Episode 26: Divan Intervention

“What on earth is a blanket trip and who in their right mind needs blankets?  It’s almost 30 degrees out there and it’s not even 8am!”

Blotting the sweat which is trickling at an unhealthy speed down into my cleavage, I explain once again to my confused husband what my latest form of employment actually is.

“It’s not just blankets, its mattresses too and they are all made from the best Marino wool that ewe can buy.  Anyway, I’m more than happy for you to find me my dream job, just as I found you YOURS in the theatre!” and I slam the door behind me and head for the stairs.

Unfortunately my dramatic exit is cut short when I tentatively have to reopen the door to retrieve my forgotten helmet and then slam it for a second time.

Mumbling to myself, I gingerly place my buttocks on the already blisteringly hot moped seat and head towards my latest form of employment.

I’d spotted the job advertised online a couple of weeks earlier and it sounded relatively easy.  All you were required to do was stand in a hotel foyer and book people onto free locals excursions.  The only catch being before you reached the chosen destination; a detour was made to watch a well presented sales pitch led by two charismatic women in a factory outlet in Malaga.  All this was made more enticing by the fact there wasn’t actually any hard sell on the beds and coffee and cake was provided along with a glass of sherry.

 The promoters were so passionate about the products I was almost swayed to purchase a mattress and a pair of wool innersoles myself but then remembered I needed neither and in all honesty, had no money left for such frivolity.  But several pensioners did purchase the products and the mood was good humored as we left the factory and headed towards Mijas village for the complimentary day out.

A car horn suddenly beeps loudly behind me and I realize that the traffic light has changed from Red to Green.  Within minutes I am parked outside my local hotel and straighten my crumpled blouse before heading into the embrace of the air conditioned building.

“Blanket trips anyone? Free trip to a Ranch afterwards, tapas and drinks included…plus a free stallion if you can fit it in your hand luggage” I smile at the elderly guests making their way to breakfast.  Some look at me as if I’m trying to sell them funeral plans but others happily sign up with the promise that the sales pitch in the factory isn’t hard and the coach is air conditioned.  Every signature on the sheet contributes towards my pay along with the knowledge that I will start Tour Guiding on the coach once a position becomes available.

 The morning finally draws to a close and I pack up my clipboard along with my sales pitch and head home, stopping en route to pick up some fresh bread from the Panaderia.

Opening the apartment door I immediately hear the voice of my son yelling into his Xbox alongside the dulcet tones of Jeremy Clarkson omitting from the lounge.  Placing the still warm rolls on the counter I await confirmation of my return but I wait alone, technology taking precedent over human contact.

As I stand forlornly by the vibrating fridge I am struck by the realization that my son isn’t suddenly going to start playing in the streets with the local Spanish children, he’s almost a teenager and the online forums are now his virtual playground. My husband quite happily works in a local theatre; he isn’t ever going to be the next Bill Gates.  He enjoys lighting the luvvies and in his spare time watching middle aged men drive fast cars and talk crap and get paid millions to wax lyrical about Ford Mustangs.

Retracing my steps, I pick up my keys and retreat back to the front door.  But blocking my path is the one family member that’s always pleased to see me, Brian the ever hopeful.  Shaking in anticipation he reaches up to me with his dirty paws and looks me in the eye, happy in the knowledge that he has a warm bed to sleep in, food in his bowl every night and most importantly, people that love him.

“Maybe we should all be more like you Brian, grateful for what we have’ I whisper to my furry companion and he replies by gratefully licking my nose.  Picking up his lead we head outside into the fresh air and away from the internal noise.  Moving to Spain was my dream and the reality of the situation isn’t easy.  Work is vastly underpaid, families still argue, the language is a barrier but the one thing that there is here in abundance is sunshine and cheap wine, and that brightens even the darkest of moods.

“Fancy a sausage sandwich?” I enquire to my four legged friend and he replies with a wag off his tail. Smiling to myself I cross the road and head into the shade, just another expat strolling the avenue whilst trying her best to find a new life in the sun.

Paula is taking a break from Blogging for the summer but will be back in the autumn.

To be continued…

 A New Wife in the Sun is available for proof reading, wedding speeches, radio presenting and anything that involves not having to smile at people for any amount of time.

Episode 25: Peters and Me

‘No dahhhling  you have to chase Billy around the table THREE times, swing left, punch right and then have a cigarette.  Make notes in your script if you can’t remember’ yells the director

‘But… but you told me yesterday to do it the other way round?’ I shout uncertainly into the dazzling spotlight but my reply is met with a deafening silence so I wander back into the wings and join the other cast members who are sat laughing at the confused look etched onto my weary face.

‘Don’t worry, that’s what he does’ whispers the elder of my onstage sons ‘he changes his mind and then blames us.  Don’t waste time questioning it.  He’s been directing here for over 30 years and he isn’t going to change’

Sighing with resignation I reach down for my script, erase all my previous notes and scrawl my new ones onto the rapidly disintegrating paper.  Looking out onto the stage I see the young male lead circling the stage with his imaginary kestrel and wonder, not for the first time why I put myself through this unpaid torture.

From a very early age I required verification that I was indeed, different.  I would perform comedy sketches to strangers on the tram after our weekly shop at ‘Quick Save’.  My mum would struggle up several flights of stairs as I gave my rendition of ‘Paper Roses’ to anyone that would listen and after a particularly torturous trip on the 11c bus to exchange some Hoover parts, she finally decided to give someone else’s ears a bashing and entered me into a local talent show hosted by Uncle Peter Webster.

This legendary seaside show was the highlight of the Blackpool summer season. Hundreds of proud parents would watch the fruit of their loins destroy some harmonious melody or tap dance themselves off the stage.  The winner being decided by the audience members so the more family you coerce with the promise of Dandelion and Burdock and Pork scratchings, the better.

Unfortunately, if you were entered in a heat with an Irish child you may as well just cut your losses and head home with your stick of consolation Rock.  So many siblings attended the show they had to sit on each other’s laps and fists would fly if “Baby Connors’” tuneless horn-Pipe rendition wasn’t met with adoring applause from the surrounding parties.

The highly desired prizes lined the glistening stage, sat in untouchable supremacy.  Dolls houses and giant teddy bears fought for dominance while eager faces stood staring whilst wringing sticky fingers, their dreams held in a stranger’s hand, awaiting their names to be called from the wings.

It was on a summers afternoon in 1972 that my 5 year old skinny and confident self  marched onto the stage and sang ‘Where’s your mama gone’ to a packed audience and amazingly, chirpy chirpy cheep cheeped my way to first prize which was a shock even to me as I was sure the blind 7 year old piano player would pip me to the post with his Liberace tribute act.

Deafening applause greeted my return to the stage and I briefly caught the shocked but proud look on my mother’s face, no doubt imaging her future self having to trail to auditions in the wind and rain with her very own Lena Zavaroni incarnate doing vocal exercises on the last bus to Bispham.

Uncle Peter Webster held out his hand to take mine for our bows but I bypassed the smiling compare and headed straight towards the row of gleaming prizes. Without hesitation I clutched A giant purple doll to my chest which was almost the same height as me and yelled ‘look mum I’ve won’ into the audience.  Laughter surrounded us and from that moment on I knew I was never going to be normal.

A rapid prod in the back brought me out of my 1970’s reverie and I was dragged back into a world where strangers were no longer called uncle and dolls that yelled ‘Mama’ when tipped forward have been eagerly replaced with technology and greed.

‘Mum, can I have a few Euros; I’m not in this next scene and I’m FAMISHED and I remembered ALL my lines, unlike you’, my son says with a cheeky smile

Reaching into my pocket I drag out whatever change I have and watch my boy, all gangly 12 years of him confidently run out of the door, not a care in this world, adamant that a future onstage is where his heart lies.

Stretching and reaching for my script I catch sight of myself in the mirror.  My mother’s eyes look back at me and I realize now, I’m in the same situation as she was all those years ago, a parent with a child who holds dreams of stardom in their hearts.

‘Act 1 beginners to stage please, beginners to stage’

Brushing my wilting beehive back from my aging brow, I paint a frown onto my working class face and do what I do best, pretend to be somebody else.

To be continued – Episode 26

 A New Wife in the Sun is available for proof reading, wedding speeches, radio presenting and anything that involves not having to smile at people for any amount of time.

Episode 24: Tellyhubbies

‘So, let me get this right…you spent the afternoon in a field, quaffing chilled white wine while intermittently stuffing your trap with iberico ham as the sun beat down on your botoxed brow, talking crap to a gaggle of creosote realtors and it was at that precise point you suddenly decided, in your imminent wisdom, that doing absolutely nothing in the middle of a nowhere wasn’t the right career path for you? Paula, what DO you actually want to do work wise because we are running out of options here!!?’

Avoiding eye contact with my ever patient spouse I raise my shoulders in a non committal shrug and rotate the anemic looking chicken around the frying pan one more time. At the ripe old age of 51 I still have no idea what I want to be when I grow up but I do know that I never want to be thought of as normal or, in this case, an estate agent.

The doorbell suddenly bites through the uncomfortable silence and my husband shakes his head in my general direction then rushes over to invite a long awaited guest inside our home.  Placing the spatula onto the kitchen worktop I wipe the mid August sweat of my forehead and plant a forced smile on my reticent lips.

A tanned giant of a man suddenly blocks the light cascading through the door and I notice that our visitor is clutching what looks like a satellite dish. His face looks vaguely familiar but before I have chance enquire my husband interjects.

‘Paula, this is Dan the TV man. In a short while he’s promised to reacquaint me with my old friend Jeremy Clarkson’ and promptly whoops in delight at the prospect of finally having Freeview British TV installed in our home.

Dan, the aforementioned man, catches my eye and lazily smiles in an ‘I have a large piece of equipment and I’m not afraid to use it’ sort of way and I suddenly realize that the peace residing in our humble home would be no more.  Conversation becoming nothing but a distant memory, early nights cast aside in favour of Keith Lemon’s antics.  

‘Anyone fancy a cuppa?’ I say to the two retreating backs, but silence greets my liquid invitation.

‘Please yourselves’, I mumble to no one in particular and flick a cobweb off my inherited Spanish chandelier.  Brian farts and rolls over, staring at me with his strange almond eyes and dribbles on my BHS slippers.  I sigh and watch the men folk pointing skywards on the terrace and sucking air between their teeth as they both point out inappropriate spots for the dish to take up residence.

Within minutes the huge white metal umbrella has been installed high upon the wall and our tanned entertainment messiah, nodding his head in approval promptly goes in search of the lounge. At a loss as what to do now, both of us trail after him like silent apostles and sit quietly on the sofa while he works his magic on our dust covered flat screen, forcing  us out of the Spanish technology doldrums and back into the future.

The television that had sat for so many months in enforced solitude suddenly roars back into life and we are instantly greeted with the familiar face of Fiona Bruce waxing lyrical about one elderly gent’s inherited Ming vase which turns out to be a fake and is actually worth the same price as a bag of Wotsits.

‘Well that’s your lot, I’ll see myself out.  If you want anything else give me a call, I’ve got fingers in many pies…. be it Chicken or Kidney’.

At the mention of this Northern Delicacy Brian’s ears suddenly perk up but my husband is sat transfixed by the television, lost in a world of heirlooms and disappointments.

 I make my way to the front door to bid farewell to our latest tradesman and once again I’m struck by how familiar his face appears to be.

‘I can’t place who you remind me of?’ I say as he struggles down the stairs, his arms loaded with cable and tools.

With a cheeky grin he turns, grins and replies ‘Tom Cruise?’ and at that precise moment Dan the TV Man misses a  step, stumbles and goes tumbling down the few remaining stairs, equipment showering down around him as he hits the marble floor with an unceremonious  thump.

‘Its fine, I’m fine’ he yells upstairs and I stifle a smile as he stumbles out into the afternoon sunshine.

Suddenly it comes to me, which comedic genius he reminds me of, someone we all know and love. I would tell you but the answer is nestling in the blog…

To be continued – Episode 25

 A New Wife in the Sun, as featured in The Olive Press, is available for proof reading, wedding speeches, radio presenting and anything that involves not having to smile at people for any amount of time.

Episode 23: Plots Landing

‘And just to summarise, the libro del edificio must be handed over before completion.  Is everyone clear on that?’

Several heads nod in agreement and chat animatedly about the merits of real estate protocol.  The middle aged French lady sat next to me on the sofa is rapidly taking notes on ipad but all I can feel in my hands is the glimmer of perspiration alongside the heavy weight of responsibility.

 Gazing forlornly out the window I realise how easy Estate Agents must have it back in the UK.  All they have to do is sit in a nice cosy office, sipping cappuccinos and pointing out the advantages of having a combi boiler and a South facing rear patio to mortgage eager customers

NOT FOR THE SHORT SIGHTED

Here in Andalucía the process is slightly different.  Not only do you have to source the property by pounding the streets, craning your neck for ‘Vende’ boards which appear to be written in Crayola, you then also have to make contact with the owner via phone or smoke signals in their native tongue then try and convince them that paying 5% of the asking price for an agent to market their home is the only viable option if they genuinely want to sell their home before the inevitable apocalypse occurs.  Only after all this has been agreed and signed in blood, sweat and fears  you begin to research all the relative information and debts associated with the property which invariably involves 13 siblings and an ancient Micmac burial ground nestling beneath the Bougainvilleas.

‘I think that’s enough information for one day.  Lets head over to a site that’s currently being built on and liaise with the developers over a glass of wine’ yells our invigorated sales leader.

My ears suddenly prick up and I grab my handbag in anticipation of the hard earned liquid refreshment on offer.  Several trainees from the group pile into a sign written Fiat Punto and we head off in the direction of Marbella.  I look out the window and wonder if there will be any unadopted sandwiches to accompany the fluids we have been promised just as my stomach complains loudly about its lack of contents.

‘Here we are!’ yells our enthusiastic mentor and I look outside only to be greeted by a large span  of wasteland with several people in suits standing proudly, pointing into the empty space whilst clutching glasses of chilled champagne, smiling with commission purchased teeth.

I heave my ample buttocks out of the confines of the car and stand uncertainly on the perimeter of the nothingness.  A man with a mahogany tan comes forward and places a glass of something sparkling in my hand then starts to converse with the rest of the group in Spanish.  I try and make myself less conspicuous by nodding occasionally whilst sipping the contents of my liquid lunch.

Looking around at the other candidates I suddenly realise that a) I have nothing in common with anyone here apart from the fact we are all breathing and b) I don’t care about square footage or deeds or who owns the right to the footpath to the left of the gravel.  I don’t care about making pots of money or having a fancy car.  I care about having a bit of fun in the sun and doing what I do best, which in all honesty, isn’t much.

The developer finally stops talking and everyone shakes his hand and pats him on the back. For all I know he could have been discussing the dimensions of the ‘new and improved’ Prisoner Cell Block H. My stomach rumbles in anguish over its lack of solid contents and I make my excuses and head over to a group of people that may or may not be holding plates.  On closer inspection they are surrounding a man who is slicing a giant ham with gusto so I stand in line, pointing greedily at the carcass and my mouth begins to water in anticipation as he piles the meat onto my plate.  Grabbing several pieces of bread from a nearby table I head off alone to find a decent size piece of rubble to sit upon.  Balancing the food on my knee, I cram the bread into my mouth and turn my face towards the sun.

LOOSING THE PLOT

‘So, how are you finding training?’ echoes a male voice from overhead.

Attempting to swallow, but without success I nod my head in what I hope looks like an enthusiastic motion and wave my arms around me to denote my agreement over the luxury apartments that are to be built upon this barren land.The  man nods and smiles then heads back towards the eager crowd and I sit alone, wiping my greasy fingers on a napkin, knowing full well that this frock, on a rock, with her hock will absolutely, undoubtedly, undeniably not be returning tomorrow, or any other day to pursue a career in real estate.

All that’s left to do now is inform my husband of this decision…

To be continued – Episode 24

 A New Wife in the Sun, as featured in The Olive Press, is available for proof reading, wedding speeches, radio presenting and anything that involves not having to smile at people for any amount of time.

Episode 22: Careless Vespa

‘I’ve decided to forego my soul and become an estate agent’

My husband, a man used to my vast array of career choices just nods his head and continues to eat his all bran

‘I’m serious, a friend of a friends husband is one and he says you don’t need any qualifications and it’s the easiest way to make decent money along the coast and he’s prepared to train me up.  I’m starting tomorrow’

 I finally pause for breath and await his approval.

‘Go for it Hoogstraten, I’m more than happy to become a kept man.  Is there any more milk in the fridge?

I shouldn’t be surprised by his reply.  I have had a fair few careers since I left school in 1984.  Over a 100 at the last count.  My husband has had two.  Most people count sheep when they go to bed, I count the numerous opportunities that have been handed to me.  The trouble is, I love a good interview, I just don’t usually like the actual job.

My first foray into gainful employment was a season as ‘Henry the Happy Howler’ in Pontins, Blackpool.  That job was short lived as I overheated on the first Summers day whilst clad in the orange dog suit,  passing out on top of a small child currently having his photo taken with my alter ego.

Then as an only child I suddenly decided I wanted to care for others people’s offspring and not just crush them so I promptly took a position as a nanny for three small kids aged one, three and five.  If I’m honest, the main reason I wanted the role was because it was based in Israel and after a brief stint as a hairdresser I wanted to see much more than just the inside of a pensioners beehive.  Unfortunately on arriving in Tel Aviv, I realised my teenage self didn’t actually like the fruit of others peoples loins or the reality of working a 15 hour day, or working at all if I’m honest…

Anyway, I digress. I was now going to make a fortune selling property and purchase me some Botox and a bit of liposuction with my first proper Spanish pay cheque. 

Staring at the contents of my wardrobe I realised that anything resembling office wear had a size 12 label in the collar and I was currently verging on a stout 16.  Slamming the offending closet door closed I consoled myself with a ham sandwich and promised to cut out carbs starting from tomorrow.

The sound of rainfall dripping onto the air conditioning unit dragged me from my slumber the following morning and I forced my ever expanding hips into a pair of ‘all you can eat’ leggings and a borrowed blouse.  By 9am I was ready to make my first million and headed outside to straddle my latest mode of transport, a second hand blue Vespa purchased only a few days earlier which sat alongside my husband’s larger bike.

Staring down at the wet seat I realised mopeds were only fun when the sun shone and not on rainy days but as training was being held in the managers house over in Mijas Golf I had no choice but to clamber on board and hope that none of the other trainees thought I was incontinent when I walked into the room with a moist bottom.

Twenty minutes and several wrong turns later I finally located the property.  Brushing the rain off my visor I stared up at the big detached house then down at my sodden attire. A knot formed in my stomach as I gingerly reached out to push the doorbell on the gate.

Hesitating, I let my hand stay mid air.  Uncertainty gripped me and the bell remained untouched.  Clutching my helmet, I bowed my head and turned back towards the bike.  Whom was I kidding; this dog was way too old to learn new tri…..

The door behind me suddenly opened and a masculine voice cut through the air

 ‘Hola!  You must be Paula.  Come in!’


To be continued – Episode 23

 A New Wife in the Sun, as featured in The Olive Press, is available for proof reading, wedding speeches, radio presenting and anything that involves not having to smile at people for any amount of time.