Life Journal

My First Years in London: 1989/93

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Madrid 24/10/1989 Tuesday

temperature 20c

We arrived here yesterday at 7 in the morning. The temperature was a comfortable 15c. Nine hours in the plane and a bunch of Spaniards in it. One of my mum’s friends, Edson (what an idiotic name) recommended us a hostel, in the Calle de Infantas, which is a is more like a shitel. No TV in the bedrooms, or breakfast. At least it’s cheap and it’s right in the center, in a quiet street. We left our things here, slept until noon and then went out to eat.

Cigarettes are sold in machines and, provincial that I am, couldn’t resist and bought a packet of Winston. So much for stopping smoking… But as soon as I finish this pack I will stop!

We went for a walk around Puerta del Sol and stopped at a newsagent to buy postcards and The Financial Times. I fell in love with Madrid, so beautiful. The streets are busy, like in Rio, and the Spanish are very guapos! Never seen so many handsome men in one day. They have that latin way and I flirted a lot.

But then it all went wrong. My mother and I went to a pharmacy to buy shampoo and cream. As we were paying my mum couldn’t find her purse. The purse with all our money. I had to force myself to breath. She had forgotten it at the newsagent… We ran back and, obviously, the purse wasn’t there. Either the man who works there took it, or someone else did… My mum nagged the man to death, he told her to go to the police. So we ended up at a police station in Calle de la Luna, and on the way there my mum was hysterical, saying she was going to mug someone so she wouldn’t be at a loss (and I’m the immature one?). I became her mum at that point. For the first time in my life I went to a police station for a ‘robbery’. In the end they said she was negligent and we could only expect to get the documents back. Whoever took it did well, four hundred dollars, five thousand pesetas and fifteen new cruzados. Not much maybe, but it was all we had for our stay here.

We found three pounds and 250 pesetas, i.e. NOTHING. We then got lost on our way to the hostel (bloody hell, it’s like some black magic curse, ‘urucubaca’ in Portuguese), the streets here don’t seem to have names, only a few. They Madridians aren’t very corteous, but one explained to us how to get back, we had been going the opposite way! Once we got back my mum went to Telefonica, to call London and ask for money. The guy at the hostel said it happens here all the time, they open your bag and you don’t even notice and my mum decided that’s what happened. Although I find it very doubtful that I wouldn’t have noticed someone getting their hands in her bag…

When she got back we went to an ‘espelunca’ (a food establishment of very low standards) for me to eat a sandwich for 190 pesetas. It was disgusting. We went back to telefonica and she phoned Carmen, not sure what for. We got back to the room and because of the three hour time difference I only went to sleep at three in the morning, and I had a terrible stomach ache, because of the damned sandwich. All that was missing was the ceiling falling on my head to fuck everything up for once.

Today we woke up at one in the afternoon and my mum phoned the Banco do Brasil, money wasn’t there yet. As the banks shut at two, it will only be there tomorrow. My mum went to exchange the £3 (about 500 pesetas) but the bastards don’t exchange coins. And so we had 60 pesetas left, what to do? That’s not enough to eat. We went for a walk in a wonderful park, huge and verdant. We stayed there all afternoon taking photos. The sun here is weak and mild. Saw lots of people from everywhere, a lot of English people come here. The city really is amazing.

And so we had our enforced fasting and then managed to buy some popcorn. My mum is always fasting and is used to it, but I was starving, with a headache… The popcorn helped a bit and there will be nothing else to eat until tomorrow. We got back to the hostel at 5pm. My mum called the embassy and (only) tomorrow she can go there and borrow 100 dollars (12000 pesetas), but also the money from London should arrive tomorrow. I did say I wanted to go straight to London, but my mum insisted on coming here. We go to UK the day after tomorrow.

Apart from hunger and the mugging, everything is hunky dory! I dreamt I was saying goodbye to everyone in Rio and Gustavo was kissing me in front of everyone. Then I dreamt Orlando has finished with Ale and was seeing Karina. There were even people speaking in Spanish in my dream!

Just now my mum asked the owner for a glass of milk for me, they then realised our situation and brought two glasses of milk and two egg sandwiches. My mum and I had a laugh at the situation. My mum saying nothing like that ever happened to her and me thinking it was all very cool indeed.

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