♥ on the train i go, down to madrid. peter is waiting for me there and, as usual, it is sweet to see him. as usual, he feeds my laughter, my heart, my soul, my stomach. what a spectacular friend. i only have two things i want to do in madrid. see him and buy pepper spray. diametrically opposite actions. buying the pepper spray involves leaving his peaceful attic and trekking over to plaza de castilla, to a gun shop. i am not exactly excited about this little task. it feels kind of grotty and strange buying a “tool” for self-defence. walking through the doors of the gun shop, i travel back in time………………………….
………………………..i think it is in the 90’s. after the port arthur massacre and before the government buy back scheme for guns. my father at that point was an avid collector, and one day he asked me if i wanted to go with him to the shooting range. i am generally very horrified by guns, and the attitude that i have now, the horror, is partly informed by what happened to me that day at the shooting range. well, two things actually. the first was standing there with the gun in my hand. it was the very feel of it that i remember now so vividly. i think it was a beretta or something, a gun that is used by the germans or the americans or the french, i don’t know, i can’t remember. it was a cold, black, heavy, mean bastard of an object. heavyyyyyyy. i remember the weight, even now. i am back there, with it in my hand.
there is the feeling of taking aim, pulling the trigger, and feeling the resistance of that weight. the sensation as it goes off and the hands/arms jerk upwards, seemingly in slow motion ~from the restrained force. and then comes the momentary flash, a thought: i could turn around with this thing in my hand, take aim and blow a hole through this nice man in the red cap standing in the stall next to me. this is the moment that horrifies me. guns don’t kill people. people kill people………………………………………..
back in the gun shop now, at the counter, and boy, do i feel far away from the make-up counter at sephora right now!
in the shop i learn that a “spray” is not the best option. women, take note. lesson number one. with a spray there is apparently a bigger chance of missing. so, instead i buy a small canister that will pump a burning jet of liquid into someone’s face, incapacitating them for around an hour and leaving them with a nasty, hopefully suspicious looking stain. after i do the deed, i stand outside, on the street, perusing the packaging. on the front, there is a close up of a man with red, slimy liquid splattered all over his face. his very being is contorted in a scream of pain. wow. somebody give this man an academy award! flipping the package over, there are black and white sketches of pony-tailed women in high heels, wearing skirts. there is one going into an elevator, there is one walking into a lonely car park, and another one walking around a corner on a street under a desolate streetlamp. these are dangerous, public places, full of shadowy figures. the packaging advises me to do some practise on a target first, which gives me permission to briefly indulge in the image of a cut out of donald trumps face stapled to a tree. the blurb tells me that it is a really good idea for me to carry one with me at all times. in my handbag, in my car. i should have one in the house, at the office…….. i mean, it’s only ten euros, this protection from the shadowy imagined figures. bargain! plus, i think the jet pump of burning face fire will really fit with the overall “don’t fuck with me” vibe of my strict, german backpack that means business. truthfully, imagining myself in the situation where i might have to use this, is pretty much unimaginable.
so, two days later, armed and well-fed, i get on the train to almeria. on the way to the station it starts to bucket down rain. it looks like the old stanky tart city that is madrid is finally going to have a shower. i think she needs more than just a one-off storm to get clean though, more like biblical quantities of water………………..but that is the beauty of madrid. she is messy, chaotic. full of garbage.she has no pasa nada! flowing through her veins 24/7, and everyone who lives within her is just trying to get by, the way you might imagine would be necessary in the capital of spain.
down in almeria, my friend jose awaits. he is going to put me up for a few days while i continue to get my act together. i still have grading to finish (sigh) and i want to have a couple of days of wandering around this city before i head off. the last time i was here was eight or so years ago, when i came down with silvia for an easter time get away. we spent most of the time at a nearby national park called ‘cabo de gata’, which i highly recommend as being a must-see for anyone coming to spain who is interested in getting off the barcelona-madrid-sevilla merry-go-round.
arriving in almeria, we go to meet some of jose’s friends for a glass of wine and to eat some tapas. it is strange arriving in a city at night time. it seems like any old spanish small-sized city. i know, though, that there are little jewels in this place, i remember that much, so i look forward to getting out and exploring. a few glasses of tinto later and it is time to go home, get some rest, and keep getting ready (lord help me there is still marking to do!)♥