So within the first 72 hours of being in the Costa Del Sol, my husband has bagged a sought after contracted job and is up bright and early the following morning to begin his first day at the Theatre. I drop him off in the town centre and he cheerily waves goodbye whilst clutching his Minions Lunch box and a bag of Spanners. I turn and look at my son, paint on a bright smile and take a deep breath.
‘Soooo, are you ready to go look at some schools???’ I say in an overconfident voice. He looks at me out of the corner of his eye and mumbles ‘yeah… but only if we get that Xbox game you promised me straight after’.
So on this sunny day, less than a week into our adventure, mother and son spend a warm afternoon visiting several international schools up and down the Mijas coast and by 5pm we have agreed on a small college situated in the centre of Fuengirola. The deciding factor for the boy child is that it is based underneath a water park but for me, it’s the fact that there are only 14 children in the class. The lady at reception smiles and swipes my card as I wince at the amount leaving our account. I console myself with the fact that Private education costs more than double back in the UK then hastily head outside into the street to hyperventilate into a McDonalds take away bag.
With reality sitting firmly on my shoulders, I plonk my ample buttocks on a nearby bench and look up at the orange blossom casting shadows across the pavement. Husband and son have a clear path towards their future in this foreign land and suddenly, for the first time on this journey into the unknown, I begin to think about me. What am I going to do work wise here to enable us to fund our new life in the sun? I’m 51, hardly the age to re-train as a stripper in 24 hour square. I glance across to adjacent shop window selling opaque mirrors and reflect on the choices I have made in my life. I close my eyes and see my younger self with these new opportunities, what would she have done with them? My eyelids grow heavy with the weight of responsibility and…
…its 1983, I’m 16 years of age, my breasts are unfeasibly pert and the biggest decision I have to make in life is what flavour lip gloss to wear. Exactly one month after leaving school with only two ‘O’ levels to my name, my mother threatens to throw all my Heaven 17 albums away unless I tidy up my bedroom and more importantly, for her middle aged sanity, find me a job
I begrudgingly browse through the local newspaper and spot an advert for an apprentice hairdresser. The wage is £29 a week and all the hair lacquer I can hide down my trouser leg. After a brief interview with the weary weight watching female owner of the salon I am offered the post of chief tea maker and sweeper upper. A jubilant mother cooks me Faggots and Peas to celebrate the impending foray into adulthood.
The enforced career choice isn’t exactly the most demanding job in the world. My best creative work at the salon is invariably performed the morning after the night before. On one occasion, an elderly clients hair is removed unceremoniously from her scalp alongside the rubber streaking cap after applying the wrong volume peroxide onto an already over processed head. Needless to say my wages for that week are consumed on a selection of head scarves for the irate customer in question. Undeterred and unrepentant I promise my jaded employer I will take the position more seriously from this day forth but come 6pm I’m sprinting home to change into my tukker books and Lady Di blouse, all promises forgotten, the disco beckons.
With Spam sandwich firmly in hand, my girlfriends and I jump on the bus and spend the one hour journey in silence, looking through the dirty windows, our New Romantic souls tortured with yearning over which Duranie is the most delectable. After reaching our destination we smile coyly at the doormen and are granted permission to enter, our blossoming bodies the only entrance fee we have to pay. Youth is a commodity and we barter well. The hours pass by, fuelled by Malibu and Coke and Marlboro lights. Smiling and flirting, we sway in time to the music, taking it in turns to work the dance floor knowing that eventually we will locate a proud male owner of a coveted Ford Capri who will happily chauffeur us all back to our beds at 2am and all we have to do in exchange for this free transportation is provide flattery and broken promises. We are young, we are beautiful, we are…
…’Mum, have you nodded off??’ yells a familiar voice in my ear. I bolt upright, wiping a dab of dribble off my chin, my nubile younger self is nothing but a distant memory and the reality of the present is facing me with hands on hips.
‘Of course not’ I blurt out, whilst trying to stand up on my recently awakened legs.
‘Well that’s good because while you were having your lady nap I’ve been looking on Google and there’s a Game shop just down the road. And I’m really hungry, can we have some Tapas?’
Just then the phone rings. Husband is ready to be picked up from work. He’s hungry too.
I sigh and nod my head and make my way towards the car. Tomorrow I will start to think about what I want out of our impending adventure but right now, the only thing I really desire is the Colonels secret recipe along with a side order of bravery and the courage of my younger self.
To be continued – Episode 7