Saturday, July 17, 2010

My Big Bang

For some people, the Big Bang is a theory about the beginning of the universe. For other people, it's all about 27th October 1986, when the London Stock Exchange changed its rules and embraced the electronic age. But for me, my Big Bang was a quite different event; one that changed my life forever.

I’d just finished my first year at University, and what a hard year that had been. My step-father had committed suicide because of mounting gambling debts, leaving my Mum as our main breadwinner. Her stepmother had become unwell and had come to live with us. And I’d been working evenings and weekends as a factory delivery driver to help put food on our table.

So I was astonished when Freddie, an extremely wealthy fellow student, asked me if I’d be his co-driver on a journey to Madrid. The deal was that we’d share the driving in his car, he’d pay all expenses, after which we’d part company. He was planning to spend the summer with his fiancée, who lived in Madrid. I’d be left to make my own way home.

Well, the prospect of a free ride to Madrid was irresistible, especially as Freddie wanted us to start the journey when the factory that I worked for was closing down for a fortnight. I reckoned I could hitchhike my way back home easily enough. So I accepted.

The drive was fun. And so was Freddie. Yes, he’d been born with a dozen silver spoons in his mouth; he was rich, intelligent, good-looking, debonair, multilingual, and a brilliant raconteur. He certainly kept me amused on that drive. I guess it was all the laughter that made us miss a turning somewhere outside of Pamplona, and we got hopelessly lost in miles of winding tracks, with not a building in sight.

It was quite late in the evening when we spotted a grand-looking Hacienda high up on a hill. Freddie was driving at the time, and made a beeline for it. I stayed in the car whilst Freddie knocked at the door to ask for directions. After ten minutes or so of conversation with a lady who opened the door, he returned to the car with the good news that we were invited to stay the night.

Freddie explained that the lady had recently been widowed, and could not allow us to stay in the main house. But she had given him a set of keys for a nearby caballeriza – an empty stable block with extremely comfortable overhead staff sleeping quarters, and a hot and cold water supply. That’s where we stayed the night, before continuing our journey to Madrid the following morning.

It must have been around nine months later when I received the letter. It was written in Spanish, from an Attorney in Navarra. I got the general gist of the letter with the help of a Spanish-English dictionary, but just to make sure, I had it professionally translated. It took me a couple of days of quiet reflection to work out what had happened.

I met Freddie at College shortly afterwards, and asked him if he remembered the young widow at the Hacienda. And I asked him if he’d popped back to the Hacienda during the night to thank her for her hospitality. He grinned, and confessed he had.

But what really amazed him was when I asked if he had given her my name and address, instead of his. He turned bright red with embarrassment, and said “How on earth do you know that?”

All I could do was smile.

You see, the letter had informed me that a certain widow in Spain, the Condesa Maria Echeverria Corriente Delgado, had died. And she had left me her considerable fortune in her will.


JW10 said...

You're some guy, C.I.
With Freddie's like that, who needs....

Canary Islander said...

Bang on, JW..!
I'm glad you and yours had a good holiday!

Dolores Doolittle said...

Brilliant, CI! No wonder you're always expounding upon the pleasures of Spain...

Canary Islander said...

Hi Dolores!
I wish to declare that Freddie wasn't a "Freddie", and the Condesa Maria wasn't a "Maria", and Pamplona has a lot of bull...

Expat said...

The American expression 'more bang for the buck' has taken on a new meaning. Freddie got the bang, and you got the bucks. Sounds fair to me.

And speaking of stables reminds me of that other American expression made famous by Colonel Potter in M.A.S.H....Horsefeathers!!!

Lovely entetainment, though, CI.

Canary Islander said...

Hi Expat!
You once said you liked a straightforward story - with a twist at the end. Me too! :-)

Dolores Doolittle said...

Oh, CI - d'you mean you were fibbing?

I'm Sure it Nearly happened though. Many Times...

Expat - I don't remember Horsefeathers at all, but how satisfyingly handy for deleting imminent expletives...
What a Joy was Colonel Potter!

Canary Islander said...

I only fibbed an insy-winsy-teeny bit Dolores! The whole story is true, except for the bits about sex and money, and I only put those bits in because I didn't want you and Expat to think I was a complete wimp.

Tell you what, my next blog will be about either sex or money. But the trouble is, I don't know if you prefer sex or money.

Please advise immediately!

xxxx! (or ££££!) - the choice is yours!

Jon said...

Your stories always make me laugh, CI, but this I feel may be your finest yet.

To be honest, you really had me going.

Canary Islander said...

Jon - I had you GOING?
What have I done?

Nobody will believe anything I say anymore... (sob)


Expat said...

CI, it is the sign of a good storyteller that people want to believe your imaginings. Take joy in that.

As for money or about money FOR sex?

Canary Islander said...


Dolores Doolittle said...

Good heavens, Expat! I once saw a fascinating documentary about various people selling their bodies with varying degrees of success and personal enjoyment.

Too distressing to talk about the negative ones, But there was a very happy married (wife condoned it) bloke, who took his dazzled clients to luxury hotels & offered champagne... and a very happy single woman who ran it as a thriving official business and was a valued customer of the best jewellers...

Tempting... I suspect I'd be more like that old-joke granny trying to do her bit for family-in-need & emptying out two week's takings, "Blimey gran - Which swine gave you sixpence?"

'They all did'

Canary Islander said...

Now you've done it, Dolores!

You've reminded me of the Billy Cotton song, and now I'm walking around all day humming it. It's driving Kathy nuts!!!

I've got sixpence
Jolly. jolly sixpence
I've got sixpence to last me all my life
I've got twopence to spend
And twopence to lend
And twopence to send home to my wife-poor wife.

CHORUS: No cares have I to grieve me
No pretty little girls to deceive me
I'm happy as a lark believe me
As we go rolling, rolling home
Rolling home (rolling home)
Rolling home (rolling home)
By the light of the silvery moo-oo-on
Happy is the day when we line up for our pay
As we go rolling, rolling home.

Dolores Doolittle said...

CI - that sounds like a melange of a goodly bundle of songs, and I only recognise the Non-Chorus.

I will of course, also be singing it all day - it's like a fearsome Virus!
(Though Everything is like a Fearsome Virus these super-techno days)...

JW10 said...

This Fred might get reported also. Some prudes might think it rude.

Canary Islander said...

That's odd! I didn't recognise the chorus either. But it was on the internet...

JW, I ate a Haggis today! It was made by Ramsay of Carluke and Tesco were flogging it off for £1.80 (reduced from £3.60 at the Must-Flogitofftoday-Counter). Yummy!


JW10 said...

Weel done, C.I.


Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o the puddin'-race!
Aboon them a' ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye worthy o' a grace
As lang's my arm.

By the great Rabbie Burns

Dolores Doolittle said...

Wondrous, JW. Now THIS would be a perfect time to Hear the comment...

(I love Haggis, but roasted not boiled)