This week’s contributor is a social worker taking her holiday in Spain


Reached the hotel late last night, barely noticing an exhibition
being set up. After an early swim, my husband comes back laughing.
“They’ve found you – the client’s revenge,” he cries. It is
Geriatrico Medico week and some 25 reps demonstrate aids and
adaptations for the elderly. An unwary step takes me into the path
of a mechanised wheelchair, while hundreds of home staff – mainly
nuns – are trying out the equipment. Some swing in hoists, while a
group of priests pass round continence pads and plastic pouches.
Everyone greets us, and presses samples of continence pads into my
shaking hands – somehow they think we’ve come all the way from
London to attend the exhibition. I’ve got six desk calendars now,
each month featuring a different geriatric joke in Spanish.


Brilliant sunshine by the pool as we recover from yesterday. I
watch lazily as a group of six nuns in modern white habits stand by
the pool, lifting their arms, stretching them. Please let them fall
one by one into the pool for synchronised swimming!


Seville brings another reminder of work. While visiting some
amazing gardens at the Alcazar we are asked to donate to a home for
“Down’s children”. Each of us gladly gives 300 pesetas, but an
extra donation is returned with a stern face and wagging finger.
“Too much,” I am scolded. In the gardens are a group of young
people from the home, who are not welcomed by other visitors –
particularly as a couple of the larger boys spit at everyone. “Stop
that!” I say loudly in English as we approach. They stop. Whispers
of admiration are heard as we pass, my husband whistling Rule
Britannia quietly as he marches behind me.


Can’t waste the sunshine, so back to the pool. A large English
party has arrived, and I get there half-way through a story about
the auntie who died smoking to the end, her cigarette wedged into
the gap between two teeth. “Of course, they took the cigarette out
eventually, before they put her in the coffin,” I hear. Attention
is then turned to fellow travellers. One says scornfully: “Her and
her People’s Friend, flashing around, laying it on seats. I said:
‘May I and my friend pass?’ but no, she just turned the pages of
her People’s Friend – we had to push past as my friend needed to be
sick.” Not in the pool, I hope.


It’s 7am, and coaches are filling up. The Americans are huge and
slow, the Germans even larger, the Israelis stand in groups arguing
over politics, while the English shuffle to their coach shouting:
“Anyone for the Skylark?”. That evening we are approached by an
English woman who tells us she arrived yesterday from Bromley but
her friends, who were due to arrive on the Tangier ferry, have not.
All she has eaten in two days is a pint of milk and three oranges.
Shades of Friday afternoons at work – section one money, emergency
grants – flash through my mind. There is no escape. “It will be our
pleasure to help you,” I declaim, and hand over 500 pesetas.
“Covers a reasonable bottle of vino tinto,” grumbles my husband.
Cheap at the price.

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