Pere Botero's

“On Ponent Street lived another woman known as the Queen because she was daughter of one of the Three Kings”

Boil 'em!

Boil 'em!

Here’s Joan Amades in El Pessebre (1959):

80 years ago in the house [in Peu de la Creu (Foot of the Cross) Street, in the Raval] indicated with the number 7 there was a soap factory known as Pere Botero’s because, for industrial purposes, they had a number of boilers–immense in the eyes of that generation–which almost never stopped steaming and smoking. The children of the Raval were led to believe that these were Pere Botero’s cauldrons, in which they would be boiled if they didn’t let their faces be washed and be good little boys and girls. The premises were very spacious, and the house overlooked Carmen Street and served as a corridor between the two streets. Our mother had told us on numerous occasions that neighbourhood children used to put on Els Pastorets many years ago at Pere Botero’s. Today the building is still highly suitable for neighbourhood theatre [no more: it was demolished to make way for offices and flats]. The author of the Castellón nativity play observes that often an actor continues to be referred to by his stage name, and recounts the case of an old man known as Rebecca because an ancestor of his had played the role. When we were little, opposite our house on the other side of the street there lived a woman known as the Demon because, according to our mother, she was the daughter of a man who had played in demon in Els Pastorets. On Ponent Street lived another woman known as the Queen because she was daughter of one of the Three Kings. A boy came to study with us who was naughtier than a spinning top [why translate an expression like this?]; his name was Anguera, but everyone called him Saint Joseph, a name inherited from his father, who was tall as a beanpole and known throughout the neighbourhood for his unusual physique, and who had also retained the name from the role which he had played when he was small in Els Pastorets at Pere Botero’s.

I am told that it was customary in the Middle Ages to boil the flesh off corpses to prevent infection and to make it easier to cart saintly thighbones off to European cathedrals. The world would be a very different place if Pere Botero had got Jesus when they took him down.

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