Thursday, May 06, 2010
goose, Jumilla, episode
Portrait of a goose.
In the window of Oddbins wine merchant in MountPleasant, is a bottle labelled Jumilla. It prompts memories. I first drank the wine of Jumilla more than 50 years ago. I was teaching English in Murcia, then a city firmly rooted the past. It was then a dignified, solid place with a cathedral in the Plateresqe form of Rococo. When I lived there, to the puzzlement of farmers from surrounding villages, traffic lights were errected for the first time. Four traffic policemen were needed to explain how the system worked. Hortas or market gardens, watered by an irrigation system, which owed its origins to the Moorish occupation of the country supplied a rich selection of Mediterranean vegetables. In the evening I would go to the same restaurant and drink the full bodied local wine. I can still hear my friend Antonio Marin raise his glass : "el vino de Jumilla!" he would say with pride. The wine invariably came straight from nearby bodegas, and would very rarely if ever find its way into a bottle, certainly not one with a posh label, like the one in the Oddbins window. "Arriba el campo!" Antonio would toast, "Long live the countryside", in deliberate contrast to the radio's nightly proclamation " Viva Franco! Arriba Espana! ". It was Antonio's only form of protest against a regime, which he hated.
In The Curry Club, aka The Bloggers' Retreat, a woman sitting at the table next to Barrett Bonden and me, and about to leave, interrupts an item on our agenda. It concerns episodes in novel which, because they stand on their own, could run the risk of disturbing the flow. "You're right" she says, agreeing with one of us, "the author should feel free to do what he thinks right and not be led by rules. " She needs little encouragement to produce a copy of her recently published book; and to show us a cutting from a local newspaper, where it is reviewed in an article "as one of the 50 best novels about Hackney".