What's best about living abroad is the range and change of people we meet. It's a truism that every lost soul at the bar has a story to tell. That applies every bit as much in the local back home as it does in Stufital or Paranormal. The difference is in the stories, which tend to be more extreme, adventurous or simply bizarre among ex-pats. I suppose it's to be expected that people who have deliberately exchanged the familiar for the unknown might typically rank higher on the eccentricity scale.
Only last night, I overheard an attempted conversation between a Spanish expert on English porcelain and an English authority on the history of Flamenco. The English aficionado spoke no Spanish save for the names of cantaores and tocadores. The limit of the Spanish antiquarian's English seemed to be a few well-connected towns: Royal Worcester and Doulton, Crown Derby. West Ham and Fulham never got a look-in! It's just conceivable that a similar conversation could break out spontaneously somewhere in the Vale of Evesham, but I wouldn't bet on it. Not where the norm is:
'Ave you seen Jeff? - Jeff? - Jeff, ar. - Old Jeff? - Old Jeff, ar. - A'nt he passed away? - Passed away? - Passed away, ar.
There is, unfortunately a down side to the crazy parade that is ex-pat life. And that is when people who have become good friends disappear from our lives. With or without warning, it's equally tough when you're having that last pint together.
And you say- safe journey then.
And you say- we'll meet for a beer when this contract's over.
And you know you won't.
And you don't.
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