Calendario de reservas da Agrupación Instrutiva de Caamouco

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O Supermercado Pedregal, preto da praza do mesmo nome, en Redes, avisa de que na tempada de inverno o seu horario de apertura é de 9:00 a 14:00 de luns a sábado, pechando os domingos e festivos ás 13:30.

Famoso nos últimos tempos por ser o Ultramarinos-Bar e centro social de Louredo, atende agora co servicio de tenda de cercanías ós veciños de Redes, ainda que antiguamente si tivo esa configuración e os máis vellos recordamos os días de facer a ronda... a dous bares con varias voltas.

< ir á Dead Cats in the Attic. The Falmoth Packet I

... And she took us, in that way such ships have, if you let them, to Redes and inescapably, memory.

And The Jewel in the Crown.

Which to one nostalgic for (British) empire would be India, but is in fact Cuba, the jewel in Spain's colonial and especially the Galician crown.

Particularly Redes.

You may as always either read about it or listen or do both. And use your eyes. Again and again the same dates, or nearly the same, appear on certain houses, 1911, 1915, 1909 and so on. And they share a style called indiano, which is a kind of Galician interpretation of art nouveau, but with colonial (or better, simply exotic-pineapples for example-flourishes). So too the schools, one in Redes, still in use, another on the way to Ares, semi derelict. Built, the houses and the schools, with money sent back from Cuba.

But look at the dates, 1898, the loss of the last overseas possession, Cuba, but the houses? Early twentieth century. So Redes sent and kept on sending its sons to Cuba, “today marriage, tomorrow Havana” and what hurt more, to judge by a chance remark from Paco, “my family lost (property) then,” was the revolution (Castro), not the loss of that last overseas possession. Perhaps the word possession is a misnomer, or at least misleading, for the Galicians emigrated (like the Irish to some extent) to find work and better themselves and those left at home and post the loss of the last overseas possession, kept on coming. “The jewel in the Crown” is not my phrase, but Paco's. And Paco was born in Redes and is proud of it. As, celebrating the Sardiñada others were quick to point out, “I (privileged being that I am) was born in Redes. My brothers (poor things) were not”. Blessed, as it happened by a nearly full moon, the rigging of a certain boat making silken tracery against the sky. Not on her mooring but right alongside the quay, dried out, as the term goes for work (1). Awakening, as hoped, memories. Pickled rigging one might say as sardine flavoured smoke swirled. “I have seen many French villages. Too perfect. No life. Here there is life and imperfection and I prefer it so”. So spoke another son of Redes. And he is right. Absolutely right. Particularly perhaps when Redes celebrates, privately, with good food, good wine and good conversation and nothing else but its own identity. Far into the night. As it has done long before we came. And will do long after we are gone. You may walk, not far, up the hill. Vines, young bunches of grapes still green, overhang walls. All is meadow, flowers, birdsong, old and dignified houses and on this night lowering clouds. The walk had a purpose, for another Sardiñada was in prospect. This at the schoolhouse. Built with money sent from Havana where the board of directors would sit and deliberate on reports from Galicia, pay the salaries of the teachers-there must have been at least two, Chicos and Chicas being strictly segregated-and suchlike. Amongst all which must have been the personal, news from home, the gossip, in fact of a community, which gossips still. The schoolhouse is a simple but grand affair. A long single story building in the indiano style, a semi-circular flight of steps leads to the portal, solid tall and spacious double doors give onto an equally spacious hall, high ceilings, the two classrooms, one on each side and nothing more (2).

Here those still at home would be educated “so they would not be illiterate like us” (3) Severely, strictly, but with love it is fair to guess, for the school reeks of that Victorian attitude, healthy spaces, full of light and air and discipline. And just down the road, the quay, the nets hung to dry, the boats careened, almost as to this day, though the nets are gone now. And in one of those classrooms a duet, two men, in the evening of their years, playing the accordion, each watching the other in that close, intent and wordless way, like lovers almost (were it not for the absurdity of the idea), and such music came.

“Brazas”, came the voice on the quay and “brazas” said I. And, triumphantly “told you so” too. Because of course, this measure, fathom if you will, six feet if you prefer, two metres if you must, is as old as time. Stretch out your arms and fingertip to fingertip you have “brazas”. Along with, say “how far?” and its answer, “a day” (or two or three), meaning the time it takes to walk (across that mountain, that desert, those plains). The love for these things, old measures, old buildings, old recipes, old manners, old beliefs, old everything, one might be tempted to say, is, in a way, subversive. Sticking up two fingers to science, modernity, facts, television, consumption, vulgarity and when a nose wrinkles on the quay in Redes, one need not ask at what. We both see the same thing and think the same thing and say, nonetheless, nothing. It is not worth the effort.

“You turn that tap ON. And that tap ON. And when the can is full you turn that tap OFF. And that tap OFF. And mind, not a drop spilled. Understand Martin? — pause- Sure? (With a doubtful look which said, unmistakably, dimwit that you are).

“Yes, Charo, promise.”

Charo in her turn will sometimes give you a vacant look in that moon face of hers, suggesting, quite wrongly slowness on the uptake, for Spanish, Gallego or whatever comes to hand can be a bit shaky at times. Particularly when the unwritten rules of a place like Redes say take it slowly, courteously, gently, whilst the alcohol intake rises to alarming levels. For drink offered means drink responded and on the previous day, with all the certainty of a slowly unfolding motor accident, you know from the moment of the first beer, that this will be a long, long day. It takes two minutes to walk down the hill to the quay, but make that via Charo, Antonio and Jacobo and then Charo again. It takes twelve hours. You nurse Tojo into the Zodiac, insist in the interests of safety that you take charge of this frail craft and in the process forget those cans, which were not as Charo thought, for petrol, but water.

They were of course exactly where we had left them, in a corner of Charo's bar.

Which is as much of an institution as say, Harry’s Bar in Venice, though mercifully only to the denizens of Redes, save only the much derided domingueros (Sunday visitors) and the hardly less derided Madrileños, shiny expensive cars that they insist clutter the quay and not the field which is the car park. l like that car park. You bump across the field, find a bit of shade and park. Nominally you lock the thing, but it is not the kind of van anyone would steal.

You stop and pick a little wild mint, look over into the orchard to gauge the progress of lemons, crab apples, blackberries, maybe pluck-yank and twist, it is tough-a bit of wild thyme, remember the water-sometimes- and stop at the public spring, just down the road from the public washhouse, a roofed un-walled stone structure where well within living memory the womenfolk would wash the menfolk's clothes, that in turn just down the road from the school, funded with money from Cuba, pass the time of day on your stately way and end up, prior to embarking, in Charo's bar.

She has run that bar for twenty-five years or so, aided by Tito and Emiliano her chalk and cheese sons, binoculars on the window sill for she has a commanding view of all things maritime, rises with or before the sun, retires far after midnight, is tough, she has to be, and is much loved by all. There is another bar right next to hers, but somehow it does not count, there is Jacobo just up the road in a quiet alleyway, with vines growing right across it “not ripe yet” to which the regulars, exasperated by Domingueros will sometimes retire as do we.

You could not call Charo's bar smart. It would be wrong if it were. It needs a new roof, but in the Alice in Wonderland world that is planning law in Spain half the bar falls under the remit of Costas. Costas is the coastal authority and Costas says no. This is one law for the rich territory beyond doubt for monstrosities sprout like mushrooms (and pretty much where mushrooms should), are condemned, declared illegal, have no mains drainage, pollute the landscape (in every sense) and continue to exist whilst Charo may not replace her roof.

A kind of delightful guerrilla warfare is fought (and for the time being won) by the elders of Redes (in the shape of José and Melchor to name two) to keep the modern world at bay. Redes has water, excellent spring water, but also apparently mains. Funds were allocated for a new something to do with mains, the old something was repaired, most of the funds went somewhere else and the something broke, utterly and forever. Quite who might end up in prison for that one I am not sure, but a name in these pages I think? Meantime to every innovation, every new building, the answer is a resounding, not to be argued with “No.” Thus Redes survives. As do memories, officially in that magazine, unofficially from the likes of Antonio, beneath the surface, and one wonders quite, what else, where memories are so savage, so bitter, so recent, so absolute anyone might do.


(1) The decision came of a sudden. Storms were coming, for sure. Time was running out. Ares, with all its facilities never appealed. Lying alongside that quay did. But you have to be careful. Not until the bowsprit is under the bar window is it safe to take the ground. You are hemmed in by rocks. Certainly no room to turn. Any sea outside sends in a vicious surge. The storm came and the surge too, ugly, destructive and brown. But we were gone, with hours to spare. And with Redes help, José “superman” José, on the way in, Manolo on the way out, and plenty of memories in between. Better like that. Far better. (voltar)

(2) Not so. There is in fact something more. Two enormous, indeed mural sized photographs of Redes many years ago, rescued, as we discovered gossiping in Ferrol, by Ernesto, in the nick of time, one of those stories. A factory, the owner a son of Redes. The owner dies. The business is no more. The contractors move in. Ernesto, “may I have these?” answer, “of course mate, but you must take them now”. Illegally parked lorry, hastily summoned help and these fine half yellowed gigantic murals hang forever one might hope, in that school. (voltar)

(3) The school was laico meaning lay. Once again we are with The Church or escaping the influence (or dead hand) of the Church in Spain. A complex and vexed subject and one of the threads that lead, indirectly to the Civil War. This liberal tradition is well explored in Ian Gibson's Ligero de Equipaje, his life of the poet Antonio Machado. (voltar)

(c) Martin O'Scannall 2011

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