The Spanish crusaders (five drunk Spaniards)

A crash in the bathroom wrenches me from sleep. Groggy-eyed, I reach for my mobile and check out the time: 7.40am. Brilliant. "I dropped it," says the bloke - emerging from the bathroom, swaying, with pieces of the porcelain soap dish spilling from his fingers.

How the hell did he manage that? It was glued to the wall!

I groan and pull the covers over my head. This is not one of those Saturday mornings he will spring out of bed and go fishing. He's just on his way to collapse into a rum-induced coma after a night out with the Spanish crusaders.

Most people who meet my boyfriend for the first time probably don't know what to make of him. He's a bit of a strong character whose mouth moves a gear ahead of his brain. And he likes a drink or ten, after which he turns into a firing on all cylinders pub hobgoblin. But then if you think that's hard going, god you should see him when he gets together with his friends.

They're all at least five years older than him, though you'd never know it. In fact by their behavior you'd be hard pressed to pin an age on any of them. Their friendship goes back to the Eighties, when they took the bloke under their wing and let him hang about with the older kids cos he used to swap computer games with one of their gang.

The most of them are there when we rock up to el Maison del Puerto at about 10pm. I was hoping at least one other wife or girlfriend would be there, but no, it's just the boys. Oh and me. Sticking out like a sore thumb and also wearing a dress, just to make the difference even more obvious.

There's el Gordo (fatty) who "isn't allowed out that much any more" since his wife had a kid. He's not fat at all since he got seriously into rock climbing, but the name stuck like a wellie in the mud. He's like a big brother to the bloke, who always listens to his advice.

A few feet above the rest is el Largo (the Large). I've never seen a man so tall - especially a Spaniard, which I usually pip in the height department. He talks so fast that I find him impossible to understand most of the time. Though I've never spoken to him about it he has an unusual job - he is a creative responsible for coming up for ideas for TV commercials.

It's curious, I've never spoken to any of them about their careers - I don't know what most of them do. The conversation here is just not about all that 'real life' boring stuff. I do know that Luisito (little Luis) runs a bar, though. at the moment he has longish hair and a beard but I don't know how long that'll last. He's dyed his hair pink in the past, and one time he wet shaved his hair off completely for a friend's wedding. I was talking to him for ten minutes before I realized who he was.

The last one here this evening is Miguelito (little Miguel). He's obsessed with football (He's the one who took me to el Classico not that long ago).

Together they seem like a herd of characters from a Almodovar film, all trying to be heard at once, and gesticulating wildly. (Bloke says: "You have to scream to be heard in this group" and don't I know it)

Amazingly, the fist hour of the night (and perhaps more) is taken up by bitching. Bitching! like a group of old abuelas (grandmothers) About how they weren't treated right at one bar or another, how another one serves garrafon (fake alcohol) About the correct etiquette of how to treat your friends if you own a bars.

Alcohol is a reoccurring theme. Would you think it's possible to talk about whisky for 30 minutes solid? Well it is. And not only that, these boys can really put it away. i thought I'd known big drinkers in my time but nothing compares to this group. In the two or so hours we're stood having tapas the bill lists 12 beers and 24 copas.

And they're truly eye watering measures, which keep getting bigger as the night goes on. Gordo is drinking neat whisky - in the final drink at this bar his measure reaches the top of the glass.

By the time we leave El Maison the barmen are crying with laughter at the bloke's imitation of the local San Martin accent: "Que paha tio?" And Miguel is doing football-style commentary of the barmen clearing up for the evening. Everyone apart from the bloke - who amazingly quit smoking two weeks ago - is chuffing on cigars, filling the bar with acrid smoke.

Before we leave, Largo tells me in his broken English that having a baby doesn't need to change your life. You can still to go out, you can still have fun. You can still go on holiday. His girlfriend had a baby three weeks ago and he certainly still looks like he's having fun. He admits his other half is staying home with the new arrival at the moment, but assures me that as soon as she feels up to going out with her friends he'll be happy to stay in with the baby. Sounds like a fair enough deal.

At that point I leave them, going home while they head off into Pelayos to tear up the town. Definitely five men on a mission.

When the bloke gets up the next afternoon he has to ring the others to piece together the night before. At least there were no fights this time. Two weekends ago the bloke got slapped in the face after he grabbed a girl by the arm to bring her to talk to Luisito. He thought this girl had been making eyes at Luis all night. But it had been another girl - this one had a boyfriend, who did the slapping. It was all smoothed over in the end though - and for some reason the bloke hugged the guy who had slapped him. He spent the next day beating himself up over it though.

Oh and the best thing was that Luisito was oblivious to the whole thing. "That's the last time I try and help him get a girlfriend," says the bloke afterwards.

What the bloke can remember is falling straight backwards, flat on his back, Charlie Chaplin style in the middle of a bar. And no-one coming to see if he was all right afterwards, apart from Luisito. "At least you didn't spill the drinks though," Luis tells him the next day.

And they can remember jumping over the chairs in their local bar 'If', and the other "normal" people sitting outside the bar waiting for them to leave before they came in.

The bloke apparently left the bar at 6.30am but didn't get home till a good hour later. Apparently Miguelito had to talk him out of going swimming in the lake.

Poor Gordo seems to have come off the worst, though. After telling the rest of the group to take it easy he ended up in the worst state, and has hurt his hand and wrist, though doesn't know how. The next day he has to go to A&E and ends up with a plaster cast, going all the way up to his elbow.

"Oh dear," says the bloke. "I don't think we'll be seeing him out for a while." I think he could be right.

I'm amazed they've got home in one piece. And i'm even more amazed, that the next day we all meet up again to go over the night's events (with the women in tow this time) they're all sitting round sipping on tinto de veranos, and not one of them has even the a sniff of a hangover. How is that possible? how is that fair?

Must be something in the Spanish blood. Either that or they've got livers of steel.


  1. what a great post Kath!
    Fancy a rum a Yuppies tonight??

  2. Its in the blood or as it does with me it will hit them the second day as the alcohol is still topping up yet ..
    What El Largo forgets is, when you have a baby you cannot have a hangover unless they like to sleep all day...I know from experience xx
    Great post xx

  3. I have tagged you on my blog if you fancy taking part xx

  4. Ha, I'm sure Largo will figure that out with time. If he doesn't there's no justice in the world! xx