In the spirit of James Bond
Updated: Nov 5
If you don’t believe in either ghosts or the possibility of supernatural spirits then you may want to stop reading now as there is nothing I can say that will change your mind. All I can do is describe what I heard, saw and felt in this strange Spanish bar that left everyone a little shaken and stirred.
It was Christmas time and I met with my girlfriend’s elderly neighbour in Calle Espirito Santo (Holy Spirit Street) in Madrid and I suggested going to a little chic hipster bar that I knew.
It was closed at the time so we went to another bar and after some tea and cake in a local corner bar, I saw that the bar had opened and I suggested a celebratory drink in the new bar. My girlfriend was happy to return to this strange bar and we brought her elderly neighbour and her neighbour’s friend who was with her to the bar.
As we arrived, I quickly got talking with the barmaid and I explained that I had been in the bar a few times before and knew exactly what I wanted to order and then told her about my first time in the bar.
While the others were looking at the menu, I ordered a Vesper cocktail which was served in an unusual Champagne class. The ingredients I believe are mostly Gin but include Vodka and Lillet Blonde.
It is the James Bond drink from the original Casino Royale novel, a strong drink served straight up without ice but is shaken over ice until it is well chilled and then garnished with a thin slice of lemon peel. As the owner mixed the cocktail, I told the barmaid about my first time there.
It must have been the previous Christmas and my girlfriend and I sat on the couch by the fireplace under a giant painting of a king that had a cut slashed through the picture. The cut looked like it was done with a sword and was slashed from head to heart. Well, bisecting the body in half from the groin up. Ouch!
While I don’t think the painting was an original, my girlfriend and I had an interesting reaction that night with both of us suffering.
Anna had a pain in her heart and I developed a terrible headache that night and was in intense pain in that bar with the music giving me a splitting headache.
There was something definitely strange about the place and the painting in particular and Anna’s old elderly neighbour told us that someone had died there.
Not very forthcoming with the details, the only thing she told us was that a painter died there a long time ago. I wondered if he was an artist or a decorator and I got the impression it might have been a suicide and my girlfriend asked the owner, “Who died here?”
My girlfriend was annoyed that I wouldn’t ask the owner who died there but I didn’t think asking him directly was going to work and I knew I needed a very different approach if I was going to get any answers. Maybe I would have to take some inspiration from the James Bond cocktail I was drinking and get the gossip from the barmaid behind the counter.
It’s a trick that always seems to work for James Bond anyways.
The four of us sat around the unlit fireplace where a bunch of melted red candles had been placed in the hart but not yet replaced with newer candles. The room was very cold and in the middle of the couch and two armchairs where we sat, stood a box with some magazines on top of it. It was a classical travelling box with straps and at one point, it started to rattle unexpectedly which we weren’t able to explain why. Not exactly levitating but the box shook violently for no reason in front of us.
Had my Vesper Martini already gone to my head?
Perhaps Anna’s old friend had accidentally kicked the box and we didn’t realise it?
We all looked at the box and tried rattling the straps to recreate this unexpected sound that we all heard and now wanted to know what had caused it.
They unclasped the latches and straps but still, the box wouldn’t open and we abandoned our efforts to open the box and my girlfriend asked the waitress,
“Do you believe in ghosts?
“I do here”,
she said and I thought her answer was very strange considering it was neither a yes or no answer but a place-specific yes.
We continued talking but our friend refused to give any further details about the dead painter or even what year he had died. She had lived in the area since Franco’s rule and the painter could have died in the late 60’s, 70’s or 80´s
I talked again with the waitress who confessed that she and her friend cast spells behind the bar and I invited myself along to their next Tarot card reading and spell binding session, behind the bar.
We soon learned of Coronavirus so I never got to meet the barmaid or her Tarot cards but let's see what lies behind this mysterious bar and what the cards can tell me when I next order a an original James Bond Vesper cocktail or some other strong spirits on Calle Espirito de Santo.
Whether you believe in ghosts or not, let’s all raise a glass to the legendary Sir Sean Connery who passed away on Halloween at the age of 90.