Ten sounds that make it impossible to forget that you’re in Madrid:
1. The neighbour beating eggs to make a tortilla española.
2. The squeak of the washing line pulley in the patio interior. Often closely followed by:
3. The sound of a clothes peg falling into the patio interior. (The only sound associated with the clothes that are dropped is the exclamation of the housewife who’s hanging them out.)
4. Hay para hoy, Veinte iguales and other cries of the ONCE lottery ticket vendors.
5. The car horns, shouting etc. associated with traffic jams. At 3am.
6. The bin men discussing the TV, their family or whatever else comes to mind, at the tops of their voices at 4am. (Except when the dustcart is making so much noise it drowns them out.)
7. Elderly women using language you’d be ashamed to tell your mother you understood.
8. The sound of a street converted into a river by the street cleaners’ high-powered hoses after the Rastro. (And I thought Madrid was suffering a permanent drought?)
9. That unmistakable background noise in any bar, restaurant or other place where food or drink is served and two or three are gathered together. Even if it’s only the barman and the waiters.
10. The silence of the city sleeping its siesta on a Sunday afternoon in August.