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Normally, I try to be in bed by ten at the latest on New Year’s Eve. That’s if Angelica doesn’t catch me and make me stay up till midnight. This year she managed to finger my collar as I was sneaking into the bedroom.
Things didn’t get off to a good start when she forced me to venture outside not long after ten. I told her people don’t hit the streets in Conil until way after midnight on New Year’s Eve, but she wouldn’t listen. In her imagination the entire pueblo would be rocking by ten. All full of joy and rigged out in fancy dress they’d be singing and dancing in the streets. I told her they wouldn’t, but she just wouldn’t listen.
How wonderful it is to be proved right, even when it involves personal suffering. Half past ten and there we were; dressed up to the nines, looking for fun where there was none to be had. To my great satisfaction, all the bars were closed and the streets were deserted. I told her they would be, but she just wouldn’t listen. Even then, she wouldn’t let me slip off home. Not to worry, she reassured me as we ambled about the alleyways and lanes; they must be hiding somewhere. We stumbled across the odd German tourist here and there, also on the lookout. There was even a bar open packed with odd German tourists. The other odd Germans must’ve been looking for that. But welcoming the New Year in with foreigners wasn’t the spirit we were looking for. I told her what would happen, but she just wouldn’t listen.
Of course, with a nose that can sniff out an open bar in any port of call, I knew a little plaza where we might find one or two bars open with more of a local flavour. In Plaza de Goya there were exactly two, one owned by a friend of ours. Antjes, who some might describe as a bit odd, just happens to be German, has lived here for ages. She and her Italian husband run a pizza place. Bursting with a mixture of locals, a sprinking of Germans and a couple of Italians, most were guzzling alcohol rather than gobbling pizza.
But Angelica wanted to be at La Casa Inquieta for midnight, as Simon Templar was dee-jaying. Simon Templar? That I had to see. So off we wandered to Plaza de España only to find it didn’t open until half past midnight, just like nearly every other bar in Conil on a New Year’s Eve. I’d told her so, but she just wouldn’t listen.
She wasn’t really to blame. In the years the children were small we couldn’t go out on New Year’s Eve, especially when we lived a bit far too far out of town. And then there were the years we couldn’t afford to go out, even if we had wanted. Truth was, Angelica hadn’t been out on New Year’s Eve since just after the turn of the new century. I spent a couple of New Year’s Eves in Conil before we met, and remembered the pueblo being dead as a doornail till after midnight.
As there was still more than half an hour to go before 2016 finally ended, we plodded on through empty streets and down dark alleyways in our search for a joyous throng. Eventually, we found two young women sitting alone outside Santa Catalina church. They called us over to join them. One Spanish, the other English, they’d thought it might be a jolly wheeze to drive down from Seville to Conil to celebrate the New Year surrounded great crowds of Conileños. As a child, the Sevilliana had spent family holidays in the town. She recalled stuffing a dozen grapes into her mouth as the clock struck twelve, in accordance with Spanish tradition. In her memory the plaza in front of the church was packed with flocks of revellers. All full of joy and rigged out in fancy dress they’d be singing and dancing in the streets, as they were in at least one other person’s memory. I could’ve told her it was never so, but she wouldn’t have listened either. With nothing better to do we joined them.
By ten to twelve, our foursome had swelled into an unimpressive crowd of nineteen. All armed with a dozen grapes, except for Angelica and I. As there was no way the church bell-ringer was going to turn up for such a motely crew, someone searched out a striking clock on their mobile. So there we all stood as the phone struck twelve. Seventeen souls stuffed a grape in their mouths on each toll of the bell, while Angelica and I looked on, offering our fullest support. Then a man popped open a bottle of cava and we all took a swig.
After all that joy and happiness the two young women and we headed off to La Casa Inquieta. All of a sudden, the streets were chock-a-block with flocks of revellers. Though not quite so full of joy, and nowhere near all rigged out in fancy dress, they seemed more than grateful to see the back of 2016.
In La Casa Inquieta Simon Templar looked nothing like the real Saint. He played music so loud Angelica couldn’t even hear me grumble. The wine wasn’t that good either, so off we slipped La Tertulia, one of our favourite bars. With its traditional Andalucian patio, it’s much more our cup of tea.
It was way past my bedtime when we got back home well past two. I told her it would be, but she just wouldn’t listen. As she was a tiny bit tipsy, I had to make sure Angelica didn’t fall asleep on the sofa. I’d spent the last morning of the year applying coats of stain to the kitchen counter top, and the living room was still full of fumes. I told her it would be, but she just wouldn’t listen.
So that’s how we welcomed the New Year in. Next year, I think I’ll revert to my timeworn tradition of slipping off to bed early while Angelica isn’t looking.
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