Over the years the strangest things land on the terrace at the rear of my flat, and today’s little leaving was the strangest thing of all.
One of the main criteria I have when looking for a new home is that I must have somewhere to grow a few plants, and I was overjoyed when I found my apartment in Ruzafa a couple of years ago. It has a 40m2 terrace that was totally empty when I arrived, apart from a cracked bathroom sink, a grubby towel, three odd socks and a lifetime’s worth of pegs.
It didn’t take me long to realise that, being on the first floor of my apartment building, and my terrace being the first flat surface that something encounters from its fall from the washing lines of the six storeys above me, I was going to find myself with a fair collection of oddities, most of which were of absolutely no use to me at all. The sink made me wonder, though.
I could have been like the disgruntled old sod we all encountered in our early years who would keep any ball that went over his wall, but what value to me have a red sock with a bunny on the side, size 3; a rucksack with the straps about three inches apart and suitable for a nine-year-old; a blue gingham plimsoll; a pink hand towel with a frayed edge and faded ‘Te Quiero’ – ‘I love you’ embroidered in the corner above a heart (obviously not intended for me!); a …. perhaps best not to mention that one, and a couple of dozen pegs. None, is the answer (apart from the pegs), so I devised a way of returning them to my vertical neighbours without causing embarrassment.
When you come into my building you enter a small foyer, with a couple of steps up to the lift, and quite early I got into the habit of leaving any of my findings in the foyer.
If something is small enough I tuck it through the handrail of the staircase.
This serves well for most things and nothing usually hangs around for more than a day. Some of my neighbours are kind enough to say thank you for the return of their footwear and bathroom impedimenta, although most don’t (sadly the landlords have allowed for a certain lesser quality of clientele to accommodate themselves on the upper floor, but what can one do). I feel I provide a valuable recovery service, delivered (almost) to your doorstep muy rapido (although I have to admit that the skimpy red satin panties with the embroidered sweetheart on the front below an enticingly tied lace bow did linger a little longer than is perhaps decent, before they were returned. I am human after all!)
The strangest thing of all to cascade onto my terrace arrived this morning. I went to hang out some washing and saw a peg lying on the tiles. At first I thought it was just another one come astray from someone’s washing, but as I got closer I saw that the peg was clamped around a folded piece of paper, with the word ‘Hola’ showing. I un-pegged the note and found a message written in capital letters on the back of a torn-off piece of calendar.
‘Hola: Soy Gay’ (it read)
‘Tengo 57 años y me gusta tu y tu terraza.
(For non-Spanish speakers,
‘Hello, I’m gay
I’m 57 years old and I like you and your terrace
Somebody likes me! Unfortunately for Sigfrido, I’m straight, and, quite frankly, I’d much rather the note came from a Sigfrida, but at least someone on God’s earth thinks I’m worth dropping (literally) a billet-doux to!
I was tempted to send a message to the phone number, saying thank you, but I’m unreservedly hetro, but thought that it might be someone having a joke, so decided against it. There again, perhaps it was my terrace he was more interested in.
So I continue returning the size 3 socks, the gingham plimsolls and the frayed-edge hand towels. But just you wait till the red knickers fall agin. Possession is nine tenths of the law, after all – and them buggers is mine!