Honestly – I don’t want to dance.

They’ve finally caught up with me. I thought I’d escaped them. The Rumanian accordion mafia.

When I lived briefly in Jerez de la Frontera in Andalucia a couple of years ago I had a splendid apartment on the main pedestrianised shopping street in the town. Tree-lined, plenty of small cafes, it seemed just the place an up-and-coming chap should be. The estate agent said that it was bustling during the day, but quiet at night – which just shows how much of a bloody liar he turned out to be. But my night-time noises are another story for another day.

At various stages down the street were wood and metal benches, idea for pensioners to have a sit on while watching the world passing by. Unfortunately, they were also idea for the accordion busker to sit on with a small cardboard box at his feet. At first I quite enjoyed the sound drifting up to my third-floor window, but I soon realised that he could only play a few bars – badly – of ‘Oh how we danced on the night we were wed,’ before he segued into ‘I love Paris in the springtime.’ It got bloody boring bloody quickly, but it helped a bit that he did a round of the cafes out of my area, and I got a bit of a respite. One day I heard the fearful tune begin, but realised that it was played even more inexpertly than I was used to hearing, and when I looked over my balcony I realised that it was someone else playing exactly the same refrains on the same accordion.

A short while later I had to go to Seville, and as I was walking near the Giralda I heard the same tune, this time played by someone else, but just as badly as the others. When I moved back to Valencia a couple of months later, I had to make a trip to the north, and when I went to take a ride on the rattling old tram that goes along the prom in A Coruña, there it was again! Same tune, same segue! I began to think that there is a Rumanian businessman that rents out accordions and teaches his fellow countrymen the same two snatches of tunes (all the players I’ve heard are Rumanian; I’ve asked a couple of them just to be sure), and takes a percentage of their take. I was completely and absolutely shocked when I went to Manchester last spring and there he was, in Piccadilly Gardens, playing the same two tunes, segued one from the other! Different man, different accordion, but exactly the same music. So the businessman in Spain has gone Europe-wide!

And now, ten minutes ago, I finally heard the Valencian invasion – at the café right below my window. So it seems that my past is catching up with me. This time, though, there are no benches to sit on and only one café audience to play to, so I hope Mr Squeezebox passes by and never darkens my doorstep again.

If you would like to know more about Spain, visit my web site, www.derekworkman-journalist.com , and Spain Uncovered


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