A different world

The actors looked different when they weren't on stage. Some of the magic had gone. They were smaller, and if you looked closely you could see blemishes and wrinkles.

What a surprise to find out they were human after all.

Watching them interact in the bar was like gatecrashing a private birthday party. So familiar were they, you almost felt you shouldn't be there. Eyes on eyes, gazing. Tucking each other's hair behind the ears mid sentence. Earnest touches to the face. It was all so intimate. They were a different breed of people.

And in the middle of it all the bloke and me, and of course Alicia, the one we had come to see. But with her the magic was still there, it always seemed to be.

On stage she was altogether the same and different. Speaking with the same voice, but with subtle nuances and shifts that made her into another person.

Seeing her there brought tears to my eyes. My cuñada, my sister-in-law. Who lives in a different world.

Some of the words jumped off the stage and bit me.

"¿Por que? Si creéis en Dios, y yo creo, ¿por qué tenéis miedo a la muerte? Y si creéis en la muerte, ¿por qué esa crueldad, ese despego al terrible dolor de vuestros semejantes?"

"Why? If you believe in God, why do you fear death? And if you believe in death, why this cruelty, this drawing away from the terrible pain of your fellow human beings?"

Nothing less than a slap in the face.

In the bar she showed us pictures on her phone. Her playing Federico Lorca's piano in the house he used to live in. Told us stories of how he had the keys to the Alhambra, and would do his writing there, or hang out with friends, getting inspired.

She introduced us to the niece of a famous flamenco singer whose auntie died of a drug overdose. The girl - who less than an hour ago was a different being up on the stage - asked me if I could follow the play, being British, and all. Her concerned frown turned to delight when I pulled out a copy of the original text and told her I've been studying it.

"That is so British," laughed Alicia. "I love that you did that."

I laughed too. Some habits are hard to shake. And I will always have my very British idiosyncrasies. But I felt a million miles from Britain.

Today I sat with the hot sun on my face and drank wine. Climbed the steep hill up to the Alhambra, the place where Lorca himself used to go for inspiration. Drunk on wonderment I strolled the grounds with the bloke, devouring it all with my eyes. Thinking back to what it would have been like in ancient times, when kings and queens held court here.

At the top of the towers that look out over the picture-perfect landscape of Granada, we stood and watched the sun begin to sink in the sky, covering everything with white light.

It was one of those moments when you realize that you are just one tiny speck of dust on the vast map of life.

But it doesn't scare you. Not this time anyway.


  1. "Why? If you believe in God, why do you fear death? And if you believe in death, why this cruelty, this drawing away from the terrible pain of your fellow human beings?"

    It seems to me that even believers don't believe enough not to fear death ?!

  2. Pondering about ones own mortality and prospective in life is .. I think a good thing, as it makes slightly more humble and aware that we should make the most of what we have and to respect this wonderful world for those that come after us xx

  3. Second time that I have read this post.. as I always feel a bit of the Spanish warmth when I read your posts.. which I could do with on this cold damp Welsh day ... xx

  4. Joe - good point. Wish I could beleive enough not to fear it.

    Ruby - another good point! You are so right...

    Wilerness - he he he - sending you some mental warmth. Sorry to tell you there's a heatwave this weekend, and I'm off to Malaga. Happy days. xxx