So I’m on my summer sojourn in the bucolic, post-Brexit British Isles. Every weekend seems to be another opportunity for a village fete, replete with prizes for the longest runner bean and funniest vegetable (no dramatic license has been taken here, these were indeed categories in the local village fete yesterday).
Today I saw an old time jazz band followed by elderly ladies twirling decorated umbrellas. They were quite literally having the time of their life. I still haven’t seen any Morris Dancers, although as my mum’s neighbour regularly dons her breeches, bells and braces for a good hop around with some stick bashing, I’m sure it will only be a matter of time. I forget when I’m away being all ‘Spanish señorita and everything’, just how unselfconscious, utterly daft and completely camp Britain is.
That said, I miss Seville massively – or rather a version of Seville that probably isn’t the 40 degree one most Sevillanos are living at the moment. So anyway, here are the five things I miss about my dear, beloved Sevilla.
1. Eating Breakfast out
Right now I’m in a sleepy village in the South of England, more than sleepy, most of the residents are a mere trip over a dangerously placed rug away from a double hip replacement. And even if I wanted to go out for breakfast, there ain’t no place to go. So breakfast is a good bowl of bran flakes, a cup of tea and radio 4. Not bad of course, but give me ‘tostada’ in a dodgy, old man’s bar any day. Somehow I never tire of eating very lightly toasted bread, drizzled with olive oil, lashings of tomato and that all important sprinkle of salt. And I love seeing the same faces every time; be they dogs, grannies or the aforementioned old men.
2. Buying vegetables that are locally grown, seasonal and don’t come wrapped in plastic
I love a good fruit and veg shop or food market. In the barrio where I live, there are about 10 in a 1km vicinity and quite honestly I don’t know how they all survive. My favourite is Las Comadres as they sell mostly organic at affordable prices. But cut to any British high street and the local shop culture died out along time ago. Supermarkets reign and people have very little conception of what’s in season – or care for that matter. Beans from China – no problem, lemons from Chile – totally normal. In Seville, if it’s not in season, it’s not for sale. And frankly that’s how it should be. And don’t even get me on the subject of plastic. Somebody remind me again why it seems to be obligatory to wrap cucumbers in a plastic film?
3. Never watching telly
I never watch TV in Seville. Apart from Spanish TV being a bit rubbish, I’m hardly ever in of an evening – no one is. In Seville you live on the street. Not in a hobo kind of way, but in a let’s just hang out with our mates, have a beer, walk along the river, go get an ice cream – doesn’t really matter, the main thing is just to be outside.
4. Music is everywhere
This is a bone of contention because actually, for a city it’s size, there aren’t many licensed venues to see live music. But this doesn’t stop Seville and it’s never ending supply of music folk who play in tiny bars and roof terraces, jam on park benches with their mates, or unknowingly entertain passers-by as they practice flamenco guitar from their bedroom.
5. Being called ‘miarma’
It takes a while and a certain level of Spanish to pick up on the semantic nuances belonging to a city. I remember the first time I heard a guy calling his girlfriend ‘mi alma’ (which means my soul), I just thought I’d overheard an intimate, romantic moment between two lovers. Little did I know that everyone and anyone gets called it at some point by friend and foe alike. Not only that ‘alma’ turns into ‘arma’, so in the end we’re all ‘my weapons’. Only in Seville.