Monday, 26 November 2012

St. James´Rooster Chapter 2 continues...

Felix, unfortunately, wasn’t in any mood to commiserate.
Laura had stopped in at the market to pick up some tulips to brighten up
her mood. They stood, relentlessly proud in their jam jar on the oak table
in the late afternoon sunshine. No-one, however, was in any mood to
comment on them. In fact, given the animosity in the room it as a wonder
they didn’t droop.
“They promised me Proficiency! Ha! All afternoon I’ve been teaching
kindergarten English. I hate this, Laura. The little brats are dropped off at
four o’clock and their mothers don’t pick them up till five thirty. During
that time I have to keep them from tearing the posters off the wall. As
if that wasn’t enough, they don’t want to learn English. They don’t want
to learn anything. One of them even peed on the floor! Señora Whatsit
didn’t even seem to care. ‘Just keep them happy, all the time’. That’s what
she told me. Can you even believe it? It’s all about making money and
that’s it. If I could I’d quit right now.”
“Then quit,” said Laura who was fighting the tears from her own eyes.
“Yeah? Then how are we going to pay this exorbitant rent?”
“I don’t know. I don’t care. Leave me alone,” she said and fled to the
bathroom locking the door.
What the hell is going on? thought Felix as he threw his raincoat around
his shoulders.
* * *
The Parque Santa Susana was almost deserted. Felix ignored the children
and the old men as he walked along the pathways. He ignored the views
of the cathedral. He ignored the sunset.
Something is not right, he thought.
But what? And why?
* * *
Laura’s tutorial was cancelled. There was no explanation. Just the yellow
post-it note which said: “Sorry. Something has come up”. She spent the
afternoon distractedly doing research in the library, but couldn’t help but
feeling that there was something else calling her attention. But she couldn’t
think what that might be.
As the light was fading she stopped into the Hostal Suso for some
chiperrones and pimientos de Padron. She made them last, watching the
tourists and the pilgrims pass by, some of them with maps in their hands
from the nearby tourist office. One or two came in the door of the hostal.
Life used to be simple, she thought. Was it really less than a year since she
and Felix had made love here for the first time at the end of their Camino,
knowing that next door Kieran and Miranda were doing the same?
Rather than go straight home, which was only a few metres away, she
stopped into Encontros Bookshop. But the vast majority of the books
were in Castellano and once more she felt totally overwhelmed at the
task before her. Everything she needed for her research was in a language
which seemed so alien to her that she wondered how on earth she was
going to learn to read it, let alone come up with an original thesis. Modern
Santiago loved its unapologetic bishop even if his contemporaries had not,
and she was an interloper, and a foreign one at that.
“Who am I to take on one of Spain’s great Churchmen?” she thought, or
did she say it out loud to the weighty copy of the Spanish biography in her
hands. Question unanswered, she left just as the doors were being closed.
Buenas noches,” she said.
Laura was still reluctant to go home. Instead she propped herself up on
a pillar beside the tourist office and closed her eyes. What’s happening to
me? She thought. This had been her dream and the scholarship had made
it a reality: go to Santiago, study at the university there, produce some
brilliant mind opening work. Finding Dr. Callaghan here was just the
icing on the cake. Now all she could do was to try to keep the tears from
her eyes.
It was just after 9:15 according to the cathedral bells. There was no-one
about. There was a certain peace to the city after all had locked up and
gone home, and Laura despite her internal confusion allowed herself to
feel those ancient streets wash over her. The spring night was still cooler
and as she walked towards her apartment door besides the closed gift shop
it became colder still. Then, as though a switch had been somewhere
thrown, the peace vanished, vacuumed into the drains below. Laura had
to stop herself from giving in to an impulse to ward off the chill, brush off
the clammy feeling which was growing like mould on her skin. She fought
off a sudden loss of breath as though having exhaled she was unable to
inhale again, putting her hand, fingers stretched wide open, in front of her
to ward off unseen danger. The other she clasped to her chest.
And then she heard a voice. An insistent voice. A strident voice. One she
could not ignore.
It said: “Run! Run before it’s too late!”
* * *
Felix was unable to open the door. There was a weight against it on the
inside, propping it closed. A heavy shove and the weight gave way falling
against the handrail of the stairs.
“Laura, sweetheart! Whatever is the matter? Laura talk to me, for God’s
sake: you OK?
“They’re trying to kill him! I saw him run.”
“What? Who? Laura. Talk sense.”
 “The bishop.”
“What? Which bishop? Do you mean the Archbishop of the Diocese . . .
of Santiago?”
“No! Diego Gelmirez!”

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Chapter 2 St James´Rooster

“Feudal Galicia, hmm . . . What do you know about

Diego Gelmirez?”

Peter Callaghan was sitting upon the desk, not behind it, and that at least gave Laura some measure of confidence. But the question invited a huge discursion. So many things. Where to start?

They were in the old university beside the Market. The building alone intimidated Laura but she knew she had to get over it. Here for a year or more was to be her home, despite her paucity of Spanish, and even though she was taking classes in Gallego, she knew that she was very much the
outsider here. Peter, despite his Irish background, spoke both fluently, and
Portuguese too. Laura had not even passed the point where she could tell
where Portuguese ended and Gallego began, excepting that the latter had
a softer sound. Not that that matters when you can’t really understand
either very well.

This discussion luckily was in English, thank God.
“Well, I know that he was not born into the aristocracy, that his father
was Gelmirio, which is where he gets his patronymic, and that Gelmirio
was the administrator of the castle of Torres del Rio, just south of Padron
where the legends state that St. James was brought ashore.”
Laura looked at her advisor for encouragement but found none. Callaghan’s
work was one of the main reasons she had made this decision: to come
back to Santiago and add a Ph.D. to a list of already impressive credentials.
Some of her advisors were impressed with her knowledge. But clearly Dr.
Callaghan was not amongst them. She had read some of his books: Feudal
Galicia was his best known. She realised that what she had said, in hope
of some sort of encouragement, was not enough. Obviously more was
expected. The silence was too long.
“Um . . . I know that he was educated at the school near the cathedral,
or . . . was it a just a church then?”
A non-committal nod prompted her to go on.
“I believe he then went on to finish his education at the court of the king
in Leon . . . Alfonso VI?”
“And then he returned to Santiago. The king’s son-in-law, Raymond chose
him to be his secretary in, I think, about 1093 or so.”
Laura looked around the office. There was a window overlooking the
valley of the River Sar in the distance
she could see the Seminario Mayor on the other side of the valley: now a
pilgrims’ hospice. The group had stayed there last year for a while. Felix
had proposed to Laura on the front steps late one chilly autumn evening,
and she had accepted without giving it a second thought. It had seemed as
though their meeting on the Camino was meant to be.
“Who was Raymond?” He brought her back to the discussion at hand.
“He was related to Constance of Burgundy who became Alfonso’s queen.
Alfonso rewarded him with a sort of “dukeship” of Galicia. Anyway he
was very powerful in the north west of Alfonso’s kingdom and somehow
Diego Gelmirez seemed the right man for the job, first as secretary then
as bishop of Compostela.
“Diego Gelmirez,” mused her tutor. “Now this is the man we have to talk
about, I think.” The Irish brogue came out. But not the Irish smile she
had hoped for.
Laura was losing her nerve. Diego Gelmirez. What she was saying sounded
so basic. Her tutor had seemed very approachable around her dinner table
last night and now she just felt a bit of a fool. She wished he would give
her some sort of feedback. Instead he said:
“Go on.”
“Well, Alfonso knew of Bishop Diego Peláez, of course, because the bishop
was consecrated by his brother, Sancho. But Alfonso overthrew Sancho
because he wanted to become lord of Galicia as well as Castilla and Leon.
He, Diego, that is . . .”
“Which Diego?”
You know bloody well which Diego, she thought, but added:
“Diego Peláez was the bishop of Compostela from about 1075 through to
1088. He began the cathedral. Lots of people think it was Diego Gelmirez
who built it . . .” She caught Callaghan’s eye for interruption, but it didn’t
come, “but it wasn’t. He only picked up where Diego Peláez left off, and
many years after. The first Diego was accused of treason and thrown into
prison. The Historia Compostelana doesn’t say much about him, but they
do hint that there may have been some sort of plot along with Count
Diego Ovéquiez to hand Galicia over to the Normans.”
“Anyone in particular?”
Laura was feeling faint. It was said that Diego Peláez wanted to treat with
the Normans. She knew that the evidence of Diego Peláez so-called treason
was slim, but she also knew that she only had the Historia Compostelana
to draw upon and she said as much.
“Why would a Spanish bishop want to treat with the Normans?”
She knew she was on shaky ground. There was even a story that a daughter
of William the Conqueror may have once been betrothed to the Spanish
king Alfonso the Sixth; even that she may have had some sort of prior
understanding with his brother Sancho, or even Garcia the youngest
who was once King of Galicia, but later Garcia had fled his country and
taken refuge in Sevilla which was under Moorish occupation. When he
tried to make peace with his brother Alfonso, the latter had him arrested
and he spent the rest of his days locked up in one of Alfonso’s castles.
Sancho was murdered probably on the king’s orders. It all made no sense,
especially as the daughter had died en route to her marriage with Alfonso
the brother . . . what was her name? How could this have affected the fate
of Galicia? She didn’t know and the only thing to do was admit as much.
“I don’t know,” she said meekly.
“No-one knows,” said Peter Callaghan, “but it’s a grand story don’t you
Somehow Laura didn’t know if she had triumphed or failed.

Laura looked around at the office and its cedar panelling. It was clearly
of the 18th century and lined with books. But how many belonged to
her tutor? She thought probably not many but that didn’t decrease the
intimidation factor.

“The problem is Lara . . .”
“The problem, Laura, is that we have a lot of information about Diego
Gelmirez but it’s all from the Historia Compostelana which was his “spin”
if you like. He commissioned it. There are three possible authors. But
when it comes right down to it, they wrote it to glorify Diego Gelmirez
and the things he did, which were not insubstantial by any means. Laura,
the man was a monster, but he was a genial monster with a shrine to
protect and a city to build, and in that he was bloody good at his job.
Once you start to research him further, you may have the same grudging
respect for him as I do.
“We have an appointment tomorrow afternoon, am I right?”
“Yes,” said Laura wondering what time was the first flight back to Bristol
from Lavacolla, Santiago’s airport.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

St James Rooster continues...

Felix didn’t look forward to the dinner party. It wasn’t that he was shy (far from it). It wasn’t even that he doubted his abilities in Spanish (he did). It was more the fact that all six invited were Laura’s fellow graduate students and professors from the university and here he felt a bit at a loss. A lot at a loss.

“What am I going to talk to them about?” he said.

“Oh Felix,” said Laura as she planted a kiss on his ginger beard (did she see the grey hairs appearing?)“No-one expects you to talk “medieval”. What would Miranda say? ‘Be Yourself!”
Miranda and Kieran had walked with them last year along the Camino.
When they started he had known Kieran for many years and he had seen their love grow (almost eclipsed by his own) in the last 100 or so kilometres. Now Miranda was about to give birth at any time and despite the remission of Kieran’s leukaemia, he knew that they must sometimes think of their time together as somewhat borrowed. He reminded himself of that now.
“You’re right. That old Felix charm. I’m sure it’s in there somewhere.”
But the look on her face told him that both were really wondering at this point.
“Well, whatever,” Laura said vaguely. “Good food to be had though!”
That at least increased Felix’s spirits considerably.
* * *
“The thing is,” said Peter Callaghan, after the main fish course had beenenjoyed by all, “that despite all the hype about the Camino, Compostelas and stuff, that none of it has any basis in history. In fact, prior to the 7th
century, anyone who was anyone claimed that if James preached here at all, he had virtually no converts and anyway he went back to Jerusalem where he was beheaded and his body thrown outside the city walls. End of St. James. Sorry,” he said, looking around to see if he offended anyone’s religious sensibilities.
“Ah, but you forget,” said one of the Spanish professors (what’s his name? thought Felix)
“Stone boat, winds of providence, miracles . . .”
Everyone around the table laughed. Felix topped up the wine glasses, and Dr. Callaghan of Dublin continued.
“Nice story! Why interfere with it? You can be sure the Cathedral won’t!”
“Nor the Xunta de Galicia,” said someone else.
“Of course not.” Felix was surprised to hear that the voice was Laura’s.
He was delighted to see that she was issuing forth from the kitchen with some sort of yummy-looking dessert. “With thousands, tens of thousands of people, tourists coming here every year, why interfere with a profitable
myth . . . ?”
“That’s the sad part,” said someone else (was it the same someone else?
Felix had to remind himself that the Ribeiro and Albariño wines were strong—especially in their cheap state which was all they could afford).
“Do you mean to say,” said another someone else, “that the Xunta knowingly encourages tourism on the basis of St. James even though they know it is a lie?”
“Now, hold on now . . .” said yet another someone else.
“Coffee anyone?” said Felix.
* * *
“You didn’t add much to the conversation last night,” Laura said to Felix as he prepared for his English class that day.
No,” said Felix.
* * *
“Felix. Felix! Look at this! Just in from Miranda and Keiran.”
Laura was in front of the laptop, Internet established only that day (blasted Telefónica!).
Grabbing Felix’s elbow with the force of a vice grip she pulled him so close to the screen that he could hardly see the picture: Miranda heavily pregnant and Kieran grinning, sporting a fine fuzz of hair after his chemotherapy, his hand on Miranda’s bump. In his other hand there was a copy of his book Pilgrimage to Heresy, finally accepted by a small but influential Irish publisher.
“Typical!” said Felix, “Trust the boyo to get both things right at once.” But there was great affection in his voice.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

St James' Rooster: Prologue The First

Click image to enlarge 
As promised, here is the first part of my new novel St James' Rooster the second of The Camino Chronicles. I shall be serialising this over the next couple of weeks or so so if you like it you might want to order a copy from Amazon or the publishers. If you don't, well at least I have saved you some money.

But you will like it me, I'm a hypnotist...

Prologue: The First

“From this moment you will hear nothing outside of yourself except the sound of my voice.”

I hear him and yet not. There is no more present, only the glow of the past which draws me like a lover’s smile. I am drowning in it, pleasantly. It pulls me down, deeper, and deeper down. .I am at peace as he says. I am at home. I have returned…I am both myself, and not myself


“What are you wearing?”

“I’m not sure. It’s soft: cotton perhaps. Linen? No, soft wool. My feet? They’re bare.
I am with my people. The lights flicker and toss, caught up with human movement: they are pressing on me in the dance of shadows and fire; it’s all around me. Yes, my feet are bare on packed earth. I feel raised up to the sky: no. Not the sky. I don’t know… there seem to be arms above me…

“Arms? Human arms?”

“No, no. Although they are there too. Trees! They’re the branches of trees. They’re so close above and yet no, not so close beside me. There are others around me…they are chanting, wait, no, they’re singing. Oh, what a song! What singers! What voices from heaven could sing so sweetly and yet so sadly? The angels must be weeping in envy. Wait a minute. Wait… I know this…I know this!

Wait, wait…yes. Yes! Of course… “I am your door, Lord. Open me and let me come home. ”
Of course I know this! It is the song of Priscillian.

Dear Lord of our longing
Let me remove and let me be removed
Let me save and let me be saved
I want to sing; sing with me
I want to cry; cry with me
Adorn me, I crave you
I am a lamp for you,
You who have eyes to see me
I am a door for you, who brings his spirit home…

We are few now, his followers, where once we were thousands. These singers and dancers around my outstretched arms, they are my brothers, my sisters. The lovers of Priscillian who lies buried in our midst. And I feel the supporting souls of those long gone, their bodies arranged around this hill, this copse, this house of the granite of dear Galicia, this tomb of marble from Alexandria, hidden from unfriendly and uncomprehending eyes.

The ceremony is over now. I cradle the Sacred Book in its leather wrappings. I place it back in its box in the stone from whence I have taken it, this time, and before, following in the ritual of those who have done so since the day our Master was brought to this place by Galla, his daughter and his faithful followers who lie sleeping beside him here too. The night of loving prayer is drawing to a close, the torches extinguished; the songs too are packed away in secret. We would not dare to sing them openly now.

Wait…. What is this disturbance? I know this girl, the daughter of Hilderic. They are bringing her to me. Their faces are drawn with anxiety. They are gesturing outside the wood with frantic hands and eyes. She is speaking too fast.

“She has passed the hut of Pelayo the shepherd, close by to here, not moments ago.”

“Pelayo? The hermit? He will not harm us; he is too afraid of the ghosts. He keeps away.”

“Not Pelayo!” 

The girl is speaking, her breath almost spent for running. “The riders! Bishop’s or King’s men. I know not which. Two of them perhaps three. He brings them. They are coming! Quickly! You must all fly! There is no time to waste. Our secret is a secret no longer...”

Come to!”

Friday, 21 September 2012

St James' Rooster: Prologue The Second...

“I am alone. Cloth. I feel shrouded in it. It covers me from head to foot. No, not coarse, but not soft either. It’s a simple robe of sorts, made of common homespun, but clean. How could I know that? I don’t know. No, not a coffin. I’m on my knees. Wait a minute: coffin? Casket? It is cold to the touch. Yes. No…it is a tomb of some sort, there are walls around me and, I don’t know; walls again, beyond. I am enclosed in some sort of building, a church perhaps? It is not a peasant’s habit. Habit? Yes, that is exactly what it is. It is a monks’ habit, and I am a monk. My feet are encased in felt and leather strips. The air though the wool is cold, my knees are stiff, painful. But I will not move.

I will not move from here. They say he is fearful and terrible. They say he towers to the sky. They say his very breath will petrify, or scorch, like the dragons of old. I cannot say I do not fear him, for I fear for my life as would any mortal man. But I will stay by my Master. It is my sacred duty, not the duty the brothers believe I carry. This is different. A secret known only to me, passed on through the ages from one chosen to another. Now there are very few who even know of its existence.

The walls of the church around this mausoleum are etched in flame, it arches up; it grasps the sky pulling it down so hard that I do not remember if it is day on night. It has no doubt reduced the small settlement of Compostela to nothing. The townspeople and even my own monks expected nothing less from “Almanzor”: Al Mansur, the Conqueror of Córdoba. We knew he would come. We knew he was coming. Those who had possessions to save fled days ago when we first received the news. Those who had none stayed long enough to loot what was left, even chickens, tattered garments from the hedgerow left behind in the flashfire of terror of the Moor and his army. I doubt my monks were any less innocent than the others. They were after all, not the last ones to leave. What was left of their faith? It is not for me to judge them. This fear is that of the devil in whom, in my own way, I do believe.

Now there are two of us left. One is alive so far, though not likely to be for much longer. The other has been dead for six hundred years.

There is flame overhead. The rest of the roof has caught. Within the marble of this sanctuary I am safe, but not from the smoke: that surely will overcome me soon.

He comes. He is riding his horse through the door of the church heedless of the inferno above and around. He stops at the head of the chancel; he moves aside to allow his massive warhorse to drink from the holy water of the baptismal font. O sacrilege! But it matters not for it was blessed in the name of the Apostle James, and his spirit is not here. It is many leagues away in Jerusalem where they took his life so very long ago. He has never been here no matter what has been said in the name of victory and power.

Almanzor comes. It is too late. I am lost. I have one hope only…

Dear Lord of the Truth, please, save me and the earthly remains of your servant, Priscillian.

“Begone!” I say, feinting a courage I do not feel. “These are not the bones of whom you seek.”

“What nonsense is this?” 

He is not as tall as a mountain. But even though he is on horseback I can see he is taller than I by a head or more. His eyes are not those of a man crazed by bloodlust; they are calculating, cold; they are of a man who knows that he has achieved what he set out to do. Almost. Only I stand in his way. And stand I do, rising stiffly from my vigil in front of the sarcophagus, breaking my staggering only with one hand on the pale pink marble. I face him, simply Pedro, Bishop of the Shrine of Santiago de Compostela:

“If thou wilt be observant and vigilant, thou wilt see at every moment
the response to thy action. Be observant if thou wouldst have a pure
heart, for something is born to thee in consequence of every action.”

He stops. He is transfixed. From his towering place atop his horse he says:

“You know the songs of the Blackbird?”

“Abdul Hassan Ali Ibn Naf: Al Ziryab. Of course. My master Priscillian called upon us to read the sacred scriptures of all worlds. Naturally I would teach myself of the great poets of Islam also. Did not the teachings of my master come from the East, and perhaps from the same place as your own ancestors? Certainly, his great words and ideas were not so dissimilar to your own. Nor are they.”

“Who is this master of yours?” 

Almanzor had manoeuvred himself and his horse between where I stood shakily and the sarcophagus. “I will meet him. Bring him to me before this day is over.”

“Ah that I could, great one,” I said. “But your horse is currently leaning upon his body.”


No! No…wait! There is more. I must stay… NO!



Saturday, 15 September 2012

St James´Rooster: Chapter 1

Chapter 1 Felix and Laura

Anyone who thought that Laura was quiet and submissive had never taken a good look at her chin. So thought Felix as he watched his bride of six weeks move her way around the apartment, and stand, as she did now, in front of the window with its view of the old city and a glimpse of the cathedral. The old town of Santiago lay beneath and around and for once, it wasn’t raining.

“Do say yes,” she said.

It wasn’t the first they had seen that day. In Felix’s opinion, not the best either. To his mind it was poorly furnished, dark, pokey, and expensive. But it was slap in the middle of the historic centre, and he knew better than argue too much.

“What about the one close to the new university? It was almost half the price and twice the size.”
Laura’s response told him he might as well forget it.

“Yes, but it lacked atmosphere!”

She had him there. This one had “atmósfera” in plenty despite its dark precincts, and ridiculous price tag. Santiago with its pilgrims passing daily, with its strange accents and ancient, poignant charm lay under the window she was leaning out of.

Felix knew he was beaten. Her smile told him that.

And that smile . . . that angelic, quiet determination, that often hidden intelligence had seduced him in its many quiet ways less than a year ago.

On “The Camino de Santiago”. Felix was so taken aback by its unexpected depth and charm that he had proposed almost as soon as they reached Santiago. He had walked 750 kilometres, well almost—there were a few still excused bus rides to be accounted for. She had walked less than 200 but none of that mattered. Once he had thought that love would pass him by forever, especially after Jessie his fiancée had been killed in a car accident. But now he knew it was time to live again, and Laura had taught him how. By being Laura. By being ultimately lovable.

“OK,” he said.

The real estate agent knew his stuff. He had taken them to this place earlier in the day. Even criticised it in some ways: small, expensive, no parking, but just look at that view!

Felix still thought of himself as a bit of a freeloader. After all, they were there because Laura was pursuing her doctorate at the University of Santiago in Medieval History and Felix, though a psychology grad, had only teaching English to offer. But Laura had somehow (was it those long lashes, those big brown eyes?) secured a very desirable scholarship, and, well, after six weeks of marriage, here they were. Back once more in Santiago de Compostela in the wettest part of Spain.

It wasn’t raining today which was a rare condition in itself. As they left the centuries-old building on the Rua do Vilar, the agent said: “Well?”

“When can we move in?” Felix said, accepting defeat with good grace and receiving his wife’s radiant grin as a reward.

“As soon as you wish,” the agent said. “As I told you, the owners live overseas, and it has been, well, somewhat unoccupied for quite a while.

If you want to come over to my office this afternoon, I will draw up the lease. You will be able to give me a month’s deposit today, yes? We keep that until the time you move out as a security against anything being . . .

um . . . missing?”

As if anyone would want it, thought Felix, but he said nothing.

Laura brushed her long brown hair out of her eyes. She was animated.
Ready for action.

“Right, I’ll go back to the Hostal Alameda and tell Antonio that we will be leaving this weekend. Will that be alright?” It was the agent she spoke to, not Felix.

“Perfect,” he said, “and if there is anything else I can do for you . . . .”

Felix was thinking towels, bedding, pots, pans, plates, but decided to leave that for Laura.

* * *
In fact, Felix wouldn’t have cared where they lived just so long as they were together. He was standing outside the real estate agent’s office. It was just five o’clock and a sudden downpour had just swept through and passed on, as rain always seemed to do in Santiago. Felix liked rain. 

He especially liked the smell of the streets after a storm and he was inhaling deeply and thinking deep delighted thoughts. When Laura appeared with their cases—few enough: the Camino had taught them to travel light—he couldn’t quite suppress a smile of complete besottedness just at the sight of her.

“What?” Laura said, seeing his face.

“Nothing,” said Felix knowing that his giddiness in love gave him away.

The paperwork was easy, the fees were handed over, and Felix suddenly found a key in his hand, a big key, an old-fashioned key. He expressed his concerns.

“Oh don’t worry about that. We are an old city. We have old values. Crime is minimal. You two will be safe inside your four walls.

Had he said “lovenest” Felix wouldn’t have been surprised. Romanticism was imbedded in the fabric of Compostela.
The simply beautiful and atmospheric painting is by Paco Quirri. I looked for a web address to ask for permission to use it but couldn´t find any reference, so Paco, I hope you don´t have any objection...