There is a game that the Spaniards in Torrevieja play. And I have to learn to play it.
Now, if you remember we went to Spain in the summer and stayed at our friends house in Torrevieja. You’ve read the blog about that, I know you have. You will also remember that we were frequenting Joses bar, the surly bartender.
Me and Steve like to play a game of cribbage or two, and most days in Spain this is what we would do. After lunch we would take a walk down to Joses and have a couple of cervesas, a plate of tapas and play cards.
Generally, after an hour or so, three or four old Spaniards would turn up, looking like they had stepped off of the set of The Sopranos. You wouldn’t want to upset them, that’s for sure. They would have a coffee and something in a small glass and break out a deck of cards. They then proceeded to play this card game, which we eventually found out was called Mus. After a few days of watching them while we played crib we started to show a more open interest. And they showed a little interest in our game. To be completely honest, neither of us understood much of the rules or what they were saying to us. I would imagine that they were saying something along the lines of “You stupid English will never be able play this game. It is for real men only. Now p*ss off and leave us to real mens pastimes!”
They did seem to hold cribbage in some contempt. But in the end we parted as friends with a promise that we would go home and learn to play Mus and return next year to play them at their own game.
Unfortunately this is a strange card game. Devised by the Basques and, like them, devilishly complicated. If you play it one area of the country you play by one set of rules. Play it somewhere else and a different set of rules apply. If it is raining you play with no aces, if it is Tuesday aces are high… Well that is the way it seems.
They have given us a bag of metal discs that are used for betting during the game, so that no money is involved. But I bet when we play them it will be Euros rather than metal discs! I bet they are rubbing their hands in glee at the thought of fleecing a couple of naive Englishmen. They will be living off of that story for months.
But at least Jose started to warm to us and we were almost his best friends by the end of the holiday.
We have bought a deck of the Spanish cards, a strange deck that when you play Mus you remove the jokers, 8s and 9s. The scoring is strange, with Aces and Kings scoring the same while collecting a hand worth 31 is worse than scoring 30. I am bewildered by the whole thing.
I have never tasted lobster. I wouldn’t know what to do with one if it fell on my head. But we all decided that, as we had seen fresh lobster on the fish counter in Carrefoure, we would all like to try it. So Harry and Ann, on their way back from a day trip to somewhere, and their daughter Amy and boyfriend Jeremy, brought back a couple of lobsters. Not quite as fresh as the ones we had already seen, these were dead. All we had to do was chop it up and eat it.
Steve lit the barbeque.
And Sarah and myself laid into a pair of crustaceans. We were drunk. I had to look up on the internet what to cut, what to remove and what to eat. And, to be honest, it really wasn’t worth the effort. Next time I will buy one that has already had its innards removed, cleaned and laid on a plate. No matter what i have to pay for it.
In the next installment: the cycle rides, nicking stones and what happened to Steves eyebrows.