Wednesday, May 02, 2012

The rats in Granada part 1

I used to live in a very ordinary Granada street close to the Facultad de FilosofĂ­a y Letras, where I was studying. It was called Lavadero de las Tablas, a dark ground floor with a bed and table and a chair and not much else. I spent most of the winter in bed, it being freezing cold, and had my cafe for breakfast and my cheap restaurant for the other meals, and grew fond of my landlady who reminded me of my long dead mother. Half way through my stay she moved house to a new apartment just the other side of the Camino de Ronda, and was anxious I moved with her. It was a hideous apartment block on a street called Santa Clotilde, ugly then and even uglier now. It's saving grace was that it was on the sixth floor and had a balcony. And the balcony overlooked the Vega, the fields around the Granada, and the mountains beyond. I used to go for long walks on this extraordinary fertile plain, so enjoying the fields for vegetables, and the long dark, slow flowing irrigation channels that followed an incredibly ancient system established in Roman times, expanded and improved by the Muslims, and somehow surviving the folly of the early seventeenth century expulsion of the Moors. I look back with such respect on that lonely young man, myself, reading in Spanish to be free to develop his own style, desperately needing love, desperately afraid of it, convinced he was so sick inside no-one ever could possibly love him, not knowing how to become a writer but knowing there was nothing else to do. And so writing, writing, writing. The ground floors of these flats were designed eventually to become shops, but no-one had let them, and because the local authority had no doubt been bribed to allow the flats to be built they had not got round to developing any system for removal of their rubbish. So everyone just threw it into the vacant shop units, which became breeding ground for rats. Rats that would scurry past me as I walked home at night, and which I took to be symbolic of the filth and corruption of the Franco regime and of society in general and which, somehow, made it seem quite logical to be living in one of the most beautiful cities in Europe and yet having my lodging in its ugliest district.
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