Personal Madrid

1 March - 27 April 2015. Filed under category Personal.
My various apartments.

My various apartments.

Work finally remembered that they employed a nomad and sent me on a two-week on-site business trip to Madrid. Sounded great, apart from them meaning business about the ‘business’ in business trip. It was two weeks of non-stop work in a new exciting city, tantalizingly outside my grasp. But never mind, I had plenty of time after the two weeks were over to explore the city and its gorgeous weather.

Except, as soon as the on-site was over, the clouds rolled in and the freak spring sunshine gave way for sheet rain. “Never mind,” I thought, “I’ll just wait it out.” So I got busy with my neglected to-do list and looked forward to the sun returning.



The sun returned ten days later, just in time for the mother of all man-colds to strike me down like a kick to the balls.  I evolved new orifices through which to ooze mucus. I had coughing fits so bad I literally doubled over and sat panting on the floor. (And I use the word ‘literally’ literally.) My body couldn’t decide if it was freezing or overheating, but what it was damn sure of was that no physical sensation whatsoever felt good. All the while, the sun shone like it just couldn’t stop loving the world.

A week after this, my friend John Mena intervened and took me to a doctor. At this point, the cold had moved into my ears and begun its coup de grâce, a plan to explode my eardrum from within and see my brain flushed out in a river of mucus. It is quite a sublime terror when any slight pressure increase in your head causes the most shearing intense pain and you develop a hiccup…

The doctor prescribed some serious antibiotics which made short work of my ear infection and, being the fervent little fungus that it was, continued to knock out my gut as well for good measure. I spent my second week of the man-cold from hell blowing my nose and doubling over in lung-ejecting coughing fits while trying to remain sitting on the toilet seat despite the jet-propulsion of my acute diarrhoea. Not my most graceful of moments.

Home within home.

Home within home.

When this tempest finally blew over, I got a beautiful week of sunshine and health. I had learnt my lesson to not take either for granted, so I made the most of it. I sightsaw (it should be a word), explored the nightlife and hung out with the friends I’ve made in Madrid.

And then I got acute food poisoning. Two days back on the toilet (I really should pay my landlord some kind of compensation…). Not only that, but I could not eat anything, despite the hunger clawing at my stomach like some claustrophobic gremlin. It’s amazing how quickly you can become weak and delirious when your body is simultaneous ejecting every scrap of nutrients in your body and banning any intake of new ones. I was left in bed wondering when the world had turned so sinister and if I was really me anymore or merely the echoes of a soul that had finally seen sense and left this no-good body to go enjoy the Madrid sunshine just outside my window.

I have one more week left in Madrid. The forecast says rain. It can rain hellfire for all I care as long as I remain healthy.


My Madrid buddies.

Despite the above, I managed to make three friends while in Madrid. The first is John Paul Mena, and he is a recycled friend. Very green of me, I know. I met JPM in London 11 years ago and soon thereafter visited him for a weekend here in Madrid. We then lost contact apart from a stray message here and there, but enough so that I knew how to get in touch when I returned, more than a decade later. He speaks very little English, but we managed to hang out anyway, and as mentioned earlier, he brought me to the doctor during the tempest.

Ricardo and I met up one night when both of us were at a loose end, wanting to go out but having no one to go with. So, he invited me for some pre-club drinks at his place. We hung out several times the next few days, and I could tell he would be a great friend if it wasn’t for the annoying fact that he was leaving Madrid. So he was gone for most of the time I was here.

And then there was Eduardo. Sometimes, you need time to ease into a friendship. Not so with Eduardo. It was like meeting a long-lost brother. We bonded right away. Plenty of shared interests. I met him early in my stay in Madrid, but thanks to a WhatsApp malfunction and the god damn tempest, we didn’t get to spend as much time together as I would have wanted. But, there is still one more week…

(Oh, and Eduardo, I’ll be sure to enjoy cruise for both of us. See you in Barcelona!)


What was your most embarrassing sickness?

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  1. Crys Klier-Hoffman says:

    Laughing so hard I’m in tears. I really am sorry you were so sick but, seriously, you can’t expect me to hold the laughter in, my bladder isn’t that strong.
    By the way, the tissues in the nose photo is so pathetically miserable looking and yet adorable. How do you do that?
    Thank God you have good friends to haul you off to the doctor in your hour of need.
    Be well, you hear?

  2. Eduardo says:

    Of course!!! you just have to give the thumbs up as for the following week after the cruise so that I can book a ticket to Barcelona

  3. Barry Nicholson says:

    OK well this will contain some graphic descriptive narrative but the aim is to recall the episode with humour and self deprecation.

    A few years ago I spent some time backpacking around the land of historical wonders known as Egypt. Starting in Cairo, I traversed the land being awestruck by such breathtaking sights as Abu Simble, the Temple at Karnak and wallowing in the the scenic beauty of the Upper Nile. After landing in Egypt alone we were a party of 12 by the time we sailed on a Faluka and decided to head for the Bedouin camp at Dahab.

    I was staying there for a week and then heading back to Cairo to catch a flight to Istanbul and the next leg of my trip. On the fifth day in Dahab my stomach started to cramp slightly and my rectal emissions started to loosen. By the sixth day it was full-on hourly cramps during which I broke into a full-body sweat and immediately had to flee to the nearest toilet. When I did, the relief (of reaching said destination unscathed) was momentary as what followed felt like i was passing molten lava. I don’t think there was enough ice on the planet to sooth my tender derrière.

    Day seven and I was due to get the bus to Cairo for the seven hour trip to the airport. I was dreading the bus trip and the flight for obvious reasons. Sarah, one of the English girls in our party, gave me some Immodium and told me to take it an hour before the flight.

    The bus trip was relatively manageable as the driver kept stopping to let me dig a hole in the sand and use it appropriately. I had no idea how long the Immodium would take to work so I took it four hours into the journey. After an hour the cramps eased a bit and I gradually stopped worrying about bothering the driver again.

    The flight to Turkey was delayed by an hour but as it was only a two hour flight I wasn’t too concerned. I was tired and needed to get some sleep. All was well until the plane started its descent and a familiar cramping occurred in the pit of my stomach followed by a cold sweat. I was dreading what could happen next. However we landed without incident and, as soon as the aircraft doors opened, I hurried as quickly as I could to get to the toilet; only to find the air-side facilities out of order and the nearest working toilet was after passport control. Great!

    A few moments later a walked down a flight of stairs to see three massive queues waiting in the arrivals hall. Bollocks, I thought, could it get any worse? I took my place at the back of the queue and slowly, very slowly we inched our way forward. After half an hour my intestines spasmed in a huge painful cramp accompanied by the inevitable sweat. Then I farted.

    It was a very quiet fart, it was also a very, very pungent fart. Within seconds I was standing in the centre of a circle of people as they tried to escape the smell. There was no pretending it wasn’t me, the shame was etched on my face as I saw people using their passport to try and fan away the stench, staring at me,faces screwed up with disgust.

    It seemed to take forever to get through passport control. As soon as I was given the OK I ran to the nearest toilet as fast as I could – which is no mean feat when you have to clench your cheeks and your arse feels like someone has held a blowtorch to it.
    I was lucky there was one free cubicle. Once inside I couldn’t get my pants down quick enough. My body was ejecting its contents before my backside had even connected with the seat. An extremely loud spluttering sound accompanied the bowel movement causing the guy in the cubicle next door to start laughing, but not for long. An aroma from hell accompanied the duodenal spluttering and after a few seconds the guy next door stopped laughing and started retching and gagging as the satanic fragrance assailed his nostrils.

    Seconds later a fellow Englishman started banging on the cubicle door begging to get inside. As speedily as possible, after ensuring there was nothing left to emerge, I did the paperwork and opened the door. The guy outside bundled into the tiny space as I hurriedly tried to get out of the way. As soon as the door closed and locked an almighty cry of ‘Jesus christ’ and ‘fucking hell’ resounded across the wash-room followed closely by the sound of someone vomiting.
    Head down, I fled the crime scene as speedily and anonymously as possible.

    The cramping and diarrhoea gradually eased off over the next two days and (apart from being mugged) my trip to Turkey passed pretty uneventfully.

What was your most embarrassing sickness?

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