Stories of adventures and discoveries in Spain and other parts of Europe, told and illustrated by world traveller, author, illustrator and linguist Lawrence Bohme. This collection is composed of scenes from Lawrence's life between the years 1960 to 2014: Christmas of the Gypsies / El pan de la Sierra / Mountain Ham / The First Time I Saw Cordoba / Marriage in Mallorca / Beer-Water / The Malign Spirits / The Necessary Courage / Virgin of the Star / The Photograph / Montefrio, Last Stop / The House at the Corner of Jesus / The Butcher Who Sang Like a Bird / Flamenco Summer / The Englishman Goes Away / Visitor From the Past / The Boat Leaves from Denia / The Farm of the Seven Olive Trees / The Christ of the Cataracts / Lorca, Poet of Granada / Flying with the Commissioner / My Ridiculum Vitae / George Sand, Tourist Before Her Time / Child of Cherbyl / Cities of the Guadalquivir / What's in an Olive? / Apocalypse in Puerto Lope / Mayonnaise or Mahonesa ? / The Rotting Room / Don't Pass the Tapas, Please! / Two Very Special Trips / The Danger of Shining / Return to Warsaw Street.
Lawrence Bohme was born in London in 1942 under Hitler's rockets, to a refugee from Berlin and a daring young Englishwoman. In 1946 his family left grimy, threadbare war-torn England to settle in Vancouver, where Lawrence's father set up his own business and his mother discovered she was an artist. When he was 14, Joan took offspring in hand and embarked on a long odyssey as a budding abstract painter, living not quite hand-to-mouth, but almost in Mexico, where Lawrence learned Spanish, and then in pre-independence Jamaica which was an earthly paradise. But life in a British colony was too dull for the adventurous Bohmes and by 1958 - on the eve of America's cultural revolution - they were tucked into a tiny flat in New York's Greenwich Village, which Joan had read about in a newspaper as a good place for bohemians and artists.... There, Lawrence flourished, making interesting friends of various origins, including - thanks to the Blackboard Jungle sort of high school my mother put me in - a girlfriend who introduced me to Harlem and its fascinating people and music. In 1960 Lawrence fulfilled his dream of studying in Madrid and sailed to Spain, where he spent more time carousing in taverns with a bunch of anti-Franco students than at the overly staid University. He soon found his way south to Montefrio, the olive-farming town west of Granada where he was to live, later on, for over 20 years. There, Lawrence became the undying friend of the flamenco singer Manuel Avila, who was also a shepherd and village butcher. In 1961, giving up on the Spanish University, Lawrence - now with a temperamental Bavarian painter in tow, the footloose tomboy Lilo - set out for Paris and the Sorbonne, where he studied French civilization and discovered his beloved poets Baudelaire and Villon. Finally, in 1963 and a bachelor again, I hitched a ride to Rome planning to work in a hotel, but instead ended up in Sicily trying to teach English to fishermen's kids in exchange for sardines and spaghetti. He failed, but found all that and much more later on in a favela of Rio de Janeiro where he stayed for five blissful years. After a decade working as a pen-and-ink postcard designer and leather sandal-maker in Haiti and other Caribbean islands, Lawrence returned to Paris at age 41 to become a quadrilingual Unesco translator. Now retired, the ex-nomad lives in southern France writing all this down in his ongoing 16-part memoir, My Very Long Youth.