Classic Drinks #17: Wet Russian Loneliness

Well well well.
Wells and wellies.
I feel I should write something, because that is what I do...what I like to do.
At this moment I am listening to a Spanish band called Supersubmarina and their album Electroviral - it's rare to hear good Spanish music.
The rains have finally left. Yesterday the weather people predicted the 'tormenta perfecta' for Madrid. It was a bit blowy and wet. In fact the whole week has been crap if we're talking about the weather. Everyday my cheap little street-bought three euro umbrella took an absolute beating from the 80km per hour winds that smashed their way across plaza de Espana. Today however there are wispy clouds flittering through the blueness of the sky and everything feels decidedly more Spanish.
In front of me is the corpse of a pear that I have just finished obliterating with my teeth and ten fingers tip-tapping away wondering if they are going to stop wasting time on the computer and go outside. Which I might. Mother Nature is a fickle cow sometimes, hot and sunny one moment, then a week of rain and wind and broken brollies.
In fact I'm going to stick two chubby fingers up to the coming week's weather and go for a walk right now.

Going out in Madrid:
Madrid has a fat and bulging social scene that I am still only in the process of chipping away at. The nights usually seem to evolve in one of four ways.

1. The one-target-wonder: This starts with the usual pre-drinking in order to save on money. Sitting in your living room, in your small group, topping up rum and colas or wine glasses waiting for the 'right! Shall we off?' from whoever deigns it their moment to take charge of the proceedings. You then head off, either by public transport of by foot, to your selected home for the next few hours. You go and enter with your complimentary 'copa' (a drink) after spending 6-10 euros to get in in the first place. You stay, you dance, you have maybe one or two more drinks, you yawn, you stop dancing, you stand around, you smile blinkedly at your discomates and you go home. A variation on this plan is if you have one or more extra scheduled locations.

2. The failed cluster bomb: You go to one place, have your drinks, dance, etc - see above - but then you think 'new place?' Great idea right? You leave, maybe stumble a bit, avoid a drunk, and start to wander the streets. You try the doors of various places. But you're picky. 8 euros with a drink at 3 in the morning? No thanks chumley! A queue? Bugger off! It then becomes clear to the boys that sleep will be more entertaining, and to the girls that they shall be going to no more balls this night. You head to the Papizza joint, smirk at beautiful, intoxicated American girls in the hope they'll 'notice your accent' and jump on you. They don't. You then walk/taxi/night bus home sucking the pizza grease from your lonely fingers.

3. The Where-did-that-come-from?: You only went out for a pint or two. Then you've gone and ended up throwing some crazy shapes and drinking gin y tonics until 4 in the morning. You said you were tired. Someone mentioned something about 'not letting our timetables get us down!' or 'carpe diem!' and you ended up in a bar being goaded by already not-single male teachers to 'just go and talk to her'. You usually don't. You get home fuzzily and smile at the gem of an evening you just had.

4. The What is happening...seriously?: This can lead on from either of the above variations. You get to a point in the night when, either by the potency of the drinks or the fact that there's just something in the air, the world goes a bit...funny. You start saying hello to pretty girls as you walk past them, you start accepting offers to things or talking to people that you normally wouldn't, and then you start having 'great ideas'. Two weeks ago a few of us ended up in Chueca - the lively gay district - and found ourselves in the slowest queue imaginable. We were five in total: Ray, Niall, Euan, Niall's girlfriend Elena and myself. In this queue a severely drunk Ray bumbled over to a door on a different site. One minute later Euan's hissing at me 'go with Ray'. 'Eh?' I retort. 'Bloody go with Ray!' Our friendly neighbourhood American had been covertly offered two places in a small, surreptitious bar called 'Local'. Galumphing over to it I accidentally stood on a guy's foot.
Spaniard: 'Hey, you stood on my foot!'
Me: 'Sorry about that, I didn't see it...'
Spaniard:'You're not from Spain'
Me: ' I'm not'
Spaniard:'Are you Italian?'
Me: 'No'
Spaniard's Friend: 'You idiot, he's clearly English'
Spaniard: 'I'm from Catalonia'
Me: 'Barcelona?'
Spaniard: 'Yes' 'And in Barcelona we give two kisses on the cheeks'
Me: 'In England we just sort of shake hands'
Spaniard: 'Give me two kisses then'
Me: 'Err'
At this point Ray drunkenly and lightly took my hand and pulled me over to the bar area unaware I was conversing with a friendly Barcelonian.
Spaniard: 'Uh! He's already got a boyfriend!'
I half span with my finger in the air to correct him, but said 'meh' and decided it wasn't worth it.

We managed to get the other members of our troupe into the bar in the end. It was strange and small. There were bulbous orange/red sofas almost looking on to doorless toilets, slightly guarded by a semi-translucent glass wall, and strawberry heart-shaped lollipops stuck to the walls and windows. Standard. It was somehow made even stranger by the sparsity of the clientèle. Some scattered homosexual couples and a group of tired, drunk and a little bit confused 'guiris' (foreigners)

You never really know how a night out in Madrid will go. It's always exciting and often disappointing, but always different.


That was a nice walk. I was alone, in the sun, with my music. I like to walk around, to learn the city. Yes it would be nicer to do the same walks hand-in-hand with a special someone. But lacking that special someone I am quite content to go alone. Saying that, the lacking someone is a bit of a pain. Spain is a country full of beautiful people, if only I had the time to meet them...

Next weekend I'm hopefully taking place in a charity run 'Gotas para Nigeria' (Drops for Nigeria). It's only 5km, but that's enough for me! You gotta start somewhere.
If you don't hear from me again, I've not made it.

I also spoke to a student at our school who is Russian. I was walking past her in reception with Simon, her teacher, who then poked her saying 'he speaks Russian'. I then got into a makeshift, rusty chat with her for a few minutes in the language of the Motherland. We discussed why Moscow is crapper than St. Pete, what she's doing in Madrid, and why I can speak the lingo. Hopefully I'll meet Svetlana again for a conversation in the future. Keep my hand in.

So, do svidanya for now!