Moleskine Memories – I have been constantly travelling since 1996. An ever present companion has been my Moleskine notebook beautifully made and sturdy. I don’t write a diary as such – just catch thoughts and ideas and moments when I can. In some sense they form the raw material for my songs and other writing. I have got over 20 of these now which I have bequeathed to my daughter Lucy-Jane when I go. This entry is for a few years ago when I was working in Valencia with my good friend Marie and the writer Jason Webster.
Hanging in there in the Cabanyal.
Jason knows Valencia intimately . Until recently he lived here writing his fantastically insightful and resonant books on Spain such as Sacred Sierra, Andalus, and Guerra as well as the first novels of his ’Max Camara’ detective series which are set in this city.
His love for Spain and Valencia in particular is deep and passionate but it is not so idealised that he is afraid to be critical. He is enraged by the corruption and vanity of many its politicians.
Now living with his family in Bridport in south-west England, he seemed delighted to be back working here with us taking a chance to renew and reconcile his relationship with the place. One of things in Valencia he is most agitated about is the deliberate ruination, so it can be bulldozed for some ego project, of the Cabanyal - a district of once pretty fisherman's terraces that run along the edge of the coast. The local mayor, anxious to push some new grandiose scheme has encouraged itinerant families to move in deliberately turning a blind eye to the drug dens being established in houses they have made derelict. Some of the locals under this pressure moved out others defiantly hung in there including quixotically the Danish consulate!
The houses that remain are lovely, sunburned pinks, ochre and apricots with little terraces with iron balustrades. Even the graffiti looks vibrant and comfortably at home. But patches of broken ground mark where the tide of change has bitten into the community. At night this is not the place to go. Nowadays the Cabanyal is a place caught between the sea and the dreams of concrete vomiting madman. A place where empty buildings that once housed the great sweating bulls that pulled the fishing boats back up the beach and into exile on land, remain as testimony to the ebbing of character and community.
Businesses hang on in there like the Bodega La Pasquala serving food to working people in working hours 7 am to 3 pm. To men with sun dark skin, tattooed, long hair black ponytailed consuming enormous baguette shaped sandwiches of horse steak, blood sausage and black pudding chosen from a rusty coloured menu offering Republicana and Bodegon