The Language Barrier: Broken Bones

In his third week, Josh realised that breaking people’s legs isn’t the best way of making friends


I like Spanish food. I like Spanish weather. I even like Spanish music. But most of all, I like Spanish football. And so coming to Spain was really all about that. I saw this year as my calling.

No matter how well I fitted into this here advertising agency, it wouldn’t last. Some time soon I was going to be noticed doing keepy-uppies with a peach by an old man chewing on a toothpick, probably called Don Felipe or something, and asked to make my way down to Atletico Madrid for a trial.

No, not Real Madrid. That would be unrealistic.

Scouts everywhere...

Scouts everywhere…

Therefore, finding a group of individuals to kick a football with now and again was an early priority. Some early hope came from my friendly barman/landlord Carlos. He told me that his son, also called Carlos, had a team I could join, but only on one condition – Carlos Junior and I communicate solely in English.

As it turned out, Carlos Junior couldn’t speak English, so you could say this request was the death sentence to our relationship. What with him not understanding me, me not understanding him, and the constant confusion over which Carlos was which, our brief conversations were like an episode of Fawlty Towers. And we were both Manuel.

Then one day I got talking to a friend of a friend who let slip some information about a seemingly top-secret football group.

Although oddly reluctant to divulge any more information, I eventually managed to coax out of him the date and venue in a scene not dissimilar to Daniel Craig being interrogated in Casino Royale.

Carlos Senior

Carlos Senior

When the day arrived, the group were in fact very welcoming, if not a little confused as to how I had located them. And so I set about calmly going under the radar.

This lasted for all of about 10 minutes. Note to self: in order to successfully go under said radar, try not to break an opponent’s leg.

I clumsily jumped into a tackle and left a moustachioed man in a heap on the floor.

“¡Lo Siento! ¡Lo Siento!” (Sorry! SHIT. Sorry!)

No response. I must be saying it wrong.

“Ah, fook! Ah think eets brooken!” he yelped. In a thick, Scottish accent.

Worrying that this could be interpreted as a genuine xenophobic attack, I poured some water down the man’s sock and helped him limp off the pitch.

No hard feelings

No hard feelings

Just as my Dad had uselessly suggested when I broke my leg, I explained the benefits of R.I.C.E (Rest. Ice. Compression. Elevation) but the injured Scot, Danny, was equally as unimpressed by that as he was with me pouring water down his sock.

And so we whisked him and his redundant limb off to the hospital, me trying to desperately reassure him that it was almost definitely not broken.

As it turned out, it was broken. Very broken. Danny’s leg lay in tatters. And so did my dream of playing professional football. I guess I had found out why they wanted to keep it a “secret” group.

Danny isn't my biggest fan

Danny isn’t my biggest fan

If you missed Josh’s column last week, check it out here.