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I went to work today at the canteen. In the break I sat between Pablo and James. The former is a large bull of a man from La Mancha. The latter is a wild, rattling little Englishman with a thick goatee beard.

“So you are Hee-nglish, eh?” Pablo will typically affect to have met James for the first time. He will act with apparent astonishment throughout his encounter with the Englishman. “And you have a queen!” Pablo recalls.

James objects. “I didn’t vote for her. She’s nothing to do with me…”

“She is your queen,” Pablo insists, grinning.

James pauses to reflect. “I think that the solution to the queen is the guillotine. Do you know guillotine?”

Pablo frowns, but then beams. “Ah! Yes, guillotine…”

James mimes conducting the queen to her awaiting death. “If you would just pop your head through here, your majesty…”

“Fagg-hing queen…” Pablo agrees.

“And you have a king!” James explodes, throwing up his hands in gesticulation.

Pablo nods, amused that James knows this obscure fact about Spanish public life.

“Your king visited my flat the other day…”

Pablo blinks.

“Yes, he came to see me. He visited my flat. But… oh!… disaster!” James throws up his hands again – but this time in dismay. “I confused him with the man who was coming to fix the sink. “The sink’s over there, mate! It’s busted, mate!” And he did an absolutely terrible job of fixing it. More leaks than when he began. Hopeless, that king…”

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