It would indicate me as callous, lacking in empathy, quite without the basic human wherewithal to engage sensitively with the emotions of another, if I were to admit that, whenever confronted with a person crying I experience an acute jolt of memory back to the day of the unstemmably flowing fire extinguisher. So I won't. In particular, on such occasions I do not recall the sense of rising panic, nor does the repeating tickertape thought: "
And I certainly don't hang anyone out of the window as a last resort, in case you were wondering.
It's clear that no-one ever told Esperanza to pull herself together. No stiff upper lip for her. There's a Mediterranean saint for you - an English equivalent, faced with the suffering of Aar Lord would probably set her face at lemon sucking and possibly emit a disapproving tut. I expect if Esperanza ever did dry up someone would have been quick to restart the waterworks:
"Oh hello Esppie dear, how cheerful you're looking today, glad to see you're not letting thoughts of Christ's suffering get you down so much now... you know, the crucifixion, darling... with the crown of thorns, the nails and that." And she'd be off again, snot everywhere, shares in Kleenex, etc.
( Four more, including one that's not actually Esperanza, but she's having a good sob and I've sprung the code for her now anyway )
(This is what happens when I go through piles of papers, they're like geological strata, weeks and months and years and entire periods. '...half a page of scribbled lines...', yes, but so many. This, biro on the back of a photocopied map)
On a spit of land between roads a rat goes out across the pavement, limping, coat uneven and poorly groomed. It's nothing like the sleek character I usually see about my town, but expect it's harder here: less of a takeaway culture, not normally so much discarded to pick at.
Camera in my hand, deed done, I wait for two young women to pass, they're absorbed in conversation. I don't want to give away the rat's position by drawing attention to it.
But they see it, and leap, and shriek. It's really quite theatrical. They move in an arc towards the fence, then one realises that's where the creature came from, so its route home must lie across theirs. They indicate for me to shoo or maybe kick it away.
Rats are by nature complacent creatures, even in the wild. They blunder about and know no stealth, and this one's survival instinct has completely gone. I walk right up to it, wag a foot before its nose to encourage movement in the right direction. It's having none of it, studiously ignoring my nuisance presence. Guiltily I touch it with the toe of my shoe and it shifts resentfully. The girls are now gibbering like something in an early Almodóvar, developing a proxy terror for the thing running up my leg.
But it's not in the business of running up any near vertical surfaces anymore. It's on its uppers, out in broad daylight, sniffing at the bare stones. I move around to stand between it and the shrill sirens, wave them through like high pitched skittery traffic.
They go, a little further on I hear them laughing and now it's just me and the rat and I've got to go soon, to get my bag from the consigne at Santa Justa. Step back, walk off brisk and forget the poor thing, the better to concentrate on fretting over whether the luggage locker will accept its code, if I can avoid one of those 'pro vida' taxis at the rank, how bad the Ryanair home will be.