1. Marbella

2. From Torremolinos to Churriana

3. Ben the Baker

4. After the Fashion Show

5. The Bronx

6. You are never too old to Learn

7. Peter from Poona

8. Rule Britannia

9. Sports and pastimes

10. The Constant Nymph

11. Ben rises to the Occasion


Ben Rises To The Occasion

'A hero is a man who does what he can.'

Much wine flowed during lunch, and after the meal, a siesta was the order of the day. Louise had assigned a comfortable guest-room to Ben and me. We took a shower and then made love, nice and easy. It had been some time since we were together, but it was as though we had never been apart. We knew each other's bodies so well, it was almost as if one was touching oneself. Our sex, that day, owed more to love than to fashion and nothing to mere lust.

After my recent stormy session with Franny , our quiet, uncomplicated lovemaking was more than welcome. It was good to snuggle up to Ben's hairy chest, and at last, exhausted, we both fell a sleep.
The exhibition was not due to open formally until ten o'clock. Horst had prepared a delicious cold buffet, with a pate en croute, worthy of one of the great chefs from Paris or Lyons. Most of the guests were going to the show. ben the baker had changed his shirt for the occasion. Now, he sported a pure white garment on which was printed the legend 'She is the Best' surmounted by a thick, black arrow, pointing to the right. He insisted that I walk beside him, on his right, naturally. This was extremely awkward, sine the streets in Benahavis were narrow and crowded.

Ben and I made an early start and stopped to have a drink at what everybody along the Costa del Sol, called 'The Greek Restaurant'.

I had met Iris, the owner before she became a widow. Her husband had been a tall, spare Englishman of great charm and old world courtesy. His sudden death had left the family planning in a precarious financial position, with the restaurant still not full established. But the family worked like beavers to keep the place going and the creditors at day. And I am sure that it was the strong family feeling which attracted many of the Greeks' clientele. Even though they might quarter or sulk fiesta in ojen, the widow and her three children - John, Catherine and Mary Rose - never, for a moment, lost that warmth such as that which I had come to love among so many Jewish families.

As Ben fought his way to the bar, I surveyed the scene. Catherine and her mother were rushing to and fro, carrying plates of steaming food to the table out in the garden. The kitchen was working at full pressure: so was John behind the bar. Above the buzz of conversation , somebody was shouting my name, but the place was so crowded that I could not see who was calling. Then, Stephen appeared at my elbow.

'You can't stay away from me, can you, Xaviera?' he grinned.
'I might have guessed that you would be here,' I replied. 'Are you going on to the exhibition?' 'That building has a fatal sexual attraction for Stephen, my dear.' The speaker was Mary Rose who had emerged from the kitchen to get some herbs which had been left to dry over the fireplace in the bar.

Stephen smiled uncomfortably.
'And ask him what he's doing with that Polaroid camera,' Mary Rose called, as she scurried back to her pots and pans.
'So what's all that about?' I demanded.
Ben had now rejoined us, and introduced Stephen to him. Ben eyed him warily. He must have suspected that the diminutive Englishman would be a rival for my affection.

'I think that Polaroid is a ploy which you may well appreciate, Xaviera.' Stephen was his old, unruffled self. 'How does a little fellow like me set about picking up an attractive girl in a bar? Your suntanned giants flex their muscles and Puff their chest out like fighting cocks. I can make brilliant small talk and sweep the lady off her feet with my wit and charm. But how to break the ice -that's the question. I've found an infallible method is to take this camera with me and photograph the girl. Then I go up to her and, with a flourish, hand her the picture, telling her that she looked so stunning that I simply life had to snap her. Works like a charm.'

'So the fact that you have your camera with you tonight means that you are on the look out for some poor, defenseless maiden to seduce,' I asked him, mockingly.
'Not at all,' Stephen replied without a moment's hesitation. 'I heard that you would be here, so I brought the Polaroid just for you.'
And with that, Stephen promptly took a picture of me.
Even Ben had to laugh Stephen's charming flattery. It was strange being with the two of them. I was sure that Stephen was fond of me, although we had scarcely met. There was an indefinable attraction between us. At the rest of my body could accommodate them both as well.
Stephen did not stay long in the bar. He explained that he had made a date to meet Eric the Rat and Corinne at the ant. We had not yet finished our drinks, so I promised to join him in a few minutes.
However, before we left, Horst came into the restaurant. He adored Ouzo and this was the only place he could get a glass.
'Your old partner has just gone over to the exhibition,' John told Horst, as he served him.

Horst saw the enquiring look on my face. 'He means Stephen,' he told me by way of explanation.
'I never knew that you were partners.'
'Well, it never quite got to that,' Horst replied. 'It goes back to Stephen's romance with Mary Rose.'
'Tell me more.' I was intrigued.

'Well, Horst narrated, 'Mary Rose is a rather pretty girl or so I have been told by those who have an eye for that sort of thing. Men get a bit lonely up here at Benahavis, particularly in the winter, and there is a definite shortage of pretty girls - or even just girls. I suppose Stephen has bored -anyway he started to take notice of Mary Rose. You know what I mean? He would sit here and gaze soulfully.'

12. The Magician

13. Say it with Diamonds

14. The simple life

15. Forced to Fast

16. The Persian Boy

17. Penthouse Pet

18. The road to Morocco

19. Have you anything to Declare?

20. Men of War

21. Fiesta in Ojen

22. Highway Robbery