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Puntos de vista - a personal Spain blog

Musings about Spain and Spanish life by Paul Whitelock, hispanophile of 40 years and now resident of Ronda in Andalucía .

Tuesday, April 23, 2024 @ 7:07 AM

By The Crazy Guy

St George, a military saint, is famous for slaying a fierce dragon, which was causing panic in the city of Silene, Libya, at the time that George arrived there. Historically, the countries of England, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Ukraine, Malta, Ethiopia, as well as the regions of Catalonia and Aragon in Spain, and Moscow, the capital of Russia, have claimed George as their patron saint.



"My" St George

St George is also the nickname I’ve given to my builder, and now good friend, Jorge. This 51-year-old gallego, born in the same town, El Ferrol, as the infamous Spanish dictator Franco, who ruled over Spain for 36 years, following  the Spanish Civil War, first entered my life in 2020.

I’ve used a few builders in my time, both in the UK and in Spain, but they’ve usually disappointed. Not Jorge. He is outstanding in every respect.

When he first showed up in Summer 2020 to dig me a ditch, I thought this quiet little man with the goatee beard was just a peón (labourer). He didn’t say much, just got on with the job and did it to my satisfaction.

I asked whether he could paint all my iron gates and fences. He did that conscientiously over the next few days, rubbing the metal down properly and wire-brushing the rusty bits before applying Hammerite.

I asked if he could lay bricks and render and finish off with capa fina so you couldn’t see the join.

“¡Soy albañil, coño!” was his slightly miffed reply.

Did he like gardening? Over that post-Covid period he has felled and pruned trees, built raised beds, constructed a superb jardinera on our private terrace and moved two cubas of topsoil from where it was dropped on the road outside my house into the garden to improve my very clay-y soil.

Electrical work? He installed an exterior socket for me in no time at all. At the house I am renovating in Montejaque he cut all the channels in the walls and ceilings for the re-wire and installed the cajetines, sockets and switches.

He has knocked down walls, built walls, replaced the rotten wooden beams in the kitchen ceiling with concrete ones, without the room above collapsing on top of us.

He re-did two roofs.

He doesn’t like carpentry, but he has hung new doors and installed windows. They’re perfect.

He even changed the wheel on my car when I had a puncture, something he had never done in his life.

What he doesn’t like is water. He won’t do plumbing, so José, my other albañil, or I do that.

In fact, he hates water so much, he left damp and rainy Galicia at the age of 17 to come and join the Spanish Foreign Legion in Ronda, looking for a better climate.

After his 15 years’ service as a legionario, he stayed in the area, re-trained as a chef and later as an albañil (bricklayer).

Jorge has told others that I am his guiri friend, which makes me feel good, because I like him a lot too.

He even used to baby-sit my dog, Berti, on occasion, including overnight. Berti was sadly run over and killed. The guy truly is a saint.

He is quite fiery and very opinionated. He is well-informed and has, as far as he is concerned, valid views about what he sees as the disastrous politics of Spain. He is a huge fan of his hometown “brother”, Francisco Franco. As a confirmed liberal democrat/socialist, I disagree with him entirely, of course. As a point of fact, Spain has one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, right now.

The saints George and Paul having a drink after work

As for my reforma, if he disagrees with what I want to do, he says so. The guy has style. He has come up with some much better ideas and solutions to problems than I have.

I’m the boss, as I pay the bills, but he’s the jefe really.

Jorge does not drive, so I have to collect him and take him home. He doesn’t like my driving.

“He sobrevivido cinco guerras; no quiero morir en un accidente de tráfico. Más despacio, coño, porfa.”

“I’ve fought in five wars (the Gulf – twice, Afghanistan, the Balkans and Iraq) and I’ve survived. I don’t want to die in a banal road accident. Will you please slow down.” 

Fair enough. That’s San Jorge.

He no longer works for me as he has found permanent employment with a building company, and my obra is done, so I don’t need him. We occasionally bump into each other at my local and we have a good chinwag, avoiding politics, of course!


Note: The real St George, patron saint of England, and Spain’s dragon slayer, also have stories behind their legends. I just thought my St George is a more interesting character and, if you want to find out about him, you can’t look him up on Wikipedia.


© The Crazy Guy



Karl Smallman

Paul Whitelock

Secret Serrania




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