During my time in Spain this week particularly stands out, because I had things to do.
Firstly, I was having my first real visitor to stay. Oliver Davis, gym addict.
Secondly, an old friend of my dad's had invited me to a week of writing workshops/lectures (in English).
Balancing the two would ultimately prove too much for a mere mortal such as myself to handle, but I gave it my best shot.
I had arranged to meet Ollie at 12.30pm on Sunday. Daylight-saving would be my first test. I was destined to fail. The phone rang, after a moment of contemplating whether I should pick up or not (due to the financial pain inflicted upon accepting foreign calls), I hesitated and pressed that little green button
"Where are you" Ollie demanded,
"What are you doing there?"
"I'm doing sleep"
"You do know what time it is?"
At this point I check the time on my phone. It reads 11.38am.
"No, you dick. It's 12.30"
After trying to convince Ollie that because he had just come from England, he obviously didn't know the real time. Surely he was jet-lagged. I remembered that pointless daylight-saving thing and conceded defeat. Taking an hour from any man is a sin, but when he has already been cursed with ginger hair, it feels even more like a kick in the teeth.
"I'll be there asap, sorry"
Around two weeks prior to Ollie's arrival, I finally realised that his trip was clashing with my writing lectures. I had known about both things for a long time, but failed to see the schedule conflict. So I dropped some verbs and adjectives regarding the whole writing lectures thing and got him an invitation too. He agreed to attend the first one on Monday with me.
We awoke in some bracket of time around 12pm. The screening of Control with an introduction by the writer would be starting in 30 minutes. Its a shame, because I really wanted to go to that one, I quite like that film. It would have been impossible, what with it taking an hour to get to the actual place. So we decided we would go to a lecture at 7pm entitled From Shorts to Features.
Everything was going to plan, we caught the metro, we caught the train, we laughed, we cried. There was a moment of panic when we almost got off at the wrong station, but we survived and are stronger for it. We arrived in Terrassa (the town where this shindig was going down) and it was raining much more than was necessary.
Exiting the station I was fairly sure I had no idea where we were, Ollie could see right through me. I pulled out the notepad on which i had tried, to the best of my ability, to replicate a google map, freehand. The rain smudged the cheap ink across the pages.
"Shall we ask someone?" Ollie inquired. Still not confident in my Spanish speaking ability, I didn't see this as a viable option.
"Lets... just... look behind the station" I replied, pretending to know what was meant with those words. Maybe we would find a goblin offering us his navigation for a couple of gold coins or perhaps someone had misplaced Aladdin's magic carpet in a skip. To my surprise one of the roads behind the station had a name that I had scribbled down on my homemade map. We marched through the rain triumphantly.
Eventually we found the ESCAC building and although we were wetter than Madonna in the eighties, we were overjoyed. We got to reception and as is common when speaking to all people of Spain, I asked the receptionist if she spoke English.
I have found that usually when the Spanish say "a little bit", its much different to when us English say "un poco", we mean we can say a couple sentences about our family or a holiday we took in France, for three weeks, camping, and if the listener is lucky they will hear about the mode of transport we took. When the Spanish sheepishly say "a little", what they really mean is that whilst they are capable of disscusing abortion, they are not quite comfortable talking about quanttum mechanics. Not just yet anyway.
Well this lady was an exception to the rule, between my broken spanish and her limited English, I managed to obtain some directions.
Standing outside the lecture room, Ollie and I considered eating some pastries we had picked up on our voyage of moisture. What we thought was bacon, turned out to be some disgusting fish. So we chucked them in a bin and crammed kinder bars into our mouths, in an attempt to stifle the ferocity of our breath. We then established a sniffling code in case more kinder bars were needed during the lecture.
The lecture started familiarly enough. A powerpoint presentation read "Hola". Rather quickly it dawned on Ollie and I that we had stumbled into a Spanish lecture, which had something to do with mobile communications. The lecturer said something about facebook, people put their hands up, I put my hand up. Ollie glared at me. The lecturer started asking questions. Me and Ollie looked at each other, this would not do.
"Ollie, lets run away", a statement that would have had such different connotations had it been only a few hours earlier when we were lying in bed together.
"Definitely", the response expected in either situation.
Momentarily, the thought crossed my mind that this would probably be a really good way to improve my Spanish. I don't know if "momentarily" quite sums up the abruptness of this thought, but it will have to do. The lecturer looked down at his notes for a split-second, but that was all we needed. We got out. We were free men. I can't speak for Ollie, but the freedom I felt was similar to one I would associate with this scenario;
Somewhere in middle America, a black male (Kendal) is sentenced to 14 years for a murder he has not committed. A couple years of hardship pass by, culminating in the death of his only child at the hands of avian flu. He isn't even allowed to go to the funeral. All seems lost, then out of nowhere, a 20-something hot-shot lawyer (Lindsey) takes on his case pro-bono. After her early doubt, she soon realises his innocence and their relationship develops with only bars seperating their love. Finally Lindsey realises her father is actually the murderer and she has to choose between her white-hood wearing father and her chocolate lover. After a successful re-trial, Kendal is free.
I felt like Kendal. I know that seems a bit over the top, but I was really scared.
I emailed my dad's pal, relaying my troubles of the day and saying I would try again tomorrow. I left out the story of Kendal.
On the way home we bought a litre of smirnoff, because I thought the chances were that we would be going out. I managed to break that bottle at the train station. One whole litre swimming on the floor by the ticket gates. Not for the first time in my life, I felt like a right dick. Sorry Ollie.
We bought another bottle of vodka.
After much umming and ahhing, me and Ollie decided to go to the same club I have previously written about (the one with the naked band). We made this decision at about 12am, so I mixed some coke and vodka and we managed to get on the last metro. Needless to say my days as a bartender have long since passed and there was far too much vodka in this mix. Gross.
We arrived met Marco and some Italian chicks, and waited in a queue for a long time. Then I felt the first tremor pass, a few ripples later and I looked back, Ollie had turned into a slightly sexy girl but with serious eyebrow issues. My gaze stretched further back, actually Ollie had not had a super-rapid sex change, but had been distanced from me by the force of the crowd. I told him to make a power move. He did not make said power move. It felt a bit like one of those Second World War movies where a father and son are seperated by the crowd, without the whole holocaust subplot. Then 'ruck of the year' broke out. Had it not been for the clothes on my body and the lack of an erection, I would have definitely been raping the person in front of me. She gave me a look that quite blatuntly accused me of orchestrating the whole event, just for this moment. I looked back at her, offering a feeble "I'm not actually a rapist" smile. I could tell she wasn't buying it.
As it turned out 'ruck of the year' lead to no-one else being allowed in the club. So we went home. I felt a bit like I had let Ollie down, but truth be told I was kind of glad to be able to get some sleep before the next workshop event.
I could go on about the whole week in Terrassa, but that would be boring. To cut a long story short it gave me an invaluable insight into a side of the industry I have little experience with. I was able to quiz sriptwriters old and new. Of course when I was talking to these people I was concentrating much more on what they were saying, rather than what I was, which I'm fairly sure lead to me saying a few things that didn't make sense. I prefer not to think about that though. It also taught me that I need to network. Networking is like a competition of who can spread their name the fastest and leave a long lasting impression, yes a bit like a vicious STD. So, I need to becoming the AIDs of the networking game. At the moment I am much more like parkinsons, not contagious and not very interesting.
A special mention is definitely needed for the food. It was the best food I've had for ages. On the first day I was cautious and had one plate. By the end of the week, I was simply put; abusing the system.
My dad's pal asked his friend (a feature director), if he could get me running work in London, he said yes. Thats good news. During this particular director's lecture he dabbled in on-set beef, citing an example of being on the toilet and hearing two crew members slagging him off. After his lecture I saw him going into a cubicle. I stood by the sink where I was joined by another tutor, he asked my opinion of the talk. I was tempted to badmouth the director, then when he emerged from the cubicle have a joke with him about it, thus forming an unbreakable comic bond with a famous director, quickly becoming his protégé and taking over the world. After quickly playing the whole scene out in my head, and realising how difficult it would be to successfully pull off, I settled for "yeah, really interesting".
Ollie and I again tried and failed to go out in the evening. Even when we found a bar, we realised that is was likely to be six euros for a beer and decided to walk home in the rain.
It was a good week. I like Barcelona.