Something Out of Nothing

2 June 2011

Gibraltar

All I remember from last night was the three Brits watching some terrible ‘investigation report’ into how mentally handicapped children were abused in a clinic. It was one of those'investigations’ where no action was actually going to be taken, it was just people talking about how inhumane it all was, and the children’s own stories. Truly sadistic, but it’s the dark side of modern English culture; papers like'The Sun’ and'Daily Mail’. I woke up again when someone was going to bed, and saw Aiden – a typical guy who would fiddle with his balls – with his hands down his shorts, asleep, obviously was… fiddling with his balls!

Today is finally a day of lounging in the sun all day properly, where the sunlight is actually hot and there’s a nice breeze to cool you down just in case. Today is also a day to do the washing, so English Laura and I get pack all things that need washing into a garbage bag and head down to the bus stop. Laura can’t carry the thing so I’m left with the duty of carrying a huge, full garbage bag over my shoulder, so getting all the looks! Apparently this particular bus in Gibraltar is free, so we wait twenty minutes for a bus ride where I’m constantly tripping over and bumping into people due to the weight and size of this bag. We could have walked it in fifteen minutes.

Walking through the streets I see how'not pretty’ some of Gibraltar is; there’s heaps of broken walls, rusty fences and mucky streets. For a place that is a relatively popular destination in summer, it’s funny how neither UK nor Gibraltarian government do something about it for the sake of tourism. Not that I particularly care at the moment because my shoulder is aching from the bulk of other peoples’ clothes.

I’m talking to Laura about her'story’. Her and her boyfriend decided to take two months off work and travel around what they call the mainland. They’re from some area of England I’ve never thought about before, and they had never really left the country before. ‘I didn’t know I could really, like, live without a hairdryer. Like, I barely have any clothes with me but it’s fine.’ Aiden and herself did every day of the two months on Interrail, so they powered through more countries than I thought was possible in two months. They blew £8000 in the process, mind you. 'And now, wellll… I’m a bit worried about what it’s going to be like back home. What are my friends going to be like? Family’ll be the same – but I just don’t want the dramas of friends – and then there’s South America, too…’ She’s got the rambling of a typical reader of'The Sun’ but has a new rambling of someone who just wants more.

At the launderette we pay way too much, and spend the time the lump spins around a washer down at the port of Gibraltar, fantasising. I haven’t been in a port for ages, but recognise the sounds and smells when I’m walking through with Laura perfectly. Over the years I must have done quite a few hours in all kinds of boats, though the least time ever spent in a boat would be in the boat that my family actually owned. Therein lies universal problem with boats: no one actually uses them anywhere near as often as they should do. That’s why when you walk into a port, there’s barely ever any free spaces.

We return to our washing, put it all in the drier and go back to our wonderland. 'Hey, there’s our boat, Olly!’ We return to the most spectacular of the'boats that are really just ships’, hop up on a railing and have a proper peek inside. Four levels, two jet-skis on one level and a normal sized boat on another, with couches and tables everywhere for hosting all your own events. We notice a man onboard, and try and get his attention. 'Excuse me! Hi! Was this boat made in the US?’'Well, I was born there, but she was made in Italy.’ 'When was it built?’ 'Oh… just a year ago. Anyway, the captain’s onboard, so I better not dilly dally. Bye bye.’ Dilly dally? Laura and I burst out laughing as he walks away through the door. On the above level, there’s more of the crew, wearing the same t-shirts and bearing walky-talkies.

Great success down back at the launderette as only two of my four t-shirts I’m travelling with have shrunk in the dryer. With the marginally smaller garbage bag, we march back to the hostel, and reward our hard days’ work with more lounging in the sun. I say rewarded, but in the two metre square gap where the sun shines into the courtyard of the hostel, a bird decided to relieve itself, landing softly on me.

Simon’s reflecting on his past two years living in Spain and working in Gibraltar. Laughing about the English communities in the South of Spain where he lived; residents, doctors, hairdressers were all English. Sometimes crossing the border from Spain into Gib would take two hours. He’s actually thirty years old, which explains a lot!

Walking back into the dorm, the receptionist walks up and whispers to me'you now have an old lady in your room’. I laugh, because I saw some young people like ourselves walk into the hostel a few hours ago. 'No, you have an old lady in your dorm now!’ Both laugh, but for different reasons.

'Hm yeah, I think they’re all taken.’ He sees me walk in and scurries away,'Anyway I better have this shower now!’ I spy a plastic old woman’s wheely bag, look up, and see a pair of gum boots, a long denim skirt and an old withered face framed by a head scarf. Hostel staff wasn’t bloody lying, there’s an old woman in here, in her 80s. We talk, of course… 'I was in Spain in'58, and the matadors, oh, they were so different back then! My mother took me there, but I absolutely detested her. You see, I am very keen on the environment, and hurting animals like that is just awful. Barbaric.’ She’s speaking to me, but she keeps looking around the room like an inquisitive possum, and sways from side to side. 'Yeah I agree with you, bullfighting is really cruel – I went up The Rock yesterday, where you see these monkeys and you feel a connection to them, in that we’re not that different.’ More swaying, staring then away.'Oh!’, she laughs'I don’t know about that!’ Then her bloody skirt falls down.'Woup!’ I look away too soon, but I’m relieved that she’s wearing tracksuit pants underneath. She pulls herself together and starts talking again. I take the brief opportunity to leave.

Later, we’re all in the room, ready to leave for another'couple of beers’. Aiden can’t help but bring up the question of religion with the old lady. 'So you think that everyone is going to be tortured and stuff if they don’t believe in god when the apocalypse thing happens?’ 'Well. With all the chemicals that we use and the way we treat the earth now, I don’t think god is going to be very happy at all, so I answer yes. I happen to believe Jesus is coming next year, 2012.’ We’ve all got our heads in our pillows keeping our tear-inducing laughter inaudible. We say good evening and make our way down to a bar where it ends easily in the warm air.

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