Tired of my never-ending get-poor-slow schemes, I went gold-panning in the national park today with Lluís, who is 74 but doesn’t look a day over 90. Scrupulously avoiding bars and the agents rurals in them on the way up (mining is illegal in national parks unless you build a really big one), we found a quiet part of the river and spent most of the day practising that holiest of Catalan arts, dry-sieving, which was banned by Franco (I know that’s true because I just made it up).

Dry-sieving is so called because Catalan rivers are always dry, except when they are not and you get swept twenty miles out to sea. It is quite like gold-panning in Ulster, except that it is mostly dry. Here are some reasons why you should not give up your job managing Boris Berezovsky’s assets in order to become a Catalan dry-siever:

  1. It is hot and thirsty work.
  2. The fridge in the back of Lluís’ van makes a horrible noise, but it doesn’t keep the beer cold.
  3. There is no gold.
  4. There are no charming women to talk to when your foreign colleague loses it, gets drunk, and starts shouting. Lluís asked me to mention this.

However, don’t even think of going back to beachcombing, which in Barcelona will probably lead to you getting a discarded clinical hypodermic through your hand. The money–and you are only reading this because you think I may be able to help you in some fashion–is to be made on, or rather under, the boardwalk.

Many tourists think the man in the photo is a drugged, drunk crazy. They are right, but he has found a way to make money, using a condom and a twig to fish for coins dropped by fools like me:


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