An Artist in Andalucia
At the age of thirteen, my first encounter with the Mediterranean climate was unexpected and wonderful. Stepping off the BEA Vanguard passenger jet on to the shimmering tarmac of Valetta airport, Malta, in July 1970, I was immediately intoxicated by the exotic scents in the air, the hot dry wind, and intense reflected light from the ground. At an age without preconceptions of travel, Life burst in upon me afresh; full of infinite possibilities and excitement. By the time I returned from our family holiday, two weeks later, a distinct change had occurred in me, rivalled in my youth only by puberty. My life was now in colour where before it was in black and white. I had discovered a new world in my imagination, where I could live as a painter in a foreign land, with dry dusty paths and fig trees, breathtaking sunshine and the sound of crickets at night. White stone, warm seas, a hot breeze that ruffles your shirtsleeves and carries the scent of wild sage to your nostrils. In short, I had become a romantic, and one day I would be that artist.
I had already started to learn to play the Spanish (or Classical) guitar, when one evening during my mid-teens I happened to see a television programme featuring the great guitarist Segovia, sitting in the Alhambra Palace, playing 'Memories of the Alhambra', with fountains and shadows playing around a sunny courtyard. I was hooked. The music of Spain had completed the land that held my personal myth. It was to be another thirty years before I actually visited the country of my dreams.