Friday June 4th 2010
Yesterday felt like the first day of summer. I’ve had the window open at night for weeks, but on Tuesday the air was so warm and still that it felt like a fourth wall outside the window, so now we sleep – or try to – with the blind raised and the curtain tented to encourage any stray draught into the bedroom.
Wednesday was a hot one, 33˚, and every Metro station smelt of fart. What can you do when you’re standing inside a fart? You can’t hold your breath, but breathing doesn’t seem an attractive option either. Outside, it was rather humid, with clouds dithering all day. Shower? No. Shower? Maybe. Shower?
In the end, no, and we spent an hour or so around sunset in a terrace bar in Plaza de la Remonta, watching a crew dismantle a hundred metre long canopy left over from the Fería Gallega, while kids rode bikes and kicked footballs, and police cars cruised back and forth between the big station at the rear of the plaza, and the opening onto calle Bravo Murillo.
Yesterday, though, was June 3rd, Corpus Christi, and a public holiday in Madrid. When I surfaced yesterday morning, it was to the voices of the nuns in the convent across the road singing at mass. Right now, there’s a blackbird serenely singing somewhere close by, up on the convent roof, I think.
Bar Seréa was open yesterday morning – most places were shut for the fiesta – so I had a barrita con tomate, an Andalucian toastie with tomato pulp drizzled with olive oil; much nicer than it sounds, though it would have been even better with black pepper. It surprised me that you don’t often find a pepper mill among the condiments in a Madrid cafe – I thought they were an essential part of Mediterranean life; but no, this is Spain, the exception to every rule, so the condiment of choice is salt. Nice having olive oil and wine vinegar on every table though, even with two salt pots!
I had planned to stay all morning, with a bottle of water and my notebook, but it was soon too warm for me (delicate English blossom) and even if it hadn’t been, everyone else’s holiday morning comings and goings around the news stand and the grocer’s, and at the other tables were much too interesting for a street theatre aficionada – noseyparker – like me. So in the end I came home, wrote a bit, snoozed a bit, read, and re-arranged the living room to encourage air circulation. (This place was an oven last summer, when it wasn’t a sauna. I don’t think we have any insulation whatsoever, so we get the full benefit of Madrid’s continental climate. Yay.) Then I watched Billie Piper in Mansfield Park, and sat here at my desk near the open window with a fan going when there was no breeze, chatting to one of my brothers on Skype. Lovely.
And now I’d better get some breakfast down me, and go to work.