I’m in the car. Mottled-brown hills smear the car passenger window. My wife is driving. As in life, she drives in top gear. A white village, sleepy as a drooping eyelid, paints the hills in front. My first day here; smells fresh, brand new – like my life. It’s sunny; ice-cream-headache bright. We’re going to get me a job. I’m qualified, they’re desperate and I’m as nervous as a dog at the vet’s. The approach to the village is via a road as cratered as the moon. My lepidopterous stomach is not helped by the juddering ride down to Cruz de la Piedra. A turn left on two-and-a half wheels and we reach the relative safety of the much less exciting Camino Gerald Brenan. Like the rich at a bullring, the better businesses are in the shadow. On the sunny side of the street are a couple of apologetic, obviously English bars, a Romanian butcher offering meats with unlikely spellings and, of course, The Brenan Language School. The car comes suddenly to a halt; double parked, naturally, my wife has been living here three months, after all. She wishes me luck reluctantly, as if I was an actor leaving the wings. Which I suppose I am; it is a job interview. The pavements, even on the foreign side of the street, are spotless. Swept hours ago by older ladies dressed in black. A grubby plastic sign hangs at a Picasso angle from three screws beside the door.
‘Brenan School Up Stair’ it says.