Señor Valvula Skulker and a judge's pillockry

So it was that one spring, three years after I'd removed the illegal Fascist plaque from the village fountain if I remember correctly, one of the sons of the Fascist era alcalde decided to exact some revenge.

There was a sudden spate of 'bad luck'; various pieces of damage each of which could be vandalism or could be natural causes. Of this spate, unequalled both before and since, two were particularly suspicious.

A brand new inner tube inside a brand new tyre on a brand new wheelbarrow wheel sprang a leak. The tyre showed no sign of damage. Once inside a bucket full of water the leak was easily seen - a neat knife cut at the root of the valve. The wheel was thickly painted with no rough edges, only a blade could have caused the damage. Less than three metres away a valve on a tyre of my van also 'failed'. The van was parked with two wheels against the wall, a third wheel was in a cutaway against rising ground - it would be necessary to kneel and then reach downwards to get to the tyre. The fourth tyre was in the open, and it was on this tyre that the valve 'failed'. Fortunately the valve failed when the van was parked, had it occurred at speed on a road then the rapid loss of pressure could have proved fatal.

Without benefit of a microscope it was impossible to tell if the split was a knife cut or a very fine perish. Months later, in conversation with the mechanic who replaced the valve I mentioned that I thought it possible that someone had cut the valve. He looked surprised and said of course it was cut. I knew that the mechanic lived only a few hundred metres from where Señor Skulker stays when he is in the area, and I was already of the opinion that Señor Valvula Skulker was a loud mouthed thicky.

This is an area where people are very quick to offer the information that this individual or that individual is a 'good person'. Not everyone is so endorsed. The alcalde is routinely dismissed as a waste of space, the willing poodle of the Fascist mass murderer 'Morodo of Bustelo'. (I was asked in conversation in a restaurant If I thought the alcalde was a Fascist. I said my opinion was that he was not at all political, but was stupid. A chap nearby overhearing this comment tapped me on the shoulder and said "You won't know this, but I was at school with your alcalde, and you are correct; he is not political, but he is very stupid.")

Within a very few days of the spate of 'bad luck'/vandalism I had three unusual conversations.

Unusual in that one particular individual was identified as a 'nasty piece of work'. The conversations all followed a similar pattern; after general chat about football or weather or politics my interlocutors asked me if I knew Señor Skulker. No, I didn't. I was then told who he was related to, where he lived, and where he stayed when he was in this area.

It seemed reasonable to suppose that Señor Skulker was responsible for at least some of the 'bad luck'/vandalism, and was sufficiently proud of his efforts to boast about it openly.

In country areas events have a seasonal aspect including the times when people visit. So it was that a year after the 'bad luck/vandalism Señor Skulker was again in the area and I made his acquaintance.

I'd finished work on a pleasant spring day and was sitting outside my front door reading a book when I heard someone approaching.

When the building is finished the front door will be the main entrance, at the moment it is the door to one of the three cellars which form the ground floor of the front of the house. The first floor has been and still is the occupied part of the building. The front door is recessed between two large columns, consequently I was hidden from the road.

I imagined the person approaching was elderly - two or three steps then a pause, another two or three steps and a pause as they made their way up the hill, but I was wrong, in fact wrong twice over for Señor Skulker was not old, and I did know Señor Skulker.

So why the two or three steps and pause? Simple Señor Skulker was skulking. Slightly hunched, eyes flitting nervously from window to window of the first floor, completely unaware of my presence he had advance until he was directly in front of me, no more than four metres away. When he spotted me there was an instinctive move to flee downhill until even this dummy realised it was too late.

If you are going up the hill past my house you are going to one of three places; the church, the cemetery, or the next village. Señor Skulker was doing none of these for at the end of the conversation he returned the way he came.

During our conversation Señor Skulker told me that everyone in the area was angry at me for destroying the Fascist plaque. "oh," said I "That's news to me. I happen to know that the vast majority of people in this area are delighted the plaque has gone." I then told him the method adopted by most of those people when they thank or congratulate me for the removal of the plaque.

Typically they will stop a few metres away and perform a full 360 degree scan to make sure no one else is in sight, only then the final approach and the thanks.

So how did I know Señor Valvula Skulker?

At the end of a fiesta five years earlier I had gone to a nearby bar. Crowded with all tables occupied I was sitting at the table nearest the door in conversation with two locals when a pair of fists landed on the table accompanied by a face inches from mine demanding to know if it was true that an English king had eaten with his fingers. This was Skulker, the ineffable Valvula. The interruption was loud and boorish, chewing food as he bawled, spitting part masticated food into my face. I confirmed that it was believed Henry VIII had eaten with his fingers.

Totally insensate to the look of disgust I was directing at him Skulker guffawed more food at me, before proceeding around the room, butting into every conversation, spitting food into every face, sharing this hilarious knowledge.

I watched the performance, shocked to see that this repellent prat was met everywhere with smiles. Even after he had passed people did not show disgust, except for two men. They had smiled for Skulker, but as soon as he moved on their faces turned to profound loathing. Both in turn left the room.

A nasty piece of work, son of a Fascist murderer. Early evidence for me of an ugly truth; for most people the only safe option is to agree with whatever the local thug says or does. Small town bullying. And what is Fascism but small town bullying with the volume turned to maximum.

And so to the judge.

During the few days of the three conversations connecting Señor Skulker to the 'bad luck'/vandalism I went into Fonsagrada. I had just turned from the main road into the side street where the building materials company is when I noticed in the door mirror a figure that looked familiar in the road behind me. As I parked up I had a closer look. It was indeed the judge (in civvies, not fancy dress), he was in the middle of the road and level with the edge of the main road. He looked agitated and appeared to be staring at me.

As I got out of the van I had a good look around. There was no one else in sight, and yes, he was staring at me, and yes he looked agitated.

It was clear from the judge's performance in court and in 'reasoning' that he lacked the requisite wherewithal to be a judge. There are a number of potential reasons for this; he might be a Fascist, or a Fascist apologist, or he might be related to 'someone important', or he might simply know which side his career bread is buttered on, or he might simply be simple.

It might surprise you, but I can on occasion be of a generous cast of mind, and so have drifted in the direction of allowing that in all probability the judge is a simple-minded pillock, quite likely devoid of any significant malice. In any event my interpretation of this antic in the road was that it was one more piece of pillockry from a consummate pillock. However having had enough of watching pillockry in agitation I shook my head at the judge, shrugged, and left him to merrily pillock with himself in the road as I went about my business.

I hope that the judge read in my shaking of the head and shrug a sincere appreciation of and sympathy for the state of confusion and uncertainty that are the inevitable companions of undiluted pillockry. It cannot be easy to live a normal existence when the pillock within one's own skull is iterating time without number such exquisite balderdash as "In principle the illegal object is not illegal."

Be that as it may be, when I exited with my building materials the judge had gone.

It was only as I drove away that I noticed parked further down on the opposite side of the road the car of the alcalde, and then the thought occurred 'Perhaps the judge's car is here too.' If it was and if Señor Skulker, the loud-mouthed idiotic boaster were the cutter of the valve and the judge knew of it it could explain his behaviour. Unfortunately that leads to the possibility that the judge is much less of a simple pillock and much more of a knowing valvula.