home he even got up his stairs aided by this sister and a carer, had a bath and slept in his own bed. Such things are triumphs in such circumstances. In the meantime Granny and Little Sister had a crash course in various forms of Spanish private medicine and the problems, much talked about, of what happens when the ageing British, non-Spanish-speaking expat population on the Costa del Sol get sick.... Difficult. In the to-ing and fro-ing - not least to acquire Big Brother's Daily Telegraph - she stubbed her toe badly. The dramatic bruise lingers still to remind her of it all. A very minor malady, for sure.

Big Brother who is a man very much of the right in everything (compared to him Granny's old-fashioned Tory Dad was, in retrospect, almost socialist) just about forgave this sister for introducing that red rag, The Guardian, into his house ('that paper makes me sick') when she managed to acquire for him a good English Sunday roast. No, BB doesn't care for any kind of Spanish food like garlic -'disGUSTING' - or what he calls 'grease' meaning olive oil, as opposed to his daily full English breakfast type grease - funny what a very English life you can live in Southern Spain these days, surrounded by other expats. Who were, by the way, very kind, mostly very helpful and very fond of Big Brother, dinosaur as he is. They all helped him get his furniture into the house for one thing. 'You can't move in there,' they said, laughing fondly. And it is true, you can't, though sensible little sister had made some changes, banishing parts of the clutter upstairs.

As for the rest - coastal Andalucia.....oh God. BB's own enclave is pleasant enough - even very pleasant - though reached via a trip past the local sewage works and the cemetery and threatening to be engulfed by grotesque, terracotta, half-built golfing resorts. But the rest of it burgeons in a way which is Disneyland at best, at worst just avert your eyes, provided you're not driving: Costa del Golf indeed. One effect is that finding your way anywhere is impossible: so much of it is recent there are no maps. Granny and her sister spent a lot of time driving round in circles trying to look for this place or that. Granny loved the birds, the flowers, the trees, the lack of wind, true, but back in real life on her much less built-up island she can see its relative merits.

She has been writing this piece for 3 days: life since she returned on Monday has been overcome by the stomach bug roaming the island, by two bed and breakfast guests from Tenerife, by a visit from Beloved's Beloved Son - a philosopher - meaning that the air was thick with discussion of philosophical zombies and something called the the 'Jackson-Mary problem' - no, don't ask - Granny didn't; she retired to the washing up. The weather after a furious hot wind which has dried up everything, including the grapes according to worried locals, has turned almost as benign as in Andalucia. She spent yesterday afternoon in her hammock. Some things remain good. Oh and little sister since this morning is a granny too. As in life once more. How it goes on. Granny returns to Malaga in June. For now she will live her life.

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