The Blue Beast Twenty

Friday, 14 June 2002

World Cup Woes

I don’t want to hear any more about the so-called World Cup. 
I spent most of my life flying all over the world yet half the countries in the finals I’ve never even been to and, to make it worse, several of them will progress to the next round. 
I think it is significant that the host nation played in 8 of the last 16 World Cup Finals. And was often a winner. 
England 1966 huh! 
I wasn’t able to watch the matches where the best teams in the world were squeezed out of the competition, live, because? 
Because they weren’t playing against Spain! 
The Spanish press and TV make ‘The Sun’ look quite objective. If Spain isn’t in the final I will have to buy an English newspaper to get the results. 
Gary Lineker is quoted in the local paper as saying that, ‘football is a game invented by the English but always won by the Germans’. 
Not this time Gary! Brazil-Spain in the Finals. 
I’ve been sent this clever spread sheet which allows you to predict certain results and it then works out who will be in the final. Spent hours calculating the result above and I don’t want to be wrong. 
At least this way I’ll get to watch the Final live on Sunday 30 June. 
If only Argentina had scored against England! 
As I say, enough. 

I have received numerous complaints and rude comments about my address. Now look here, it’s not my fault if I don’t have a simple postal address. There’s a big difference between describing where I live and what the postal address is and suggestions that I’m in a mobile home which keeps moving are unhelpful! 
To resolve the problem, I went to the post office in Ezkurra to ask the post mistress what should be written on an envelope to ensure its safe delivery. 

Ezkurra nestles in the valley about 2kms away, crammed around a mountain stream that crashes down to the Ezkurra river below. 
The old man in the van had told me the post office was beside the church so I parked my car under the trees by the pelota court and walked up the narrow cobbled alley towards the church spire. I wandered up and round and down and not only did I not find the post office, I saw not a soul. 
The place was completely deserted and it was only 11:30. 
There are no signs in Ezkurra except ‘Hostal Jakatxea’ which is my restaurant/bar/internet cafe so I went in to ask directions. 
“Oh, she’ll be in in a minute,” said the landlady, “Have a coffee.” 

Sure enough, a young woman came in a short while later clutching a large brown envelope. After introductions, she handed me the envelope. It was addressed in Italian to il signori inglesi and was from my brother, Richard. He had managed to corrupt the spelling of my address from ctra de Leitza (road to Leitza) to centra de Leitza (centre of Leitza, some 10kms away).  Despite all that it had taken just 4 days from UK to reach my hands. 
“How did you know it was for me?” I asked. 
“Well, it wasn’t for anyone else,” she said with admirable common sense and told me where to find the post office. I had walked past it twice in my wanderings not realising this perfectly normal looking house was in fact the focal point of the village. I went off to find it. 

The front door was open and I could smell delicious cooking aromas. I called out and within seconds two tiny, elderly sisters, almost identical in house coats and slippers came out of the kitchen. I told them who I was and that I wanted to find out my correct postal address. 
“What was I to have written on the envelopes to ensure the letter arrived safely?'”
They both began talking at once, and continued to do so in a flow of words, detail, gossip, information and questions that lasted ten minutes. It was possible only to listen to one at a time with an ear cocked to the other for a more interesting topic, switching my attention backwards and forwards, all the time saying, ‘Vale, vale‘ and ‘No me digas!‘, ‘You don’t say!’ 

What I gleaned from this uninteruptable flow was: 
a) The postmistress was the daughter of the one on the left and she had a 16 year old son who everyone thinks is her brother 
b) The old man in the van was the husband of the one on the right 
c) Having retired they had handed over the business to their daughter/niece 
d) I was very tall 
e) Everyone left the village to go to work or school and didn’t come back until lunchtime at 1500 
f) The magnificent house at the top of the hill was built by a foreigner using stone and timbers salvaged from old houses and the builders were the same as those currently repairing the post office roof. 
g) You could put what you like on the envelope as they would know it was for me by the name. 
Finally, “Would I like to see the Post Office?” 
I was ushered through a bead curtain into a tiny room which had three or four easy chairs and dozens of framed photos arranged on a side table. In the corner, on a little desk were assorted pens and pencils and various scraps of paper and a big ink pad and hand stamp. 
That was it. 
The two old girls waved the hand stamp at me and said if I had any letters to post they would take care of them, there and then. 
I thanked them and wandered back out into the sunshine pondering on where Consignia – Royal Mail – had gone wrong.

 I cooked my first meal. Don Juan had given me a bag of wild ceps and a couple of eggs so I made a mushroom omlette or ‘revuelto de setas‘ in a casserole dish I found in the garage. I had to buy oil and salt and butter and garlic and bread, all of which I managed to get from Andy the Baker in Leitza on Sunday afternoon when everything else was shut. 
The wood burning stove, which is like a small Aga, hasn’t got a stove pipe so I can’t light it. Don Juan says he will connect it towards autumn when it starts getting cold. Means banging a hole up through the roof. 
The little gas cooker was encrusted with grease and took ages to clean but now looks respectable, if a bit rickety and I’m able to make coffee and toast in the mornings. Toast is made using one of those round heat diffusers placed on the gas ring and the bread rests on top. There’s a grill in the little gas oven but it looks positively dangerous, besides the oven is so small I could never get my head in it. 

I have removed all the net curtains from the windows and washed them before putting them away, along with the glazed poodles, plastic flowers, lace mats and other assorted ornaments dotted throughout, so the house is looking clean and bright but bare. Once my stuff arrives it will fill all the available space and make the place more lived in. 
Can’t wait to get a decent bed with proper sheets and pillows as the single mattress on the double bedstead requires a full bottle of Rioja to feel comfortable. 
Here is the definitive address: 
Casa Chombola s/n 
Crta Leiza Km13 
31749 Ezkurra 


And, at great expense, here is a picture of what a Chombola looks like. It’s taken from the driveway looking up at Torsion Bar Terrace and the kitchen window with the Crow’s Nest above and the master’s bedroom on the right. 

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