I really thought I was losing my marbles. It would make medical history, ‘Alzheimer’s strikes overnight’. I rapidly ran through other recent memories; they were there, as far as I could tell. Had I imbibed to excess last night? Not as far as I remember – but then, would I, remember that is.
Partially reassured I had to accept that somebody had moved the Pillars of Hercules, literally. I was at Jews Gate in Gibraltar, staring at the platform where the Pillars used to be and there they were, gone. Then, at the back of the car park, I saw the tip of a column peeking out above the roofs of cars. I looked closer and there they were, the Pillars - sat in a car park.
Over the years the Pillars have suffered some indignities. Originally the platform and plinth on which the Pillars were stood offered panoramic views across the Strait of Gibraltar to the southern pillar, Jebel Musa in Morocco. A few years ago somebody went and built a high rise in front of Jews Gate which spoilt the symbolic effect somewhat.
A custodian of The Rock was sat on a wall nearby, so I asked him the question, ‘Why have the Pillars of Hercules been moved’. He replied, ‘They have always been there’ - meaning the back of the car park. Needless to say, the answer did nothing to reassure me about my sanity. Until he added, ‘But I’ve only been here six months’. I went to hunt down the longest-serving custodian and found him in his hut having a cup of tea.
‘Are you the one asking why the Pillars have been moved’ he asked warily whilst locking the hut door, obviously thinking I was some sort of troublemaker. Word spreads quickly over the walkie talkies; they must have put out an alert.
It transpires that the plinth and monument were built on top of a public convenience. Over the years the weight has weakened the roof of the convenience and cracks started to appear above the urinals threatening to plunge the Pillars into an abyss and presumably onto the heads of anybody that happened to be stood there minding their own business as it were. The mind boggles at the consequences.
Nick has lived and worked in Andalucia for over 20 years. He and his partner, Julie Evans, have travelled extensively and dug deep into the history and culture, producing authoritative articles on all aspects of the region. Nick has written four books about Andalucia and writes articles for other websites and blogs.
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