Lucy Caldwell: The story so far


I wrote a story, once, about a twentysomething girl who, returning to Belfast for a holiday, gets caught up in a mass of cancelled flights and meets the love of her life, who turns out to be her older sister's childhood sweetheart. I couldn't believe the irony when, trying to get home for Christmas, I found myself stuck in the chaos of fog and grounded flights at Heathrow. But the only thing I travelled home with was a rotten cold to which, one by one, all of my family succumbed.

We spent last week in Andalusia. My sisters and I had optimistically packed bikinis. But we arrived to find it so unexpectedly cold that the first thing we did was rush out to buy fan heaters and woolly jumpers. What with the cold, and feeling so wiped out, we couldn't muster the energy to do more than huddle around the electric fire cradling my dad's legendary hot whiskies.

Luckily, the house we were staying in belonged to an elderly American couple who first came to Andalusia in the early Sixties, when it was a mecca for hippies and artists and writers. There were shelves crammed with all sorts of books: crumbly, yellowing old paperbacks, artists' sketchbooks, New York Times Best Sellers and philosophy tracts. In between reading aloud gruesome accounts of modern-day exorcisms, my sisters and I squabbled over Marian Keyes's brilliant Rachel's Holiday, which has one of the best unreliable narrators I've ever read, while my dad got stuck into some mystic Sixties poetry. My mum - from whom I get my love of books - read, in quick succession, The Kite Runner, the first instalment of Naguib Mahfouz's Cairo Trilogy and Hisham Matar's devastating In The Country of Men.

The mountains of rural southern Spain are beautiful at this time of year: the air tastes like a long, cool drink of water, and the light really does seem to pour down from the sky. But we hardly left the house. On the way home, Mum remarked that she felt she was returning from Egypt or Afghanistan in the Seventies, rather than modern-day Spain. The whole holiday, in fact, was rather like driving through Europe when I was a child, when Mum and Dad would be imploring us to look at the beautiful scenery, and we'd reluctantly glance up and murmur a half-hearted "wow" before going back to the books we were engrossed in: even now, I don't remember where we went, so much as what I was reading when we were there.

By that rationale, I fear that my woozy, Lemsip-addled memories of Andalusia are for ever going to be a strange blur of poltergeists and drug-addiction clinics. Never again will I complain that family holidays are boring.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Systems Analyst (Technical, UML, UI)

£30000 - £40000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

Cost Reporting-MI Packs-Edinburgh-Bank-£350/day

£300 - £350 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Cost Reporting Manager - MI Packs -...

Senior Private Client Solicitor - Gloucestershire

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Client Solicitor - We are makin...

Microsoft Dynamics AX Support Developer

£50000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: A unique and rare opport...

Day In a Page

Read Next

I was a Woman Against Feminism too

Siobhan Norton
A screengrab taken on July 13, 2014 from a video released by the Nigerian Islamist extremist group Boko Haram, showing the leader of the Nigerian Islamist extremist group Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau  

Boko Haram is a vicious sideshow - Nigeria's self-serving elite is the real culprit

Kevin Watkins
Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn