The question may not be asked, but the puzzlement is often etched on faces – why did we choose to live here in The Priorat, a thousand miles from all we knew?
It has a great deal to do with cowboys.
On my travels I’ve owned a Stetson, got lost in Texas, skirted two bar brawls, had a revolver pulled on me, slept out on the range and crossed the Rio Grande with, ahem, not all the necessary paperwork. Heck, Hidalgo is one of my favourite films. But that is not it.
Christmas just gone I was gifted two drawings from our 24-year-old daughter Ella. It was, out of the blue, her beautiful way of saying she understands, and she is glad. And that, in turn, means the world to her Mama and Papa.
Why we came here, what had pulled me up short 20 years ago and gave me the courage to give up the good income and securities of a relatively high octane career in Britain, was a question from a four year old.
I’d thought I’d misheard and asked Ella to repeat it. She softly hit me with the hard truth that time was passing and I was missing it. I was absent during irrecoverable moments within the unit of family, waypoints in my child’s life when she was dropping pearls of infant wisdom and perspective.
So, shortly after we arrived here I wrote her a poem to thank her, sprinkled with some of her other questions.
And then this Christmas, there it was, written in her hand on the back of her drawings.
Do All Horses Have Cowboys?
How does a centipede count its toes?
How does an astronaut scratch her nose?
Why can’t I whistle, hard as we try?
And how, exactly, does butter fly?
Why are clouds all different sizes?
Why doesn’t Grandpa like our surprises?
Where is the music that makes worms wiggle?
If you tickle a grumpy gorilla will it giggle?
Are boiled eggs important because they have soldiers?
Will we always be able to ride on your shoulders?
How come we can’t hear the bark of trees?
Why doesn’t a table’s legs have knees?
When the sea waves why don’t we wave back?
Can Santa really get ALL the toys in his sack?
Who turns the moon off and on?
If we cycle round the world will it take long?
Why doesn’t our goldfish Gertie blink?
What happens to things washed down the sink?
How long is a fairy’s tail would you say?
Who put sand and a witch in the picnic yesterday?
Why don’t ants talk or make any noise?
“Do all horses have cowboys?”
Hang on a minute – BarcaFC has done what? Now that’s put a spring in my step.
The silver fox newly in charge at the Camp Nou is undoubtedly the man for the job.
You see, Quique and me, well, we are peas out of the same pod.
Alright, I’m six days older, but that’s good enough for me. September 1958. Vintage.
There is just one niggling anxiety, Quique. How, given the inevitable demand on your time, are you going to fit in the necessary afternoon naps…..
Go Quique. Visca Barça!