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Only Joe King

A light-hearted look at life in Andalucía and Spain in general. Its good points and its bad. This blog doesn't pull any punches.

Three Jamies in one day
29 August 2021

Joe King looks back to the day in 2009 when he met three Jamies, one of them the celebrity TV chef Jamie Oliver, who was filming in the Ronda area.

18 June 2009

My mobile phone rang one lunchtime in the middle of June. 

“Hi, Joe, this is Jamie...”.

“Hi, Jamie, how are you...?” I answered somewhat over-enthusiastically, especially since I didn’t know which Jamie it was who was calling me.

Could it be Jamie Oliver? I mused.  No, he doesn’t have my number.  And anyway I barely know Britain’s top TV chef, having spoken to him only once and then rather briefly, as he served me my dish of paella the evening before.

Perhaps it’s Jamie Boyd?  The artist, writer and son of the recently deceased Lord Kilmarnock, or, as he is better known, Alastair Boyd, artist, writer, environmental campaigner and hispanophile. The Jamie I’d met and spoken to for the first time on the same previous evening that I met his namesake, the chef.

Nope.  Not him either.

“I’m fine.  I’m just calling to say that I’m back home earlier than expected, so can meet up with you any time.”

Ah, that Jamie – Jamie Ewing.  The ‘green’ campaigner who had phoned The Olive Press office the day before to ask would we be interested in covering a story about a planned environmental outrage involving the electricity company Sevillana Endesa.

“I’m just finishing off lunch, so can we meet at, say 4.30?”

* * *

That sounded interesting, said my lunch companions, Serafina and Alison.

Yes, fancy coming across three Jamies all on the same day in the Serranía de Ronda!

My colleagues and I had been “staking out” Jamie Oliver for three days, while he was trying to secretly film a food documentary in the Ronda area.  We’d finally tracked him down – he was to be taught how to cook various dishes, including a giant paella, in the small village of Benaoján, near Ronda. 

I had got to the venue before the film crew and met, photographed and interviewed the local protagonists.  These were the paella chef, Salvador, who’s been making paellas for 1000 people for 18 years; the gazpacho cook, MarInés; the tortilla española expert, Juan; and Dolores, who was going to teach Jamie how to make borrachuelos, a local pastry made from flour, butter and lots of white wine.

Then the camera crew arrived and set up inside the houses of the neighbours, while Jamie waited in the minibus.  When he finally emerged and shuffled up the hill to the street where the filming was to take place, I managed to take two snaps before I was approached by the Channel 4 Production Manager and asked to stop and move away!  From a public street in a public village!  Not wishing to cause a scene, I withdrew and went to the bar for a beer.

Anyway, suffice to say that the filming took place and then it was paella time.

But first the 2.5 metre diameter paellera had to be transported from its store to the cooking area.  That was interesting, fitting it through the narrow streets on a dumper truck.  At least one freshly-painted house lost a coat or two!

It was at the fiesta that the positive-thinking mayoress of Benaoján, Soraya, - coincidentally the daughter of Salvador, the paella chef - had organised, that I saw Jamie Boyd and his lovely Spanish wife, Isa.  I knew her to talk to and him by sight from the memorial service to his dad in March.  I reacquainted myself with her and introduced myself to Jamie.

He’d been clearing out his dad’s study that day and had found some interesting diaries and manuscripts. Alastair Boyd had written two of the best books in English about the Serranía de Ronda, namely The Road to Ronda and South of the Sierras

I met the third Jamie at 4.30 pm as arranged.  Jamie Ewing invited me to his big house in the campo near Gaucín where he gave me the background to the environmental scandal about which he had contacted me.

Sevillana Endesa had had plans approved to erect a run of pylons right through the middle of a virgin valley which runs down towards Gibraltar on the coast, despite the fact that existing pylons tucked into the edge of woodland nearby could just as easily do the trick.

We spent a very pleasant couple of hours in searing heat, only partly assuaged by copious soft drinks and a refreshing swim in Jamie’s pool, during which I took detailed notes, before I set off back to the slightly cooler air of home and more drinks, this time containing alcohol, in my favourite local bar.

Three Jamies in one day? Wow!

 

About Joe King

Joe, not his real name, is a bit of an enigma. He has lived in the Serranía de Ronda for many years, but prefers to fly under the radar. He doesn’t take life too seriously, except in the case of Covid-19, but even there he can see the funny side. Hence his pseudonym and lack of photo.



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Diary of a paper boy
27 August 2021

Joe King gave up his part-time job as a paper boy when he was just 14.  Little did he think he would become one again 45 years later! 12 years on Joe recalls the day, back in 2009, when he really did start distributing newspapers throughout the Serranía de Ronda

June 2009

“DO YOU fancy delivering a few papers?” asked the editor. “Sure,” said I. 

Mug!  Six hours later and after a huge row with the missus, whom I’d foolishly taken with me for the ride, I began to question my sanity.

“Never mind,” I thought, “next time it won’t take as long...” Well, it took five hours second time round!

Now into my eighth such delivery, I’ve got it down to a fine art.  Now I’m only out for 10 to 12 hours on delivery day! 

Why?  Well, instead of rushing from drop-off point to drop-off point as quickly as possible, I now linger here and tarry there, accepting offers of a cup of coffee or a cold drink or even a free tapa and chatting to the people I meet along the way.

After an early morning coffee with Andy, Pauline or Paco at the delightful Hotel Molino del Santo in Benaoján Estación, I then squeeze my increasingly battered right-hand drive British car through the narrow streets of Benaoján proper and drive the pleasant 20 minutes to Jimena de Líbar and a second coffee with Synnøve or Paul at the Bar Allioli by the station.  Sometimes avid readers of the paper are waiting to ambush me to pick up their copy and to lavish praise on the paper.  Very good for morale.

A quick dash up to Cortes de la Frontera and several drops; Bar Acuarios and Bar Los Amigos followed by my regular natter with Mary Beker at the Estate Agents.  Then it’s off to Hotel Los Almendros where the lovely Belgian owner Ben offers you a drink and something from his kitchen that he’s preparing for lunch.  Last time it was berenjenas con miel, deep fried slices of aubergine drizzled with honey.  Mmmm!

Via the petrol station and a brief how-do-you-do with any folk sitting at the cafe there, and it’s on to Sarah and Alex at the tranquil Hostal el Gecko, down by the station, before the long but stunning climb up the mountain to the Algeciras road and gentle drop down to Gaucín, the balcony of the Serranía, and views to die for.  On a clear day, Gibraltar lies brooding off the coast in the distance and hints of Morocco beyond tantalise the viewer.

It’s now getting on for two o’clock, so after dropping papers at the petrol station and the Hotel Caballo Andaluz, where owner Mari Angeles is always up for a chat, it’s time for a visit to the bubbly Rosa at Pura Vida, the health food shop, and the multi-lingual catalana-vasca, Maria Luisa, at the newly-opened Bonassim Delicatessen. 

Quick drops at the two banks and it’s time to re-fuel - my starving body, not the car!  I have a choice of eating places.  There are three English-run restaurants, La Fuente, with Lisa and “Huggie”, La Casita, hosted by Darren and Julie, and Don Martin, run by Ginny and her stunning waitress, the 20-year-old Ellie.  Nice food at all three. 

Bar Paco Pepe in the little square with the fountain, is a good spot, too. Lots of ex-pats congregate here, so it’s a great place to meet the newspaper’s public.  Susie and Carl of Bar Otrolao, Murphy the organic gardener, Clive and Rosie, interesting characters all.  Not to mention the Spanish workmen and sundry tourists who assemble there for Paco’s reasonably priced and wholesome food. 

Casa Antonia in the main square is another must.  On my first visit there I corrected the English translation of a notice in the loo.  José Luis was happy to be rid of his Google-translated nonsense and I enjoyed the free beer I got in return!

After my leisurely lunch I amble down the windy road towards Jimena de la Frontera, where I call in to the gorgeous casas rurales at Cortijo Román to see Fiona and Maggie.  I leave a huge pile of papers for the Sunday market.  Rumour has it that people only go to pick up the paper, not to buy anything from the stallholders!

Another big pile gets left at the filling station, before I get into Jimena itself just as the shops are re-opening after the siesta.  The smiling Eva at Papelería Los Garabatos seems pleased to see me and there are always one or two ‘friends’ at Bar Cuenca for an early evening drink.  Regulars Andy and Wendy usually fill me in on the latest gossip. 

Now, I find a parking place in the square and go for a wander through the beautiful narrow and flower-bedecked streets of the old village, dropping off more papers at Bar La Tasca and Hostal El Anon before my final call at Bar Bistro La Oba.

It’s approaching 8 o’clock by now and time to knock off and enjoy myself at the weekly quiz run there by Simon and Iris.  Time too for a natter with the vivacious owner Caroline and her beautiful daughter Brogan, before taking on the locals in a battle of the brain cells. 

I play with anyone who’ll have me in their team.  So far played two, won one! The second time we were runners up – didn’t know our Sharon Stones from our Faye Dunaways or our Keira Knightleys from our Kate Winslets!  Great fun, though. 

A bite to eat, for example a selection of tapas or a tortilla wrap, and I’m fortified for the long climb back up the hill to Ronda, and a nightcap in one of my locals in the Barrio San Francisco, before going to bed and wondering why I’ve become a paper boy again so late in life.  Well, the answer’s obvious, isn’t it?

 

About Joe King

Joe, not his real name, is a bit of an enigma. He has lived in the Serranía de Ronda for many years, but prefers to fly under the radar. He doesn’t take life too seriously, except in the case of Covid-19, but even there he can see the funny side. Hence his pseudonym and lack of photo.



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What’s in a Town Name? Should these Spanish place names be changed?
26 August 2021

The origins of place names are wide and varied, but some just never cease to astonish.

Spain has its fair share of odd sounding place names. Would you be tempted to visit Poo beach or eat in a restaurant in Malcocinado?

With the news that the townsfolk of Fucking, Austria, have finally got their desire to change their infamous moniker to the rather less amusing Fugging, and the villagers who live in Wank, southern Germany are wondering why so many British tourists are photographing the village signs, Joe King takes a look at some of the more bizarre names of towns found across Spain. Here are a few that might want to consider changing their names …..

 

Adiós

If its name is anything to judge by, a warm welcome for strangers is not guaranteed at this 183-inhabitant village in Navarra, northern Spain.

 

Cabezas Rubias

Fewer than 900 people live in this village in Huelva, Andalucía, the name of which translates as ‘Blonde Heads’. The census makes no mention of their hair colour, unfortunately.

 

Castrillo Matajudíos

This town in Burgos province has the controversial name Castrillo Matajudíos, or ‘Jew Killer Town' which after many years of discussion did finally rid itself of its dark past by changing its name to the less offensive Castrillo Mota de Judíos,  'Hill of Jews'. Slightly better, I guess …..

The town changed its name in 2015 after seeking approval of the 56 villagers who call it home.

 

El Purgatorio

The name suggests that a visit to this town in Murcia and you’ll find yourself in ‘Purgatory’. Yet travel some 30 km north and you’ll reach Los Infiernos (‘Hell fire!’)which is surely a worse place to end up!

 

Guarromán

You could be forgiven for thinking that people who lived in this town of 2,724 population in Jaén, Andalucía, do not care much for personal hygiene, since Guarro translates as ‘Dirty’.

But in fact the origin of the name comes from the castellanización of the Arabic Wadi-r-rumman, named after a river that runs through the town.

 

Malcocinado

You might want to think twice before stopping here for a meal, as the name translates as ‘Badly cooked’. This village of 500-odd residents is in Badajoz, Extremadura.

 

Matagorda

This village in Almería seems, in name alone at least, to be somewhat “fat-ist” and “sexist” in its attitude to obese females. It translates into English as ‘Kill Fatso Girl’.

 

Poo

Well no translation needed for this one, the name of this small coastal town in Asturias is really only amusing to English-speakers.  Anyone up for spending the day on Poo Beach? It really is much lovelier than the name sounds.

 

Venta de Pantalones

This tiny village near Jaén in north-Eastern Andalucía is presumably the perfect destination for travellers who are a little short in the trousers department. That’s because the name translates as ‘Trousers on Sale’.

 

Villapene

This village in Galicia, whose name translates as ‘Penisville’ has 200 inhabitants and became famous when its road sign was stolen and photographed at a wedding. Its full official name is Santa Maria de Vilapene, which is only marginally better. Or, perhaps not.

 

Concluding note: If you know of any more strange Spanish place names, please add a comment below, with all the details.

 

About Joe King

Joe, not his real name, is a bit of an enigma. He has lived in the Serranía de Ronda for many years, but prefers to fly under the radar. He doesn’t take life too seriously, except in the case of Covid-19, but even there he can see the funny side. Hence his pseudonym and lack of photo.



Like 0        Published at 03:58   Comments (2)


Communion wafer, billy goat and other rude words – how to swear successfully in Spanish
26 August 2021

Forget swearing like a trooper, the real phrase should be swearing like a Spaniard. Everyone in Spain, from sweet little kids to frail old ladies, peppers their everyday conversation with enough swear words to make a sailor blush. Here’s an analysis from Joe King.

In Spain, unlike in many other countries, references to toilet habits, male and female genitalia and other taboo subjects pop up in general conversations all the time, without anyone giving it a second thought.

Swearing in Spain is as common as it is ludicrous, so if you wish to embrace the ever-present potty language or simply want to understand what your Spanish friends are trying to say, read on!

Swear words in different cultures and/or language groups make a fascinating study in themselves. For the Germans it’s all about the back passage, viz. Scheisse, Leck mich am Arsch, Arschloch, Du kannst mich mal ….. Connotations perhaps of homosexuality?

The British, on the other hand, are more focused on the sexual act and the sexual organs, with cunt, twat, prick, dickhead, knobhead and the insults fucker, motherfucker, wanker and tosser. The Americans like cocksucker, sonofabitch and suck my dick.

In Castilian Spanish - castellano, the language the andaluces don’t seem capable of speaking - the worst (best?) swear words all have to do with religion and blasphemy, ranging from communion wafer to shitting in the milk of the Virgin Mary to insulting some other Virgin, plus some that sound ridiculous to our ears, like billy goat.

There are so many different ways to swear in Spain, it’s hard to remember them all! Cursing is an integral part of the language, so it has become less taboo than in English. You hear it much more often and much more frequently than in the USA or England, say. No one can ever argue that Spanish isn’t a colourful language.

And let’s be honest here, what’s one of the first things you do when you start studying a new language? You look up the bad words (palabrotas)! As a starter, here are some of my favourites.

1. Me cago en la puta madre

This one takes the biscuit for one of the most hilarious and frightfully offensive swear words I have heard in Spain. Literally, it means “I shit on your whore of a mother,” I’d avoid using this, if I were you. You should use this phrase selectively and with caution. Remember, madres are sacred in Spain.

In fact, the “me cago en…” is one of the most common curse phrases you’ll hear in Spain. Whether you hear me cago en Dios “I shit on God”- that’s really bad - or me cago en la leche, literally “I shit in the milk (of the Virgin Mary)” but used more like “holy shit!”, there is no shortage of possibilities to be had with this one. Try me cago en todos los santos or me cago en la Virgen del Pilar. Just remember if you want to insult anyone or anything in Spain, mention the mums or anything related to the Catholic Church and you’re good to go!

Interestingly, if you describe something as “la puta madre”, it means it’s bloody amazing!

2. Joder

Joder is about as common in Spanish as “ok” is in English. You hear it all the time. Loosely translated as “fuck,” it is nowhere near as strong. To soften it, many younger people say jooo-er and do not pronounce the “d”. That of course doesn’t stop the adults. I knew a Spanish teacher who loved to scream “Joooooder, ¿por qué no te callas?” (Fucking hell, why don’t you just shut up?) at the students in class. It was hilarious, apparently, and a little bit frightening, but that’s the Spanish public education system for you.

3. Gilipollas

Gilipollas is the equivalent of our “tosser” or “wanker”. The phrase no seas gilipollas is more or less the same as “Don’t be a twat!”

4. La hostia

La hostia means “the host,” ie the communion wafer. Spain being a predominantly Roman Catholic country, one of the worst and most common ways to curse is to somehow incorporate the holy mother church. Hostia or hostias can mean many different things, like “shit” or “holy shit” usually an exclamation all on its own, like something you can’t believe. Eres la hostia means “you’re the bee’s knees,” in a good way or hostia puta “holy fuck.” Don’t forget you can always say, me cago en la hostia, “I shit on the host.” Yikes, that’s blasphemous, so maybe not!

Walking along in San Sebastián some years ago with my rather hefty Irish girlfriend of the time, a guy coming towards us said to his mate “Qué gorda, la hostia”, “Fuck me, what a fatso”. Before I could work out what they’d said and react accordingly, they’d disappeared up a side street.

5. Que te folle un pez

This one is one of my favourites and one I have personally never said because I am terrified of using it wrongly. I think it sounds just plain ridiculous coming from a “guiri”. Que te folle un pez basically means “I hope you get fucked by a fish.” See what I mean when I say Spanish is colourful? How do you even come close to insulting like that in English?! How do you even begin to compare “screw you” or “fuck you” to that?

6. Cojones

In Spanish they say “cojones sirven para todo,” and it’s true. Cojones is without a doubt the most versatile of all the Spanish curse words on this list; you can use it for just about anything. Normally, it means “balls,” ie testicles. “You’ve got balls (as in courage)”- tienes cojones. “That bothers me” – me toca los cojones and my personal favourite, estoy hasta los cojones – “I can’t take it anymore, I’m up to my (eye) balls.”

7. Cabrón

For me cabrón has always meant “bastard,” or “cunt”. It’s a pretty bad word. Literally meaning “male or billy goat,” I most frequently hear it as qué cabrón or qué cabrones in plural. Use it for people who are evil, people who are assholes and deserve a good punch in the mouth. According to the Urban Dictionary, “A good definition that would apply to all Spanish speaking countries would be asshole-fucker-bitch.” Can’t top that even if I tried.

8. Que te den (por culo) 

This one is sort of like “up yours.” Seriously, does anyone even say that anymore? Anyway, culo means “ass” so I think you can probably figure out what the rest of it means on your own. You can say just que te den or que te den por culo, both meaning “fuck you.”

9. Coño

Coño, literally “cunt”, is the most inoffensive word you can imagine in Spanish. Used by frail old ladies, as well as priests, it’s just a filler word. It can mean “mate” in that annoying way Liverpudlians use it, yet it’s often thrown into a sentence as a sign of frustration. It is never an insult! For that, you need to use cabrón (see above).

10. Pollas en vinagre

I’m going to end with my all-time favourite swear word in Spanish. Readers, I present to you pollas en vinagre “dicks in vinegar!” Use it how you best see fit, for its exact meaning still eludes me! On second thoughts, maybe don’t use it –just in case!

 

About Joe King

Joe, not his real name, is a bit of an enigma. He has lived in the Serranía de Ronda for many years, but prefers to fly under the radar. He doesn’t take life too seriously, except in the case of Covid-19, but even there he can see the funny side. Hence his pseudonym and lack of photo.



Like 0        Published at 03:36   Comments (0)


Covid-19 is a joke!
01 June 2021

It’s amazing, isn’t it? The Coronavirus pandemic which began at the start of 2020 has claimed 3,430,586 deaths worldwide. Of those, there have been 1,055,097 fatalities in Europe. The five countries with the worst death tolls in Europe are:

the UK with 127,694, then Italy with 124,646. There have been 108,181 deaths in France, 87,405 in Germany and 79,568 in Spain.

But the news hasn’t been all bad.

 

Hey, do you remember all the things we learned back in March 2020, when the world shut itself down?

We learned how to wash our hands properly. Apparently, we’d been doing it wrongly for about a million years.

The UK electorate realised that they’d been hoodwinked by Prime Minister Boris Johnson. He really was a hesitant buffoon, a clown, not very bright.  OK, let’s not beat about the bush: BOJO IS AN INCOMPETENT W**KER.  Some of us knew that all along, of course.

After the schools shut down, parents quickly realised what a valuable job teachers do. Some parents couldn’t handle the discipline with just one or two kids in their home classes! And all that lesson preparation?! Blimey!

Thanks to Zoom, WhatsApp and other communications apps, we found out what the chattering classes read from the bookshelves behind them during interviews.

We discovered that the Coronavirus is really dangerous during the night when we’re all asleep, hence the night-time curfews.

In Spain, it was also extra dangerous if we drank alcohol after 6 pm. That lasted for several months. Now it’s not dangerous at all, no more toque de queda (curfew) and you can drink till dawn without any risk (other than from alcohol poisoning, of course!).

If you are doing sport you become instantly uninfectious and don’t need to wear a mask.

We learned a whole new vocabulary: perimetry, curfew, quarantine (that used to be just for your dog or cat), lockdown, mask (only crooks wore masks up to March 2020), social distancing, two metres, home delivery (that used to be what pregnant mums did – not in the age of Covid-19 – oh no! Not any more!)

We also learned that in many countries the Coronavirus was particularly virulent in hairdressers and barbers salons. In Spain, however, these places were regarded as risk-free and have remained open throughout the entire period of the pandemic.

Theatres are dangerous places in many countries also. The stages of the West End in London have remained dark since March 2020 and provincial theatre has been devastated.

Here in Ronda we’ve been going to the theatre and to live music gigs regularly since last summer – socially distanced of course, but nevertheless, it’s worked!

I guess you’ve heard the one about the English actor who, when asked what his last role was, replied “Customer Adviser in an Insurance Call Centre!”

Now that we’re all getting vaccinated, we’ve created herd immunity, which means we’ve beaten the virus. Way hey!

Hang on a minute, there are new strains, like the Indian (I thought that was a meal you went for after the pub on a Friday night), the Brazilian (I thought that was something else too! Namely something to do with pubic hair care!) and the British (EU abandoners to a man!) All of which may render our jabs ineffective. Back to the labs, lads!

Whilst Bojo is considering dropping the requirement to wear a mask, other countries are banning fashion masks and insisting on medically approved versions in a choice of colours - black, grey or white.

But, what we’ve learned most of all is that much of the human race is plain stupid. I’m not just talking about ex-president Donald J Trump or President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil, but also all those Covid-19 deniers.

And as for the thousands of youngsters who think it’s ok to go to mass booze parties, known as botellones here in Spain, well, words fail me. As someone who has seen fit and healthy friends die of this coronavirus I am flabbergasted by such wilful and selfish behaviour.

Time to get down off my soapbox. See you soon and keep healthy.

 

About Joe King

Joe, not his real name, is a bit of an enigma. He has lived in the Serranía de Ronda for many years, but prefers to fly under the radar. He doesn’t take life too seriously, except in the case of Covid-19, but even there he can see the funny side. Hence his pseudonym and lack of photo.



Like 1        Published at 05:28   Comments (0)


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