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Sunday, 5 July 2009

IN LA GRANJA WITH THE GHOST OF ORWELL

I still can't look at an orange without feeling perturbed. The dread felt when you are expected to do something against your will and then the relief when the day ends and you escape, hinged and intact. Despite my reluctance to look at citrus fruits I was advised to drink some lemon drink when half the summer camp fell ill and the boss Carmen found herself rushing off to 'urgencias' with her small car loaded with me and green faced nine year olds. When it was my turn to see the doc and explain how I felt I wanted to just say, 'look, there's nothing you can do is there? This is just a reaction to the heat we are living in'. She listened to my chest and back with the stethascope which Henderson says is the biggest con as unless you have the lungs of a miner nothing can be gathered. She also looked into my eyes with a bright light, asked me the usual and sent me on my way with a bottle of the dreaded lemon drink and advised a lie down. A room in the summer camp was provided and instead of classes I lay listening to the sounds of so many birds and the chatter of the kids as they recovered quickly and set off for more fun and games. I could hear them from my darkened room practising their English as they sauntered by. The shutters were open slightly in the room and so a small chink of light played with their shadows as they walked by the window. It was an eerie moment as it looked like their souls were dancing along the walls. Or maybe it was just my heat exhaustion coupled with a permanent, vivid imagination.

On the subject of vivid imaginings, I had a dream that I had gone to the baker's here and asked for plasters. This is not such a strange request as in this town there are numerous shops which sell their wares and a line in products that have no bearing on the shop name. There is a shop here that only sells bleach and eggs, and I have seen another that sells bread of a certain shape but I have never seen anyone buy the stuff. It might be because, as Henderson once pointed out, the proprietor sits there with his hands tucked under his armpits all day. Anyway, in the dream I asked for the plasters and the owner gave me a knowing look and handed me a brown envelope. As I left the shop I looked inside the envelope and saw a fake passport and several cheques for huge amounts. It all reminds me of a record shop in Soho years ago where you could ask for a certain Charlie Mingus LP and get some hash. There was another record shop that sold dance records of the day and had an old woman sitting behind the counter who knew what you were looking for if you could hum it.

Leaving La Granja behind for two weeks we are now going to be stationed in another school where we will be teaching kids from this province. No oranges I hope and not too many lessons in politeness.

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