Steel band at a Christmas Fair. Well, why not?
It's still November, but why not visit a Christmas Market? We’ve visited some great ones over the years. Okay, they were in Germany or Eastern Europe with mulled wine on offer, but why not on a bright sunny end-of- November day in Spain?
There are Christmas lights all over the place already. The man who strung the lights around the palm trees on a roundabout had caused chaos a few days ago by parking his van in the middle of the road while he went up the tree in one of those extending basket contraptions they use to change the bulbs on street lights. All the traffic, including us, had to drive around him by putting two wheels on the road and two wheels on the pavement, but this is Spain so nobody seemed to mind.
‘It’ll be crap,’ G said as we walked towards the ragtag stalls set out on a car park next to the sea. I hate it when he's right, after I’d been the one saying we should go. The first person we saw was a woman dressed as Father, or really Mother Christmas. G said she looked like Rose West wearing a red clown’s costume. Actually, she did. A bit scary.
There was a steel band with some West Indian men playing oil drums. Not sure why they were at a Christmas Fair, but they were very good. They looked like the blokes who sell watches and handbags on the beach in summer, or perhaps their dads as they weren't as young as they looked from a distance. Either this is what they do in the winter or they were lost. Very friendly and very good, but they started to pack up just after we got there as nobody else was paying them any attention.
Next up was a man selling bacon baps. The bacon looked limp and very sorry for itself and the ‘chef’’ had margarine all over the sleeve of his pullover. We didn't buy one. He also had sausages on offer, but there was a thin old dog asleep on a basket behind his stall and the sausages looked suspiciously like dog turds so we moved on.
There was a raffle stall and half a dozen expat Brits (who else apart from Brits runs these markets?) standing in the way telling us to buy a ticket for good causes. No idea what the good causes were but bought a ticket. Actually five tickets as you have to buy a strip of them in every raffle nowadays. I couldn't decide whether the person who sold the tickets was looking at me or not as she was very cross eyed so I just kept smiling. G said I looked a bit simple and/or constipated.
The prizes were rubbish. Nothing we’d want, or anyone else would want. The big prize was a basket of stuff you throw out of your kitchen cupboards if you do a spring clean. Stuff you can't even remember buying. Must have been left by the people who had the house before us, that sort of thing. I was happy to buy a strip of tickets but put a false name and phone number down as would hate to win any of the prizes. Said my name was Doris Day and made up a phone number which G read over my shoulder and said was the number you ring to report a blocked public toilet. Hope so.
G bought a polo shirt, an M and S one, for two euros because I said I liked it but even then he grumbled as there are lots of M and S polo shirts in the charity shop near here where everything is one Euro. We have never been so well dressed. When we were full time travellers a few years ago we met a couple of French people, who we’re still in touch with, and they bought secondhand clothes, wore them for a bit, then when they needed changing, ditched the last lot in one of those charity collection bins and bought some more. If you can buy Marks and Spencer stuff for a Euro, it's not such a bad idea.
Things picked up at the book stall where the books were very cheap, as many as you want for a Euro or so it seemed so even G thought that was good. Saw a fab cookery book on New Zealand which had to buy as G said the picture on the cover was like one he had taken when we were there. Bought six books for our Euro and the man gave us a free DVD as well. We must have looked like refugees. Good job he didn't give us a voucher for a free sausage bap too.
A man came over and took G off to look at some things he had made out of wood. G said they had obviously taken him ages to do, but they were neither useful nor decorative so seemed a bit of a waste of time. A very nice woman kept asking me to buy some knitted basket thingies which were meant to hold a tooth for the tooth fairy to find under the pillow.
‘Great for the grandkids,’ she said.
‘I don't have any grandkids,’ I told her.
‘Never mind, my dear, there's still time,’ she said. Well, if I don't have any children, grandchildren are a bit unlikely, but she was trying to be kind. I suppose. Like most of the people running the stalls she was very, very English and told us she still cooks a full English breakfast and roast beef on Sundays for ‘me and my hubby.’ She said she had lived in Spain for fifteen years but didn't like all ‘that foreign muck’. G had already said the spirit of the Raj is alive and well on this Christmas market. I didn't dare confess we like to eat that foreign muck.
G came back and rescued me by saying I had to go and talk to a mad woman who was selling stuff she'd probably found in a skip. As an example, she wanted eight euros for a knitted pink toilet roll cover, with rust stains on it. Hope it was rust anyway. Was a bit tempted by an electric toothbrush, but the box had been opened so not too keen on using it, especially if the woman on the stall was the previous owner as she had camel’s teeth.
Just as we were about to go, a group of about ten women started screeching. After a minute or two we realised they were singing Christmas carols. None of them could sing and hardly anyone knew the words, but there was no stopping them. A thin bloke wearing a red jumper stood at the back playing a completely different tune to what they were supposed to be singing on a mouth organ. He was quite good actually, apart from playing a different tune to what the others were singing.
I thought G was going to be sick he was laughing so much, but everyone else was dead serious. Some other people joined in and we then had a third version of Once in Royal David’s City going on at the same time. The man G had been talking to about his wooden thingies came over to us and told us about another Christmas Fair a bit further along the coast next week.
‘Will you be there?’ I asked.
‘Oh yes, we’ll all be there and perhaps a few more stalls as well. My friend will be there too. He's got a terrible stomach infection so he couldn't come today. When I went to call for him he’d got the runs really badly but he should be okay by next week. He paints Christmas scenes on stones off the beach. I might have a couple of them here.’’
He rummaged in his pockets and found a couple of flat ‘skimming’ stones off the beach. One had Merry Christmas painted on it, but the ‘artist’ had missed the ‘s’ out so it said Merry Chritmas and the other had a picture of santa and his sleigh. I only know it was a santa and sleigh because he told me what it was. Could have been anything. It was mostly red though, so at least it was Christmassy, if that's a word.
‘He’s actually registered blind, but you’d never know it,’ the man said. Well yes you would, but at least he was a loyal friend.
‘It's the big one next week, so don't miss it,’ the friendly wood carver said. He shook G’s hand and thanked him for his advice. After the handshake I kept thinking about his friend with the runs and whether I had any wet wipes in the car. G would shake hands with a leper rather than be thought rude if someone stuck his hand out.
Afterwards I asked G what his advice had been and he said he’d told the man he must be an artistic genius because he’d never seen anything like his work before and he should take some samples to an art gallery. I stopped and looked at his carvings on our way out and they were either rubbish or he was a genius. Still can't make my mind up.
Once in Royal had by now turned into Away in a Manger, for some of the singers if not all, but the man on the mouth organ was playing what sounded like My Old Man’s a Dustman. It was a racket anyway. He should be on X Factor.
‘Are we going next week?’ G asked.
Wouldn't miss it for the world.