Many years ago I travelled from Paris to Hendaye , a seaside town on the French \ Spanish border. It was only five years after Spain had ceased to be a dictatorship and although the tourist industry had seen the country modernise to an extent through the 1960s and 70s there was still a noticeable difference between these neighbouring countries. As we neared the border, the already crowded train became even busier. Standing in the corridors and sitting on suitcases was the norm. My friends and I were lucky, we had bagged a compartment in Paris and apart from having to share it with some rather too friendly French Army conscripts, it was relative luxury. As well as human travellers on the now crowded and noisy train there was an assortment of livestock, including a few hens and cockerels, alive and in baskets. The odd cock crowing as we pulled in to Hendaye at 6am, added to the mayhem and our relief at getting off after the ten hour journey was enormous.
This journey came to mind yesterday as I made the much shorter bus journey in to the city for an appointment. As usual, it was noisy. Spaniards don’t sit on buses with the spaced out , glum look of those in Northern cities. They talk , loudly and very often, even if in a group, at the same time. A very old lady got on the bus with her son or grandson, but he made a point of sitting some distance away from her. She had her pull along shopping bag positioned safely in front of her. Suddenly a very loud cock crowing broke through the hum of noisy chat. It went on for some time until the son or grandson turned round and shouted at the old lady, in Spanish of course…’ It’s your mobile , answer it for goodness sake.’ This took some time as said mobile was at the bottom of her shopping bag and so the cockerel continued to crow! She eventually found it and answered, very loudly. Normality resumed. It did however leave me wondering if the generation that grew up before the modernisation of Spain , sometimes miss the old days when shopping baskets had live poultry in them and not simply odd ring tones?