Spanish lessons

  Rather than give a Spanish lesson, this is more of a lesson in overcoming other difficulties you might face when moving to Spain, apart from the language, which can get to the most determined of souls and cheerful of spirits.
  Think of all those strange surroundings noises, sights and sounds that are so alien to us Brits. Take for example one of the most simplest of tasks; going to the hairdressers, or god forbid the most scariest place known on the face of the planet, the local village beauticians. Now I’m half Spanish and I’ve been living here in Valencia permanently for over twelve years but I just can’t get used to the biggest of all culture shocks, and I’m not talking about bull runs, or the use of class A explosives during Fallas. I’m talking about your local Sweeny Todd masquerading as your local friendly hairdresser.
  I’m going to assure you that it is not sometimes the language that has anything to do with certain misfortunes that may come your way- just living your life innocently is sufficient, but to put yourself in a position where some S.A.S training would really come in useful?
   It was one spring morning that I decided to give myself a treat. I normally go to Bonaire if I need a haircut or the yearly facial, but I didn’t want to get the car out and I thought I’ll go to the hairdressers across the road. I know the owner as we spent some time together as kids and even though she turned my mothers hair green a few years back and I vowed never to go back again,(especially when she blamed my mother for having the wrong type of hair) I returned. Of course my mother being the person she is, said “Don’t worry dear I’m sure I’ll get used to it”. Well I’m sure it wouldn’t bother her much but my father, myself and our three dogs haven’t been the same since. However, that was a long time ago and now I was sure things would be different. How wrong can you be!
  So first comes the greeting, a very loud ‘cariño’(darling), shouting above the noise of the hairdryers loud enough so even the poor old lady falling asleep under  one of those cone shaped driers  with her giant sized curlers in place woke up with a start. This was just as well because she was definitely cooking. I was relieved that she then raised her frail hand to complain about the burning smell. I’m sat down now wondering that I’ve made a terrible mistake and maybe I should try and escape while the going was good, but what excuse was I going to make? In front of me were two very young girls who were having their hair pinned the traditional way as Falleras do, a bit like Princess Leia in Star Wars. Spanish children have two speaking voice volumes loud and very loud, so each time a hair pin went in the wrong way the child screamed in a way that you could recognise from the sound track of Free Willy.
   I was called in to the first round, the facial- a nice relaxing facial with nice smelling products, well, so I thought. The first part wasn’t too bad but then came the shock of the century ‘The extraction!’ The what? I thought the last time I heard that word was when they were talking about the Spanish troops in Iraq. What could she mean? I made the mistake of asking the question. “The extraction of the impurities of course” she said. I think she was using a euphemism for blackheads. Now last time I looked in the mirror I was sure I hadn’t seen any and I really didn’t think she could. Not to the naked eye, so that is why I imagine she took out an enormous magnifying glass and looked though it just as a surgeon would do while doing open heart surgery. She took out two pieces of tissue and proceeded to squeeze that face……   I can only imagine what child birth is like but from the descriptions my friends have given me I think the pain came pretty close, and then she stopped was that it. There is a God! “The boss will finish you off.” “No it’s O.K” I cried. Too late, she was already out the door. The boss carried on and then graphically told me the sorry state my skin is in and how she has just the thing- an amazing lotion that will put it all right.  So with a very red face and a very empty pocket, I went home and drank a very large glass of wine and thought about all the opportunities I had, I could have objected to the whole thing! But you know with all the Spanish I know, I was rendered helpless in front of these people. It’s as if every time I step in the place I leave my brains and common sense at the door. So it isn’t always the language that can cause the barrier to communicate our true feelings about a situation. It is just because we aren’t used it!      

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