My trip to Madrid this week involved a lot of rushing around, and a lot of trips on the Metro.At Gran Vía, the whole of the station is currently plastered with posters advertising The Hobbit – due out in Spain today. As I scurried up and down escalators and along dank tunnels, I remembered the book’s opening:
In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.
As usual, there were plenty of buskers and mendicants around. I rather enjoy the performances by the musicians, whether it’s those who get on the train for a stop or two to entertain with panpipes, accordions, guitars, etc., or those who set up in the underground tunnels in groups, or with xylophones, harps, and less portable instruments. They aren’t always very good, but then, you aren’t usually stuck listening to them for long.
At this time of year, there tend to be some very irritating renditions of carols and festive songs but the most popular melodies are still “Una paloma blanca”, “Viva España!” and “Those were the days”. Sometimes you half recognise a tune, but its identity is obscured by the individual preformance or the unfamiliar “orchestration”. On one journey I heard three full verses of a tune before I realised the brown-eyed accordion player was apparently interpreting the Sinatra song his way.
When I lived in the capital and travelled on the Madrid Metro every day, I was less attentive to the details: this week, though, I’ve realised it’s a system of nasty, dirty, wet holes and dank tunnels, and it’s unlikely to win an Oscar for its soundtrack.