“Marcus, theres a chap on TV who has five wives, five! They all have different skills and he chooses which one to visit at bedtime based on that! If you had the choice of five wives… when would you visit me??”
“When the other four were busy, Paula”
…and so 2021 begins. We have a little more freedom than the U.K. but not much sign of the vaccine. The new midnight is 6pm and most hangovers are achieved by the time Coronation Street begins. Bums are shoved off bar stools while the sun is still in the sky and we sit sombre back in our individual prisons, staring at the gogglebox wishing we could be ordering a kebab instead of watching overpaid northerners play themselves.
We’ve also moved apartment again. The latest one has just 2 bedrooms and we don’t have to sell a body part to pay the rent. Nobody can visit us here from the UK so there’s no point in paying extra for a spare room. The balcony is the size of a fridgefreezer but Brian still finds space to fling his ball around it and if we all sit close together at the table we can eat our evening meal in the last remaining sliver of sunlight as we watch it set over the Andalusian mountains.
We are managing to put food on the table when many families can’t and that is something to be grateful for in these trying times. Days of the week have no meaning apart from weekends when we treat ourselves to a Sunday roast at whatever establishment has managed to weather the storm and keep its shutters open to cater for the residents.
Facebook is now full of people clamouring to relocate to Spain, unaware that post Brexit the rules have changed and you need to be in possession of deceased relatives inheritance or a substantial hedge fund to even be able to request residency. Trevor and his wife plus 3 kids want to know if €10,000 is enough to step over the border for a new life in utopia meanwhile spanish home owners are stuck in the U.K. because they failed to apply for residency while here or left their little green card on top of the wardrobe nestling underneath a pair of redundant flip flops. Desperation fills the forums. No one asks what the weather’s like in February anymore.
Meanwhile British pensioners roam the empty aisles of Iceland, unrepentant in their choice to exit the E.U., seeking out the solitary tin of baked beans nesting in-between it’s Spanish interloper. Fully stocked trucks are taking weeks instead of days to arrive over the borders with the taste of home steadily rotting in its enclave. Here is where you’ll find me today in Mijas, standing at the till gripping a much coveted bottle of salad cream, biting back the bile as I listen to yet another deluded expat, indignant about the lack of crumpets in the empty freezer, spouting without irony that this isn’t what they voted for on the 2016 referendum.
I join in the conversation without invitation or forethought, “What did you vote for then, the resurrection of Winston Churchill or just the incarceration of your grandchildren?”
I slam my euros onto the counter and storm out. I’m furious with those that have disabled our offspring from experiencing freedom of movement and equally angry at those who were too apathetic to vote at all.
So here we are, in limbo once again. Exactly one year into Covid-19 and still no idea when we can drink overpriced vodka in row 17F.
“So what are we going to do for my 50th next week then, have you arranged anything? I bet the other 4 wives would have organised their husband something spectacular involving wrestling and jelly” a voice yells from the confines of the solitary bathroom.
I sigh and turn the volume down on the rantings of a surgically enhanced housewife with more money than style residing in Orange County.
“What would you like me to arrange darling? A socially distanced orgy? We can’t do anything, we’re not allowed to do anything. I’ll push the boat out and let you watch Game of Thrones again and throw together a meat feast pizza. I may even shave my legs to mark the occasion although it may look like a small Gorilla has been murdered in the bathtub”
Silence greets my reply and I can feel the petulance radiating through the stone walls.
I smile to myself and look down at my phone as yet another message flashes up on the private group chat, “we’d love to attend the surprise party, let me know where and when and we’ll be there! Is it tables of 4? Can we sit with Bob & Doris? I’ll make a cake!!”
Placing the phone on my lap I look at my chipped toenails and stained jogging bottoms. The face reflected in the TV screen isn’t the one I arrived here with. The past 3 years have definitely taken their toll.
I make a promise to myself, tomorrow I’ll get my Jane McDonald face on but today… today I’m comfortable in my Covid-couture, ensemble, enjoying the company of Kevin Webster and celebrating the fact that we are still alive.
MISSED THE BEGINNING OF OUR STORY? CLICK HERE!
OR CLICK HERE FOR THE NEXT EPISODE