Friday, 29 August 2014

'Well it's about time...'

Been a while since I've done one of these holiday posters. To celebrate The Twelfth Doctor's arrival, I thought I'd do a new one. Welcome back, Doctor.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

And now for a very short story about Tortilla nothing much else

Once in a blue moon I put a very short story I have written on here, more to pad out what has become an occasional blog than anything else. It started with this one, The Clockwork HeartThis one is about tortilla, often known as 'Spanish Omelette' over here, and is for my good friend Chris. 


Cross-legged on the warm terracotta, Pablo and his father sat in the doorway of their home and ate the tortilla they had cooked together. Somewhere behind them, beyond the single wicker armchair and the table and the radio that crackled with sport from the city, the frying pan sputtered and cooled.

It was a simple meal and they ate with their hands. The thick wedges of tortilla were still hot. The bread was fresh and the olives bitter and salty. Pablo had already devoured the single slice of ham his father had cut for him. Both of them drank Rioja from glass tumblers, the young boy's being topped up with a good amount of water. The bottle and jug stood beside his father's empty work boots.

The short garden in front of them was parched yellow. Both father and son spat their olive stones into it, making silent competition of who could make furthest. The orange tree near the front gate had turned crooked and brittle two summers ago. An axe lay next to it in the scrub. Despite his talk Pablo's father had yet to chop it down. Pablo was sure it would make fruit again next summer. He spat an olive stone in its direction.

The sun was falling toward the horizon and everything was golden and shadow. The air was warm on their faces and sweet and dusty with a full day's work. In the valley below them a tractor moved along the dirt road between the vineyards green and golden. An occasional breeze wafted the smell of the vines and the soil up the hill and into the garden. The orange tree did not stir.

On the radio a cheer rose and dissolved into static. Pablo looked back into the empty house. The shutters were closed and it was cool and gloomy. His father topped up both their glasses with the Rioja.

'Miguel says this year will be a good harvest. We will have to work hard and work long hours. But this is a good reward.'

'The tortilla is good too,' Pablo said.

'The best tortilla is simple. It is onion and potato and egg. The widow Diaz puts peppers in hers but she is wrong,' Pablo's father picked up a triangle of the thick tortilla. Strong white teeth broke it. He caught a chunk of potato that fell toward his lap and popped it in his mouth.

Pablo watched his father and ate. His mouth was dry. He gulped at the wine and wiped his lips with his forearm as he had learned to imitate from his father.

'Your grandmother never put peppers in hers,' his father continued. 'My father and I liked that. People must always make things so complicated now. No respect for simple things. No appreciation.' He took a bite of tortilla and then wiped his fingers on his overalls. 'It is the simple things which are the best. Sun. Wine. Tortilla. These are the things people enjoy coming home to.'

He took a chunk of the bread and mopped up the oil from the tortilla on his plate. Pablo did as he did.

'Senor Alvaro says widow Diaz makes the best tortilla in the village.'

'Alvaro drinks too much. He thinks it is endearing,' Pablo's father chewed as he spoke. His mouth was thick with bread and oil. 'He'll eat anywhere he can. He hardly notices what he is eating. He is like a dog.'

'I think he was eating with Senorita Pilar last night. He woke me up with his singing.'

'Yes. Drunk. Fat and drunk. Your teacher should know better than to feed him.'

'He was not always drunk, was he papa? Senor Alvaro used to drink orange juice. I saw 

There was another cheer from the radio. This time Pablo did not look around.

'Eat,' his father said. With one of his great brown hands he placed another piece of the tortilla on his son's plate. 'And drink the wine, it is good. You are a growing boy. Grow up strong.'

'Like you father?'

Pablo's father spat an olive stone onto the prickly yellow grass and took a sip of his wine. He washed it around his mouth and swallowed. All the time he was gazing out at the vineyards on the hillsides and the tractor crawling away between the shadows. The sun was touching the highest undulations of the horizon now. Everything below the burning sky was dark and green. Hot and mysterious. High on the hill, father and son sat in the last of that day's light and witnessed the night creeping up behind them. Suddenly Pablo felt very far away from his father and it scared him.

'It is very good papa,' he announced in between bites. 'Much better than the widow's.'

The frying pan had cooled. The radio continued to play. The air was still warm. Pablo's father took another long draught on the Rioja. A little of it dripped from his bottom lip. He wiped it away with his forearm and looked down at the slices of onion and potato and egg. The light was fading fast around them now. His father's head remained bowed.

'I am sure your mother will come home. Soon she will', his father said. 'When we were first married she made the best tortilla.'