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The Iberian Horseshoe — A Journey

Part IV. North East


Steve Porter
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I recently began translating a series of poems by the Spanish poet, Rafael Alberti. The Bilingual Life of a Spanish Refugee in France was causing me concern. Who were the political figures from occupied France that appeared in these poems? And should I translate the French words and expressions that were scattered throughout the work or leave them alone to add to the sense of setting?

I’ve finally crossed the border. I can live and work wherever I wish. Even if I do a bad job the worst thing I face is likely to be the sack and that’s not worth drinking over.

Outside a seafront hotel are the flags of France, Catalonia and the European Union. The French flag is four times the size of the others. No matter. This is the new Europe and I’m one of its more privileged citizens. Only alcohol can take my choices away.

I sit on the seafront and order a white coffee.

“Un café au lait?”

“Sí,” I say instead of “oui”.

It doesn’t taste like a café con leche or cafč amb llet.

I stroll over to the bay. Cerbčre lies in a horseshoe-shaped cove. A snapshot of the journey I’ve just taken. There is no-one around to take my photograph. So I scribble a few notes:

The Sandeman silhouette, a figure with cape and a broad rimmed hat, was enjoying his eternal glass of port. He was illuminated in the evening light but with his back to my camera, his anonymity remained intact.

I have made a start on the book. I can sit down somewhere and mould the horseshoe into various shapes. But first, there is someone I must see. So I’m going home, wherever that is, at least for the summer.

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Copyright ©Steve Porter, 2004
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Date of publicationNovember 2007
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