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I know why the doughnut man smiles

22 Aug

Yesterday I was at the right place at the right time, with the right amount of money (1.50 Euros) to buy the last doughnut from Barcelona’s famous doughnut man. I had just taken the first bite of my doughnut when a man called out.

Doughnut man: Sorry that was my last one. I’m sorry little one. Tomorrow you can get my first doughnut.

Good-natured cries of disappointment go up. A little 3 year old boy looks devastated. I feel horrible.

Me (whispering to the doughnut man): I’ll share half with him, if they like.

Doughnut man: Would you like to have half a doughnut?

Both parents shake their heads ‘no’. Behind them, the little boy shakes his head vigorously ‘yes’.

I beckon to him and he comes running over, and we split the doughnut. He stands next to me looking a bit uncertain. I smile at him. He leans in, and gently kisses me on the cheek.


The doughnut man is laughing at me.

Doughnut man: Now you know! Now you know!

Me: What?

Doughnut man: Now you know what it feels like for me, to get a kiss and thank you at work every day!

Que bien Bambolino!

This is the doughnut man in action. He also featured in Shakira’s video which she filmed in Barcelona in 2010.


Winter creeps up on Barcelona and brings the phwoarrr factor!

8 Dec

It started innocently enough.

First, I started closing the balcony doors when it got dark. Then we used 2 throws on the bed, then dug out the duvet.

Comfort food crept onto the menu. Roasts, soups, pumpkin and goats cheese bread and banana and chocolate muffins. Food became increasingly to share. Gregelia’s Pork Roast of Perfection, Louise’s Crumble of Glory, T’s Sumptuous Steak Pie and Iran’s Heavenly Beef Stew.

No, I lie. Iran is a horrible cook.

I try not to eat any of her cooking. She never washes after going to the toilet.

And tends to trail cat litter pebbles into unlikely parts of the house.

It’s just the kind of inconsiderate thing she does. I told her, one of these days I’m gonna cook her with barbecue sauce. She said, until then I have to clean up her shit. Witch.

Evil cats aside, the final stage in My Winter Watch came today.

While rummaging through the clean clothes pile, I spotted them and all alone in the house, I went    phwoaaaarrrrr!!!!!!!!!

Super heroes save the beach from giant butts

4 Dec

Little did I realise staying in Barceloneta puts me in the frontline of attack from giant man-eating cigarette butts, flying drinks cans and banana surfboards.

But I should not fear. According to the true chronicles of Herois de Carn i Ossis (Heroes in the flesh), we have a stupendous cast of superheroes protecting the good people of Barcelona. There is, ranked in ascending order of superhero powers, and descending order of creative naming:

  • super noi net – Super Clean Boy
  • el salvador de la platja – The Saviour of the Beach
  • la protectora de la sorra – The Protectress of the Sand
  • noia meravella – Wonder Girl

I’m not sure why they ran out of beach related titles by number four. Banana Surf board girl would be so much better.

In addition to this reassuring news, the council would also like to inform you that jumping your motorcycle over cars is strictly prohibited.

Seriously guys, nobody is impressed by those stunts anymore.

Booyakasha! Kill the white man!

3 Dec

Ok, so maybe it doesn’t really mean ´Kill the white man´, but I´m a headline pimp.*

T taught Victor the booyakasha word.

V: What does that mean?
T: Burn the white man
V (delighted): Thats brilliant! I love the stuff you can get away with, as long as you sing it in a reggae song.

Meanwhile, one of the African guys who hang around about the Cube was pacing up and down on the sidewalk. He was raging and ranting in his language. Normally this particular gentleman is jaunty and sardonic. Always dressed in a blood-red polo T shirt, red jumper, red shoes and a red beret. Sort of french chic. I´v watched him get shaken down by the police, who made him take off his shoes and belt and searched his bag; while he just laughed at them. The three of them, the laughing black man dressed in red and the two patient cops were juxtaposed against a bright yellow wall. It was a beautiful picture, and I would have taken it if I wasn´t so scared of the cops.

T (to red): Que pasa?
Red: Some fucking people stole my shoes. They stole my shoes!
Us: Sympathetic sounds
V: Booyakasha!
Robby: Que puta!
Red: Yah man, if I find them, I´ll kill them.
T: Did they take anything else?
Red: No, just my shoes man. My shoes!
V: Booyakasha!

Red, losing interest in us wanders off.

V: I actually have a pair of shoes behind the bar which I could give him.
T: Would it be the right size?
V: Yeah I think it would. And its the perfect colour, red.
Me: Aww that would be such a cool gesture. Are you going to give it to him?
V (looking uncertain): I don´t know. I´m scared of giving clothes to people in case they reject them. Maria threw a T-shirt back in my face once.
Me: I´m sure he wouldn´t. Maria is crazy anyway.
T: So is he.
V: Nah, I´m not going to give him the shoes. Racist bastard kept shouting burn the white man….
Us: erm… think you were the one shouting Booyakasha…
V: Well, he didn’t disagree with me now, did he? Racist f!

*Geek note:
Booyaka is Jamaican patois which means a lot of things, including the sound of gun shots. Booyakasha is probably just a variation of the same word and was made famous by Ali G aka Sacha Baron hate-him-or-love-him Cohen.
– Some people claim Booyakasha means kill the white man in Swahili. But Swahili for white man is mzungu, which makes even a Patois-Swahili hybrid unlikely.

Mark steals a bag snatcher’s phone

11 Sep

We converged, more by chance and less by design, at Ryans Beach in Barceloneta once again. It was a pleasant evening with a soothing sun. We sat on the terrace drinking pints and bemoaning our different fates. Too much work, too little work, unemployed and so on. Comfortable, languid and bored.

The peace shattered in a second however, when a fight erupted between an African and a Moroccan on the lane separating Ryans Beach Bar from the terrace.

I refer to ethnic identities here, because when you belong to the criminal world (as these two gentlemen did) in Barcelona, ethnic identity defines you, what you do, how you operate and who you answer to. ‘Pakistani’ refers to any young man from the Indian subcontinent – on Barceloneta beach, Pakistanis patrol the beach with plastic bags offering you water, beer, fanta (in a loud voice) and marijuana and hashish (in a quieter voice). The African boys- consist of various loosely connected gangs of young men from countries like Senegal and Nigeria, who practically live at the Cubes. They specialise in selling marijuana and cocaine and bag snatching. In the evenings they sometimes get their drums out and spend hours dancing to African rhythms. The Moroccans used to specialise in bag snatching, mugging and dealing various drugs, but their presence on the beach has been waning. Perhaps an under radar turf war is being waged.

Back to the fight

One tall sinewy African man. One furious looking Moroccan. The terrace was captivated. The Moroccan paused to take his knapsack and shirt of. ‘Hit him now! Kick hi
m when he’s taking the shirt of!’ Did I yell that? Surely I didn’t yell that? The advice fell on deaf ears anyway. The African man was a firm follower of the Marquess of Queensberry by the looks of it, all fair play and gentleman punches.

The Moroccan set aside his bag and clothes and got a few punches in before going down. Instead of ending the fight there, he was then allowed to get back up! What kind of street fighting was this? Bloody Marquess of Queensberry! Up came the Moroccan, ripped off the African’s shirt, then his T-shirt, going  hell-for-leather. ‘Poke him in the eye!’ came the yell from the terrace. Not me this time. Our entire table had got up to have a better look by now, leaving me to guard the bags. No celebrity has ever received more rapt attention.  ‘Poke him in the eye!’ the shout was repeated. He didn’t poke him in the eye, but he walloped him one on the jaw. The Moroccan tried to get up for the second time, got pushed back down and this time he stayed down. Friends of both fighters came to pull them away from the scene before the police arrived. The fight had gone on for a good 10 minutes by now, but there was no sign of the police.

Mark picked up the discarded clothes, bags and phone from the fight. He approached the African dude first to offer him his stuff back. He took all the stuff apart from the phone. Mark keeps the phone and so gets another claim to fame. He becomes one of the few people to hustle a hustler, preach to a preacher, pimp a ……you get the picture.

Two minutes later the Mossos (One of Barcelona’s police forces) pulls up on the promenade in front of the terrace. Two burly officers get out, march up to the man building  sand sculptures and bust him for having lamps inside the sculpture. Open flames are a risk to public safety man!