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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
Sunday, August 29, 2021 @ 6:08 AM

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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