Another day and another evening in the Chip Shop (Barcelona’s one and only….I think).
T and Mark had joined me for a drink after work. It was around 7 pm and the Raval truly comes alive at this time. The day timers haven’t gone to bed yet and the night timers are just blinking their bleary way into the streets. The cat is crawling with hyperactive kids trying to work off the last of their energy before bedtime.
Standing on the pavement outside the chipy is a dark-haired girl in T-shirt and jeans. Her face is crumpled, and her dark almond eyes are spitting anger and pain. Her attention is focused on a young man sitting beside the chip shop. A lover’s spat in all its scary, fascinating glory. After an initial glance, most of us avoid looking at the couple, determined to give them some privacy whether they want it or not.
The argument rages on, or rather she rages on and he sits there and takes it. As a woman, it’s easy for me to
jump come to the conclusion that he has fucked up big time. He has probably just handed her the ‘its not you its me’ line or (he is very young) the lesser acknowledged and blunter ‘I’m shagging someone new’ line. Suddenly, she turns around, raises her arm and smashes an Estrella bottle on the road. Everybody stops what they are doing, it’s definitely an attention grabber. She walks over to the debris, picks up a shard of glass and starts slashing at her arms. Nobody moves for a moment or two, no one really knows what to do. Luckily, one man was thinking on his feet. A Barcelona street cleaner padded out in luminescent yellow rushes over to her. She looks up at him, with much the same look of a person at sea who realises the life boats have spotted him, miserable but expectant. Her look soon changes to confusion as he jostles her out of the way and starts cleaning up the debris. Imagine the life boat rowing past you and then stopping to clean up a bit of litter. She looks down at her arms (which are not bleeding….), she looks at the street cleaner busy about his work. She sort of shakes her head, bemused, no doubt thinking ‘I can’t even have a decent suicide drama without some idiot ruining it’.
In a daze she tries to search his waste-carrier for another piece of glass (the first glass shard obviously wasn’t working properly). Finally a couple of kindly ladies come over from the terrace, pull the glass out of her hand, good-naturedly tut tut over her milky unmarred arms and lead her away for a little sit down and kindness.