Robin Pilcher

ROLLING HOME FROM SPAIN

November 14th, 2013

I don’t know if I’ll be able to post this today as I’m enjoying the rather hit and miss satellite internet service of Brittany Ferries as we head back from Santander in Northern Spain, riding the choppy seas up the Channel (is it still English?) I’ve done this journey quite a few times before – it’s 500 miles exactly from our house in Andalucía to Santander and I do it in about 7½ hours without any hold-up. The time taken for 520-mile journey from Portsmouth to Dundee, however, can range from 9 to 18 hours. It’s a great pity the ferry, which has great food and comfortable cabins, can’t just keep going and dock in Rosyth…

We left the house in Aracena early on Wednesday morning, having completed the annual chestnut harvest the day before. A total of 2½ tonnes went into the co-operative this year under my socio (membership) number of A51, the best we’ve ever done. Remains to be seen now if the co-op has any money to pay us. La crisis has hit that part of Spain really hard and there’s very little work to be had, especially in the building industry – and that’s what most of the local men are involved in. However, their saving grace has been the small huertas (vegetable plots) that most families have somewhere on the outskirts of town. There they grow their vegetables and fatten a couple of pigs, so this inherent self-sufficiency has certainly helped them during this extremely hard time.

And meanwhile, 5 hours north in Madrid, the top football team has recently paid €103,000,000 for a Welsh football player. Doesn’t make a lot of sense, does it? Actually, I have to say that one of the biggest thrills I had over the past five weeks was going to a Real Betis match in Seville against the reigning Spanish champions, Barcelona. I never thought that I would actually see live the best footballer in the world. Lionel Messi moves like a will o’ the wisp – he’s everywhere, and fast, and has feet so quick that they must completely mesmerize a team’s defensive line. It’s not a wonder that clumsy feet usually catch him in the calf or the shin and he’s off the pitch as soon as he starts. Well, at least he lasted fifteen minutes this time. And then he was replaced by Iniesta whose no slouch either…

But the real treat was the atmosphere. The Real Betis fans sung heartily for the full 90 minutes, even when Barcelona’s fourth goal went in without reply. The Cruzcampo beers were slung back by ‘the lads from Aracena’ at an outside bar 500 metres from the stadium, and afterwards, we gathered again, spirits undeterred by what was really a pretty ignominious defeat, and downed huge hot dogs and drank more beer before Alberto, my young host, steadily drove us the hour and a half back up to Aracena.

Kirsty asked me if I was the oldest person in this bunch of aficionados. I said by about thirty-two years. She laughed rather too loudly at that…

“Robin Pilcher is popular novelist Rosamunde Pilcher’s oldest son, and living proof that talent does run in families…..with his Scottish sensibility and captivating wordplay, Pilcher is able to craft a fine and fulfilling novel.” (Booklist)

“If An Ocean Apart is any indication of Robin Pilcher’s works, then it is only a matter of time before the author becomes as well-known as his mother.” (Amazon.co.uk.)

“My family was brought up with the feelgood factor, so that’s what I write about. Real people and believable situations. My characters may be criticized by some as being stereotypical, but quite honestly, I take that as a compliment. One can associate with them.” (Robin Pilcher)