Tuesday, November 24, 2020

The Flamboyance of Murcia

Following on from our previous post where we focused in on the letter "F";

Q. What do the words Flamboyant, Flamenco and Flamingo all have in common? 

A. Obviousy they all begin with the letter F (followed by l, a and m of course). They appear consecutively in the Collins Pocket English Dictionary (except for the fact that the word Flame separates Flamboyant and Flamenco but close enough). And talking of close, they can all be found within a few minutes walk from the El Real Thing front door in Murcia.

In the pre-apocalyptic days of 12 months ago when the word corona was associated with either that ring of light around the moon or sun, or cigars, or (if you're old enough) bottles of pop and certainly nothing at all to do with the Wu-Flu, Mrs C and I were contemplating a cheeky few days back in Spain. Escaping the cold and wet of East Lancashire in November for the Spring-like warmth of the Murcian sun should qualify as an accepted definition of the word "sensible". Okay, you're not going to be sat outside of an evening sipping on cocktails at this time of the year but during the day, with temperatures typically ranging between 18 and 22 degrees, the outdoor world is your lobster. And once the sun has set and the temperature starts to suggest long trousers and a jumper to be in order, there are plenty of bars and restaurants to tempt you away from a night in front of the TV should you be so inclined. And so it was, a few days later, that Mrs C and I treated ourselves to an evening of Flamenco at El Secreto Lounge in Mar de Cristal, just a ten minute stroll from our front door. Now, you've all heard of flamenco and will know it to be a flamboyant expression of Spanish-ness. You might not know that an evening of flamenco is intensely enjoyable, intensely atmospheric and intensely knackering. If you get the opportunity to experience flamenco first hand then you should absolutely do so but take at least two paracetamols before you leave the house and treat yourself to a lie-in the next morning.

Showing my ignorance now but I always previously associated flamingos with the TV programme Miami Vice and David Attenborough documentaries. Thirty years ago when I was working in Gibraltar, I couldn't quite get over the fact that I shared my locale with real live monkeys and it was a not dissimilar revelation when I first drove past a flock (or herd or pack?) of real live, pink flamingos at the salt flats - las salinas - Playa Honda just down the road from Mar de Cristal on the southern shores of the Mar Menor. To be fair the flamingos are better known for congregating in and around San Pedro del Pinatar on the northern shores but wherever on the Mar Menor shoreline they choose to practice their standing-on-one-leg routine, it still blows my mind a little bit that I have real live, pink flamingos as neighbours. Okay, they're not all pink because that demands a certain maturity and suitable diet but the nature reserve environment that fosters these lanky, unelegant but spectacular creatures gives them every chance of an eventual existence in the pink. And despite your misgivings, I do actually know the collective noun for a group of flamingos and it is, quite fittingly, a flamboyance. In fact, such a flamboyance of flamingos was witnessed by myself whilst playing* tennis in nearby Los Urrutias this last summer. "I say chaps, look at that flamboyance of flamingos on the beach" I shouted. Probably.

* The word "playing" is something of an overstatement in describing my involvement on the tennis court and should more accurately be described as "attending"

So then, who would have thought it possible to find three (almost) consecutive words in the dictionary and link them so seamlessly to Murcia? Not to be sneezed at eh? And just thank your lucky stars that I didn't get down the page as far as the word Flange. Trust me, having spent the last 15 years hiring out flange spreading and tightening tools it wouldn't have been beyond me.

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