I am going to have another attempt at finding these people. This is from 12 years ago now. 12 years - where did it all go?
I would love to know what this bunch are upto today in the reality of a working world. May even try to recreate the photograph. Pozo Alcon is a small agricultural service town on the edge of the Castril and Cazorla natural parks. Stunningly beautiful places. Popular with Spanish people for a weekend retreat, but seemingly off the European tourist map. It is the sort of place where old guys can still be seen returning from the fields, slopes and groves with donkeys. Beautiful scenery, very charming, but little chance of making a living in today's economy. I know a guy who has Two houses on the edge of the village he is trying to sell. Perhaps he will let me stay a couple of nights.
The area is perfect for outdoor activities; climbing, biking, hiking, nature study etc etc etc. Beautiful lakes to swim in, or just dangle your feet whilst sitting in the shade of the pines feeling carp nibble your toes during the heat of August. Should, and could be a very popular place for visitors from all over. The competition is vast in Spain mind - there are so many beautiful places, but most people seem to just want the coast.
I will start from the beginning. The begininng after my last moan many years ago in La Coruña.
Here in Granada there are so many kebab and shawarma places you have to be pretty good to cut it.
There is also a small chain of Indian restaurants that are very good. They will cook to your tastes. Give fabulous service and make a very good evening, or lunch of your eating. Expensive, but very good.
When they opened Muglia Fast Food I thought 'great - a chicken tika wrap to take away'. But, no. Turns out to be just another kebab shop. The worst kebab shop in The World actually.
I was very hungry last night. Booked a bed in a cheap hotel and settled for a cheap kebab. I was that hungry. What was served to me was worse than I normally see people eating from bins here in Granada. It killed all appetite on appearance alone. Totally cold. Stale pita. Nothing by weight. I couldn't even face a cheese and tomato sandwhich after looking at it. It was a bit of a mision to get my money back.
It doesn't take much intelligence and skill to prepare a kebab does it? Hot meat, salad, sauces and toasted bread. Simple? Apparently not.
Anyway, Muglia people; you have lost my custom at your excellent Indian restaurants for trying to pull that off. Stick at what you are best at - people will appreciate that. Bring on the chicken tika wrap to takeaway - forget ruining your reputation trying to do kebabs and stuff you do not understand.
Almost 18 months ago I had everything stolen in Barcelona. Everything! Left with the clothes I was wearing and nothing else. Where do you start from there? It has taken this long to replace all essential work tools (thanks to help from friends).
September 2014 I had a plan to get back to Granada with a plan. So, here I am with a plan. Tooled up and ready to attack the same plan.
First off is an all new business card, and all new attitude. California is finally comming. Possibly.
I was invited to join a very amiable bunch for Christmas dinner in the building that was the childhood family home of Señor Pablo Picasso. And, very nice it was too. Fabulous food, fabulous company - thank you very much.
Malaga is Picasso city. He was born here, but left for La Coruña aged just 10 and never returned. The Picasso museum is fabulous, but I have not been tempted by the Casa de Picasso (or, Picasso foundation) yet. Cash is tight, and I am having to put in every hour working on the streets just to get by day to day ATM. The Picasso foundation is home to an archive of all sorts Picasso, a library and a recreation of the living room of the home complete with a painting by his father on an easel. His father was an artist and art teacher. Later the family moved to Number 15 of the same building. It is a Five story building on the North side of Plaza de la Merced. At the time it must have been a very middle class/bourgeoisie place to live. On the edge of the old town, just a stones throw away from the working class terraced streets. A very priviledged place to live as a child.
On the 5th floor of the building I was enjoying fine French cuisine, good company and wondering what was going through the mind of a 10 year old genius Picasso during his days here. The balcony looks over Plaza de la Merced towards the cathedral, across roof tops and DOWN! It is like viewing the World from a very different perspective. Common today to be living at such an elevated height, not so common back then. Young Pablo probably played in the plaza, looking up at the almighty obelisque, at his own home, tops of the buildings barely discerning the tiled roofs. From his home he would have been looking down mostly, and across - tiled rooves were now square blocks, the trees had no trunks, the obelisque was reduced... This different perspective is made all the more 'unworldly' with the vast space in front of you. It isn't just the elevated point of view, it is the sense of spacial awarness makes you wonder more about dimensions, relative distances, the relationship of objects withing their environment. Pablo grew up with this (until he was 10). This is where the seeds of Cubism were sewn into the fertile young mind of a painting genius.
I will try to paint what I am trying to explain. Not a cubist painting, or painting in my own 'sort of style', but, trying to put myself into the young mind before it evolved to what is now recognised as Cubism. Fun. Just one more reason to hang in Malaga for a little longer.
I have been asked to do this sketch Four times now. It interests me. The way Malaga has changed. It is from an old photograph (I guess the turn of the 19th/20th Century). There is no castle even though the castle was built in the7th Century. Much of the sea has been reclaimed. Malaga port is a very different place today. The castle was rebuilt in the 1960's. Before then, the mound of a hill was all houses built from castle stones.
What the port was back then?
Today, I find the continual "drumdrumdrumdrum" of almighty cruise ship engines in the background of a city very reassuring. Not sure why? I enjoyed the same noise in Ibiza. Can't recall enjoying it in quite the same way anywhere else.
Happy clients so far, so I have decided to invest a bit of money and time on promotionl materials. Also acccepting orders online to post. Anyone interested can send a photo to email@example.com for a quote including post and packing.
Marbella was fun for the weekend, but by Monday it turned into a huge retirement village for the lucky few from all over Europe and Russia. Even the cruise ships were just bringing in more grey hair. A few wigs and colourful tints. All retired people - very few retired people buy art, their houses are already full of stuff they need to uffload to pay for the drugs to keep them healthier and alive longer. Some seem to worry that money is going to run out before they die and the drugs just keep getting more expensive. Personally, I see a very simple solution, but I will probably change my mind if I ever make it passed 70.
Police would not let me work either. Strictly no 'street activity' without permission, so obviously I can't reccomend for those wanting to 'Fund Their Own Travel Adventure' for anything other than a good, affordable, off-season break.
I don't like smartphones.
For all the good I see in smartphones etc I see more damage. Mostly damage to my sketches on the ground as people walk over them whilst Twattering and Feckbooking. "Sorry" they say, "I didn't see them". Well look where you're walking then there is no need to feel the need to apologise. Can't be a nice feeling (like people give a flying f***).
I need to tap into the peoples' love affair with the smartphone. This is how an artist is going to try:
I suspect almost everybody using a smartphone will have a favourite photo on their device. A picture of a friend, a loved one, pet (or, most likely a f****** selfie!). Simply email me the photo (in original file size and format so I can print it out after optimising) and I will turn it into a beautiful charcoal and ink portrait for collection the next day. €10 deposit, a further €29 on collection, or delivery. If I get the orders I could comfortably churn out Four a day.
As much as I like Malaga, and have no doubt the designers and tourist engineers have got it right, personally it has always lacked something.
Huge investment in art and restructuring are paying dividends in so much as attracting international tourists and cruise ships. This time last year I almost sensed a bit of resentment from some local corners. Today everybody is appreciating the benefits.
Malaga is booming in many ways. It is very nice to see.
But, I have a small problem. Malaga lacks honesty.
The statue of Picasso in Plaza de la Merced is a lie. He never sat there in his later years. In fact he left aged just 10 years never to return. Malaga´s supposed new alternative barrio is Soho. Soho in London is South of Holborn. Soho in New York is South of Houston. Soho in Malaga is erm...erm... just a pretend Soho. It goes on.
Perhaps in time the polish will lose it´s gloss and we will all be able to see the real Malaga (north of Plaza de la Merced for anyone really interested).
They really didn´t need to do this. But, whatever, it all works financially.
Amongst many childhood memories that remain as clear as day is the image of a very content, happy and peaceful Grandfather 'fishing' during a family reunion at a place called 'The Waters Meet', or 'The Waters Edge', or something like that just outside of Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire. An old roadhouse style pub that had adapted to become a restaurant, hotel and pool fishing retreat.
Here was a man approaching his 80`s very obviously enjoying retired life. I don't remember seeing any fish in net never mind on hook. What I do remember is the silver cigarette case packed with filterless Park Drive and the smell of Scotch eminating from his breath and a very neat leather lined hip flask. This is perhaps the reason I remain a very content, happy and peaceful smoker and drinker myself (yes - I started aged 11!). It is the sort of very powerful psychology marketeers and advertisers can only dream about using thankfully.
I had a great deal of respect for my father's father. He had lived through a war that took the life of his wife, lives of family, friends and customers at his Black Country fish and chip shop. [This may, or may not be true - families can be the biggest distorters of history, but as a 10 year old it was undoubted fact].
Move on 40 years and this very content, peaceful and happy 3rd generation drinker and smoker is wondering "what's up with all this Freddie Starr business" in the Olive Press?
We read about Freddie's fall from fame. Apparently he is living hand to mouth whilst driving his Mercedes. Perhaps he means 'pump to tank'? I am not sneering - it is not the news I want to read. We all make mistakes. Perhaps a high profile mistake and a much harder fall from a much higher high is a relative thing?
Most of my waking hours are spent on the streets and plazas in Spain (and other countries). I am not a rich man - I am an artist who spends much time socialising with fellow street people. Homeless people reliant on help from others for the most basic hand to mouth lives. Families who are effectively squatting and dependent on food banks. Many of them British ex-pats who used to enjoy relative luxury watching Freddie on TV every Saturday night from the armchair in their suburban semi-detached homes.
We all know where I am comming from here? I am not so sure I know myself!?!
Freddie is obviously a broken man. Even though I have never been a fan, I don't wish to read this anymore than I like to read about the horrors of Syria today. I feel very fortunate to be living in peaceful times in Europe. "Life could be much worse Freddie. Stop looking for sympathy. Stop running. Get your shit together. Get to work again. Find new material relevant to life in today's context. It is never too late to start again."
Many of the homeless people I speak with would actually find symapthy, or even empathy - he doesn't have to ask. However, until we see a better man today we are not going to give it.
Sell your Mercedes if you have to. Put on some unpaid benefit gigs for homeless charities. Start again and then start resolving your problems. We want to hear laughter. See smiling faces, reconciliations and the never give up 'British bulldog spirit'.
If this story continues I hope it does so happily and gracefully. If it doesn't go that way I will probably continue to follow it anyway. It is a free paper and sometimes I get very bored. Such is life. Times change. We all have to adapt out of neccesity. I would prefer to read good 'news' Freddie.
You can also read stories keeping the 'Costa del Crime' image alive and well. All in the name of investigative journalism of course.
The Olive Press - bringing the Daily Hate to sunny Spain.
To be fair, they do report very responsibly on more sensitive issues. I would like to see them continue sucessfully for that alone.
Spanish Malaga remains a very nice place for all to enjoy. Just don't go reading the ex-pat press unless your sense of humour is well lubricated.
Edited for spelling from a W0bberly keyboard and to add...
The Olive Press has changed much. Originally it had a strong environmental leaning and reported news locally from the province of Granada. I was just a bit shocked at how much it has changed. I guess agenda number One for any newspaper is to attract readers. Agenda Two would be to keep readers. If this is what people want to read fair enough. My gripe is with tabloid style ´news´all over Europe ' not simply The Olive Press. Every newspaper and editor will always have an ulterior agenda. In the case of The Olive Press I like that agenda. Environmental issues are kept in the spotlight, and the way they report on immigration issues is 100% unbiased. Good for them.