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The Iberian Horseshoe — A Journey

Part II. South West

A Very Irish Interview

Steve Porter
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I saw an advert for a job in El Diario. A school in nearby Jerez de la Frontera was looking for a teacher. Mary and I took the train through the marshlands where mosquitoes hover and wild birds wade and nest.

Mrs Case, an Irish woman, gave me the hard sell about how nice the city was—more prosperous and spacious than Cádiz with less high rises. That much was true but it lacked the ancient charm of its coastal neighbour. Mrs Case had been in Jerez for years, and was particularly appreciative of the mild winter weather. She had no plans to return to our rain-infested islands. Judging by her blotchy complexion, I thought she would struggle in the heat but maybe she just indulged in copious amounts of the sherry she talked so passionately about.

I feigned interest in visits to bodegas, the sherry warehouses, which were scattered throughout the region. She informed me proudly that many were founded by British or Irish families and that the origin of the English word ‘sherry’ derived from ‘Jerez.’ At least the interview had started okay and I felt quite relaxed. Then she showed me the classroom, which brought home to me the prospect of having a room full of unruly children again. Afterwards, I got drawn into a conversation about my previous job and ended up going into more detail than I should have.

“Well, I can assure you I have a good relationship with my staff,” said Mrs Case.

“Sheila is leaving because she wants to devote more time to her young family. You are welcome to have a chat with her if you wish. I understand that some Spanish employers know little about English teaching and can be unscrupulous businessmen.”

“Oh, my last employer wasn’t Spanish,” I said.

“No? English was he?”

“Er, he was Irish in fact.”

“Oh, I see.”

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Copyright ©Steve Porter, 2004
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Date of publicationAugust 2006
Collection RSSGlobal Fiction
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