Sunday, 6 May 2007

Frank

-‘You don’t see them, nowadays….you ever seen one?’ Frank fires off this question.
Raised eyebrows and a shrug are my answer: I’m half-way down a bottle of San Mig.
- ‘I’m mean not usual, even here, are they?’ Another shot across my bows.
More dumb show from me, I’m still glugging.
- ‘I saw someone…yesterday…. With one of those, you know, the buckets hanging off the wood.’
I bang my bottle on the bar counter: a satisfying ring echoes off the copper. Andreas winks and waggles the empty at me.
- ‘What are you on about..? D’you mean a yoke?’
Frank nods, sagely. I’m still mystified. We’re in the Venta. First time for a month: the toilet block fell down. Even here that means closure: the kitchen fell down too; it’s next door. Or was.
Frank scratches his nose with the stumps of fingers index and two on his left hand.
-‘Yoke, yes! I haven’t seen one of those…Well, it’s been a long time.’
I’ve never seen one – films don’t count- but then Frank’s older than me.
-‘What are they for?’ He wants to know. ‘I mean there must be something more modern, eh?’
-‘I don’t know what,’ I say - since I’ve no idea what they’re for either - and I pick up my second bottle.
The wet cold in my hand is as good as that in my throat. There’s no A/C in the Venta. Only hot air from Frank.
‘I wouldn’t use a hand saw nowadays; not with power tools.’
Some beer comes out of my nose as I almost choke.
Frank has told me over other beers that he used to be a carpenter. He admits to being 65, but - like most Brits in Andalucia – he has taken the words ‘New Life’ a little too literally. I tell a few lies myself, I don’t like feeling left out.
© Ewan Lawrie 2007

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