Free

Whenever we holidayed in our newly purchased flat in Vilanova we planned to do a bit of renovating. During the first couple of days we would buy paint and brushes, and maybe the odd item of furniture that took our eye, but that was quite often as as far as we got. “Let’s do some tomorrow and go to the beach,” or suchlike suggestions would invariably escape from one of our mouths, and of course the work rarely got done.  Even when we did set to with the painting or cleaning up we always needed suitably long and usually alcohol fuelled breaks.

It was during one of our first sojourns at number 33 (AKA Casa TulStig) that we decided to go into town to check out what that night’s fiesta was all about.  It was billed as a vermut of some kind, which really meant very little to us. We did get the words for celebration, but everything we had seen was in Catalan and it would still be a while before we managed to get to grips with yet another language.

We decided to eat early considering we would probably we drinking a little, so dropped into one of our preferred places -The Munich Bar – just near the main Placa de la Vila (Town Square).

After eating we left the bar by the side door nearest the square where the festivities were getting underway. There were loads of people milling around and the sound equipment was being tested with the usual “Un, dos…… Un, dos,” We decided that as nothing was yet happening we would drop into the Cellar on the  other corner of the square. This was another of our favourite haunts where a good red wine cost around 25 pence back in the day straight from the barrel. A glass of cava was slightly more expensive at around 80 pence. ( the exchange rate was good then too).

Little by little we could hear the excitement outside building so decided to go back out and join the crowd. By this time the Mayor, or some other important dignitary was making a speech. We listened to the sounds but most of the words were pretty much indistinguishable. We caught the important ones like Cava, fiesta, gracias etc but still had no idea of what was really going on. The atmosphere, as always was amazing.

At the end of the speech the crowd roared. At this point a band came on stage and started loudly playing  a mix of Spanish and English favourites.  We simply watched what was going on, and it seemed to us that people were going to the bar and coming a way with free bottles of cava. Being fairly reserved Englishmen at that time we simply watched. We didn’t feel brave enough to go to the bar and ask.

All of a sudden a young man burst out of the crowd heading straight for us waving and shouting “Hello, hello, yes,” He was wearing grubby ripped jeans and a t-shirt with ‘Slipknot’ on it. We didn’t realise at the time that it was the name of a group. From where we were standing he looked a bit wild and definitely high on something.  Tony grabbed my arm. Fight or flight response were engaged.

We had no idea what he wanted, but we were cautiously suspicious. I looked over my shoulder to see if he may be shouting to someone else. He wasn’t.  We were in our usual holiday evening dress of jeans, checked shirts and leather jackets. We were so used to getting abuse in England for how we looked that we thought we were about to suffer some here.

“Free,” he shouted as he got closer. “Free. Cava. Free.”

He thrust two plastic glasses at us and filled them from the cava bottle he was carrying. “Friend,” he said raising his plastic glass in salute. “Free, Friends, dance, drink.” He obviously knew some English but clearly wasn’t brave enough, or was too high, to string a sentence together. He put the bottle down and grabbing Tony’s hand started dancing. he held out his hand for me to join in too.

After a few moments he picked up the bottle again and handed it to us. Tony took it and was immediately pulled into an embrace. Seconds later Tony was released and I was afforded the same embrace. “Everyone friends,” Slipknot told us. “Lovers?” he asked surprising us. “Si!” I replied expecting his attitude to us to change. “Yes,” he said winking. He hugged us both again before wandering off  in the general direction of the bar.

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