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Spanish Shilling

Some stories and experiences after a lifetime spent in Spain

My Parents Move to Spain: Spring 1967
Thursday, October 13, 2022 @ 7:38 PM

Someone on Facebook today was missing some item of British food. Probably something to do with the Brexit cock-up. Anyhow, I was reminded of a story of my dad's.

My parents had bought a Mercedes and were heading out to Spain to live, once and for all. With them went two whippets - a race of dog unknown in Spain, but which would prove to be popular with the local hunters, who were to soon steal them.

The Mercedes, which was fitted with 'fuel-injection', didn't think much of Spanish petrol and it chugged across the country at a throaty top-speed of around 50kph, with numerous ratty old Citroens and Renaults overtaking with a gleeful squawk from the klaxon every now and again.

The boot was full of tinned turkey in sweetcorn sauce.

Our friend from Middle Wallop had been in the turkey business for many years and in 1966 he decided with his brother to take the empire a step forward by introducing tinned turkey.

He was flat broke within three months.

When my parents announced they were leaving the UK for good (coincidentally, the morning after they had left me in my brand-new boarding school), our friend pressed several boxes of tinned turkey with the sweetcorn sauce, unlabelled, into my father's doubtful charge.

'There'll be fuck all to eat in Mojácar', said the friend with a certain logic.

So, after a ferry crossing to Calais, the customs officer beckoned to my father.

'Ouvrez', he said, waving imperiously at the boot of the car.

'C'ést quoi ça?', he said, pointing at the boxes of unlabelled merchandise.

My father wasn't much good at languages, but he was game: 'un gran wuzzoh para mange', he answered.

The customs officer, stumped by this answer, called for a can opener.

On opening the first tin and viewing the contents, he burst out in English - 'Sacré bleu, you Eengleesh will eat anything'.

He was almost right about that, since in turned out the tinned turkey in sweetcorn sauce wasn't a popular dinner in our new home in Mojácar, although my mother discovered that the whippets liked it.

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