An Expats View Of Life In Nerja

Dragged I was. Dragged screaming back to the metropolis from which I fled almost five years ago. Of course, it is not the first time I have been back to London during that five years but with some effort, I have managed to erase the previous visits from my memory. Surprisingly those things that drove me away still prevail. Why the Mayor’s office has not sought to eliminate them from every day London life bewilders me. I admit that too much has gone on to entice me away from the tranquillity and sunshine of Nerja, but surely they should learn from their mistakes and take action before more valuable, well respected members of their constituency follow my lead and leave.

It seams to me that there are two Entities. London and ‘Londoners’. The latter being entirely dependant on the former. The former, not giving a monkey’s ‘whatsits’ as to whether the latter even exists. I have a theory, (a bit abstract I admit) that if one day, every single Londoner decided to up and leave never to return, they’d scarcely be missed. Confucius I believe said, “London is like the Water Buffalo. The Londoner the small bird that tarries on it’s back feeding on the Parasites that live there. When the bird has eaten it’s full and flown, the great beast does not even know that he has been a host”. I think it was Confucius any way. Well I could not agree more.

I have been to many cities in Europe and else where, where one gets the sense that the place exists for the people who live and work in it. Their citizens take train journeys as opposed to ‘endure train journeys’. They meet friends as late as ten o’clock in the evening for drinks and discourse, safe in the knowledge they won’t be thrown out onto the streets because of ludicrous licensing laws. They do not spend hours in search of litter bins in which to discard there used paper hankies and such. The metaphorical ‘Penny’ they have to spend isn’t the equivalent of fifty pence. That is HALF OF ONE POUND. It strikes me ironic that in London it costs on average two pounds twenty for a cup of coffee and fifty pence to expel it. Of course, it would cost nothing if not for the fact that every coffee shop in London has a toilet that is always ‘temporarily out of order’. Every coffee shop in London regularly has problems with it’s plumbing. We’ve all read that Starbucks don’t like paying unnecessary dues, but surely they can afford to employ someone to keep the toilets clean, and open! I wonder where the baristas learn to control their Bladders. One of them, working in Café Nero on Old Compton St. told me “that the reason he could sell me a cup of coffee in his store but was not able to let me use the bathroom after I had consumed it, was due to the fact that it was being used by drug addicts!” Well were I come from we call that discrimination. We all know Caffeine is a drug so why can’t we all use the toilet?

London for me is like something you see on Doctor Who. It drifts through a vortex of anti matter existing only to extract the life force of other beings for no apparent reason. The trouble is, The Doctor is never going to run for Mayor and save the day. I wish some one like the Dalei Lama would throw in his hat and run for the job. Someone who might say “NO! You cant build that glass monstrosity there because it means that Mrs. Noggit at No. 46 will lose her view of St. Pauls Cathedral and since her late husband, Herbert was one of the firemen who put out the incendiary devise that landed on it’s roof in 1941, I think she’s entitled to it.”

While we were there, a Helicopter flew into the crane on top of a high-rise construction tragically killing the pilot and an innocent by-stander. It just so happens the local residents along with their local MP campaigned against the buildings construction and were, I dare say, told they could not stand in the way of progress. Why not? If we are progressing, ourselves out of existence someone should stand up and make a scene.

The building industry surely is a law unto itself. Who gives them permission to pull down a perfectly good office block, only to replace it with another perfectly good office block before pulling down the building next door to put up another building in it’s place? You get the picture. All this resulting in a never ending series of road closures, traffic chaos and disruption for thousands of people who couldn’t care less whether the building was there or not. Living and working in London is like living with a DIY enthusiast who never finishes a job! My old Dad would strip the wallpaper in the hallway, while removing the tiles in the bathroom as he knocked the chimneybreast down in the living room while half setting-up the Scalextric track in our bedroom. The only room in the house that was inhabitable was his and mum’s bedroom, which he, for the reasons above, would not be allowed into.

Cab driving friends of mine rant (something I never do) about Traffic Marshals. For those who have never had the pleasure, a Traffic Marshall is an individual (who is very often in my experience, somewhat vertically challenged) employed by the construction company to walk out into the path of moving vehicles armed only with his barefaced cheek and something akin to a Lollypop Ladies ‘Stop’ sign. The reason for this is to stop the traffic in order to allow Tipper Trucks to exit building sites un-impeded. “Not unreasonable” you might say. That’s because you are not sitting in the back of a cab on your way to a station to catch the train home to the wife and kids before they go to bed. How wonderful it would be if we could all be accompanied by a paid ‘Progress Enhancement Operative’ who in order to procure easy access into the mainstream traffic, would leap out of the front passenger seat, throw himself in front of the on-coming vehicles and wave his STOP sign. I would estimate that because of ‘Traffic Marshal’, the cost in law suites against cab drivers and to the NHS who are responsible for re-setting the broken noses of the poor unsuspecting punter who, as the brakes are slammed on, is hurled out of the comfort of the back seat against the glass partition of the cab is, probably considerable. The important people though are the buildings developer and their shareholders who fortunately for them, live in an entirely different city/country.

To me, The Shard’, for example is not the architectural phenomenon proclaimed by its owners as much as the pain in the Latissimus Dorsi it has been during it’s ‘thirty’ year construction to local residents and users of London Bridge Station. But they shouldn’t complain. It’s owners are only charging them £24.95 to take the lift to the top floor to grab a look at their own city.

Balcon-de-Europa 1960s

Balcon-de-Europa 1960s

Thankfully, all this in contrast to the peace and tranquillity that is Nerja and it’s environs. Over the past couple of weeks Nerja’s Cultural Centre has shown newly discovered film footage of Nerja and Maro. Some of it found and archived by a local man and some filmed by a Swedish gentleman who while holidaying here over the years has captured brilliantly Nerja’s past using only a hand held Super 8 movie camera.

They depict local people going about their work in the fields harvesting Sugar Cain and Avocados. At play on the beach and during the many fiestas that occur here in Spain. Where the tastefully designed holiday residential urbanisations are now, acres of farm and agricultural land existed with beautiful views of the sea and mountains. It is clear that over the years Nerja has changed in a great many ways but the planners and builders here have managed to achieve a successful compromise between old and new making Nerja seem to all the people who live here, especially an escapee like me, as being among the best-kept secrets in Europe.

I say all. I did over hear a conversation as we left the cultural centre between two well-dressed, middle-aged Spanish gentlemen who were lamenting the past. They clearly longed for the Nerja of their youth. Where they chased beautiful young senoritas along cliff tops and over sandy beaches, where you could drive from Torrox to Maro without seeing another vehicle on the road unless an Ass was pulling it. Happily they had smiles on their faces as they shook hands said their farewells and climbed into the front of their nice white Taxis before driving off to the nearest rank to begin their shift proving that Cab drivers of the world should unite, because no one else listens to us.

Copyright © Daniel Kruyer

You’re a cab Danny.

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