A brief history of Spain. Part Three
I really should have stayed in Spain the first time I visited in 1972, when life was simpler and I could have avoided 15 years of London living and hard work trying to make easy money.
Easy money is beyond doubt the hardest to make, they don't tell you that when you enrol in the School of Hard Knocks.
My return to London from Morocco was hardly a success...
George, my friends father had to send money to get us back home and as the (mechanical) clutch on my (girlfriends) Morris Minor 1000 had busted as soon as we entered Morocco I had to drive back, all 2,500 miles of it, with no clutch, hence most driving was done at night to avoid traffic lights, which potentially stopped the journey.
The stay in Morocco had been in the safety of the Youth Hostal in the Rue de la Republic in Rabat, which was run by the local Chief of Police.
Accommodation was in dormitories with rows of bunk beds and food came from local cafés were for next to nothing one could buy lamb shish kebabs wrapped in Arab bread with a modicum of what passed for salad... tomatoes and onions with possibly a bit of sliced lettuce, all washed down with mint tea or strong café.
Special events were planned for Thursdays, as the small hole in the wall we ate at in the Medina started it's oil drum of cous cous tagine mix on the first day of the week, so by Thursday it was about ready to eat.
Ironically the Chief of Police sent out one of his minions each night to collect hash cakes from wherever they kept these things, so one of my main concerns... buying drugs in a strange country where they locked you up with men called Ahmed if you got caught, was solved on the spot.
Fortunately the Chief of Police seemed to be heterosexual and I suspect the largess with his hash cake supply was mainly aimed at getting the nubile young girls in the hostal stoned out of their tree in order to have his wicked way.
Anyhow, for some stupid reason (like running out of cash) I left all that behind and had started back to England via Spain.
England in the 1970's was the most boring place on earth to be, there was a Labour government who could not make any decisions because the unions blocked their every move with strikes, wildcat strikes and unofficial strikes.
Inflation was horrific and I remember when our beloved leader Harold Wilson (surely a Soviet spy?) told us that the "pound in our pocket was still worth a pound" as they introduced decimalisation rather than admit to a massive devaluation.....Oh Yeah! well why did my bar of chocolate go from ten old pennies to ten new pence overnight?
The reality was we went from 960 units of change in one pound (there were 960 'farthings' in a pound) to 100 units of one new pence, so not surprisingly inflation followed suite as new price rises went from adding a farthing to the price of something (1/960th) to adding one pence 1/100th) for those who think percentile that's a nearly a ten fold increase in costs.
1978 gave me the opportunity to again visit Spain, albeit only at weekends as I flew gaggles of hapless property buyers down each week to view our 'wide range of properties' which actually consisted of several small town houses we had available for sale from the owners on 10% commissions.
We were 'black bagging' as exchange control still only allowed Brits to take fifty pounds out of the country without Bank of England permission, but many folk seemed to have large amounts of 'black' money so it worked quite well unless they got stopped at Customs on the way out!
It was during this time that I grew to love Spain, but hated travelling to the UK each Monday morning, only to be flying back to Spain on Friday night to work the weekend.
Soon we opened an Estate Agency in central London and worked that market for five years, finally selling out to a larger prestigious chain of agents who wanted to open in the area.
We (my girlfriend/business partner and I) had been frequent visitors to Spain during the time of the agency and gradually we had started buying one way tickets to Spain and then buying returns from Spain to England thereby fixing our return dates, so it was natural for us to relocate to Spain, especially as we had just sold a business... so to Spain we went and decided to live in our village house in Gaucin....
Refuges, Runaways and Robbers....
One of the first things you need to know about Spain is that it's different.... I think I've mentioned that before? anyhow though it's different in many wonderful ways, some of the most obvious differences can come as a shock.... like the fact that no sooner had we got to Spain than my girlfriend of 16 years left me for someone else.
Is that a girlfriend or a wife you never married?
I was devastated, but have since learned that its a common occurrance, you see one has to understand that there are three types of people who come to Spain....
Refuges, Runaways and Robbers....
Refuges arrive here and cannot afford to go anywhere else, they are stuck here until they can either move or start settling down.
Runaways come here to escape something, anything, probably everything and find Spain a convenient place to disappear into (and you can disappear quite easily once you know how).
Robbers come here, or rather came here, for we now extradite, whereas in 1985 we did not, anyhow they came here to escape the law, although some of the refuges and runaways graduated to being robbers once here!
So in general, during that period of time, one met a group of people who had seemingly abandoned their previous constraint and fully embraced the 'freedom' that Spain offered one, especially the freedom to swap partners in an envioronment where inevitably one side of a couple wanted to be here more than the other, and the one who was not wishing to be here was easy prey to those who know how to get best advantage; out of other peoples bored, rebellious partners.
Then, once someone took your partner, the easy thing was to take someone else's.... it was dangerous to leave a partner hanging around unattended in those days!
It still is...
OK, we finally get to my full time living in Spain, mainly because my ex kept the property in the UK, and the money, and I was here when the whole thing crashed around my ears, and why bother to go back anyway?
So I guess I was a runaway who turned into a refugee.
Thankfully I avoided becoming a robber.
Now we can fast forward seven years to when I came to faith.....
We could do that but it would be kinda boring, because then neither you, nor the person who is also reading this and about to enter this phase of their life, would have any idea of what brought me to faith, and what could be awaiting them...
Fortunately when I was ceremonially dumped by my ex lady, I was able to sell one flat in my name that we owned and took my half share which gave me about £50,000 to stuff into a Gibraltar bank and line off for a while.
The while was seven years, by which time I was a completely different person to who I had been when I arrived in Spain.
Being dumped affected me badly, I basically started committing suicide by lack of concern over anything, so I started drinking more, then too much, then just enough to keep the level going, mixed by then with copious quantities of hash to stay 'balanced' and of course hanging out in bars frequented by intellectual escapees from all over the world all spouting their pet theories made for a wonderfully psychotic existence.
I moved in with a woman I had met on a film shoot I had done three years earlier, at which time I had declined to act on our obvious mutual attraction because I was ·"13 years into a 360 year relationship" which was a mistake for both of us as I was on the rebound badly.
We had a child and things went rapidly downhill as I started to do ever more hash and lost contact with reality.
For my fortieth birthday I was alone in the house with my 2 year old child and no money, no phone, no cards and no wife, because she was away working on location for films. I had no dope, no booze and not even any cigarettes.
In seven years I had gone from being a self made millionaire who was heading to be a politician, to a spaced out drunken dope head with bad habits.
I had gone from normal London businessman who always wore a suit and tie, to a long haired hippie type who wore whatever came off the floor first.
I was reading rune stones, tarot cards and using biorythms to calculate when to speak to people about 'things'.
My rune stones were telling me that 'the old must pass away die to make way for the new spiritual warrior' and I accepted that this meant I would physically die and reincarnate as some sort of spiritual god on earth.
Something seemed to be wrong with this picture!
That night I stood in my olive grove ( or at least the olive grove that adjoiined my house) and stared long and hard into the night sky, then shouted load and clear:
"If YOU exist, YOU'D better make yourself known to me"
It took 18 months, but slowly I saw daily the evidence of God in my life.
I set out to disprove His word and find the loopholes, and ended up coming to faith.
But that's where the Religion in Spain hub starts, maybe tomorrow huh!