Strathclyde Telegraph

Columnist: A Skoosh of Espanya by Kathleen Speirs

The past month in Murcia has certainly been difficult to define.  I seem to have lingered through a period where so much has happened, progressed and changed!

 Indeed I have done so in complete limbo, for despite all the time that has flown by and the ever approaching nature of that Christmas flight home, I still have some weeks left to work, play and make the most of it.

 Last week for example, within the space of an hour I took out a month-long gym membership, then immediately after, contended with how many Christmas presents I could fit into a 15kg luggage allowance; my mind is literally in two places at once!

 However, this intangible period found some order at last when, a couple of days ago, a teacher at school presented me with a cactus.

 Yes, as a token of gratitude for helping him improve his level of English, Philosophy teacher come greenhouse extraordinaire, Jose Luis, figured a dessert plant was the best way to a language assistant’s heart; God bless his cotton socks and ill-fitting shirts.

 But it was in his reassurance, that although it lacked spikes, his beloved plant was strong enough to handle all climes, requiring neither water nor soil, that it hit me.

 Wordsworth had better move over, to make sense of and convey the last four weeks in one column I would utilize the unconventional image of a Cactus from Jose Luis’ back Greenhouse.

 Where the Cactus fell down in ferociousness in its unusually smooth texture, Halloween in Murcia certainly made up for it!  As one Spaniard portrayed that night, why on earth dress up as the guy from ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ without a fully functioning chainsaw, as a weapon for chasing strangers down the street?  It simply would not do the celebration justice!

 Another not so favourable parallel which can be drawn is that between Jose’s thoughtful gift and my love life that unfortunately has not been so prosperous in recent weeks.

 One might say that, similar to the environment of a Cactus, life hasn’t been as fruitful for the past month; to say the least we’ve all been going through a bit of a #dryspell.

 Between language barriers, unsociable working hours and the inability to make it to a nightclub sober enough to even acknowledge the opposite sex, we language assistants too have survived on little vegetation!  I know, tragic.

 Even more tragic are our latent attempts to combat said #dryspell.

 The first was agreeing to join a salsa class.  Not only was it cancelled the first week, but the second proved to be a complete disaster, as my friends and I undoubtedly lowered the average age by approximately thirty years . . .

 And the second, taking up my aforementioned gym membership.  If any Murcian, Muscular Males were to be found in one place, it would be the gym.

 This indeed proved true and one day we decided to follow our conquests into the pool for a refreshing dip, only to be pulled by the tide right back to square -5 by the strict enforcement swimming cap.  I think that one speaks for itself.

 But there’s a lot to be said for a Cactus, as for recent weeks.

 I feel I have emulated the opposing fortitude of this rare species in converting a class of teenagers into Scottish Nursery Rhyme connoisseurs.

 Their enthusiastic, word perfect performance of ‘Ye Cannae Shove Yer Granny Aff a Bus’ despite initial hesitation proved to be a great success!

 Additionally I have been invited to join a school trip to the theatre!

 Admittedly I had reservations. As if I hadn’t already accepted my role as smiling idiot during this year abroad, I was to now bluff my way through a Pantomime of jokes not in my native tongue, colloquial or otherwise.

 However as it turns out, the Pantomime is in English and the story is Dick Whittington, at last the joke is not on me!  Maybe all this new found danger and lack of vegetation in the Spanish dessert will all be worth it in the end – as Jose Luis assured me the day he gave me the Cactus from the greenhouse.

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