IN the old days summer got hot too. Air conditioning was as common as 500 Egyptian girls fanning you (pure fantasy).
The most important apparatus to keep us cool was the sea. A late night dip and leaving the salt on you helped. Some of the more erudite just wet their sheets and rolled around on them. The rich could afford fans. For public relief, fans were as common as hens’ teeth. All sexes used hand fans while awake. In the night we all suffered miserably but drank copious amounts of ice-cold beer in the morning.
Next day grumpy was a fact of summer life. One didn’t usually approach anyone else before noon. Even then it was dodgy and that could metamorphosis into downright dangerous. Tinto de verano hadn’t been invented yet.
The first I had was with an Oxford professor of the Spanish language and his son, a Canadian professor, who spoke an ancient Spanish tongue that no one here had ever heard. I never knew what he said. His one glowing accolade was his knowledge of mixing ice-cold Casera with cold red wine, and knocking back two or three glasses before you spoke to anyone else at the table.
‘Civilized’ I called it, and drank in complete veneration and reverence.
There were plenty of near drownings then, as the visiting Spanish from the distant hills couldn’t swim. When they did pluck up enough courage to wade on the edges they never understood waves and were soon bowled over. Pandemonium followed.
Even though they were splashing about in no more than four inches of water, their screaming and flaying alerted the entire beach.
The occurrence was so frequent that our table took turns at rescuing the unfortunate.
Although some tough guys from the hills became confrontational when being saved by a female who did nothing more than making them stand up.
Then the fierce shouting and crying would stop and off they’d rush to the bar for some real liquid condolence, fervently attesting to all within listening distance that what they had seen never happened.
Back to lunch we’d go so as to not make an incident about it. We had other fish to eat and unimportant conversations to complete.
The real excitement came when pods of dolphins came leaping and bouncing their way toward Gibraltar. Almost everyone bolted to attention and rushed to the beach to witness the spectacle. Then back to the tables to discuss politicians I had never heard of doing the most paltry of adventurous things and.
Well, thank God for tinto de verano.