A Guilty Pleasure

Published on 07/07/2011 in Relocating to Spain

When he retired form his job in grey, rain filled England, Jack fulfilled his, and his wife’s, great ambition by selling up and moving to Spain for their retirement in the sun.
Their kids had all left for different parts of the world and they had no reason to stay. They literally sold everything except a few small family mementos.

During their first months they were kept busy “Nest Building” from scratch, which they had not done for nearly 30 years. It was an interesting experience as the last time they had done it they were just married with little money and their possessions grew with them over the years.

Their family home was really not so much a fashion statement as the accumulation of various bits of furniture gathered together as they could afford it. Their original taste was the 1980’s and fashion particularly in houses and furnishing had changed beyond all recognition since then. It came to them as an even greater shock to furnish a house in the Spanish style, which let us say was minimalistic, as opposed to “Chintzy’ which was then the fashion in the UK, all in one go.

Their first year went in quite quickly as they assimilated into the local community and they were very busy. Jack was a bit conservative and ‘liked what he liked’ as the expression goes. Sarah his wife however was a different kettle of fish. She went to the local Spanish classes and even went to a local art and social club where she was forced to put into practise the language skills she had learned. She seemed, after a few intense months, to suddenly cross some sort of language threshold into Spanish and positively bloomed in the relaxed and very different atmosphere now opened up to her on the Costa del Sol.

Horse fallingNow a problem started to arise which Sarah recognized. Jack for the first year was kept busy sorting out their new life, which he thoroughly enjoyed, but he did not play golf, tennis or enjoy sailing or swimming, so apart from lying about in the sun and reading there was not a lot for him do outside the home without Sarah communicating for them both.

That was until he found Hipodromo Costa del Sol.

This is the local racetrack or to be more precise the local horse race course, which is very popular and runs in the evenings over the summer from July. Jack only lived a short distance away by car and the entrance was only €5-00, so a nights racing with some English friends did not cost a lot, that is apart from the bets.

The language barrier was not really a problem as horse racing is the same the world over. With Sarah’s blessing, he and his friends had a few beers and a lot of fun. The bookies, or Corredor de apuestas, was covered over and had a huge television on one wall, which showed the entire track. On the other end was the paying in windows and one paying out window. The punters, be they either Spanish or British never learnt. Jack was a very happy bunny and he thought it was “Just like home”.

After a few months Jack decided he was having difficulty in predicting the form of the Spanish horses, as he was not very sure of the names and form due to his poor Spanish. He just copied out the words of any horse he fancied onto the betting slip and handed it through the little window with his Euros and then stood back and watched the race on the big screen.

This day he noticed that a local priest, who he had seen when he went to pick up Sarah after her Spanish lessons at the chapel of San José, in Costa Mijas, staring intently at the horses on the big screen in the paddock before each race. When he saw one he fancied he muttered a little prayer in Spanish and put a few Euros on it. Invariably it won and Jack was most impressed with the priest’s luck.

He watched the priest very closely when the horses came into the paddock before the next race and as soon as he saw the priest bless a horse in the 4th race he rushed to the little window and placed €50-00 to win on the nose and walked back to watch the race on the giant TV screen. He nodded in a friendly fashion to the priest who said something to him in unintelligible Spanish. Jack just nodded knowingly and smiled stupidly at him. The priest simply shrugged and looked at him as if he was mad.

The race started and Jack was delighted to see his horse fly out in front of the others and within a few minutes was leading the field by about 12 lengths. He was overjoyed but suddenly disaster occurred. The horse just stopped suddenly, throwing the jockey over its head. It then turned around and fell down with its legs kicking in the air like a grounded beetle. Fortunately all the following horses were able to avoid it so none fell, but Jack was devastated.  As he turned he saw the priest and going up to him said in his best Spanglish;

“Padre, I have watched you before each raco blesso a horse in the paddocko and every time you blesso uno it wino de raco. I watched you at the last raco and the horse you blesso stopped in its tracks and fello down stono deado. What went wrongo?”

The priest looked at him quite annoyed and said;

“If you Brits would learn a bit of Spanish it would make your life easier, then you could tell the difference between a blessing and the last rites”.

Written by: Stephen Reid

About the author:

I am an Irish story teller but not the type that would immediately spring to mind. Whist I tell Gaelic stories as part of my repertoire I also tell contemporary stories and short funny stories. I have been doing it now for nearly 7.  See my website at www.storytellerman.com

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