I believe that people who spend part of the year in Spain and then revert to England are called ‘dippers’. Methinks ‘flippers’ would be a better word: partly like the politicians who occasionally flip their first and second homes for personal gain. Although I’m certainly dissimilar to those characters: for a start, I don’t have a large and abuse-worthy expense account, nor do I have any inclinations towards a career in trying to dress up mutton as lamb. ‘Flippers’ also evokes the idea of fish and it’s easy to feel like a fish out of water when swapping the relaxed way of life in the Spanish mountains to the rather more hectic goings-on in the south of England, complete with its constant traffic queues and everyone ranting on about The Recession / Swine Flu / The Weather. So, with the thought of moaning Brits in mind (yes, I know I moan and rant too), I’m about to do the dreaded ‘flipping’ deed, starting tomorrow morning when we set off for Bilbao in my bruised-looking VW van.
And, flipping ‘eck, yours truly thought that the ferry from Bilbao to Plymouth departed on Saturday morning and was planning a gentle road trip via Toledo. Then I was helpfully informed by an English friend that I originally said I’d be arriving on Saturday pm so the vessel must leave on Friday am instead. Er... correcto! Argh! This rather dizzy mistake, which we’ll put down to being so busy of late, has caused something of a last minute panic. Thankfully, the arduous packing up of the entire house and the stuffing-into-cases of enough adult and infant clothes to sink P&O’s ‘Pride of Bilbao’ has been largely done now. I hope my Titanic fixation doesn’t come to life because, just as ‘one wafer thin mint sir’ can tip the gastronomic balance into a person feeling thoroughly sick (I remind myself here of the restaurant review where I was pretending to be two people and, hence, ate two desserts), ‘one more pair of kids’ shoes’ could possibly plunge the ship towards the sea bed. Talk about going overboard.
An English friend visited this morning to assess my odd jobs: he has turned into a ‘dipper’ and has moved to Brighton with his partner, who is enrolled on a nursing course. But he comes back to Spain to work. We were ruminating over “what is wrong with England these days”. The verdict included a disproportionate fear of and focus on paedophiles, which means that my friend’s daughter’s swimming teacher is banned from entering the swimming pool to demonstrate the breast stroke and front crawl to the youngsters in case the wrong sort of breast stroke applies (how sad – sigh): instead, she must loom around on the pool edge like a fish out of water trying to demonstrate a ‘dry run’ of the required moves. Meanwhile, the children are looking straight ahead and can’t hear the instructions for the sound of splashing and their little ears being largely under the water. Ridiculous! My friend is of the opinion that the national obsession with paedophilia has turned into a form of paedophilia itself: a veritable circus into which all can join. Then we have the commonsense-defying health and safety rules: not being allowed to give a helping hand to people who are struggling (mothers with babies, the elderly, the disabled, etc.), in case you bruise their arm or drop them down some stairs and they sue you. And the ‘Breakdown in Society’, where young people go binge drinking in pubs but families with children aren’t allowed inside licensed venues in case the children move around or make some noise. And Granny is consigned to an old folks’ home because it’s ‘uncool’ to spend time with the oldies and the infants, and who wants to anyway?
Well, actually, I’m looking forward to reuniting my old folks with my infants in Blighty but you can keep your Pork Flu and your recession-obsession to yourselves, thank you very much. And that’s all I’ve got to say right now – I need to stuff a few more items into boxes and then it’s ship ahoy.