Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Burro Beisbol and Other Stories

Every year, for the Mojácar Fiestas, I would put on two events, a horse show and donkey baseball. Both of these were new ideas to the town hall. They were held on our land and completely organized by me and my family. The cost to the Town Hall was zero. We wanted the Spanish riders to be as enthusiastic as the English ones so we added a few western events like barrel-racing. There was a turn out class where the best horse and rider combination won depending on their costume and how the horse was turned out. They needed to make a matched pair. Then we had the show-off class where you could go into the ring, one rider at a time and strut your stuff. Show the village what your horse could do and what a good rider you were. Barrel-racing was a favourite as it had never been seen here and resembled in a small way “long pole” or "garrocha" and the stop on a dime and turn at great speed, all things needed in a rejoneador, which is bullfighting on horse-back. It was a timed event so speed and precision meant everything. Then there was a dressage class and it could be English or Spanish dressage. The turn-out was exceptional for this event both in competitors and in the audience. People love to watch horses even if they have never ridden. Mojácar was the only town around to put on an event of this type.

Donkey baseball has no real rules because the donkeys don’t tend to go where you want them to. A minimum of nine donkeys are needed but eleven are better. The rules are basically the same as baseball except after hitting the ball you have to jump on a donkey to run the bases. A ball may only be thrown by some one sitting on a donkey. If you have to get off to pick up the ball then you must remount before throwing the ball to your team-mate. Technically you should run the bases without help but we had to let someone lead the rider around as most of the donkeys wouldn’t budge or took off for home with the rider dragging behind. No one team ever really won - we usually said that the donkeys won and they would each go home with a medal around their necks much to the pride of their owners. Being the only place in Spain where this was played the news spread fast and soon TV crews were coming to film it. We also took time out to explain about the donkey and its impending extinction and the importance of trying to preserve the breed. With farmers turning to tractors there was less and less need for the donkey. Because baseball isn’t played in this country we didn’t have any of the necessary equipment to play the game so every year I would call the American Base at Rota and they would messenger up a bag with everything we needed and after I would messenger it back. It took my son and me from sunup until sundown to collect and return all of the donkeys because they all lived on farms that were spread out and donkeys don’t go very fast. It was always a wonderful day though, riding through the mountains with a train of donkeys. One year the Americans sent up a bus load of twenty-three service men and women to play against Mojácar. They brought plaques and prizes and we made T-shirts Mojácar vs USA and trophies for them to take back to the base. Yet another thing I not seen proudly displayed in our town hall. They all stayed at our house sleeping around the pool but because it was during fiesta no one slept much. We provided these two activities for the town hall for seven years and they grew in popularity every year. Soon it got so there were not enough donkeys in the Mojácar area to play. I had a petting zoo as part of ANIMO and plenty of space so the town hall could have easily sponsored twelve donkeys that could have been kept here and been a type of sanctuary for this disappearing breed with the sole cost to the town hall being the food. We already had five donkeys of our own and a large area to keep them. It could have been another attraction that drew tourist to the area. The good will factor would have paid for it with lots to spare and we could have continued being the only town in Spain that played donkey baseball. The town hall was just to short-sighted and let both activities drop and now there is almost nothing to watch at the fiestas and certainly nothing that would put us on the map while doing a good thing helping to save and inform people about the donkey.
Pictures include one of the proud donkey owners and several teams and players.

Birthday in the Hospital

I have spent several birthdays and Christmases in the hospital over the last few years but one was particularly memorable and one of the best birthdays I have ever had. I was sent by a specialist from Alabama to a rare diseases specialist, supposedly the best in Europe. The hospital was in Madrid and I was told by this doctor to just arrive and they would get me in, even though it was not in my area and it was social security. They were very interested in my condition and wanted to see me as soon as possible. When I got there the doctor’s nurse took me around filling out papers and lying just a bit to get me in. There were no beds available in any ward except one. It was the last ward of oncology. I’m glad I didn’t know what that meant but the floor was unlike any I had ever been on before. They had permanent visiting hours and no limit to the number of visitors you could have. I had a room to myself and every time they tried to put someone in with me the nurses would say that the bed was blocked. They had a huge kitchen down the hall and beds for family to stay. It is normal in Spanish hospitals to have a family member stay with you but just one, so they usually take turns. I have found in my experience that the family members are usually very nice to the roommate, like me, and help with whatever they can. I was one week on oncology and was then moved to internal medicine. The nurses were all so nice because I think I was the only person they had ever seen walk out of that floor. They also came and gave me gifts for my birthday and would check in on me from time to time. It turned out that the last floor of oncology is where you go to die so there are no rules, just keep you as comfortable as possible. That didn’t stop the screams and yells and tears coming from the family members. I was glad to be moved even though I had become very attached to the nurses on that floor. The work they do is amazing and you have to have a special type of strength to do their job. I have tremendous admiration for them.
In internal medicine my room-mate was an elderly woman called Olivia. She was so sweet and we spent a lot of time talking together. She was in considerable pain and needed quite a bit of assistance which I was able to give her. Her whole family were wonderful and would hold my hand when I needed injections and help in any way they could. The daughter-in-law was a singer and actress, full of life never giving you a chance to be bored. The whole family was like that and we soon became friends and they were glad that I could help out so they could get some rest. It was like being in the TV series House. The hospital ran me through every test possible for six weeks. My birthday and anniversary fell during that time. The daughter-in-law- made a special present for me and Lenox. One for my birthday, which was a song she wrote for me and the other was a play she wrote for our anniversary. We shut the door to the bedroom and she began her performance. She was spectacular, better than most shows I have seen in theatres. She sang beautifully and the words were very special to me and the play was very dramatic, a prose-poem about feelings as personalities, each one acted out with a bitter-sweet story. The whole thing was very romantic and probably the most unusual birthday I had ever had. Apparently Olivia had been quite a while in the hospital and her last few room-mates weren’t very nice so the family and Olivia were happy to have me there and I was happy to have them. Once while talking to Olivia she told me that if I left she was going to leave too because she didn’t want to be there without me. The morning after I left I got a call from her family that she had died quietly during her sleep.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

The Corner of Enchantment

Mojácar has always been known as the Corner of Enchantment. One, for the sheer beauty of the place and secondly for the strange events that have taken place here.
On the side of beauty, the beautiful white village on top of a hill overlooking the sea, mountains and desert. It was a village with small, narrow, winding, cobble-stone streets with white washed houses and flower pots, full of geraniums, hanging on all the walls. The original buildings were supposedly built on the back side of the hill so that when pirates went by at night they could not see the lights shining from the windows. It was a place to fall in love and a place to fall in love with. Mojácar has incredible geological and archaeological sites everywhere. It is built on top of Phoenician, Arabic and Roman ruins. The old fountain was so romantic and just walking the streets at night you felt as if you were in a magical land.

Strange things and mystical powers seemed to be commonplace here. This area falls on one of the ley lines used by the Templars, one of the seven places in the world where if you take the points of energy and join them together they make a star. The points are supposed to be special places where you should be when the world comes to an end.

This is a picture that really has nothing to do with the story but adds to it. I wasn’t sure about the Templar’s and their ley lines so I spelt it LAY lines. Lenox then explained to me that a lay line was where you went to get laid. We found an amusing government sign on the side of the road that you could only find here in Spain so Lenox had me take his picture next to it. I think you can get the double meaning and where I went wrong. Well, enchantment takes all sorts!

There was a hill where if you stopped your car and put it in neutral or put a ball in the road it would roll up backwards. We all used to stop there on our way to Almería. My father, being a physicist, knew there had to be a reasonable explanation, but even he spent many an hour watching a ball roll up the hill.

Witch-craft, both black and white, has been practiced here, and old remedies have been used for curing various diseases for centuries. There are a lot of different types of curanderos here, faith healers. Curanderos on the whole, being ‘white magicians’, can’t charge for their help or accept any payment in hand but some would leave a conspicuous table at the door, out of their sight, where you could leave a chicken or some money. Some curanderos used the hands-on approach and others could heal you without touching you. One famous Mojacar curandero was the Tío Frasquito Santo from Aguas Enmedio, a hamlet on the way to Sopalmo (Mojácar – Carboneras). You would never pay him, but perhaps some cigars, or some firewood…?

There were always the frauds who would charge a fortune but it was hard to believe in them. Palm reading was particularly popular in the bars and actually quite efficient. As a young teenager, I remember being in The Saloon, when Toni, the witch, came in and offered to read the palm of an Englishwoman on holiday here. The lady was sceptical but decided it might be fun. Without knowing anything about this woman, Toni was right on the mark all the way from her childhood to the recent death of her husband and an affair she had had. But, said Toni, I have to take a coin for my magic, since it comes from the ‘black’ side.

Old women would paint snakes and other monsters on your body to get rid of things like shingles and it worked. They had separate drawings and places on the body to paint even for things like ringworm. Before antibiotics were discovered they would burn Zotal (a creosote-based product) in the sick person’s room to kill any sort of bacteria or things like Scarlet Fever and Smallpox. One old lady in Mojácar, known as La Cachocha, was famous for her love philtres – known as ‘alambiques’.

Most of the older houses have some sort of ‘duende’ or ghost attached to it. Ours has two that have resided here since way before we moved in. Our old Moroccan maid used to put milk and bread out to keep them happy. The strangest thing that ever happened here and there have been many, was one rainy/misty night all the electricity in the town was out including our house. There is a lamp post at the beginning of our drive that has never worked, ever, but that night the only light on in town was that lamp. We even switched off our entire trip switches just in case. A few hours later when the electricity was restored the light went out never to be on again. There have been many stories here of sheets being ripped off the beds at night or footsteps upstairs but the light was the strangest one because no electricity goes to it. Lenox has named our duendes Itch, he lives in our bedroom, and Chomp, who lives in the kitchen. They have never bothered us much so we live in peace with them. One night I made a roast beef and put it on my cooker, which is huge and industrial. A few minutes later, after calling the family to dinner, the roast was gone. No footprints or grease on the cooker or floor so it wasn’t the dog. It weighed more than the cat and it would have still been eating it. It was a complete mystery, like something out of ‘The Gremlins’. It was then that Lenox said if the duendes had become carnivorous it was time to move to the Parador hotel.

Even in a sober state, here in Mojácar, most of us have seen UFOs. We used to think that it was just because of the large consumption of booze and drugs but later your average person started seeing them, much to their disbelief. I remember when a respectable English couple were in Garrucha having dinner when they spotted what look like a UFO, they were sure it wasn’t so they watched for a long time until they decided there was no other explanation. When they returned to Mojácar to tell everyone about the amazing experience, they had just had, no one seemed impressed and kept saying things like well did you see this one or that thing? Disillusioned the couple announced that Mojácar really did live in a different reality because if they had told anyone in England they would have been hauled off by the little men in white coats and here it was common place.

The light in Mojácar also has a special magic to it that brings artists from all over the world just to paint here. A friend has just made a half-hour film about one of our best-known artists, the American Fritz Mooney. Find it here.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

The Impact on the Locals

The impact the foreigners have had on Mojácar and Spain has been good as well as bad. One of the things on the good side is that animals are treated better. Before they were never given names or affection they were there to serve a purpose, which is really very natural and efficient, but not to our way of thinking. We have gone to the other extreme and put animals up there with children (in some places higher). At the two benefit dinners they had in Marbella on some occasion, one for the abandoned animals and the other for the children of Bosnia, the animals made several million pesetas while the children only received a few thousand. That is just one example of the British sense of fair play of which there are many. In the old days in Spain, if your animal did not serve a purpose then it was killed or eaten or thrown away depending on the type of animal it was. Soon the locals were getting animals for pets and walking dogs, buying horses for pleasure riding, for which there used to be plenty of space. Now there is practically none. ‘Mascotas’ – pets – are very popular now in Spain and pure-bred dogs top the list in the cities but still the number of pets bought and later abandoned is enormous. After the animal stops being so little and cute, and you have to take it out to walk several times a day and you can’t go on holiday without a babysitter and your slippers have been eaten they don’t seem so cute anymore so people just abandon them in the streets or in the country thinking they can survive, which is not often the case.
We, the foreigners, brought lots of money to Spain and bought property, which we repaired, spruced up and gardened to our own taste and satisfaction. We gave business to the local workman and bought from the local shops. In those days, the prices were low, the alcohol cheap, cigarettes even cheaper; the sun all year long and the locals friendly, and so we started to invade the place. A lot of people running from the law in their own country, people who couldn’t survive in their country, could here and some just sold everything to come and live a peaceful life in the sun and sea. The foreigners, later, started doing a lot of the work and taking away trade from the locals because they didn’t speak English. I understand how this could build resentment, even though the money eventually filters through into the Spanish system. Nowadays some of the Spanish do speak enough English and several other languages to get by but there is still a preference (shared as much by the Spanish as by the British) to hire your own countryman.
The culture here was very basic and down to earth on things like life and death or body parts and bodily functions but in all other ways very conservative so much so that the men used to come from nearby villages to the Mojácar fountain. It was the only fountain where you actually had to stand in the water to do your washing. That meant tying your skirt just above the knees, and that is what the men came to see. Not many years later there were people walking in the village with beach-wear, leaving nothing to the imagination, men going into the bank in their Speedo’s and sandals and women topless on the beach. This was a very quick change for the people here but they seemed to go with the flow. Girls came on holiday for two weeks to drink and find a Latin lover no matter whether he was married or not because they would disappear never to be seen again so their behavior went a bit on the wild side. This was a very hard adjustment for the men because it meant free women at their beck and call. It was a great temptation. The Spanish have never been shocked by a politician having a mistress or men going to a brothel it is quite commonplace, as long as they come home and take care of their families, but all these available foreign girls was rather a different story.
Now, there isn’t really a plan for architecture like there was when I first arrived. Houses couldn’t be more than 20% on the second floor and you needed 500sq meters lot minimum. Apartments were kept to a minimum. The front line was protected and the beach bars, for which Mojácar is famous, were the life and soul of the income to this province. Now they want them to be taken down and built to an ugly, all the same style building, taking away all the character that made them so popular. The town hall would have done much better if they only sold so many bar licenses so you would have to buy an available one, that way not flooding the place with bars that can never work, run by people who have never run a bar and don’t speak Spanish. Like the tobacco shops you can only have so many per area. What makes one bar popular and another not, I don’t know. The bartenders have to be friendly and fun, the food and drinks good and reasonably priced and the atmosphere enjoyable. Parking is one of the main complaints. There isn’t even enough for the people that run the businesses so where are the customers supposed to park? Well, as somebody once said, you can’t make money out of parking spaces.
Who can build where and what all depend on who is in power. That is where all this problem of illegal houses came from. No strict building code. In my opinion getting money so fast and the vast quantities of it made it so the long term good of the province was lost all for a quick buck. I think the town hall went for the package tourism because they came and went and didn’t try to get involved in the community. The locals having never had so much money and finding out that their was some nut that wanted to buy granny’s old farm for a fortune, changed their whole way of thinking and attitude towards the foreigners, and not for the better. Most of the locals have now learned enough English to get by but the majority of us haven’t learnt Spanish. One good thing is that the local children all have the opportunity go to university now and have a career. The only thing is, having seen what life is like elsewhere, none of them want to come back to run the family farm or business. The town hall should have stayed with the residential tourism, which in most cases only spend money here and don’t take away jobs, instead they chose the cheap package tourism where most of the money is paid in England anyway. Now due to this lack of planning the last virgin area of the Mediterranean and the beautiful countryside and beach front is covered in 40metre apartments that are empty most of the year. There doesn’t seem to be any clear rule as to what and where you can build. They have not left riding or walking paths, everything is paved and the only park areas we have are those children’s climbing areas along the beach, built, one suspects, more for the commission than the children. At least they have put in nice paved walkways to and from the beach with trees and flowers. But as far as the nature trails, they have disappeared. There is a wealth of beautiful nature to see here as well.
After forty years of trying to put in a youth club with skating rink or bowling and food without alcohol and game rooms, a place where the children could meet after school, have dances, learn a sport or anything, nothing came of it. All the mayors agreed it was a great idea and even when it was offered to be paid for and run by a private person it never happened. We still haven’t finished the football pitch or swimming pool, which are both useable.
Mojácar was a nice safe place for children to grow up and I feel very lucky my children had that chance but now the school is over 50% foreign and the countries tend to stick together making it hard for the children to learn Spanish. They say it used to take a child three months to learn Spanish but now it is about two years. The school never took advantage of having all those different cultures there at their disposal and never had anything for the children to do. There were bars and bars. If you wanted to meet your friends it was in a bar. One good thing is that bars were so available to the children, that there is not much of an alcohol problem here and it is perfectly acceptable to go to a bar and order a coke. In most other countries you go to a bar to drink booze.
One thing that didn’t exist much was help to charities. We are all very familiar with donating time and money because our families are so spread out. The Spanish took care of there own which in most cases meant the disabled went without any sort of school or therapy but were well cared for at home. The foreigners have helped a lot of charities and by trial and error found which ones were corrupt and which ones weren’t. Foreigners are still the main source of income for most charities but the idea is now starting to become popular with the Spanish.
The family unit was one of the best things in Spanish life. The whole family participated in everything, granny and two-year-olds dancing until five in the morning at the fiesta, that would never happen elsewhere, we were more separated by age. A British teenager wouldn’t be caught dead going to the cinema with their parents but here the whole family did everything together. Modernization may be taking over old traditions but we have not ruined the Spanish family unit. It is slowly going the way of the rest of the world on its own. Their values may have changed a bit but they haven’t done badly out of us. Most locals own a house on the beach and one in the village, a farm, several shops and restaurants. The whole family, including the kids, drive big fancy cars.
Even for those of us that were here when it was a simple life and wish it had stayed that way, we have to admit that it is still one of the most beautiful places on the coast. In the end I would have to say that in general our impact here has been negative - for us, that is.

Goose or Gander

I went with Paco Marullo, the first 'democratic' mayor of Mojácar, on a cultural exchange to Cardiff, Wales. It was his first trip to England. The first thing that amazed him was the greenery and that sheep just grazed and didn’t need a shepherd to lead them around. They just ate by themselves in a field. We stayed with some very nice friends who had arranged the cultural exchange and gift giving. I went as his translator. One thing we found interesting was the number of Spaniards working as waiters in almost all the establishments we visited. Why anyone from Spain would want to move to Wales is beyond me but there were a lot. This helped put the mayor at ease a little. Not speaking any English we went over a few important words. One of the first things he wanted to know was what did they call the men and women’s rooms so he wouldn’t wonder into the wrong one by mistake. I gave him a few main ones like men and women, boy or girl and of course, gentlemen and ladies. Before he left the table we would go over the signs he might see just to be sure but he always had to return to the table to ask me to accompany him because he couldn’t pronounce or understand things like Goose and Gander or Doe and Buck and so on. It seems that in Wales every restaurant has its own way of describing the restroom. We went to a great Irish bar and it gave him an idea of what a great bar could be like even though he didn’t follow through when we got back. I don’t know if the Welsh have their own bars, we certainly never saw one but like I say there was a Spaniard almost everywhere we went.
On the day of the cultural exchange, we dressed the part and took a limo. We were greeted by the mayoress and council members and given a tour of the town hall plus all the gifts they had received from visiting dignitaries, including a hand-painted egg which had been painted from the inside given by a Chinese ambassador and then there were all the famous portraits on the wall. We exchanged plaques and Indalos and information and then left. It was a far cry from the Mojácar town hall, which had just been re-built from the old and sorry building that had done service until then. We spent a few fun days there and then came home. I don’t think I have ever seen the beautiful plaque they gave us or any of the gifts proudly displayed in our rather austere new town hall and I have certainly never heard anything about the trip or exchange. It was quite an important event because it was the first of its kind for Mojácar. Now we do cultural exchanges with places like En Camps, Andorra, where most of the locals own apartments (and bank accounts) and with whom we are ‘twinned’. We should have researched it better and done an exchange with Cochiguaz, Chile. They found a cave drawing of an Indalo exactly like our original one and it is used as their trade-mark for all artisan products and exportations, including their famous brand of Pisco, a South American fire-water. It is also on the lay lines of the Templars, just like Mojácar and a special magical place, or the Zuni Indians in America that also have the Indalo as a goddess to protect their crops. At least we share a common interest and they would be interesting areas to have cultural exchanges with. Culture has to mean a bit more than a bank account and a piss up. At one point there was even talk about twinning with Turre, on the grounds that it was ‘foreign, but not too foreign’. You have got to be joking. Can’t they think outside the box once in a while?

Monday, 1 February 2010

Late Night Riders

The wonders of the horse

For quite a few years we had five blond, blue eyed, freckle-faced young teen girls living with us. For some reason two of them were named Jessica. The smaller of the two soon became called Peque. The girls helped with the chores and rode horses but most of the time they rode around in my Nissan Vanette, singing and dancing to Madonna’s Like a Virgin. It was quite a sight when I let them all out of the car into the village.
Salaries were not very high then and the girls got some great work on horseback. They did advertising for discothèques and the Parador art exhibitions. They got paid five thousand pesetas a day for two hours to dress in the appropriate clothing, depending on the job, and hand out fliers and free entrances. It was a brilliant way to advertise. The girls would go one day to the market or beach and another they would go in the evening to the shopping centres. They caught the eye of everyone and had tons of fun doing it. Everyone remembered them and attended the advertiser’s events. When the Tuareg first opened they even took the horses there for the first week and once an hour an Arabic song (Didi from Khaled) would come on telling the girls in their scanty outfits that it was time to gallop full speed across the dance floor and out the other side. The Tuareg was on the beach so it wasn’t dangerous. They made good money and had fun at the same time.
Daniel started riding double with me from before he could walk. It was the only way I could get any riding time in. Once he had started school in Garrucha, I used to drive him there in the car. We always had to listen to the Irish group the Horse Flies, singing Hush Little Baby. Then I rode out and picked him up on horse back. We had great fun galloping through the river bed to our house. As he got older and went to the Mojácar School I used to take him and pick him up, bare-back on my horse until one day he asked me please could we go in the car because all the kids stared at him. I think they were all just jealous. But I know how peer pressure can be so we started using the car. It wasn’t until just a few years ago that he told me he used to be scared to death as we galloped full speed home through the river bed. To each his own, what some consider fun others find frightening or embarrassing.

Different strokes for different folks

What would be considered scandalous behaviour any where else was common place and normal here. Nothing here starts until midnight so if you go out before it is just you and the bartender. Diner is usually about 10:00 pm and you don’t go out until after. Here you don’t necessarily drink in bars or discos so they are appropriate for a slightly younger crowd then we are used to. On the week-ends we would take our five girls out and drop them at the disco just before we went to bed. The owners and bartenders all took very good care of them, making sure they weren’t hassled, and then we would pick them up when we got up in the morning or the owner would bring them home. The number of times Lenox got stopped by the Guardia to be breathalysed at some appalling hour of the morning was staggering. He always passed because he had just gotten up and all he had drunk was a coffee. The Guardia were sure he must have some secret, never showing an alcohol level, because it was impossible for someone to be coming from a disco at that hour and not have been drinking. They never believed that he was just picking up his kids.

The Mayor's Jeep

During the time that I worked for the mayor I drove my father’s old SEAT 127, ‘car of the year’ probably back in 1970. Until one day it had all five tyres slashed and the car was completely vandalized by four young boys who live here to this day so I won’t mention them by name. I didn’t have the money for five new tyres so the mayor lent me his Jeep. I had already had so many things go wrong with my car that I thought the mayor was starting to doubt me. Driving a lady up to town, one day, the floor of the Jeep caught on fire. We had to pull to the side of the road, not too difficult in those days, kill the engine and put out the fire. I was afraid to tell him what had happened since it was my first day with the Jeep. He was very understanding and actually found it very amusing. He gave me a loner until the Jeep was fixed.
The architects who design car parks in Spain have obviously never driven a car anywhere – especially anywhere near a car park. The worst ever designed was here in Mojácar pueblo where the ramp into the car park was so steep, to get in you needed four wheel-drive and once inside, the pillars were all in the wrong place. It was basically built for motor- cycles. There were eight small spaces on either side with a narrow drive down the middle, ending at a wall. If anyone else decided to park there, especially behind you, it would be impossible for you to manoeuvre out of your spot. This glorious parking lot was built under the Mirador and was meant to hold the few cars that by now couldn’t park in the plaza. Even though parking lots are starting to improve here in Spain, there are still so many old ones that if you have a car bigger than a VW bug you may as well not try. When I got the Jeep back, I drove up the ramp, under the overhang and parked in the mayor’s spot. I don’t think he had ever taken the Jeep in there before. It was a bit close, on the way in, because of the overhang in the middle of the ramp but we made it by inches. Relieved by my accomplishment, I carried about my day’s work. On the way out it was a different story. Pointed by now the other way, there was no chance that the top of the Jeep would fit under the overhang. I panicked because I couldn’t tell the mayor I had wrecked his Jeep again so I went for help. A few of my friends closed their bars and came to help me in my dilemma. We disassembled the top and the wind screen and anything else we could try. Then we let the air out of the tyres. I knew I had driven in there so why couldn’t I get out? Even without air in the tyres the car was too big for the opening. At my wit’s end I went to get the mayor’s brother, because I couldn’t face the mayor again. The brother came in, looked at all my friends and what we had done to the Jeep. After a lot of discussion the mayor’s brother said he wanted to try something so he pulled the disassembled Jeep back into the car park, turned the Jeep around and went out backwards. I was the only car in the lot and thank God no-one tried to get in or out while the jeep was stuck in the entrance. It had been stranded on the ramp the whole time, I mean for hours. It worked; I must say that I was secretly pleased that even he put quite a few scrapes on the roll bar coming out. I never parked there again. When I told my father about my experience he seemed amazed that the idea wouldn’t have occurred to me on my own. It was the obvious solution. I am not a physicist so it never crossed my mind. After that the mayor bought me a company car, a Ford Fiesta, which fit anywhere. I did have to give the Ford back when I stopped working for the mayor a few years later.