the Minstrel's Tale down along the Costa Blanca
The events portrayed in this series are not necessarily in chronological order
Syncopation is when the note that you should
hear now happens either
August 3rd, 2005
A neighbour had previously noticed a small boat moored in the canal just opposite their front door. There were two men in it, obviously watching the house. They sat there all afternoon. Suddenly, while it was still broad daylight, there was a loud crash. The neighbour phoned the police and rushed out to take a look. One of the men was still sitting in the boat, but the other one jumped out of the broken window and ran out of the garden when he saw the game was up. With the neighbour in hot pursuit he had nowhere else to go, so he plunged into the canal and began swimming, fully clothed, towards the bank on the other side.
Meanwhile, as if by magic, several police cars drew up, haw-he-haw-he-haw-he, just like on television and a police helicopter began circling overhead. COME OUT OF THERE! LAY ON THE GROUND! LET ME SEE YOUR HANDS! LOOK AT ME! they shouted at 3,000 decibels. But the man kept on swimming.
Then police cars drew up on the opposite bank. Then police boats appeared. He tried to swim upriver, and, to cut a long story short, he got nicked. The other guy didn't even try to make a run for it, just sat there with his mouth open. They both turned out to be 19-year-old Germans, and surprise, surprise, they were wanted back home for various misdemeanours of a similar nature.
Here's my question: How come the police appeared so quickly, and in such force? Almost as if they were waiting in the wings for this to happen. Maybe they had staged the whole thing! Who cares! What a performance! Brilliant!
I bought some fish and chips next door; piece of cod and a handful of those scampi in breadcrumbs. Extra chips, of course.
"Here," I said to the fish and chip man, nodding at The Shamrock, "Are there any Irish waiters in there?"
"Hear any Irish music - accordions and all that?
"Do they slide the beer down the wet counter at you at high speed."
"Does anyone suddenly start to sing, and they all shut up and listen?"
"Of course not."
"Big fights every night? You know You played a bum note there, Paddy! Nobody tells me I played a bum note! Take that! No, you take that, and that..."
"Not at all."
Never an Irish pub, that one.
The brilliant alto saxophonist Peter King asked me for a lift to the gig one day. We were staying out in the country somewhere with Jack Parnell's band. To get to the gig I wound up that VW in the usual manner and was happily cornering with a series of perfectly controlled power slides in the narrow twisting lanes when Peter asked me to stop the car for a moment. Then he got out and said thanks but he'd like to walk the rest of the way. Get some much-needed exercise, you know.
I thought Peter would never have forgotten that ride, but when Jack Dawkes told him about it the other day he couldn't remember it. It turns out that he has actual racing experience - done the odd laps at Brand's Hatch, knows Mika Hakkinen and Johnny Herbert well, and stuff like that. He told me that Heinz Harold Frentzen's dad used to run a funeral parlour and Heinz's favourite trick was to leave everyone standing at the lights in one of the family hearses. People would have the shock of their lives. This old hearse would pull up beside them at the lights and then blitz everyone.
Nobody seemed to know who he was. He was just about to be buried in what we'd call a pauper's grave when a Dutch musician saw a small notice in the newspaper that a man called Ernest Bailey was to be buried that day and stopped the ceremony. The funeral was put off for a couple of weeks to allow Benny's sisters to come over from Cleveland.
There was a tribute on Dutch television last month, produced by Marianne van Genabeth, the long time partner of saxophonist Ferdinand Povel. She has sent me a copy of the programme, but it can be viewed by clicking here. Run fast-forward a bit to find Benny's tribute. The programme is in Dutch, but you'll see and hear the great man.
We went around to see her and while we were there I'll swear that she jumped in, swam, got out, jumped in, swam, got out, jumped in, swam, in that pool about five-hundred times, laughing fit to burst all the time. She can also write my name now, easy because it's more or less her own name backwards.
It reminded me of the time I was on holiday in Cattolica and the hotel owner asked us to take one of the guests to his doctor. She was a very quiet German girl of about 25 years of age, very slim boyish figure, very pleasant to talk to, a librarian, not married, on holiday alone, and she was complaining of stomach pains. We took her to the doctor. She told us not to wait, she'd take a taxi back to the hotel.
About an hour later the hotel owner called me over. Apparently the doctor had taken one look at her and started to shout. "You're wasting my time with your silly stomach pains," he roared. "Do you take me for a fool? You are about to have a baby at any moment!"
"But she was flat," I said, "Flat as a plank."
"That's right! he said, "But the doctor delivered the baby right away while she was in there. She said she had no idea of how it could have happened."
"Did he go and look out the window when she said that?"
"Well the last time that happened three wise men rode up out of the East."
"Oh that! Yeah! Ha-ha-ha!"
Conny rushed out and came back with the enormous net she uses when she transfers the goldfish from one pool to the other.
"If they bite you you'll get bubonic plague," I said.
"Don't be silly. These are babies and it's rabies you get, anyway." She caught one and it was about the size of a large butterfly. She let it go free outside. We didn't find the other one. Probably building a nest in some dark corner of the house, or whatever they do, and hatching out our own private vampires. I'm surprised that she let that one go. Conny feeds any and every animal and bird that turns up on our doorstep. Good job there are no dinosaurs around any more.
Copyright © 2004, Ron Simmonds. All Rights Reserved