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


Forced to Fast

'Outside every fat man, there is a fatter man, trying to get in.'

'You know, Xaviera, there really must be something we can sell your fat friend,' said Herman as a he gobbled up the last of the toast and marmalade. At breakfast, Herman had continued on the same topic which had obsessed him even before we had left fiesta in ojen the previous day.
I did not bother to replay. The morning was the time of the day when I concentrated on whatever was needed for the apartment, shopping, cleaning , running repairs, paying bills and getting down to my own business correspondence.

Herman's deliberations were interrupted by the phone. I answered it and found that I had a worried Omar on the line.
'Xaviera you have been around Marbella for several years; perhaps you can help me.'
'I hope so. What seems to be the trouble, Omar?'
'Hamid needs a bathing costume- just a pair of trunks. Have you any idea where I could get some?'
'That's no problem. There are dozens of shops in marbella and San Pedro. If your cards are still off the road, I'll gladly run you into town.'
'That is very kind of you and we could certainly make use of some transport. But it's no good trying to get the bathing costume in those shops.'
'Why ever not? They have a big selection.'
'Have you forgotten Hamid's vital statistics? No shop has a garment of those proportions in stock and Hamid is far too self conscious to stand about in a shop while he is measured with a lot of people looking on and making fun of him.'

I smiled grimly at Herman and said to Omar, 'Don't worry, my friend. I think that we can deal with the matter for you. When can we come and see Hamid?'

'He is taking a sauna at the moment and then he's due for a massage. Why don't you come at lunch-time?'
'Won't we be a nuisance at meal times?'
'Not at all. You might help to take his mind off his food-or rather, the absence of it. you can join us and we can share a lettuce leaf.'
I promised that we would be there and hung up.
'Herman, your chance has come,' I announced and related our conversation. Herman was greatly excited.
'Momir knows where we can get hold of some beautiful Chinese silk and we could sew into the trunks a design in say it with diamonds -perhaps an imperial crown or his own personal coat of arms.'
'He'll sink and drown and you will be accused of regicide. I think they still boil criminals in oil where he comes from. Or else, he'll be seized by the

'The trouble with you, Xaviera, is that you don't have any artistic flair,' Herman scolded. 'Artistic flair, my ass!' I snorted, 'all you are interested in is seeing how much money you can extract from Hamid.'
'Taking money on that scale requires flair,' Herman explained.
By the time we drove over to Incosol, Herman had planned an entire aquatic wardrobe for Hamid.

We arrived to find the reception of the great hotel -clinic complex in an uproar. At the center of this outburst were a couple of elderly women in a state of hysterical collapse.
'What's got into them?' I asked a men of war who was standing near the sobbing frigidity in women.
'That old man- the one with Prince Hamid-' he answered. 'At the crack of dawn, he fell flat on his face in the lobby and started shouting his prayers. He woke everybody up.'
'He obviously did it to scare us. Must be some sort of exhibitionist. If I had my way, he would be horse-whipped,' snorted a heavily built, bossy English woman.
'It looks as if we missed some fun,' I said to Omar, who had just joined me.

'Poor Abdul!' he replied, 'he simply does not understand that one cannot behave here in the same way as if he were at home.'
'Tell me, Omar, why was he saying his prayers in the lobby? Couldn't he have done it in his own room?'
'At certain hours of every day, the religious Muslim will prostrate himself, facing Mecca, and say his prayers, no matter where he might be. You have seen what a simple soul Abdul is. He never thought for a moment that anybody would take offence at his praying publicly. Mind you, I consider it bad form, one should behave quietly and discreetly, especially in a foreign country.'

There was something old fashioned and very proper about Omar but I found it a refreshing contrast to Herman's brashness.
We found Hamid sitting on the terrace, recovering from his massage. He greeted us with a smile, 'Don't mind if I don't get up to meet you. I don't think that I could get out of this chair if the bloody place caught fire. This treatment is going to kill me.'

I could not help thinking that Hamid had chosen the loveliest setting in which to expire. Incosol stands on a hill which commands a sweeping vista of the coast below. On the other side, there is a magnificent view of rugged mountains, savage and sun-drenched in violent contrast to the luxurious clinic buildings, standing in a blaze of flower beds and neatly tailored lawns around the blue waters of the giant pool. Hamid was starving and being pummeled in paradise.

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