Sunday, November 18, 2007

Out in the cold

I believe that making a good first impression on ones neighbours is a good idea for peaceful community life.

I thought long and hard about how to best do that here in Spain. My innovative way was to lock myself in my garden at 11 o'clock at night when the temperature was plunging and I was wearing nothing on top but a thin shirt.

As I walked out to hang my washing I thought, cleverly, that I would close the door so that the mosquitoes which have been plaguing me would be shut out. At the click of the door I realised the subtle flaw in my plan.

My back garden is a walled affair with 10 foot of concrete all around. The flats above me also look out onto the garden but don't have any access. I assessed the situation for a few minutes, trying the doors and windows to no avail. I realised that I may be able to scale the wall at the back and make my way around to the front - I did at least have the front door keys on me. As I scaled the wall in the pitch black I looked down on the other side to see a 50 ft drop into the foundations of the block of flats they have just started building, a short distance from my window.

Standing there in the cold I realised that I was actually pretty helpless, imprisoned and quickly chilling.

There is one other flat overlooking the garden, though with barred windows perhaps 8 foot up, and no other access. I peered in from the other side of the garden and saw the shadow of a man, making movements which looked like they probably shouldn't be disturbed! His humiliation versus my freezing I realised was a fine line, but not one which I was willing to cross with enough language to explain myself.

The other side of the garden is a wall and on the other side of the wall is another garden leading to the flat of what I believed to be an elderly couple. I could have scaled this wall and banged on their door, but doing so without immediately being able to explain what the hell I was doing, inappropriately clothed in their garden did not seem like a good idea.

I tried to shout across, with the few appropriate words of Spanish I could muster, but ten minutes of this, plus banging on the wall, did no good. I could see that they were in, with the television on, but I was worried that they would soon be going to bed - probably not a real worry here in Spain.

After half an hour in the garden, pacing, scaling, shouting and banging, in the near pitch black I fashioned a suitable device to tap on their patio doors without actually going into their garden. Perched precariously with one arm over the wall I lent as far as I could and tapped on the window, attempting to start softly and build up the volume, with intermittent shouting. Five minutes later and I saw movement, the woman came to the door and peered around. I spoke to her, and managed to mime that I was locked out and could she possibly open the door for me. After she finished laughing and telling her husband what I'd done she took the keys, went to my door and let me in, beaming at the stupid foreigner!

Anyway, I'm left with nothing but humiliation and a slight cold today and took round a box of chocolates to show my gratitude. Had she not been there, I probably still would be!

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I should fill in some blanks about where I'm at these days. I'm currently sharing a very nice house with a couple of Argentinians, who are working on the Auger project which has been reported on in detail recently in regard to their recent results on ultra high energy cosmic rays coming from active galactic nuclei.

I was privy to the results before most as they had a party at our place and, after an 8 o'clock watershed, were allowed to tell me the exciting news. Had I not been working till 2 in the morning that night anyhow I would have written something about it. Thankfully others did a great job!

I was planning on living in this place for the next 3 years, as the two others will be leaving here at the beginning of December, and I'm really looking for a place of my own. Sadly the owners of the very nice flat want it back and so, in less than a month I'm out and looking for somewhere new. With academic travel plans for December including trips to Cambridge and Dublin, and lots of work to do before that, I'm a bit pressed for finding spare time.

1 comment:

Dr Lock said...

Hahaha - you massive tool Biscuit