Episode 30: A Bard Days Night

‘So in total that will be 418 Euros for the three excursions, are you paying cash or card?’

I never thought as myself as much of a sales person before starting our Andalucían adventure but it appears I’m really rather good at making money for TUI.  Swiping the MasterCard through the wireless machine with a flourish, the transaction is instantly confirmed and I hand the coach tickets over to the sun kissed tourists and watch as the more elderly of the two adventurers  carefully places the receipts underneath her bikini top for ‘safe keeping’.

Stretching, I look up at the hotel reception clock and realize I should have finished work over half an hour ago.  Reaching over to my flipchart, I carefully write what daylight hours I will be working the following day and make my way out the front door, bidding farewell to the doe eyed Spanish cleaners as I leave.

‘Be Careful’ is sat waiting patiently in the MOTO bay alongside several other battered steeds and I hastily fire her ancient engine up.  Gingerly I place my continuously ample buttocks upon the scorching black leather seat and roar off down the seafront, trying to avoid the impromptu stag party which has taken up residence in the middle of the carriageway alongside their inflatable sheep and half consumed bottles of Jagermeister.

The beach is awash with sun seekers, greedily soaking up the heat and applying factor 50 to already pre baked skin. Children and pensioners sit side by side on pedalo’s, trying to avoid teenagers on Jet Ski’s who appear intent on never reaching their 21st birthdays.

Kevin & Perry, BBC1

Within minutes I’m parked outside my home and I happily make my way up the communal spiral stairs. The thermometer on the balcony has reached its peak and I let myself in the sweltering flat and drop my ruck sack on the floor while calling out a greeting to whichever inhabitants are still encased indoors.

 My son, now age 13, has morphed from an outgoing young lad into a gangly monosyllabic teen who appears to have his phone surgically attached to his hand.  Stumbling from the bedroom into the lounge he falls onto the sofa and without any acknowledgement of my previous absence, asks what’s for lunch.

Sighing with parental resignation, I make my way into the circa 1973 kitchen and throw a few ingredients into the last two remaining slices of bread and add a couple of carrot sticks in way of compensation for my lack of culinary imagination. Grunting in my general direction, the ‘Kevin’ (minus Perry) incarnate staggers back into his bedroom clutching the food and slams the door without a backward glance, no doubt to resume destroying all of the undead on his Xbox1.

Slipping out of my 100% polyester ensemble I lazily head into the shower and let the cool water cascade down my rubenesque torso.  Lathering my hair up into vosene frenzy I vow to start on my low carb diet once the weekend is over and after I’ve polished off the 2 scotch eggs hidden carefully at the back of the fridge.

Rubbing the soap along my unshaved Velcro legs I half heartedly hunt around for a razor then remember I used it to defluff the wayward bobbles on the sofa blanket the previous week. Closing my eyes under the spray I allow my mind to wander back over the past 16 months of our life in Spain and all the hurdles we’ve encountered and overcome, none of which was ever mentioned by the shiny eyed presenters on all of the relocation programmes back in the UK.

Comedy and Tragedy

With resignation I turn the cold tap off and step out back into the humidity, patting myself dry and trying to avoid my middle aged naked reflection en route.  Grabbing a sarong from behind the bathroom door I stroll into the lounge and immediately see my husband emptying his work bag on the table, shoulders hunched and lips devoid of whistle.

‘You ok?’ I ask without real concern, mind already subconsciously devouring the eggs of Scotchness.

‘They’ve let me go’ he mumbles into the silent air

‘Whose let you go where?’ I reply, confused, all thoughts of savoury products forgotten.

‘The Theatre, they’ve let me go’ he finally looks up, green eyes searching mine for an answer to his own question.

‘I’ve been made redundant’.

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 29: A Tail of Two Biccies

She’s putting on that sky coloured outfit again, the one that smells of sausages and old people.  It must be her favourite thing ever as she wears it most days now, although it does get taken off each night and hurled into that big white noisy thing which spins crazily around the kitchen until it exhausts itself.  She opens it’s mouth and the dress comes out smelling of flowers!  I like flowers.  I like to wee on flowers but I don’t wee on her dress because I know when she comes back from that place she calls her ‘work’ the outfit will smell like it did before she put it in the hungry thing;  like pensioners, pancakes and Paula.

in MY chair

I’m watching her from my chair.  She looks smiley and is humming as she puts some bright red stuff on her mouth and brushes her hair.  I love my mum. She lets me have bits of food when she is cooking and takes me for a swim in the sea when everyone else is still asleep. When we come back dad stands with his hands on his hips and says ‘Has he been on that beach again? You know you’ll get fined if they catch him on there’ but mum just shrugs and helps herself to a biscuit from a big jar.  She sometimes talks to the biscuits saying they are naughty just before she eats them.  I like naughty biscuits.

I stretch and put my legs in the air.  I have my own armchair.  It’s very comfortable.  I sometimes try and sit on other peoples big chairs but I’m not allowed because apparently I shed which confuses me as I’m a Brian, not a shed.  No one sits on my chair but me and occasionally silly strangers who walk in and plonk themselves down on it. When they get up they look annoyed as there’s a lot of me on them apparently.  I don’t mind, they can share me and my shed.

My mum pats me on the head and then goes out the door and gets on that shiny blue thing with 2 wheels that I think is called ‘Be careful!’ Dad shouts that whenever mum is on it but she just waves and overtakes cars.  Dad shakes his head.  Dad does that a lot when mum is on ‘Be careful’.  My brother asked if he could have a ‘be careful’ when he’s older and mum said something about it being over her dead body.  My brother then slammed the door and my mum ate another biscuit.

‘Be Careful’ at the beach

Dad farts in the bedroom.  I get down off my comfy chair and wander in to see him. He pats me on the head and says ‘Do you want to come with me to work today?’ and I wag my bottom.  We both have breakfast.  Dad never has any of mine but I sometimes get some of his as he drops crumbs when talking to mum on his little black box.  She makes dad laugh.  He calls her a pain in the arse but is smiling when he says this.

“Go and get your lead then” dad says putting the talky machine down but I’m already at the front door, waiting and wagging.  I like the park, it has a lot of smells and I like to potter about but Dad walks around behind me sighing and telling me to hurry up, holding a sandwich bag as we’ve run out of MY bags apparently.  Once I’ve recycled my breakfast on the grass we head towards the big noisy building with lots of chairs and a stage where everyone’s name is ‘Darling’.  I quite like it here.  Lots of people pat me on the head when I walk through and sometimes I find a misplaced crisp on the floor. My dad works here in the night making everyone look shiny.  Mum says he pushes buttons for a living but dad just gives her ‘the look’  and says if she wants to look shiny next time she’s on stage then she better stop pushing his buttons.  Mum just laughs, she likes pushing his buttons herself sometimes.  I like chocolate buttons but I’m not allowed them.

Me and my man pet go outside and sit with some smiley people with skin resembling my chew bone. They pat dad on the back and ask him to make sure that they look FABULOUS on stage.  I tilt my head; I didn’t know dad was a magician too.  Good job my mum wasn’t here, she would snort into her drink and dad would have to kick her under the table.

Not a shed

I can feel my eyes growing heavy, the air is getting really warm now and I close my eyes and lie down under the table. When I was very small mum got very sad as I have something called Hip Dysplasia. She says we moved to Spain for me as it would make me feel better as being cold made my legs hurt a lot.

As I drift off to sleep, surrounded by the laughter of strangers I sigh and remember how very lucky I am to be a New Bri in the Sun.

To be continued… Episode 30

 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 28: Tui Story

“Good morning, welcome to the Hotel Blah-de-blah, I’m your TUI team leader and my job here is to make sure you all have a fantastic holiday here in Fuengirola”

And so the welcome speech begins, again.  I’m sat watching from the sidelines, smiling like a Madame Tussaud’s waxwork and trying not to spill the complimentary Orange Juice down my blouse.  There are six of us clad in Blue, awaiting our introduction alongside the Blanket Trip representative sporting a canary yellow ensemble whom I fear may be nodding off before our team leader even reaches the merits as to why you need to book your trips with us as opposed to the half price bucket shop down the road.

Our TUI Team

I look around the room. The average age of the clientele is around 93 and there’s no guarantee all of them will make it to the end of the 50 minute speech.  The air conditioning unit wheezes into life and jolts awake several elderly patrons, reminding them that they are on holiday and need to stay conscious for at least some of their pensioner’s vacation.

I catch the eye of one of the entertainments team and we wink at each other in unison. These youngsters are the glue that holds the hotel together, performing west end worthy shows in the evening after a day of interacting with the guests in various activities around the pool.  They know the score; all of them have been hired following extensive auditions in the UK to ensure everyone has a great time onsite.   Scores for the hotel must remain high because if they chose to do another season with Tui, their next curtain call could be in Florida as opposed to Fuengirola.  Point’s makes prizes; the constant carrot dangled in front the TUI employee’s nose.

I’m sure when they applied for the roles; wide eyed and fresh out of drama school they didn’t envisage a day of shuffleboard and French boules adorning their crispy white untarnished CV but this is the reality of most actors worlds and like all professionals, they rise to the occasion with a smile and a caffeine laden drink.

I look up towards the ceiling and wipe sweat off my menopausal brow.  The meeting is well into its stride.  Pickpockets and prickly heat have been touched upon, train timetables are being hastily noted down on welcome packs and we are rapidly heading towards the bread and butter of the speech, excursions.

I think back to the past month and try and remember which inland adventures I have attended, each one morphing into the next.  Museums, mosques, mountains, information overload.   Sitting on a coach at 8am each morning, watching the younger reps vomit into their rucksacks after an alcohol fuelled outing the night before.  Patting their inexperienced backs and trying to keep them away from the incredibly young area manager who joined us each day on the tours.  Fighting the desire to yell ‘I’ve got cheese in my fridge older than you’ whenever he pointed out an obvious fact regarding how we were expected to behave in front of the paying guests also on the tour.

“And now Paula is going to come up and tell you about Romantic Ronda! Gentleman, you can go to sleep now”.

My name breaks through the deluge of memories and drags me back into reality.  I stand up and brush invisible crumbs of my skirt and head over to the rostrum and smile encouragingly towards my ever deflating audience.  All these people who sit before me have come for a nice holiday and not to listen to middle aged reps wax lyrical on how they should spend their money.  With this in mind I take a deep breath and perform a short comedy monologue on Riotous Ronda and then return to my seat, applause rings around the room as the team leader brings the meeting to a close.

Dragging my Tablet out of the bag I fire it up and stand at the table nearest to exit awaiting the arrival of any guests that fancy spending their hard earned cash on a trip to Morocco or Marbella.

Barbary Macaque – Gibralter

An elderly lady pushes her way through the ever decreasing crowd and waves a shaky finger in my direction

“Jane Macdonald, that’s who you remind me off, I bloody love her on that cruise programme”

Smiling I lean down and whisper conspiratorially “It’s a shame I haven’t got her money.  Now, can I interest you in a nice day trip to see the apes in Gibralter?”

To be continued… Episode 29

 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 27: Banger Management

8 months  later…..

“No seriously, does my arse really look like a giant blue beach ball in this TUI uniform?”

My husband, always grateful that the subject matter isn’t about doing any more unnecessary DIY in the apartment turns towards me and looks me carefully up and down

“It’s definitely more flattering than the yellow one you wore last year on that bed promotion thing you did.  Anyway, stop preening or you’ll be late on your first day. Have you charged the tablet up and downloaded all those Apps?”

I nod nervously.  Me and technology aren’t the closest of allies. I can work out Face Book, E mails and how to buy crap on Amazon but apart from that I’m useless.  My palms start to sweat with the thought of a thousand unhappy tourists staring at me while I jab helplessly at a computer screen that insists on saying ‘no!’

Looking into the mirror I smooth down the man made fibers and hoist the Rep bag over my shoulder. Amongst all the truly talented bilingual candidates, 51 year old me was offered the position of part time representative for TUI in one of the biggest hotels in Fuengirola and I was not going to let my larger than average posterior put me off my new career.

“Right, I’m off then, see you after you finish work at the Theatre” and I happily head downstairs to my trusty Vespa.

Within ten minutes I’m standing uncertainly outside the entrance of the hotel. I had worked the same place last season, but that was promoting free blanket trips to elderly people but this season I was the face of TUI.  The buck stops with me.  Painting a smile on my heavily made up face I march through the front door and spot my Team leader lounging on the sofa, writing out welcome packs.

Clearing my throat I hold out my hand and become the person I know the company wants me to be.

“Hello, I’m Paula; I’m your part time team mem….”

“Whoa  whoa whoa…Part time? Part time? I need a full time rep here, this just isn’t on!” and with my hand left hanging in mid air he grabs his works phone and marches past me through the front door and out of sight into the street.

This wasn’t exactly the reaction I had been hoping for so I stand uncertainly by the desk, fingering the various flyers and looking at the airport departure board for divine inspiration.

“Oh hello, can you help me?” an elderly voice cuts through my reverie

Pasting a smile upon my lips I turn around to see a lady of about 90 years old sporting a tiny fluorescent bikini and wearing the brightest pink lipstick (albeit mainly on her teeth) that I have ever seen.

“I appear to have lost my husband. I sent him down to get me a sausage over half an hour ago and he’s not returned to the room. They ran out of sausages yesterday, I had to have bacon, I don’t like bacon, to be honest, I don’t really like sausages but I don’t like to queue for an omelet”

Placing a look of concern on my face I nod in sympathy but before I have chance to solve this modern day dilemma  I see my colleague march back in through the front door, anger etched into his olive skin.

“Er….. This lady appears to have lost her husband on the way to the buffet breakfast; he went for a sausage and hasn’t been seen since.”  I smile beseechingly for help from my mentor; I’m not yet au-fait with the protocol of missing OAP’s, or the lack of reformed Pork if I’m honest.

“Have you looked in the lift Mrs. P? He was in there yesterday morning wasn’t he? Talking to the chambermaid on the 14th floor about the benefits of Aloe Vera?’”

The guest looked confused and then realization dawned like the early morning sun through heavily advancing hazy clouds.

“Oh so he was, I’ll go and have a look for him up there, I do hope my sausage hasn’t gone cold though….”  and off she wanders, mumbling to herself about pork products and wayward husbands.

I turn to my colleague who has resumed his position on the sofa and take a deep breath

“Look, I don’t know what you were expecting but I can promise you this, I’ll work hard and the guests will love me.  Surely it’s better to have a really good part timer than an utterly rubbish full time one?”

He looks at me through narrowed eyes then takes a deep breath of resignation.

“Those welcome packs won’t fill themselves”

Smiling to myself I lift the mountain of leaflets from the table, salute with a cheeky grin and get to work.  

To be continued… Episode 28

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 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… Episode 27

 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.

 

Episode 21: A Mother Day in Paradise

‘Hello Ladies, congratulations on all your auditions, they were all excellent.  You’ll be pleased to hear that none of you are actually playing the part of the Kestrel, hahahhaaaa’

We all smile politely at the director whilst snatching glances around the room at the other cast members sitting expectantly around the table.  I catch the eye of my dimpled friend from the previous week and she gives me a knowing wink.

‘The reason we are here today is to have a brief read though of all your roles and to get the feel of the play.  Shall we start with introducing ourselves and which character we are playing?’

A blonde lady with a West Country accent starts us off and we rotate round the table.  Library assistant, farmer, delivery person and finally it’s my turn to speak up.  I clear my throat and look up at the expectant faces.

‘Hi I’m Paula, I’m new to the theatre and I’m playing Mrs Casper’ I smile and raise my palm in an uncertain wave.  I look around the table and see a few surprised expressions, so I swiftly return my misplaced greeting into my lap where it rests like a bird without wings.

‘Fabulous’ Booms the director ‘ let’s get cracking!’

An elbow nudges me in the ribs.  I turn to my left and a voice whispers in my ear ‘I went for that role’.  I nod my head solemnly and stay staring at my script, afraid to meet the eyes attached to the voice.  I’m fully aware from previous experience that ‘Woman in Shop’ doesn’t really compensate when you’ve auditioned for a principle role, so I clear my throat and keep my ego and opinion in close check.

A couple of hours and several accents later we are released from the confines of the dusty theatre and I quickly make my excuses and head back out into the sun.  Ambling through the streets of old town Fuengirola I raise my face toward the mid summer heat and breathe in the heavy scent of freedom.  I still can’t quite believe that we own outright our little apartment in this bustling, non apologetic seaside resort and within ten minutes my key is rattling in the front door and I wearily let myself back into our own private corner of utopia.

“I’ve sold it!” yells my husband as I walk indoors and I know instantly that the Xenia, our little warrior princess of a jeep is no more.  Sitting side by side on the balcony we sip a glass of wine and chat about our next mode of transport.

My son, only recently released from the wilderness ambles out onto the terrace and plonks himself on the sofa next to us.  I can still smell the mud caked into his pores but his eyes are clear with excitement.

‘So, as it was my idea, can I have a moped too?’ he looks at us in anticipation, already revving the engine with his mind’s eye.

‘No you can’t!’  I reply in no uncertain terms’ but you can help us choose which one you fancy sitting on the back off…your dad is getting a 125, less embarrassing apparently than a twist and go’ I say winking  in my husband’s direction.

With reluctance my ‘I’m almost a teenager’ accepts his passenger status and all three of us look online at shiny vehicles with two wheels as opposed to our usual four.  Within the hour we have contacted a local chap who deals in second hand bikes who is prepared to bring a couple over so we can have a test drive the following morning.

And so without drama, we all sit companionably together and watch the sun set over the Andalucía Mountains, laughing at the adventures which have already occurred and eagerly awaiting the ones that are yet to arrive.

A New Wife in the Sun is having a month off over Easter so I shall resume blogging when all chocolate has been consumed

To be continued – Episode 22

 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.