In case you think you may have blinked and missed a development in the two grand fiascos currently playing on the stage of my life – namely, the barn development/business licence and the issues with the catastro – fear not. No. This is Spain.
In the matter of the catastro and actually getting my name on it in place of the old fella that died some fourteen years ago now, I am still without any clear solution. You may remember that I was told that there were potentially two ways to resolve the difference in the extent of our land in the catastral records (around 20,000m²) and that on our escritura (12,000m²).
The first would be to go to court to prove our ownership of all the bits of land included in our finca. This would be costly, lengthy and by no means certain to fall in our favour, since any neighbour could claim an undocumented land deal with the previous owner, and such a claim would bound to be messy and therefore even more costly and lengthy.
The second ‘solution’, which we have been obliged to accept, is to change our statement of land owned by reducing it to 15,000m², at which point they would (probably, depending on the officer to whom we speak) pass it and subsequently allow my name to be entered on the catastral register as owner.
I mean, why make it clean and accurate when it can be fudged even further? Where’s the fun in that?
And so, despite my frequent visits in person to the oficina catastral in the capital and the subsequent king’s ransom on fuel and parking (most fuel being expended in trying to find parking, in point of fact), I am still awaiting the outcome of such downright chicanery.
By the way, I am obliged to travel to Murcia to engage in these tricky negotiations because they tell me that the staff at the local office in Bullas are incompetent. Hah! Pot meet kettle …
As for the licences that I expect momentarily, I won’t be holding my breath or I will surely expire. My weekly visit to the oficina técnica, which I generally make on a Tuesday to coincide with market day, but which habit I changed last week because it became blatantly obvious that everyone was making themselves coincidentally scarce, always yields the same answer. The plans are approved; the business licence is approved. The letter will be with me in a few days …
So finally we have given up trying to extract blood from a stone and have quit waiting for the appropriate pieces of paper. And we have started the conversion work without them.
As expected, therefore, we are now given over to an immense amount of heavy, sweaty and filthy work in the dark, dusty old barn that is to be converted into hygienically pristine, light and airy kennels. Today John built one of the insulated internal cavity walls while I balanced precariously atop a tall ladder feeding conduit through above the rafters to feed cable to forty spotlights, four fans, five emergency lights and ten power points for heated bed pads. Tomorrow we start putting up the false ceiling and rockwool, while Andreas, an extra pair of hands, will commence the grinding out of the front wall to create ten new windows and dog flaps, plus office window and door.
If I choke to death, know that I loved you all.
Of course, I am unable to work continuously. Even without the aid of any sort of timepiece or the ability to tell the hour by solar position, I know with pinpoint accuracy when it hits five o’clock in the afternoon. The dogs will pirouette into the barn giving their expert performance of The Dying Swan, without any help whatsoever from Camille Saint-Saëns, and collapse in a heap at my feet. They will then commence nibbling abjectly at my toes in the throes of starvation.
I am therefore duty bound to run the hundred metre dash back down to the house with them, shovel food down their necks, throw parrot food into the bird flights, chuck the chickens some corn, freshen all the water and then sprint back up to the barns before John needs something else passed to him as he perches on scaffolding.
Of course, if anybody asks, he’s the builder and I’m just the gopher.
Finally, a small piece of personal information. I wear thongs. I always have, apart from my school days at a very strict single-sex grammar where the unmarried and very butch PE teachers made us do games in our regulation big knickers and a polo shirt.
Anyhow, the onset of this current interval of labour in Hades has resulted in my apparel becoming more and more minimal. The upshot of this is that I have recently been wearing John´s boxers. This is largely because John has been making rather pointed comments about cheese wires cutting the full moon, and, given that I still, even after some thirty-five years, have an aversion to big knickers , his boxers seem a happy compromise. Besides which, following such comments, wearing them after I have will be the only way he’ll be getting into my underwear.