Saturday, 25 July 2009

I was outside this hotel in Catalunya at 4 am when the police arrived...

This title is entirely true, yet curiously may need some background explanation:

We have an old friend called Henry, with whom we occasionally keep in touch. Henry recently e-mailed me to announce that he was getting married, and invited us to his wedding. We agreed to go to - as we thought - Spain for this happy event, so we said yes, booked a hotel room, tickets with RyanAir (air transport's equivalent of really bad beer - you hate it but you keep going back for more), packed black tie/ evening dress as per the dress code and so on.

On or shortly after arrival we were disabused of several things - we were not in Spain, we were in Catalunya*, a totally different country which has never had anything to do with Spain, good Lord no! Whatever gave you that impression? Also, Henry was marrying into a seriously wealthy aristocratic family who know how to throw a serious party, and are also full-on Catalan independence supporters (the bride wore a separatist flag at one point. Over her wedding dress, I hasten to add).

Young Guthlac, meanwhile, discovered a previously unsuspected taste for being picked up and cuddled by glamorously dressed Catalan ladies, and at his age (16 months) was easily able to achieve this end by holding his arms out, adopting a cute expression and saying "Ek?" to them.

At 3am we decided to leave, as Guthlac's dancing and flirting were starting to show signs of tiredness. I duly returned to our table, scooped up a dinner jacket that looked plausibly like mine and joined my family in a taxi back to the hotel. On arriving there, I removed the dinner jacket and suddenly realised that various items were missing from my pockets. And that the sleeves were too long. And that it was a different style from mine.

Although it is undoubtedly an advantage of male evening dress that it's all pretty much the same and therefore doesn't require a new outfit to be bought for each event you go to, and that you don't lose any time or suffer any stress working out what to wear, it does leave open the possibility that you pick up the wrong jacket, especially when stuffed with 26 courses of food (yes, twenty-six, 22 of which were tapas-style appetisers) and addled with a selection of outstandingly good wines.

I staggered downstairs and asked the charming and suitably unflappable lady on night duty at the reception desk if such a thing as a taxi was available at this time of night. It was, but I had to wait a while. I opted to go out into the fresh air, where the receptionist joined me for her smoke break and a chat.

At which point, as per the title of this post, a police car pulled up to find me hanging around at 4am outside a hotel with a lady other than my wife in what, strictly speaking, was a stolen jacket.

"This can mean one of two things" the receptionist remarked. "Trouble, or coffee."

The cops sauntered over in the "I have all the time in world" manner common to cops the world over. As in the collapsing Uzbek lamppost incident, one could instinctively understand the entire conversation which transpired:
"Good evening officer. I trust all is well."
"Oh yes, just doing our rounds to check..."
[Expectant pause]
"Would you like a coffee?"
"Ooh - it hadn't occurred to us that you might have some coffee again this morning as on every other morning for the past year, but now you come to mention it that would be very nice!"

*Previously known to me only from George Orwell's book about his experiences importing French cheese to Barcelona, as detailed in his book "A Fromage to Catalonia".


Scarlet-Blue said...

Have you been at this wedding since March?

No Good Boyo said...

Guthlac's introductions were eased by the fact that "Ek!" (More correctly "Ec!"), is Catalan for "Curse the Castillian caide and his lisping linguistic larceny!". Pithy, the Catalans.

Gyppo Byard said...

Scarlet - no, was only there for a few days. I've basically been sulking for four months, but haqve got over myself and come slinking back like the proverbial dog to its vomit.

Boyo - that would explain much. I had previously been under the mistaken impression that Catalan was a dialect of Spanish, rather than an excitingly batty language created by aliens as the result of a disintegrator ray hitting a scrabble board. I still have my menu card, which includes such delicacies as "virutes de pernil iberic amb pa de xapata"; "cassoleta d'esqueixada de bacalla" and "xarrup de llimona amb granissat de pressed vermell i taronja confitada". Knowing they had foreigners rolling up, the bride's family reportedly spent weeks planning the menu in great detail as a showcase of how stunningly good Catalan food is. It worked.

Scarlet-Blue said...

Sulking! Pray tell! Mail me!
P.S Did you ever get your own DJ back and were there drugs in the pockets of the one you pinched? Or is this all to be revealed in the next post?
Crikey, I can only manage a sulk for a few days. 4 months eh, - impressive.

Gadjo Dilo said...

Gyppo, welcome back! That indeed is the new, errr, Iberia. We were recently on holiday on Mallorca (two 'L's now instead of a 'J') and found that they too have Their Own Language which has been oppressed for millenia. It's about as different from normal Dago (oops) as Geordie is from English. Never give people autonomy.

Young Guthlac 16 months already? I started bloging rounghly at the time he was born, makes me feel ancient...

Gyppo Byard said...

Scarls - it became apparent rereading my Bangladesh posts that only 5 people were reading my blog, 4 of whom clearly thought I was a prat. I have now reached that conclusion that in the great scheme of things it matters not one jot nor tittle whether I blog or not, so if I feel like it, why not?

Gadjo - Catalan is indeed at least as different from Spanish as Geordie is from any human system of language; but since I don't speak Spanish either the disruption was minimal.

Gadjo Dilo said...

I was meaning "Mallorquin", to set the records straight. I never thought you were a prat - blog whenever you like!

No Good Boyo said...

Gyppo, about 30 people look at my blog, usually while searching for Madrid brothels or "Charlote Churh bukkake come fest", many of them from the Near East. Of these, about seven leave regular jocular comments. I've been embloggening for four years, so I'd say you're on track to beat my glorious success rate.

A beloved former colleague, Jason "De Vere" Webster, wrote the Spanish country profile for the BBC website some years ago. It was a while before we noticed he'd included "Valencian" as a language. Like Mallorquin, it is just a more gummy version of the already peculiar Catalan, but Jason lived in Valencia and thought Barcelona was full of "peg togglers".

Gyppo Byard said...

Senor Gadjo - you were the one out of five to whom I was alluding...

Boyo - Should I enlighten the multitude about the record you and Webster set for mind projection by officially attending a meeting while corporeally being in a pub several miles across London?

Scarlet-Blue said...

Pffffttt... If you're a prat what does that make me?!
Please don't answer that.