Giles Brown muses on the end of summer, and admits a lost in translation moment.

You can take a deep breath now. It’s September and they have all gone. It is fair to say that after the non event that was the summer season 2020, due to what you could euphemistically refer to as ‘this, that and the other’, 2021 returned with a vengeance.

Most of Madrid decamped from the capital to the coast while the roads were clogged with French, Belgian and Dutch ‘nationals’ in supercars doing their best Maghreb Fernando Alonso impersonations. It would be unfair for me to criticise their driving skills, so let’s just say that the local roadside barrier replacement teams and car repair firms must have done a brisk trade.

On the subject of mechanical, I decided to top up the oil in the trusty Landcruiser on a recent supermarket trip. 

All was going smoothly until I knocked the oil cap off its resting place and it fell into the trough beneath the radiator. 

Cue 30 minutes of comedy scrambling beneath the 4×4 as I attempted to locate and remove it without burning myself. 

‘My life is never boring’, I thought, as Madrileño shoppers stepped over me as I lay prone at the side of the Toyota.

I was saddened to hear of the death of UB40’s Brian Travers last month. I had the great pleasure of hosting a riotous Q&A session at an exhibition of his paintings – he was a brilliant artist – in Estepona a few years ago.

Image: Giles Brown and Brian Travers

 Clearly enjoying himself, he famously told the well-heeled audience “I want to paint you all naked!”  I decided to end the Q&A quickly afterwards. Absolutely a one off, Brian approached his illness with great strength.

Finally, I had a huge ‘lost in translation’ moment last week. I was buying a birthday cake in a large supermarket, but the problem was that they all had ‘Frozen’ characters or Barcelona footballers on them.

So I asked a passing assistant if they have ‘tarta… por adultos’ – cue strange look.

‘Tarta…gateaux’ I expounded, compounding my error.

‘Tarta de gatos?’ she exclaimed, horrified…


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