dissabte, 8 d’agost de 2009

Beached

'Hell is other people' wrote Sartre in his 1944 play 'No Exit', although he could have been a lot more precise than that, if he'd ever found himself stuck by some stroke of unluck on a RENFE train going from Barcelona to anywhere on the Catalan coast - crammed tighter than a pig truck with vacant-eyed trippers clutching bags full of towelling and chemicals, their flimsy clothes covered in colours clashing so hard they could be collared for disturbing the peace - on a Saturday morning in the summertime; with a hangover. Never - once the train had crawled to a halt at Caldetes or Altafulla, say - had he been shaken out like so much cereal from its box, alighting in blinding light before shuffling his way onto crammed sand on which he would then have sat or stretched out with the rest of us, playing Russian roulette with ultraviolet carcinogens and gawping at an unreachable horizon, while the wind blew his newspaper into a paper irritation and the surrounding sound (kids' screams, family gabble, incompatible musical snatches) made it impossible, anyway, to read anything more difficult than the slogans on his neighbours' tattoos. Hell? Sartre didn't know the half of it.
As a teenager I used to cherish the idea of basking on a Mediterranean beach, palm trees in the background, beautiful girls (sic) a dime a dozen all around me, tepid water lapping sand so fine you could tell the time with it. So when I finally made it to Catalonia ten years later, I made it all but mandatory to spend every warm weekend by the seaside, fancying myself as happy-go-lucky as those beautiful - though apparently lobotomised - young things who used to swan about in the 1980s Martini ads. Middle-aged now, I much prefer the mountains. There, I get to keep my T-shirt on. Thus hiding the flab. Which helps curb my mortification should any beautiful girl (sic) happen to cross my path.

Matthew Tree, Catalonia Today, agost 2009.

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