20 Mar, 2021 @ 16:15
3 mins read

OLD HACK IN THE SUN: Benny Davis with the 80-something ramblings of an expat in Spain

Are you a digital doer or a real-life print reader?

Although the Olive Press alternates weekly publication of my column between actual print and ether-controlled messages beamed from outer space, my online ramblings also pop up in print issues.

So, if you are one of the 75% of over 65´s who do not access so called digital platforms, you are safe in my hands.

However, those who have managed to stretch their little grey cells to master the art of accessing digital information, are more likely to be high Mensa achievers who do crosswords with a pen, and say, moi, instead of me.

Personally, I am of the Densa brigade. I find that reading a real newspaper, especially while lying in the sun, very relaxing, and has the added advantage of acting as an umbrella over the face when getting some extra ZZZZ´s in.

Laptops tend to be uncomfortable and difficult to balance on the nose.

Devotees who worship at the altar of the God of ethernet culture, will also tell you that you can compare news items quickly by surfing the net, to establish real or fake news.

But before you don your wet suit, may I point out that fake news happens far less frequently in print, and if on the rare occasion the unthinkable happens, lawsuits leap into action far more quickly than on the web, encouraging extreme caution on the part of newspaper editors and owners.

I understand that instant information is available in seconds through sites such as Google, Bing, etc.

Call me old fashioned, but that method doesn´t give me the same satisfaction as finally coming up trumps with answers after spending hours, even days, of searching through old files and reference libraries.

At the moment, I am writing an article about a serial killer who wrought havoc back in the Victorian era and am running barefooted through my enormous collection of information, amassed over countless years as a writer.

If I cannot find the answers, I will have to revert to my fail-safe solution, `Gertrude,´ grandmother of Amazons virtual assistant `Alexa.´

Although she answers in a shaky voice with the occasional additional sound effect of flatulence, she never lets me down and fits into my lifestyle far more comfortably than the pre-mentioned, Miss Smoothy-Pants.


Isn’t it strange or a coincidence or fiendish planning that linked the arrival of inclement weather with the first easing of lockdown earlier this month in my part of Spain?

We were told that once again, we could enjoy our favourite tipple on the terraces of bars and restaurants.

A rewind to those bygone heady days of lounging in the sun whilst poking into a Paella or sidling up to sausages and chips.

Unfortunately, on the day, Mr Sun refused to come out to play, temperatures dropped, and we were left with collars turned up, while vainly searching for venues that combined wind cover and outdoor heaters.

Very un-Spanish, In fact, it took me back to childhood memories of my once-a-year holidays back in the UK.

Brighton was booked year in, year out, as was Mrs Bitchwaite´s boarding house.

Armed with swimming cossies, warm sweaters, and raincoats, our daily routine was firstly to try and forecast which way the clouds were moving and when gaps might allow the sun to venture out.

Inevitably we spent countless hours trapped in promenade shelters watching the wind and rain whip the sea up into a near tsunami frenzy, hurling deck chairs and pebbles across the beach alongside mountains of seaweed.

On these occasions, our only refuge was either the pier amusement arcade, or playing snakes and ladders in Mrs Bitchwaite´s front parlour.

My favourite entertainment was watching characters acting out the story about a serial killer who murders his wife, baby, a police officer, a hangman, and eventually escapes scot-free. Yes, you´ve guessed it, good old, fun loving, innocent, `Punch and Judy.´

Meanwhile, my parents always joined the hunt for a reporter from the local paper.

Under a photograph of a man with a false beard, they challenged holidaymakers to identify their man by putting a hand on his shoulder and saying, `You are the man from the Daily Bugle. Get it right, and you win ten shillings’

What they didn´t say is, get it wrong and you may end up with a broken nose. Heady days!

After a first week of gloom, the sun eventually peeked out from behind black clouds. Thought about whipping out for a quick slurp, but on second thoughts, could be UK clouds, sent over by Boris, as punishment for EU ports blockade – so it was back to `Bargain Hunt.´

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