Part One: Madrid
True to my European heritage, after three years living in Argentina, I hankered for the Old World: for Scotland, where I had been born, and which I continued to love; for London, where I had spent so many eventful years, and which had bestowed upon me a whole new identity; and for Spain, or at least Madrid which, as the madrileņos were wont to say, was just a step away from heaven.
Not that, during any of my four long stays, was I ever to regard the Spanish capital as any kind of celestial approximation, intent as I was on wallowing in the murky waters of human flesh and, once desire had been quenched, setting out again on my quest as a literary translator to discover the underrated texts of some writer or other.
When not taking a dusty tome off a bookshelf, or wandering near the monument to the Fallen Angel in Madrid's Retiro Park, taking care at dusk not to stray down the adjacent narrow pathways, as there had been reports of stabbings, I would make my way to a local bar where, sitting outside in the waning heat, I would order a good bottle of red wine, say a La Rioja or a Ribera del Duero, and food infused with garlic.
Pushing the empty bottle to one side, to walk up the steep street to my flat in the Latin Quarter, I would imagine that the shadows cast by street lamps were the ghosts of lovers dead or long gone.
Many nights, I would exchange glances with a man lurking in a doorway or expectant on a street corner and, all too soon, our bodies would be intertwined but, bound more by lust than love, and before the break of day, I would say goodbye to yet another stranger.
Madrid, London, Paris: Three Narratives
Part Two: London
Part Three: Paris
"The Power of Prose"