Alexei Sayle: Orange juice, parking and other great scams

'Better to get shot by the Guardia Civil than pay too much for parking'
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Indy Lifestyle Online

I know I've mentioned before in this column that I have a house in Spain and have brought you various motoring stories from that country. In fact I remember I told you the other week about my two female friends who were given an "upgrade" of a Fiat Doblo MPV at the airport car hire place.

I know I've mentioned before in this column that I have a house in Spain and have brought you various motoring stories from that country. In fact I remember I told you the other week about my two female friends who were given an "upgrade" of a Fiat Doblo MPV at the airport car hire place.

Because one of my friends has short-cropped dyed blonde hair, the two women in their blue van resembled a couple of good-looking lesbians working for the Andalusian water board - everywhere they went peasants would come out of their houses to try and get them to unblock their drains, restore their water pressure or invite them to late-night rubberwear discos in the backstreets of Granada.

While we were out with our friends we did encounter one of the unique hazards of driving a hire car anywhere in the city of Granada, especially in the neighbourhood of the Alhambra. The danger is that gypsies are liable to spring out in front of your car to try with frantic hand gestures to direct you into a parking space. The scam works like this: there is ample, reasonably priced official parking for cars at the Alhambra but the gypsies try and point gullible tourists on to a patch of wasteland nearby where they attempt to extort a huge fee.

To add credibility, the fake parking attendants sometimes dress themselves up in reflective safety jackets or official-looking caps. Therefore I always tell friends who are staying with us that they should never stop for anybody who flags them down while driving in Granada, even if they look semi-official, which has led to several of our guests being shot up after failing to stop at Guardia Civil road blocks. Better than paying too much for your parking, I say.

Over the years, even before I had a house, I spent a great deal of time in Spain and I always assumed that I had picked up a spattering of Spanish, from the time, for example, when I worked on a terrible movie set in Madrid called Siesta where I played a Madrid taxi driver with metal teeth who represented the angel of death (I told you it was terrible didn't I?). On that film my character had to speak a lot of Spanish, which I learnt phonetically, and this gave me the illusion of fluency.

However, now that I own a property it's only right that I should wish to participate more fully in the life of the region, so over the last few weeks I have knuckled down to proper Spanish lessons and it turns out to my horror that I hardly spoke, understood or read the language at all!

This admission brings me to an unpleasant point. I'm afraid I wrote in this column a few weeks ago that in Madrid there lives a super-intelligent chimpanzee who has built a 1.2L Seat Arosa which will run all day on a litre of orange juice. I sincerely believed this tale to be true but on re-reading the item in La Prensa from which I took my column I realise the piece was concerned with European Commission grant availability for the study of forestry in the region of Asturias.

It is also my unpleasant duty to report that I am unable to refund the cash deposits I took from those people who contacted me eager to purchase the Seat Arosa OJ and that Sayle Orange Juice Monkey Car plc has ceased trading and cannot be contacted. Thank you for your attention.

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