If you read Rabit de Florette my earlier blogue-post account of the search for water, and the precarious trip up the ravine walking on a narrow concrete aqueduct, you may enjoy this follow up. The water dried up again and one of my neighbours came to see me. He said that he and his friends in neighbouring houses had observed my efforts to get the water running and they would come out with me on Saturday for a morning of joint labour to find out where the blockages were occurring, hack away at the undergrowth and restore the water supply.
Warning: the rest of the blogue today contains very bad language.
So, yesterday a motley crew of four of us set off with picks and shovels and began the long and dangerous walk up the ravine, treading carefully on the concrete aqueduct in places where it is cracked and unsupported because the rock and earth below had fallen away with erosion. One of the men – a chef from the north of Spain – fortified us with a constant stream of swearing. This was not directed at us, let me hasten to add, but to the task in hand. I do not use bad language on my blogue normally, but on this occasion the flavour of the event would be entirely lost without it, so forgive me.
“This fucking bastard bollocks of a stream has to be cleaned out every too often,” the chef informed me. “The stupid bastard bollocks in the town hall are supposed to keep it working, but they don’t give a fucking shit about it, the bollocks bastards…”
And so it went on, with various changes of target. There were, for example the “fucking bollocks bastard weeds” that clogged up the aqueduct in places; the “shit bollocks fucking mud” that the weeds grew in; and the “bastard bollocks idiots” who threw plastic cups and other rubbish into the aqueduct which led to it getting clogged. As if to prove the point, he raised a shovel load of mud from the concrete channel and pointed in triumph to the used condom draped flacidly over the slime: “You see? Fucking bollocks idiots!”
The most frightening part of the whole expedition, from my point of view, was crossing over the ravine on the narrow concrete aqueduct, where it is supported by a slender – and rather beautiful – stone bridge. The chef is pictured during the crossing, fortifying himself by his mantra of “fucking, bollocks, bastard…” all the way across.
We found the blockage, a place where mud and rubbish and weeds had clogged the stream, just below Finestrat, and we all returned in triumph along the aqueduct (over the scary bridge again) bringing the water down to our gardens. On the way back, my neighbours’ thoughts turned to The Crisis. Whenever The Crisis is mentioned, it only means one thing now in Spain: the disastrous state of the economy. The chef, an obvious socialist, was clear about who was to blame and he directed his colourful language at international capitalism.
“And in your country too, English, they have crisis?” he asked.
I had been listening to Any Questions on Radio 4 on Friday night, as it happened, so I was up-to-date with The Crisis. It was the first time I had bothered catching up on news from the country I had been trying to forget for the past few months. On the programme, I heard for the first time about the cutting of child benefit. I felt it was outrageous.
“Yes, they have problems in England too,” I said. “Even the money to support poor children is now being taken away. The poor always get hit the hardest in a crisis.”
“And who the fuck do you think is to blame?” asked the chef.
I shrugged. “The fucking bollocks bastard bankers, of course.”
The chef beamed with delight. “You have much wisdom, English.”