Thursday, 1 July 2010

The incredible story of Nobby and the Frenchman

One hot summers afternoon in 2004 whilst out walking in northern Spain I stumbled upon an old town just a few hours East of Burgos. Anyway, in order to find some relief from the sun and after sorting out my accomadation for the night I ventured into a tree covered plaza. The peace and quiet was bliss. It was early afternoon so shadow remained thin on the ground. Up above a leafy canopy created mottled light. I had walked a long way that day. The rest was good. Then, in a corner on the far side, I happened to notice a small church. It looked interesting. And, also might provide further respite from the heat. So I walked over and, up the steps. At the top, I carefully turned an old iron handle which opened an even older looking wooden door. Inside, it felt cool. And, a moment after, a gentle breeze passed by as I closed the door behind. It was not dark. Light streamed in from windows above. I looked up. Then I heard a voice. It was in English. Definitely foreign. But I had no idea about the nationality of the owner. I looked down. Then up again. Standing in front of me was a big chap. A few years younger than myself. Probably mid to late thirties with long brown scraggy hair.

He looked irritated: "Take off your hat".

"What? I said.

He now looked angry: "Take off your hat", he barked.

I put my hand to my head. Indeed, there was a hat.

"This is a Church", he said.

"Sorry". I took off my hat. I had forgotten all about a straw hat I had bought a few hundred miles earlier in another hot Spanish town.

Then he turned around and continued to walk down the aisle. The Church was quiet and empty. A few others in the Church looked at me. I felt embarrassed.

Just as suddenly, he turned around again. He looked at me with contempt:

"Are you English" ?

"yes", I said.

He turned away. His suspicion was confirmed. I was simply another cultural moron from England.

Bloody cheek, I thought. Almost immediately, I said: "Are you French" ?

This time he turned around slowly. There was a sheepish expression on his face:

"Yes", he said.

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