Hello again fellow Heggery aficionados.
After too long a lapse I intend to resume my account which, in part, attempts to account for HOW we wrote ‘ The Reeking Hegs’. By which I mainly mean, under what circumstances.
In a previous entry to this Blog I spoke of our failed attempt to take the road to Morocco, seeking to follow the trail blazed by Crosby and Hope in their 1942 classic co-starring the delectable Dorothy Lamour.
Dorothy sanG sONgs of LovE
In the immediate aftermath of our return to the Iberian mainland we landed in Algeciras. Truth be told, the only attraction that place held for us was the ferry port. The way to Africa! After a day or two skulking the quays and getting ripped off by unscrupulous types selling vulcanised rubber disguised as hashish we concluded to cut and run. The only way to go was to go south, but going south could mean only one thing…well, it could have meant Gibraltar, but that idea didn’t really appeal to us. After all, we’d seen more than enough red post boxes and strangely helmeted coppers to last us a lifetime already. Accordingly, one fine, sultry September’s day we boarded the bus and chugged across the sierras to Tarifa.
There is a carven plaque above the remaining gate of the old city walls. It commemorates a sad event which took place in 1292. Tarifa was being attacked by the Moors ( who were working on behalf of one of the several Spanish contenders for the title King of Spain). The town’s garrison was under the command of one Guzmán, who happened to be loyal to another of the several contenders for the title, King of Spain. One day this Guzmán’s son was taken prisoner by the besieging army. He was told to surrender the city of his son would be executed. The story goes that this Guzmán threw his own dagger to the enemy forces below the city ramparts, admonishing them to do the deed using it. The kid got the chop, Guzmán saved the city for his candidate to the throne and became a local hero. I have to say, I wonder what his wife made of that?
We got supplies of bread, cheese and wine in a tiny, odourous local store and headed for the beach. Wide as you like and pretty well deserted it was( see above). As we’d already spent much more than we’d bargained for, we decided to sleep there. That was fine, but when we set out in the morning to explore the town I chose to hide my gear under some grass and brush among the dunes rather than lug it about all day. The town was very quiet. Really quiet. Like, deserted. We spent our time sitting in shady spots and writing sections of The Reeking Hegs. Come the evening we headed back to the beach. I went to collect my gear. My gear had been found and looted. The bag was open and my sleeping bag was gone. This was a problem as, though the days were hot to very hot, the night was cool if not chilly down there on the seashore. I was dismayed. Without funds enough to pay for a bed in a hostelry, what was I to do? We wandered back to a Plaza and took seats at a table outside a bar. Spirits were low.
Tupelo was dead set against blowing a large part of our remaining cash on a hostal. I looked forward glum as could be to a sleepless night cold and assaulted by biting sand mites. There was nobody sitting drinking in the Plaza except us and two young women. Driven by need and fuelled by vino tinto I decided the time had come to act!
In a gentlemanly if brazen fashion I went straight over and invited myself to sit with them. After a short while Tupelo trotted across and a merry foursome we became. The ladies were Germans doing Spain by Interrail. More wine was quaffed and as the night drew in I told them we were poor authors and of my predicament. Totally unexpectedly they told us the place they’d rented had a spare room and we could sleep there that night. Vunderbarrrr!! My spirits surged. I was elated. I proceeded to drink as much wine as fast as possible in celebration of this turn in our fortunes.
I woke next day with a cyclopean beast trying to beat its way out of my skull and a terrible dry mouth. Tupelo was not sympathetic. He explained how I’d got totally assholed drunk, insisting loudly we speak only German; but the only German I knew, so he said, was ‘Achtung! Funf und Funzig! Seig heil!’ To make matters worse, the only one who’d slept that night was me, on account of my tremendous subsonic to ear piercing snoring and my refusal to wake up no matter how much I was shaken and berated. The Germans had left early without a word of farewell and taken Der schnitzel with them.
Tarifa had done me in. We went back to Algeciras, spent one day in Gibraltar – this was, in fact, the most productive part of the trip. There, at the very extreme end of the Rock, we wrote the ‘desolate space tip’ section of The Reeking Hegs. It describes well, in its reality mangled Hegs fashion, what we were seeing as we sat there.
Footnote. Tarifa at that time was not the place it has become since. It was and is a very windy spot, but the enormous strands of beach were practically deserted when we were there – as was the town. Since then windsurfing has become hugely popular, and Tarifa is, I believe, known as the ‘windsurf capital of Europe’ these days. Whereas we contemplated a scene like this:
Nowadays it looks like this:
OK. Until next time. Please share your knowledge of the Blog, and do you best to boost sales and help our drive to make The Reeking Hegs a rival for the Dan Brauns and Ken Follex of this world.