22 October 2008

The Last Days of South Africa, With Pints of Bitter at Kavanagh's Afterwards

Following my career as a quasi-mercenary in South Africa in the late 1990s (about which I will write more later), I ended up back in London, where I obtained a one-bedroom flat on Queen's Gate in South Kensington. It was within crawling distance, I happily discovered, of Kavanagh's, a dark Irish pub under the hotel across the street.

In it worked a beautiful Mexican woman, Carmena, a graphic artist for a Mexican newspaper who was travelling around the world with her husband, who also worked in the pub. Carmena's aquiline nose, noble face, and long flowing black hair immediately attracted my notice. Every night, whilst I sipped my pints of bitter, I looked for her nose plowing through the cigarette smoke and crowd like a ship's bow. She made fun of the accents of the Spanish people working there.

Also working in the pub was Dermiod, an Irishman, a tall, thin, balding figure, with a crimson face the colour of the insoles of my Grenson brogues. He was 35 and claimed to have been born in Queens, but his family returned to Ireland when he was small. His sudden absence from the pub one day, he later confided to me, was due to his appearance in Portsmouth on charges of hitting a woman. He told us he was bisexual. He was caught drinking behind the bar. We never saw him again.

Another worker was a small Spanish girl with a slim, boyish figure and a freckled, upturned nose, not at all like the aristocratic Spanish, Mexican, and Brazilian women I had met. When I mentioned my interest in Franco, she mock spit on the floor in disgust. She told me she wanted to work in America. Her English professor at university in Spain told her she didn't have to know English to work in America, because the USA would soon be a Spanish-speaking country.


anonymous english female said...

Great anecdote, Admiral. Being English living in New York I would agree it helps to speak what i came to know as 'kitchen' spanish. If you come from Galicia you'll get nowhere.

Ben said...

This is an amazing blog you have, even if I can't read the French entries. Hopefully I'll have the stones to do an entire post in Russian someday. You should check my blog out, www.oncewerebachelors.blogspot.com. There seems to be a confluence of interests.

Anonymous said...

As a Spaniard living in my own country, I have found in this blog some unexpected affinities, but also some not too clear (at least for me) tone in some of your stories.

Sometimes I can´t distinguish if you are fantasizing, telling real things about your life or just joking.

Anyway, it´s true that nowdays Spanish speaking population in the USA is larger than Spain total population.

But English speaking population in USA is also larger than UK population ;-)

A humility lesson for European people in this big world.

el viajero impresionista said...

It´s amazing. You only have to make a slight comment about a Spanish topic to discover how many of us follow your blog.I hope "a.e.f." had a good time in Galicia. I have met many Englishmen living there.

anonymous english female said...

Dear Anon. 24 October 07:58

re: yr 2nd paragraph - i agree entirely that's why this is one of my favourite blogs. To quote my and quite possibly the Admiral's compatriot:

"All the world is a stage,
And all the men and women merely players.
They have their exits and entrances;
Each man in his time plays many parts."

William Shakespeare (1564-1616)

A good rubric to live by, no?

Anonymous said...

Dear "anonymus english female"

It´s a great rubric, of course, but the key is that those parts in "El gran teatro del mundo" (as you see, the idea is universal, this is the title of an older play by Calderón de la Barca)must be played, not just imagined.

I mean I prefer actors who "act" to authors who just write.

On 28 May 2008, it was posted in this blog a quote by Ernst Jünger, one of my favourite writers.

I enjoy his fiction books as well as his diaries, but I like to know what really happened and what was just invented.

If "Stahlgewittern" (Storms of Steel)was just a fiction novel, instead of the result of four years fighting in the WWI, it would not be the same, and I´m sure Admiral Cod agrees.

Anyway, I enjoy this blog a lot. Just politics seem to me out of place.

Greetings from Spain.