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Smack My Beach Up I:
Queer Cove, Johnny Foreigner

May 2000

Look. This is Dai’s home. See Dai’s home. It is small. It is neat and tidy. Dai has not lived here long.
Look down. This is Dai’s floor. See Dai’s floor. See Dai’s tiles. Are Dai’s tiles clean? Dai’s tiles look clean.
Take off your shoes. Take off your socks. Walk on Dai’s tiles. Do they feel cool? Yes, they feel cool. Do they feel smooth?
No they bloody don’t. They feel as if they were coated with a fine, invisible layer of sand. Which is because they are.

The idea behind the move to Cádiz was to write, to learn Spanish and to drag my computer skills into the late Twentieth Century before the Twenty-first gets under way. Then again, the idea of going to University was to learn, get a good degree and land an interesting, responsible and, let’s not deny it, lucrative job. Just as then I stayed but to maximise the profits of the Union bar, now I “remain in Spain to piss beer down the drain”.
That’s not true: I just liked the rhyme. As I told my father when he asked, not unreasonably, what I was going to do with myself here, “I have every intention of making a career move to Contract Beach Bum”.
The trouble, if trouble is the right word, lies in the proximity of the bijou residence to the beachy places. The Phoenicians founded the port of Gadir three thousand years ago, when they discovered a natural cove at the end of a spit. “This will be a great harbour for our ships,” they cried. “Let’s found the first settlement in Europe, right here!” Before they’d even finished speaking, their womenfolk had removed most of their clothes and were sitting on the sand, splashing in the water and flirting with the sailors, who for the next five hundred years were, sadly for them, their own husbands.
The port is now situated beside the reclaimed land to the east of the spit and la Caleta, the Cove, is now simply 500 yards of gently curving beach, dominated by a superb Art-Deco balneario, gleaming white and spotlessly unused. And it’s but two minutes’ easy stroll from la casucha, home of Yours Truly.
Now this beach has a number of interesting attributes, besides its aforementioned proximity and pleasant aspect. It is also covered in fine sand and very attractive, scantily-clad young women. The sand is of the type that clings tenaciously to one’s skin and gets into every fold of one’s clothing, unlike las chicas, who remain stubbornly on the beach whenever I leave for home.
But once indoors the sand displays other magical properties. However much gets washed away in the shower, one still seems, once dry, to be coated in the same amount as before. Walking around the flat is the only way to dislodge it, as each footfall shakes a small quantity onto the floor. And when my flesh and all the little hairs on my reddened limbs are finally clear of their grainy cargo, the time has come for me to resume my post in the sun.
If you can’t fight it, collect it, one might say. It’s one of those serendipitous coincidences that, as well as “a small cove”, una caleta also means "one who hoards". I did not come here with the intention of building up a sand collection and at first each day’s deposit was diligently swept up into a corner, with the intent of disposing of it, eventually, via a dustpan. But, as the dunes grew rapidly against the living room wall, I thought how grand it would be if it were not swept away and I had a little beach of my own.

So now I am patiently building up La Caleta Pequeña, for those days when the weather is less than clement or a two minute-walk is a daunting prospect. A deck chair and umbrella can be added later and it is of course already very handy for El Frigorifico with its extensive range of wines and beers. But worry not, gentle reader, for I shall not neglect my duties as a beach bum and reporter. The original beach will be visited frequently, even when my own is large enough to film the remake of Lawrence of Arabia, which, at the present rate of progress, will be sometime in August.
Let’s face it, convenient though it may be, for scenery, plain white walls, however nicely textured, cannot compete with the Atlantic Ocean and wall-to-wall señoritas. In fact, it’s time I went out …

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