Thursday, 16 February 2017

The Trials of Chair Travel

Once I got beyond the mania what I wanted came and so, here I am sitting in glorious sun. In February? Well, the chances of that are slim in a British Winter but in Spain the sun shines almost every day, at least that's what My Fair Lady has had me believe: The rain in Spain stays mainly on the plane, but what percentage of that phrase is true or false isn't in my powers to say for I'm not, at present, in the country of Tapas. I haven't travelled that way, to Spain, or in that way, by boat or plane, for a good few years, and it wouldn't be sensible to judge Spain's weather on past experiences. 
When I was last there, the Euro wasn't born or even in the making, though it's also quite possible that I've blanked things or have chosen to remember them differently, which is all the more likely in this instance because I have a acrimonious relationship with this currency. Frankly, Europe was and is less appealing without the variety of coins and notes. Yes, it could be confusing but at least you knew you were in another country! What about language? you ask. Well, yes, the mother tongue is a give-away but it's not the same as scrutinising the sides of a crisp note or shiny coin.
And now, mentally, I find myself in a winding, cobbled street when I started out just leisurely sitting in the sun on a deckchair. And I still haven't told you where I am, exactly. Or even confirmed that I'm not, in fact, in February. No, this is August. The one gone and not the one coming, and no, I haven't become a time traveller, or at least not in the sense it usually means.
To be more precise, my mind has, with practice and time, acquired the ability to travel, but my physical body hasn't caught on. It's always been a bit slow in the being active department, but then you don't need a body when the mind can take you, all of you, spiritually anywhere, and the beauty of it is that just like that, I can be back in the deckchair; not always, however, the same one.
I've lost my spot. Again! This isn't where my bottom was comfortably sat; I should have marked it with a towel like those surrounding me would be if they weren't already filled with the bulk of people, most with their faces turned to the sun, and all, I might add, with their bodies clothed. Fully. The men in business suits as if they were about to go to the office or into an important meeting; the women, also classically turned-out with many different blouses (which in England we would call a Thatcherism), and in heels or flats with the addition of a coloured scarf or wide-brimmed sun hat, and so, in my current attire, I stick out like a sore thumb, for while I'm respectfully dressed there's more pale flesh on show. Not a lot, just a few inches, and yet enough to cause foreheads to crinkle and eyebrows to raise: my forearms are bare and my head is uncovered, revealing its coppery shades, which has, I confess, again made me someone to avoid, and which is why I'm sent to the naughty chair, although, of course, being without a bath-size towel is a significant factor. And yes, apparently, it does have to be bath-sized. Hand-size has another purpose entirely.
A bath towel would be a simple item to remember if I was going swimming, but there's no chemically-treated pool, polluted ocean or river in which to take a dip or practise my frog-stroke in; all there is for miles around, in whatever direction you face, is waving genetically-modified corn. My forgetfulness, then, is not deliberate, it's just not a habit I'm used to employing in an agricultural landscape. I have read, anecdotally however, that this towel trick works wonders if placed underneath you like a bed-sheet or cushion; there is one business man who habitually places a folded towel, just so, beneath his balding head, whose smirk I've caught when, to my obvious surprise, I've switched seats on my return, and so, I think there might be some marginal truth in this legend.
It is a bit disconcerting, to say the least, to find yourself back in the room, so to speak, facing west when originally like everyone else you were facing south-east, in a chair that's seen better days and at some distance away from your compatriots.

Picture credit: People in the Sun, 1963, Edward Hopper