Tuesday, July 14, 2009

fin de les glories

So I lived in Les Glories for some months. To be exact from the 24th of February until the 2nd of July.
Some months.

I lived with some peeps. In no particular order these are they: Marco, Emanuelle, Matteo, Odile, Fanny, Sabrina. Other people were around at various times, but that was the core unit. If we were in Saving Private Ryan, I would undoubtedly be Tom Hanks, and they would be my battalion that all got killed trying to save Matt Damon. Luckily I am much more attractive than Tom Hanks, and perhaps more luckily Matt Damon isn't in our friendship circle. But you get the point, under normal circumstances we may not have been friends, but send us to fire guns in Normandy or share a flat in Barcelona, and we form unbreakable bonds, only to be shot in the back by the Germans.

Sabrina. She was Austrian and I have subconsciously jumped straight from the Nazis to her. Sorry, but what do you expect? Isn't that what they are most famous for? Being bezzies with Hitler? Anyway, she wasn't a Nazi, even if her room was always really clean and her hair was straight. No, Sabrina was actually really nice. We never got glenn close, she was always working down by the beach at the Ritz and I was always consumed with being unemployed, our paths only ever crossing in the kitchen. A casual glance over the hob or our hands meeting at the same carton of milk in the fridge. We seldom shared time together alone, we had little in common. I often felt sorry for her, she was the only one of us who actually had a job, actually had to go to work, and she slept right next door to the dinning room. Next door is not the ideal sleeping place when you have ten Italians over for dinner and they start talking heatedly about different types of Mozzarella, every night. All of her friends that came to stay were like Sabrina herself, proper, polite, and went to bed early.

The most important thing that Sabrina taught me is that in Austria they make good chocolate. Particularly chocolate with wafer inside. She gave me calories like my name was Oprah in the nineties.

Matteo was a proper Alpha-Male Italian. What does that mean? He cooked well and had little time to take on board the opinions of women. "What Odile? You want me to clean this pan? I'll be honest love, I'm more likely to defecate in this pan before I clean it".
When I imagine Matteo in my head he is bald, he isn't actually bald, only in my head. I don't really know why, sometimes I just remember people different to how they actually are.
In our flat, there wasn't a lock on the bathroom door. Matteo was never afraid to come in while you were having a shower and urinate, I never got used to that.

A Matteo story that stands out happened at the dinner table. It was in the early days when I couldn't understand Spanish, let alone Italian. We were having one of those dinner parties we often had; me and the Italian guys with a bunch of Italian girls. It sounds really good, but its not very good when everyone is speaking a language you can't speak, all night, pretty gash to be honest. Anyway, we were eating chicken that night. The chicken came out of the oven all golden brown, destination known: stomach. It proper looked like something that would come out of Jamie Oliver's oven on a sunday. Matteo carved open the chicken and what do you know? Everything was still on the inside. I was served a nice piece of lung.
Turns out that was the first time Matteo had cooked a whole chicken, he happened to forget about the bits inside. Other than that incident, his culinary skills were always top notch, but he's going to have to pull something really special out of the oven if he wants me to forget about that one.

Marco was the beta to Matteo's alpha. Tall and skinny, he rocked lime green polo shirts in a way that only an Italian could. Due to Matteo's dominance in the kitchen Marco was always resigned to washing up, I kinda of felt bad about this, so occasionally I secretly washed his dishes, like a fairy godbrother if you will. Once Matteo returned to Italy in April, Marco was slightly lost for a period of time, the balance was disrupted.
The most sociable member of the flat, every night there was some kind of event up his sleeve, a dinner, a club, or another bottellon at the beach. Every time he invited me and for this I am very grateful. Marco's social life soon became my own and this is the main reason my Spanish speaking skills improved, if at all. I am also grateful that Marco refused to speak English with me, even when he had to repeat sentences six times.

Marco was constantly on the hunt for a girlfriend and this desperate attitude resulted in him becoming best friends with every girl in town. Which is more or less not what he wanted, but oh well.

Fanny was exactly five feet tall. Maybe the smallest person in the whole of Europe. At least in the top forty. Apart from sharing her name with female genitalia she had other good qualities. She could speak French, English and Spanish, all very well. Being from from France, meant she liked to cook crepes and load them with nutella, she also liked strawberries and good cheeses. As a result, I was often to be found eating her leftovers.
She smoked more weed than anybody I've socialized with since I was seventeen. At times I felt like the living room was a Snoop Dogg video, just without Snoop Dogg and the hot bitches. She had a boyfriend most of the time and when they split up, was highly upset, I met him once and he was handsome, if not a bit dumb.

After I had all my hair chopped off she said "Come on man, you're not serious? It looks stupid. This is a joke." So I guess we can add honesty to her list of qualities too.

I feel like I've exploited enough of Manu on this blog already, so I'll be quick. A well dressed Alpha Italian, he also liked to drink well, Johnny Walker Black Label and Havana 7. Manu was never letting you forget his Napolitan heritage, although as it turns out, hes actually from one of the neighboring towns. Fake. Lies. Friend. The first day we met he tried to sell me Armani shirts that his friends had stolen from a hijacked train. I have promised I will visit him in Naples. This too could be a lie.
His time in Barcelona was plagued by a love/hate relationship with a girl. I hated her, he loved her. Too much drama, too much hugging things out. We got on like a house on fire, I taught him the Liverpool chants and he taught me songs from Naples. One minute we were singing about Steven Gerrard, the next we were singing about, well I don't know what the words meant, in fact I was generally just humming, but it was fun all the same. He could only make one meal and that was curry chicken. He always bought meat cut fresh from a deli and was possibly the fussiest eater I have ever met. Out of everyone, Manu is probably the person I will see again. Hopefully.

Odile was fun. You could make disgusting jokes and she wouldn't get offended. Living across the hall from her, she would often ask my advice before a night out, which shoes go with this dress? with leggings? just a bra? really?
Odile's biggest flaw is her story telling ability, her stories always started with the climax and went on forever, we have spoken about this and she is working on it.
Her mother is fifty something and dating a twenty-nine year old, brilliant.
She is still a scout.
She drinks to get drunk. I think she lost her phone three times whilst we lived together.

My favorite memory of her? Once when I was making breakfast in the kitchen, she just turned to me and said "Last night I dreamt that Marco, Manu and you, beat me up and raped me. It was horrible". Don't lie Odile you loved it.

And so the days in the trenches of Les Glories are over and Matt Damon has been shot dead.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


Its three-thirty am on a Friday night. I am sitting alone on the nitbus heading towards the beach. The only thing keeping me awake is a group of Spanish twenty-somethings (am I now considered a twenty-something too? I hope not), they have taken it upon themselves to sing every track from Queen: The Greatest Hits, at an above average volume. One of these girls can actually sing quite well, but, oh no. She's getting carried away and going all Diana Ross at a wedding, fairly sure she's just made a couple of shout-outs in Catalan. She's lost my vote. Wow, look how hairy her arms are. Definitely lost the vote.

It has been a sombre couple of weeks. My friends are all leaving Barcelona, returning home. Serves me right for only befriending erasmus students. Why they aren't staying to enjoy the summer is beyond me, but whatever, they are all going. Which means a mass of leaving-parties, and I must say I am exhausted from what now seems like a nightly activity. I've already lost, Manu, Marco, Matteo, Odile and more. Who will be shedding tonight's tears? Simona.

Simona originates from some village near Roma. She has a good sense of humour and is a lot closer to beautiful than the average girl. You know that kind of pretty girl who never looks good in a photograph? She is that kind of pretty girl. Like most, she has her defects; she thinks she needs to lose weight and
she dances like a chicken. She has a couple more defects, but I'm beginning to feel a bit mean so I guess I'll leave it at that. I can't remember what she is studying, but she said she wants to be a teacher, which sounds like a decent choice, shaping the future and what not. This is probably the last time I will ever see Simona. Shes been a good friend for the best part of six months, but this is probably the end of that. Out of all my friends who are leaving or have left, beyond the realms of facebook, I will probably only stay in touch with a handful. However you look at it, it is undeniably sad.

Anyhow, I eventually arrive at the beach around four am-ish. We sit on the beach with a mass of other familiar faces, far too many familiar faces to be bothered going around and saying hello to everyone, if they want to chat they are more than welcome to come on over to me. A few do, a few don't. No love lost.
A Portuguese guy sees fit to take all his clothes off (not for the first time might I add) and borrow a girl's dress. Once he is wearing the dress, he poses for photographs. He begins prancing around and purposely lifting the dress to reveal his penis lost in a mound of hair, once again for photographs. This guy is actually rather nice though, I've spoken to him a few times when he has had his clothes on and he is interesting conversation.
I neck a bottle of wine, in what I should consider a worrying amount of time, and we all sit watching the sunrise over the sea. A few couples disappear beyond the rocks for some shagging or just uncomfortable foreplay, I just sit and wonder what I am going to do next. What am I going to do next?