All Dressed up and Nowhere to go -1973, Cadiz, Spain USE FOR EBOOK

I was really lucky for it had  been so easy to get private students in the city of Cadiz.  I had no idea English was such an important language. Word of mouth got  out that a native speaker of English was available to tutor and before you knee it, I was trying to decipher spidery hand writing written by yet someone else who wanted to learn English. The notes were always signed and duly underlined with a flourish.

Everyone seemed to know someone who wanted to learn English. Walk into the corner bar and Julio who would be preparing his famous pinchitos with just the right amount of paprika and garlic would tell  you about someone from down the road whose cousin's best friend's brother really, really wanted to learn English. 

"He wrote his address for you." Julio handed me a transparent, crumpled paper serviette. "There, there’s his signature.”  He pointed to something that looks like an abstract painting.  “You can do the lessons here, if you’d like." Julio grinned. "I can listen in and learn English for free! Ha ha ha!"

"Why do you want to learn English?"

"I could get a good job as a waiter in Torremolinos. Make more money. Make love to the Swedish girls. Ha ha ha!"  Julio was always laughing. He used to even laugh when there was nothing funny.

Businessmen and other professionals had their own ritual of writing their signatures. They would pull out a fountain pen from the inside pocket of their jacket and would write their full name which consisted of four, maybe even six words, with flair and conviction. They underlined this work of art once, sometimes twice with a zigzag design, then beamed at me, as they twirled their black moustache thoughtfully and provocatively.  They lowered their head, and with extreme care and precision gently would blot dry the ink. I was always duly impressed and intrigued by the drama I witnessed.  

One of my students was a sullen person, about my age, who sat with his head down and said nothing of any consequence most of the time. We met at his fancy, expensive flat. Behind him on the wall were dark, ugly paintings with ornate frames. The table we sat at was opulent as were the chairs. Everything was large, formal and cold. I couldn't  smell anything, not even garlic and olive oil, not even cologne, nor chlorine, nor sunflower seeds. The air had no character nor warmth of any kind. There was just a ray of sunshine that pierced the table, almost cutting it in half.

Any time the sullen student opened his mouth he talked about Alice in Wonderland. Occasionally he even asked me out. I didn't bother responding when he invited me out for I got the impression that he was crazy. He loved Alice and even said he could see her. 

When I told  my friends about his invitations to go out with him, they implored me to do so.
   
"How many times will you ever be invited out by an aristocrat?!"

"You've got to say 'yes' to him!"

I explained that the guy was off his head, that he had conversations with Alice of Alice in Wonderland.

"Who cares?!"

"He'll probably take you somewhere nice."

"You'll meet his friends. Then you can introduce us to them."

In the end, I decided that I'd go out with this distant cousin of the Grimaldis of Monaco, even if he was crazy. Why not? My friends were probably correct. I could have a nice time, and going out with a conde certainly didn't happen to me every day. I reckoned I'd go out with him just the once. No harm in that. 

For the next lesson I decided to wear my brand new fitted pink blouse with pointed lapels and my brand new tight red trousers with huge wide flairs that I could hardly button, let alone zip up. I actually paid full price for both these garments in a local boutique. Normally, I waited for the sales before purchasing clothes, but I really liked the combination of the blouse and trousers. I thought a blouse was more formal than a smock, more ladylike. And, if I was going to be wooed by a hoity toity fellow, I might as well look really nice. I sprayed myself with Shalimar perfume, something I very rarely did. Feeling fashionable and elegant, I was all set to be invited out by the conde boy.

At the next lesson he sat  opposite me with his head down as usual. 

"What did you do yesterday?"  That's always a good question to get people using the preterite.  He was supposed to know English and my job was  just to help him increase his conversational skills.

Out of the blue, he looked up at me and started talking about Alice, about mirrors and how drugs helped him see things that other people didn't. 

"I love Alice. I really love Alice. I love her."  He turned round and gazed at the mirror behind him "Do you see her?  I can."

I listened and I listened, all the while expecting him to get around to asking me out. Instead, he kept talking about Alice in Wonderland and jerking his head to stare at the mirror. I don't think he even noticed my nice clothes nor the fact that I had a seductive aroma emanating from behind my ears. Much as I liked Shalimar, it tended to make me sneeze, so I only used it on special occasions.

Before you knew it our time was up. Well, really.

I couldn't believe it! The very time I was about to say 'yes' to him if he invited me out, he didn't?! What bad luck! And on top of it all, I felt a sneeze coming on.

So much for being wined and dined by a count.

The more I thought on it, I believed it was really for the best. I didn't even like him. And he was so weird.  He was a poor, pathetic, pitiful, portrait of a person. His title, the luxury apartment complete with live-in maids, the rich lifestyle meant nothing.  He was really just another drug addict.  Don't you agree?