Mateo doesn’t talk much, but occasionally he just won’t stop. Today was one of those days and I got to hear some great stories of life in the Basque country.
DON’T EVER DO THIS! But…
…one of my favourites was about how when he was young, Mateo would get some extra thin fishing wire, tie it around a bumble bee, and the bee would fly along beside him on the end of the wire like a balloon or an upside down dog. Occasionally the bee would get tired and sit on his shoulder, but after a while he would flick it and it would fly up on the end of the wire again.
DON’T DO THIS EITHER
He also told us a story about his dad playing as a kid.
‘When my dad was eight, he and his friend didn’t have any toys. So his friend would swing around this thing.’ Mateo mimed something swinging round. ‘And my dad would jump over it.’
‘You mean a skipping rope?’ I suggested.
‘A stick? A pole?’ said Dan.
‘No you use it to cut corn,’ said Mateo. ‘And Death has one.’
‘A scythe? They’d jump over a scythe?’ asked Dan, slightly high-pitched, as we start to realise where this might be going.
‘Yes,’ said Mateo. ‘But then it went wrong and he didn’t jump at the right time. So the scythe went into his leg. And it was deep, you know. Like muscles and tendons cut, and blood everywhere. I saw the scar and it went half way round his leg. But this was during the Spanish civil war and there were no doctors around, so my dad went back to his dad. His dad got a load of vinegar and a load of salt and filled the hole in his leg and then sewed it up with a needle and thread.’
Me and Dan were wincing quite a lot by this point.
‘It was weird too, eh?’ went on Mateo. ‘Because if you get a cut that deep, and cut the tendons, it shouldn’t ever recover. Your leg is never ok again. But he was fine, all he had was the scar .’