I think after all that, I’d better go and have a nice lie down as befits a lady of my age and in my condition. People with HIV are advised by their specialists to avoid stress at all times, but living with a pair of ‘growlers’ (i.e. the two male members of my household who insist on speaking Castellano the King’s Spanish even though we are in deepest Lancashire and haven’t got a King let alone a Queen and soon to be not even a Jack Straw anymore, (who thinks he is one of the two)  stress and the inevitable conflict which surely follows is unavoidable.

The language barrier is partly to blame for this and in an emergency can cause all kinds of havoc. For instance, this evening I was rushing to get the dinner together to feed ‘The Growlers,’ late because I’d been editing the film for the ‘Positive Picture’ and hadn’t noticed the time. I quickly lit the gas ring under the pasta pan, which seemed to be burning more ferociously than usual, so I tried to turn it down. It wouldn’t turn down. I tried to turn it off – it wouldn’t turn off.

“Luis,” I yelled in the direction of the sofa where he was reposing in his usual somnolent position,  “No f****** puedo apagar the f****** gas.”

Luis jumped guiltily to an upright position, then sauntered to the rescue, but even with a lot of cursing and swearing as only the Spanish know how, he couldn’t turn it off either. There seemed to be  more spluttering and aggressive hissing than there would be under normal circumstances – talking about the gas at this point not Luis, who was now in a total panic and yelling at me to call the policia, the urgencias, the bomboleros (firemen).

“Firemen no bloody good, Gas Board,” I scream back.  Luis gives me a puzzled, confused look, but no time now to explain to him that it wasn’t the gas being bored that was the problem, the house was probably about to blow up. Visions of roof blasting off,  neighbours taking to the skies, and heaven forefend new (well not so new now) computer disintegrating and all the work I’d done earlier editing my film lost forever. Luis not helping matters by going completely Latino on me, hands waving around in the air, shoulders and eyebrows in overdrive.

“I know what to do,” I tell him breathlessly, “I’ll call Handy Andy.” Handy Andy is my friendly local builder. Fished phone out from behind cushions on son’s chair. “Andy, gas won’t turn off, is going mad (think he thought I was as well) is hissing everywhere, should I call the gas board?” Luis gives me another funny look.

The gas flaming and dancing on the ring was looking anything but bored, in fact it looked like it was having a whale of a time and about to blow us all to smithereens.

“Turn gas off at mains,” advises Handy Andy casually. Have to admit at this point, do not know where mains tap is. Luis no good in gas crisis. They don’t have mains gas in Ibiza, bored or otherwise.

“Adriana, Adriana,” he taps me urgently, “Mira, mirar, look you.”

“Why on earth would I want to look at myself in the mirror at a time like this?” I yell at him. I’ve completely lost the plot by now. I shove him away impatiently.

“No more problema,” he drags me by the elbow back to the cooker and points to the knob in question. We’d been trying to turn the wrong knob off – a knob that wasn’t even on. How daft was that? I feel really stupid now and convinced that either HIV related brain dementia or maybe just old age on my part has really started to set in. But at least I have the consolation of knowing Luis is stupid too and he is a few years younger than me. Mind you, he doesn’t look it and his lack of front teeth don’t exactly help. This doesn’t stop him from thinking (in typical male fashion) that he knows everything. For example, we were supping our halves of Guinness in the car yesterday, as it was pissing down as usual – that Saint Swithuns chap really meant it, didn’t he, about the raining for forty days and forty nights. He must have originated from Lancashire because it hasn’t stopped raining since Luis got here. We were watching a cocker spaniel having a pee in the rain, like you do, with great interest as there wasn’t much else to watch as the magnificent view was obscured by the torrential downpour.

“Spanish pero,” Luis pronounces knowledgably, “Horig-hin-ate from Spain.”

“No it doesn’t, Spaniel typical English dog,” I argue petulantly,  mouth full of crisps.

“Spanish pero, horig-hin-ate en Espana,” he persists.  He thinks everything originates in bloody Spain.

“Ha, is that why you called espanoles?” I laugh, “And have long curly orechas (ears).”

Luis not amused.

“Porque cocker then?” I ask him.

“Cocker not Spanish word,” he growls, “Hinglish word, Hinglish put in front.”

“What cocker mean then?” I demand to know.

He gives Spanish shrug, “Hinglish put cocker in front of everything, peoples, pueblos, cocker mouth por ejemplo.”

I am quite impressed by his geographical knowledge of the lesser known seaside towns in my homeland have to say.

“Hinglish say khello cocker to peoples,” he growls in distain.

“That only in certain regions,” I inform him tartly, “In some places, down south, they say hello duck.”

“Hola pato,” (Spanish for duck) Luis finds this very amusing and keeps repeating it.

“There’s going to be a lot of  toreadors out of work now with the bull fighting ban,” I say just to annoy him and in an attempt to change the subject – am bored with the Spaniel dispute by now and fear I might be losing.

Look it up on Google as soon as we get home, to see if he is right. Oh no, looks like he is, there’ll be no living with him now.

“The American Cocker originates from the US although its roots go back to Spain. The Spanish spaniel is considered to be the oldest of the recognized spaniels. Spaniels often suffer from something called cocker rage syndrome.”

That explains why los espanoles and Luis in particular are always so bad tempered.

“A study by Spanish Researchers at the University of Barcelona (think our Freddy studied there!) revealed a link between male cocker spaniels and aggression. Cocker Rage syndrome is described as a sudden and unprovoked attack during which the Spaniel often has a glazed look and appears to be unaware of its surroundings.”

A bit like Luis when he is in Hingland.

“Certain male spaniels are not to be recommended as family pets and should never be left alone with children.”

So that’s where I’ve been going wrong.

“There are different types of cockers: working cockers and show cockers.”

As well as slow cockers of course, which are something you cook food in, especially if your gas won’t turn off or on. Red cockers were shown to be the most aggressive of all cockers, but we won’t go there. Also something called a ‘cockapoo’ but we’d better not go there either.

“You were right about the spaniels,” I tell Luis. He looks smug. I hate it when he’s right, he looks so bloody smug. He smirks his toothless smile.

Talking of teeth, or the lack of them, my grandma stood on my brace when I was fourteen and broke it so I’ve always had one sticking out tooth. Braces were a bit primitive in those days, not like today. Chatting to my sis on the phone, she informs me there are now something called lingual braces, which are cleverly concealed behind the teeth so no one would know you were wearing braces.

“Bi lingual braces, does that mean I would be able to speak Spanish more fluently?” I wanted to know. “Good job Luis doesn’t need to wear braces,” I chuckle at the mere thought, “he would have to wear them tied to his two side teeth, like a clothesline.”

This set me and sis  off in absolute hysterics, “He could get some of those miniature clothespegs you buy in stationary shops.”

“You could draw him some paper teeth,” sis laughing too much – can hardly get the words out, “But they would flap when he was speaking or blow off in the breeze.”

“He could hang some false nails there instead,” We are both doubled up with laughter by this point.

“Braces would make you lisp,” warns sis, pulling herself together.

“I’d better start practising then,” I try out a few words – thithter, thatithfactory.

The Spanish lisp anyway thanks to that King with the speech defect, that’s why they say Barthelona and Madrith etc. They have some very strange pronunciations, for example, Jesus is pronounce haysooos, so jumpin’ Jack flash would be humpin hack flath, it’s a gath gath gath.

Moral of today’s lament – always know where the stop tap for your ‘gath’ main is and beware of red cockers.


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