Flapping around on the small screen


When I first came to Valencia years ago, I had a Spanish teacher, and one day she said to me (it sounds better in Spanish), “Derek, you speak Spanish with a perfect accent….the problem is that the accent is English!” Fortunately we both found it amusing.

I speak Spanish about fifty percent of the time, but when El Mundo Digital (the on-line version of the superb Spanish daily – and of course I’m going to say that, aren’t I, when they put me on their front page!) asked me to do an interview I, idiot that I am, thought it would be in English. Oh no…pull out my best Español and let’s get cracking! But it’s a bit different being on that side of the camera and having to appear ‘natural’, when normally it’s me saying, ‘Just one more, I promise, and that’s it!’ The full interview took about twenty minutes. The original edit was seven minutes, so they did pretty good to get it down to 3 minutes plus. Only ever being used to seeing myself in the mirror, when I watched myself in action I couldn’t stop thinking, ‘Who’s that old man!’ Fortunately, the way the piece was edited it didn’t show my life-long nervous twitches (which I recently discovered are a minor form of Tourettes Syndrome, and quite common), nor could you hear my perennial sniff. I’ve always been a wild gesticulator, (‘cut off my hands and call me dumb’, as the old saying goes), but when a friend saw the original edit she said that I could get a job signalling airplanes on to a runway or conduct an orchestra. Cheeky tyke!

Equally fortunately, the recording was made before I acquired my new scar, a crease down the forehead, the result of being mugged. I was coming back from a friend’s birthday party about five weeks ago at about two in the morning, moderately lubricated, it has to be said. The entrance to my apartment block has the usual decorative metal gate as the first opening, and a flight of stairs before you get to the actual door. While I was fiddling the key in the lock someone came up behind me, apparently taken by the bag full of books I was carrying (although the plonker wouldn’t know that’s all the bag contained). He probably saw this drunken old fart wandering up the street in the early hours of the morning as an easy target. Boy, did he make a mistake! He smashed my head against the metal bars, but he didn’t know that the drunken old bugger doesn’t give in easily, especially as the bag was a present from my son, Tom, for my birthday this year. About all I remember is us scuffling on the stairs that lead to the entrance, and the one thing that I’m cheerful about is that there was so much blood flowing that his clothes would have been covered in it. (Apparently the forehead is a proper bleeder – in all senses of the word.) Long story short, I ended up it hospital – where I felt like yelling at everyone, ‘No, I’m not some silly old sod who got rat-arsed and fell over, I got bloody-well attacked!’ although I didn’t bother because most of them were probably more entertained by the bloke who was heaving his guts over walls, floor, windows and sheets, with the full accompaniment of, ‘¡Jesus, Dios, nunca, jamas mas! ‘Never, ever again!’ And how many times have we heard that!

Eventually I ended up on a trolley with a mere snippet of a girl getting ready sew my forehead up. “This is going to leave a scar,” she told me. “Believe me, sweetheart,” I told her, “with a face like this it’s not going to make a great deal of difference!”

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


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