I met him outside the MACBA on a sunny Wednesday afternoon. Tom was talking excitedly on the phone “yeah yeah awesome, ah wicked yeah AWWWWWWSOME.” Slight and pale with unfashionable glasses and trousers with useful side-pockets I was enjoying his enthusiasm after another painful Catalan class. I asked him for a cigarette, to which he replied, “awwwwsome, you’re English, WOW nice to meet you.” Now seeing as our shared nationality had enraptured him further in a city where there are more Irish pubs than paellas I assumed he was either highly xenophobic or new to this town. He announced proudly that he was on his gap year and was trying to start a band. “DING DONG,” I thought to myself and casually mentioned that I too had been trying to start a band since 1972. Having nothing better to do than sing bad folk with Tom with glasses I hastily picked up my guitar from home and met him in a small park, to while away the sunny hours with this sunny sunny boy.
We had not been going long when our merry duo was joined by Martin the German Anarchist. He stomped over to us head to toe in leather and slumped himself next to us. Occasionally he would contribute his own lyrics, such as “I never really liked your family anyway,” but mainly he just laughed at us and happily guzzled our beer and fags. At one point a tiny little girl with beautiful ringlets toddled up to us, mystified by the unusual goings, at which Martin shouted, “Want some beer, little boy?” Tom and I smiled apologetically at the nervous looking father and resumed our Top of the World harmonies.
I believe it was somewhere in the midst of Crocodile Rock that events took a sour turn. Martin reached over to roll another cigarette from Tom’s tobacco and, finding there to be none left, threw the empty packet at Tom’s face, slightly dislodging his glasses. “What the fuck is this man??” Tom stuttered that it appeared he had run out of tobacco. “Don’t fuck me man! You fuck me, I fuck you man!” At this he held up his fist to demonstrate the point, revealing knuckles branded with F.U.C.K. We hadn’t doubted his words for a moment, and his x-rated tattoo only confirmed our fears. We nodded vigorously in agreement, and I wished that Tom wasn’t holding my guitar at that point so I could have scarpered, leaving my new friend to whatever fate Martin prescribed, but he was, so I held my position and uttered soothing noises. After a medium sized anti monarchist rant the air seemed to be calming, and the whole episode ended in a warm embrace of the two, with Martin’s words, “You have one penis, I have one penis man,” and Tom’s reply, “I totally agree,” being the final words on the matter.
A while later, with the three of us in uneasy equilibrium, Martin’s mates from the squat house showed up. Leading the way was Sasha(“it’s not girly it’s Russian”), a huge booming Hulk of a man with an equally enormous dog and carton of wine. “Don’t listen to what I say,” he boomed, “I’ve been drinking for...... ten years now.” Alongside Big Sasha sat Zach, a sweet young man introduced to us as the holder of the finest dreadlocks in Barcelona. He smiled modestly and shook his head muttering, “Oh, it’s nothing really,” while we were shown a dreadlock the width of Sasha’s hand. Impressive. Zach and I had much to talk about with Essex, Suffolk and Bristol connections (he was the founder of The Philosophers’ Fair phsy-trance festival in Mildenhall) and Tom tried very hard to woo the giant. Someone inquired as to the name of our whereabouts. Nobody knew exactly. “Bon Success!” boomed Sasha, “I call this, “Plaza de Bon Success”.”
Barcelona is alive with off-beat cultural activities. In just the last week I have partaken in a pillow fight flash mob, attended a recital in a squat of a man playing an African instrument made from a pumpkin and listened to an Effervescent Electronica D.J play at 9pm in a library, while everyone sat down and actually listened.
Language skills are improving, I’ve made a couple more mates and the sun is bloody shining. I call that a Bon Success.