As you get older… and you will, (I think it has to do with the movement of celestial orbs), you may find yourself with an urge to do ever more offbeat things. I suppose that it’s a feeble attempt to deny the inevitable, to prove to yourself that you are not really decrepit, whereas it is manifestly obvious that you are. I have to admit that with the passing of the years the scope of my intellectual and physical activities becomes more limited. I can spend a pleasant hour, for instance, sorting out the cutlery drawer in the kitchen. Identifying the utensils correctly from their morphology – forks, knives, spoons and so on – and putting them in their appropriate places, gives me a profound feeling of intellectual satisfaction; nor can I deny the pleasing physicality of the job.
For a little more excitement and stimulation I might move on to the larder and shuffle the eggs around a bit. Each day Ana fetches the eggs from the chicken-run and puts then in the egg-box. She puts them at the back so that the oldest eggs are at the front. When cooking, I take them from the front – the older the egg the better it peels, if you’re boiling it. From time to time the front gets empty and the back gets full. This is when I exercise the full power of my brain to sort them out into the correct order. The extreme fragility of the egg adds an agreeable frisson of risk and danger.
Thus do I spend my days, and I count myself most fortunate. Sometimes though, you find yourself in a compromising situation: you’ve been railroaded, laid on the line. I have no memory of how it happened but it’s there now and there’s no way out: the ‘Acompalia’ thing, and the ‘Integral’. It’s like this: for some reason, I happen to be the vice-president of an outfit called ‘Acompalia’. I think it was because I just wanted to be president of something. (You can find out more about this curious urge by reading my forthcoming book, ‘Last Days of the Bus Club’, published by Sort Of at a knock-down price on June 4th.) Acompalia is a group of people from round these parts (Granada mountains and coast) who, rather quixotically in these most economically unpromising of times, have set out to raise a million and a half €uros to build and run a hospice, a thing undreamt of in the province of Granada, and, indeed, in most of Spain. I admire enormously what these people are doing, and thus it was that when in their unaccountable wisdom they asked me to be their vice-president, I eagerly acquiesced.
My conditions for this prestigious sinecure (imposed by myself) were that I would never but never attend a meeting, and I would have nothing but nothing to do with decision-making. (What sort of a vice-president is this?, you may be wondering.) All well and good, but a month ago I was informed by some of the more active Acompalia members, that, in order to raise money through sponsorship, I was billed to do the “Integral”. So what is the “Integral”, and how would one go about ‘doing’ it? The Integral in this case is the totality of the peaks in the Sierra Nevada above 3,000 metres… and to ‘do’ it, you climb them… all twenty one of them.
I must be bonkers. I am going with one ‘Fit Nick’ for company and encouragement, on June 15th. There’s no way out of this one. I aways used to think that one ought to do at least one crazy thing a year – once I walked from Córdoba to Granada in July – but now I’m not so sure; if all goes belly-up, who will sort the cutlery and the eggs?
Oh, and of course, if you want to check out Acompalia… well, it’s www.acompalia something or other; there are not so many outfits called Acompalia.