Lost in Translation

Online blog of life in Barcelona for a English guy making a life for himself out here and trying desperately to have a good time, become fluent in Spanish, and most of all - not be constantly mistaken for a tourist!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Knob Wars!

In a galaxy far far away….. or more precisely, in the flat directly below me, there appears to be trouble abrewing in our usual peaceful and tranquil lives. First the background… The flat I'm talking about has been empty for a while, and was bought by a doctor recently who has been completely renovating it from scratch since about January. The new owner knocked on my door way back in the new year and asked to come in. I didn’t have a clue who he was at the time, and the fact that he appeared to have one of his “heavies” with him, kind of put me off inviting them in for a cup of tea and a chat. (I’ve heard all the warnings about letting strangers in. I’ve watched Crimewatch, so I know the score! You think they’re coming to read your meter, and they leave 10 minutes later wheeling a widescreen TV out of the door while you look on helplessly in a pool of blood!) Anyway, after pulling a few strange looks and producing some very fine Spanish on my part including a not very polite “Qué coño quieres?” (What the hell do you want?), I finally got the message about who he was, that the “minder” was actually none other than his architect, and that they were wanting to come in, not to rob me and leave me for dead, but rather to take a quick glance at the positions of my interior walls. Slightly more plausible, maybe?? Certainly better than “Would you like to see my puppies?” that's for sure! Anyway, I figured that there was no way any potential murderers could’ve made it this far as they would’ve had to have passed our Portera lady, and at this time of day, I knew she’d have been on duty (lovely lady, but turns into a rabid rottweiler if crossed!), so I decided to take a chance and let them in. It was a fuss about nothing in the end, and after the quick glance at the walls and a few pleasantries, they were off. I checked the TV and it was still there, and I didn’t have any stab wounds, so we were all alright.

A few days after that, the noise from the works kicked in. Walls coming down directly below us, jackhammers on the go all through the day, it’s been unbelievable at times, and it’s the one reason why I’m thankful I’ve got a job that keeps me out of the house during the day. It seems they’re coming to the end of the worst of it now, as I peeped in the other day when the workmen had left the door open, and it appears that they’re finally making good progress and getting almost to the decorating stage.

Since I originally met the new owner back in January, I’ve bumped into him a few more times in my gym across the road. The first time I saw him, I went over to apologise for being so frosty when we’d first met, and I put it down to my bad Spanish and me not having understood what he wanted. He was very nice about it and laughed it off, and we chatted a while. He asked if the noise was a problem, so I answered honestly that, while it was horrific, it wasn’t so bad for me as for those who are at home all day. He was very apologetic, so it’s hard to be rough on someone when they’re doing their best and you know that the noise is unavoidable. I’ve renovated a house myself (well, I supervised while other’s did the work! Jeje) so I know what a hassle it is for everybody, and you just have to get on with it and shut up moaning. They still haven’t moved in yet, but it can’t be far off, so maybe they’ll throw a party for all the neighbours…. Except for one!!...

…And that brings me to the point of the story. One of our lovely neighbours today decided to stick an anonymous note on the door of the new guy’s flat saying that “this doorknob does not respect the aesthetics of the building!!” plus various other stupid comments that I can’t remember now. OK, the doorknob isn’t as shiny as perhaps most of the others in the building are, but come on, the guy’s just bought the friggin flat. They aren’t cheap in this area so he’s clearly paid a lot of money for it, and it’s obvious that he’s working hard to do it up to an extremely high standard. As if it matters for the moment that his doorknob is a bit tarnished??? I reckon the anonymous complainer is someone who’s tired of the noise and wants to pick on something just to be a Victor Meldrew type neighbour. My flatmate has mentioned a couple of times that the people in this block are either completely adorable, or total shits – there’s no inbetween.

I went back down a floor earlier with my camera to take a pic of the offending note (as it was really quite in-yer-face!) but someone had beat me to it and ripped it off, so I assume the new guy has come round to check on the renovation and has taken it down. When I see him next, I’ll have to ask him what the score is about it. Either that, or I’ll march over, demanding to talk to him about “the lack of shine on his substandard knob”!! jejeje

I must admit, after reading the note though, I took a more than glancing look at the knob on my door! Luckily, it’s pretty shiny so I’m confident we’re not going to be the target for the next hate campaign!!!


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