This episode also occurred during our 1993 move trip down to Spain in a 2 Michelin Star establishment in the French Pyrenees. There are just two “slight” exaggerations in this strip: Firstly; we didn’t really exchange places with Aura – as much as wanted to, and secondly; all the chef actually gave to Aura was merely a plate of duck carpaccio followed by sauteed calves liver in butter. There’s also one priceless thing which I failed to get across in this strip, and that was the horrified expressions of the mostly American patrons at the neighbouring tables!
And a PS: Aura really did often eat reclining, true to her ancient Roman heritage…
This is the first in the series where I stretched the truth somewhat, insomuch as the last box is a slight exaggeration – in reality, Dido merely manhandled the hotel manager out of the room. This happened on our drive down through Spain on the journey when we actually moved here – in the early summer of 1993. The most amazing element of the episode was how passive Aura remained throughout the contretemps – which was fortunate for all concerned!
As with the previous episode, this too actually happened as described and at the location depicted. Bar Angel is one of a handful of bars and restaurants located in our local mountain peublo blanco (white village), and in the days before mobile phones had taken on here in Andalusia provided one of the few pay-phones in the area…
Sometime around the mid 90’s of the last century, for some reason I can’t remember now I decided to make a series of 6-box comic strips describing amusing experiences that had had happened to us – us being my wife Dido, our Maremma Sheepdog Aura, and yours truly – on our travels. Thus, while all of them are based upon actual events, some are more close to actuality than others.
I’m starting this series off with one of the less exaggerated episodes. In fact this is true in every detail, except that it happened in London, in The Alexander Fleming Pub in Paddington and not in the famous old wine bar in Malaga (La Antigua Casa de Guardia) in which the drawings are set. In addition, the barman at the pub was so amused by what happened that he gave Aura a Cumberland sausage as a thank you for making his day!
I’m sitting on my south terrace of my house in the Sierra Tajeda foothills as I compose this piece. To the right hand side of my laptop is a Jim Beam marked glass filled to the brim with Moscow Vodka and tonic, with a thick chunk of our home grown sweet lime floating on the top.
Emanating from the open library window to my right are the divine strains of late great Victoria de los Angeles singing Chants d’Auvergne in her deliciously rounded mezzo soprano, so suited to those gently moody ancient lullabies.
Behind me, inside the main room of the house is a freshly caught sea bass patiently waiting in the fridge to form the substantial part of my imminent supper.
Before me, between the oleanders and cypresses, in the near-but-heat-hazy distance is the Mediterranean Sea, in which my bass was still swimming only this morning.
As the shadows begin to lengthen, and defined colours replace blinding monochrome, at last the excoriating heat of the day is giving way to the sensual caressing cool of the south-Spanish evening.
But for the fact I am missing my wife Dido, who is driving in heavy traffic from Oxford to London as I sit here typing these words, I really think I could almost be in heaven.
The picture above dates back to when we first moved here – with our Maremma sheepdog Aura – and the only available shade was under our old carob tree (in fact, the only mature tree we had). That was also heaven, albeit minus the laptops, stereos and Russian Vodka, which all goes to show, that even heaven, like just about everything else, is merely a relative concept…
Here’s a cautionary tale set down in comic-strip form from our second year here at our finca in southern Spain. I actually made it as a birthday card to Dido the June following our first grape harvest, although I’m not sure how amused she was by the memory. The message is pretty unsubtle and obvious – don’t gorge yourself on moscatel grapes, however delicious or bountiful!! Good for trees – humans, not so much…The same goes for figs by the way…
When I first set my eyes upon the cover to Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti in 1975 it captivated me almost as much as the incredible music on the two pieces of vinyl it contained. This next “gallery” offering is by way of an homage to that and the art of record cover design in general – an art form in the process of being resurrected due to the return of vinyl discs.
Fr. Justin Belitz OFM is the founder of the Franciscan Hermitage and author of "Success: Full Living," "Success: Full Thinking," & "Success: Full Relating." His teachings incorporate spirituality, science, and art for personal growth and development.