The Institute of Cold – Notes from Spain Podcast 69


[Download MP3]

Ben, PaulThis is a podcast in two parts. The first part says ‘hi’ from our balcony here in Madrid, and I fill you in a bit on what we have planned for the coming months.

The second part is a true story about the death of a friend, Paul, pictured standing next to me to the left of this text. It’s a story I’ve really wanted to tell for a long time, but as I explain in the podcast, I thought it was too long to publish straight on the blog as text.

Still, if anyone does want a text version to hang on to for any reason (but please listen to the audio first if you can), you can download a pdf version here.

Thanks and abrazos for Paul, somewhere.

19 thoughts on “The Institute of Cold – Notes from Spain Podcast 69

  1. Graeme

    Nice account Ben. Sadly, the Instituto del Frio doesn’t seem to be as glamorous as it sounds. Any hopeful Scotts or Amundsens who enter might find themselves involved in studies on how to keep the milk cold.

  2. luke

    Thanks, Ben, for bringing back the nfs podcasts.
    This one was very touching, especially the moment when Paul’s sister saw the watch. Obviously it was an early death but it sounds like he made the most out of his life.

    Concerning The Institute of Cold, I think it was better to imagine what it would be like than to see it. But I could find out since I’m pretty sure my wife’s cousin works the police forensic chemistry lab in that same complex.

    I’ve experienced the parking ‘attendants’ outside hospitals in Madrid and find it unbelievable that at a time of great stress you also have to worry about the car being smashed up. The episode with the salesmen reminds me of the situations in Spain when you find yourself without any choice. This might be trivial things such as extensive familial obligations, no freestyle dancing to salsa, not combining food in the way you want to, to bureaucracy…all quite frustrating if you value independence. I’ve not expressed this very well but I hope that makes some sense…

  3. Ben Post author

    @No, Graeme, I’m sure it’s much more Northern Lights than that. They are in there extracting spectral dust from samples taken on their last trip beyond the poles! Or keeping milk cold, as you more reasonably suggest…

    @Luke, yes, last time I visited a major hospital I was amazed to see them there too. Shocking really.

  4. Jonk

    I listened to this on the way to work and it really took my head out of the grind of commute.

    The story touched me and I was blinking away tears even (call me soft!)… with my parents visiting right now for a week it reminded me to appreciate them and the rare moments I get to spend with them each year. Even if statistically they have decades left, you never know when you have had that last goodbye!

  5. Ben Post author

    Thanks Brian, yes, another book is on my mind a lot at the moment… just have to think about the focus…

  6. ValenciaSon

    Ben, the mental imagery you evoke in this podcast is quite effective. Paul sounds like he was quite a person. Thanks.

  7. Mrmark

    I don’t know about your other readers here, but I think this has been your best blog entry. A fascinating view into a part of Spanish society we seldom see (thank goodness) plus a moving tribute to your departed friend. Ten out of ten.

  8. richardksa

    When I usually listen to podcasts, to keep my hands busy, I play a game or two; freecell, spider etc. So I started with this one. But as you started to read I stopped. I have rarely been so riveted. Brilliant writing and read so well. Something to aspire to.

  9. Ben Post author

    Thanks Mrmark and Richard, very kind comments from both of you. I hope to do more like this in book/audio format of some kind, and this was a sort of test. So your comment mean a lot!

  10. David

    Ben, congratulations on a well-written, moving piece. It is no doubt a shock to lose a friend, and a further challenge to deal with the aftermath. However, I imagine that it leads to a renewed sense of purpose and dedication to carry on writing, podcasting, teaching, etc. As your audience, we appreciate it. Thanks for sharing your lives with us.

  11. Jim

    Really well done. A great piece of systolic structure, which is always the key. Write some more stuff, please :) I’ll read it all.

  12. Edith

    What a great, moving story. I could just imagine the scene in that back office with the green filing cabinets where Paul’s sister recognized the watch.
    It must be very sad to lose a good friend so soon after your mother passed away.

  13. Anthony in Australia

    Ben, I have recently found your website and have been listening to your podcasts on my mp3 while cycling to work in Melbourne, Australia. This one was just amazing … I really felt for your loss of your friend Paul. I travelled to Spain (Andalucia) in July this year to be with my sister, who was terminally ill and has since passed away. So your accounts of dealing with Spanish hospital staff etc hit a strong chord with me. I am now immersing myself in all things Spanish, I suppose it is helping me with my grieving … so I look forward to discovering more of your wonderful website and podcasts!! regards, Anthony … PS. congratulations on the birth of Leo, if that is what I have read correctly on your site …

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