As it happens the dilemma of getting rid of this man was solved for me very easily, and dramatically. At my request the technical architect came back to see the finca the next day. It was all very well being told how much he approved of the build so far, and how well he got on with this man, but I wanted to meet him.
Carlos called him and it was arranged to liaise at Bar Elias around 10 am. I love the way so much business is conducted in bars. It is kind of relaxing, and I must say, Miguel was a pleasant man with a pleasant appearance. About 38 I should say, of medium height and build, and I immediately felt comfortable with him. We both had a carajillo, which turned out to be a good thing as it would steady my nerves for the events that would unfold later. It was decided that we should travel together and so I climbed up into his massive 4×4 BMW and buckled up.
Being a technical architect in Spain was a very lucrative job at one time, before the “crisis económica”.
On the way I tried to explain in my truly terrible Spanish about my concerns re lack of quotes and not knowing what on earth was going on, in particular why the house had been knocked down in the first place. He nodded and appeared to take this one board, but of course I was not exactly sure.
I need not have worried. As soon as we arrived at the finca, this man started to walk down towards us across the mess of the work site; the empty plastic bottles, the shreds of cement bags, the stacks of rejected stones, the cigarette butts, sardine cans, and bits of thermal bricks. The sun beat down on the compacted earth and we walked up, meeting somewhere in the middle. I could not help but thinking that we were in the Wild West as I had seen it in old black and white movies.
They greeted, and then Miguel immediately asked this man why he had not obtained any quotes for me, and that I needed them. This man then proceeded to shout at me in French, pointing back up at the masia with its Gaudesque shelves and wide doorways and yes, a half-finished concrete floor, and screamed, “what do you think I am doing? What do you think all this is?”
Miguel countered with, but this lady needs quotes, she needs to know what things will cost and how they will be done. That resulted in more screaming at such a high pitch that surely it could have been heard across the whole of EL Maestrat? The only people who did not appear to hear it were this man’s work force steadily hacking away at the stones while a noisy cement mixer churned in the background. This man’s face went various angry shades of red and purple and I tried to reason with him, in French as usual, while Miguel looked on helplessly, obviously not understanding a thing.
“What do you want me to do?” he yelled, “You are impossible to please, do you want me to stop, I will stop if you want?” I felt a kernel of panic rise in me and looked around. Yes, there was some progress, but none of it had structure or made much sense to me. Walls and piles of stone. Did this make a house? I felt lost, at sea in its disorder, and the fog of our broken languages. I wanted to examine a piece of paper that explained the process of this house, its wiring, its plumbing, its windows, their sizes. I wanted to be able to see how it sat together, what it would cost, and I wanted to be able to think the puzzle through, see the pitfalls, and the solutions. But I could not for no pieces of paper had been presented to me, and no plans, and no costs. Just bills, lots of bills for far too much.
And pretty piles of stones.
As all these thoughts were rushing around my jumbled head, this man approached and faced me in the midst of all the ugly chaos, and set his feet wide apart. A frisson of dread swamped me, as if I had intuited what was to come. Was he about to charge me like a bull? No, what he did do though was proceed to jiggle his balls up and down at me through his dirty baggy trousers while screaming obscenities that thankfully I could not understand. A hot angry flush of adrenalin swept through my body and at the same time I thought, “his testicles seem very loose”. He jiggled them a little bit more as if to verify my findings and screeched just a little bit louder, and now, even one of the men in the the ruins of my masia looked up from his broom. “So do you want me to stop????”, this man yelled. Miguel threw his hands up in a gesture, imploring calm, and this man continued to scream and jiggle and I said finally, “Yes, yes, please stop. Yes”.
And that is how this man came to be known as “Testicles” and that is how I shall refer to him from now on. Testicles proved to be a very dishonest man, and because of him and my stupidity in putting my faith in him, my debts would escalate exponentially. Quite simply, I lost control of my budget, well, our budget, James and mine, and whereas before I carefully noted each and every expense, in the future I ceased to. It was far too painful, and I really could not cope with the stress. Not that I avoided stress, just that I shoved it into the background and refused to acknowledge it. In due course though it would rear its ugly head, but of that I shall write much later.
” Yes, there was some progress, but none of it had structure or made much sense to me”