I have a fondness for Gibraltar borne mostly out of familiarity. It's a tawdry disjointed place at odds with itself. The main street is sardines with crew and pasajeros when too many ships are in. Swaying duty free swag crashes into knees and it's all a bit tetchy in that heat. The Gibraltar patois is barked about. Llanito is a harsh hybrid of Andalusian Spanish and staccato British English. I liked to cycle around to the dreary Catalan Bay. And chase flies off a plate of wonderful manchego under the Atlantic face of The Rock that noone cares for much. Half a mile above me wily Barbary apes prefer the whole bag of peanuts to the proffered handful. To fat squeals of delight whilst irascible taxis blare a path with their horns through the hordes and narrow roads.
The Staff Captain 'Staffy' proposes a Bit of an Adventure and a select group is mustered. Pembo is his moniker, he knows a boy in the military. There's been a special arrangement in advance to take us through the tunnels and into the caves. Thirty miles are driven through the isthmus. They first started gorging the place out during The Big Siege. 1779, and extensive use was made of their labyrinth during The War. After a trek through already alarming tunnels a Big Iron Door is accessed with what in my memory is a Gigantic Iron Key. And we start to descend. With torches gaffa'd to hard hats, and me with a tripod soon abandoned, buffoon. Ridiculous escapade. Ten minutes down the big South African baby doc declares discretion to be the better part of valour and we abandon him too on a wave of glistening stalagmite. Which is disturbing as the Military Boy had been quite specific that noone would be left behind. I begin to wonder what else he might be flexible on. We ended up two miles under the rock, in some very tight spots. I didn't like it one bit.