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


From Torremolinos to Churriana

'The ornaments of a house is the friends who frequent it.'

marbella on a Saturday morning. Cars, buses and motorbikes crawl through the main street or block the narrow roads leading to the sea front. Housewives, doing their weakened shopping, jostle the hordes of tourists and the families from Madrid, snatching a couple of day's leisure. The traffic police merely add to the hold ups and he confusion and no Spanish street scene would be complete without the stray dogs which seems to come from now where to bring their own touch of chaos. All in all, a good place to be out of

'Let's get the hell out of here,' I called to Franny.
'Where can we go?' She asked.
'Torremolinos!' she exclaimed. 'Why that's insane! If this place is crowded, there must b ten times as many people there. I saw it as we drove through coming here. Talk about a concrete jungle!'

'We're not going to wander around the streets, stupid, nor the beach. While you were still sleeping, I put in a few phone calls and we are going to spend the afternoon at the house of a friend of mine, Herman. He has a lovely garden and a pleasant pool.'

'Great!' Franny was enthusiastic. 'I'll just go and collect my bikini.'
'Take a few other things as well,' I called, 'we won't be coming home this evening. I've arranged with
ben the baker, another old pal, that we shall spend the night at his place in churriana, a little village up in the hills. It's quite close to Torremolinos, yet it is remote and no tourist even ventures there.'

'Nice and quiet,' smiled Franny.
'I never said that,' I replied. 'You will be able to judge for yourself. Now get moving; the sooner we're sooner we're away from the Marbella mob, the better.'

'So, who are these guys we're going to see?' Franny demanded, as we drove out of town.

She listened as I described Herman and Momir, his Yugoslav lover. Herman, a shade under six feet, was a macho looking man, with a forest of curly dark blonde hair all over his chest and shoulders and even on his back. His broad, round face bore an expression of perpetual surprise because of the way his bushy moustache turned up at the ends. His large, round glasses were of the type, which were tinted and changed their colour in accordance with the amount of light. He was something of a dandy, always wearing some heavy gold rings, in one of which was set an ostentatious say it with diamonds, on his meticulously manicured hands. But he was no pansy. His jewellery reminded me of the years that Herman had spent as a diamond dealer.

By contrast, Momir who spent his time painting naive canvases was slightly built with a hairless body and thick, grey hair. He was well read, cultured and refined but a quiet, retiring man. Before he left Yugoslavia, Momir had written poems, some of which had been published. However, although he had spent twelve years in Holland, he still spoke Dutch falteringly. Strangely enough, when he was with Momir, Herman, who was normally boisterous and articulate, began to speak in the same manner as if he had caught some vocal disease from his partner.

The one thing, which sometimes displeased me about the menage, which we were about to visit, was Herman's bossiness. He would order people about, snapping his fingers as though he was an old style colonial plantation owner. True, I would order Franny about, but there was love, which tempered our relationships and made it acceptable.

We drove on until we reached Herman's place. He and Momir welcomed us warmly and showed us over the house into which they had only recently moved. We came into an entrance hall which led, on one side, to a spacious, crescent shaped living room in which stood a comfortable, horseshoe shaped, grey sofa in a velvet material in front of an enormous open fire place.

Opposite the living room was the master bedroom with twin beds and an adjoining bathroom. We walked out into the back garden where we saw there was a separate, self-contained annexe to the house comprising three small bedrooms and a kitchen. We settled ourselves by the kidney shaped pool, while Herman went back into the house to get us drinks from the big, well fitted kitchen which looked out on to an open patio with dining room table and pleasant, wooden chairs.

'It's a lovely place you have here,' I said to Herman.
'What I like most are the picture all over the place,' Franny observed.
She was right. There were some striking portraits, including one of Herman's son (he had been married for seven years before finally realizing that he was gay and divorcing his wife) and a number of pictures painted on glass in the primitive Slave manner.

'How long is it since you saw your son, Herman?' I asked.
'Eight years now. I miss him, you know. I tried to keep him but my experience-wife has remarried and the courts did not approve of leaving the kid with a gay father.'

'Well, if she has remarried, you don't have to pay child support.'
'That's no real comfort, Xaviera. I am sure that you know that.'
'By the way,' I said, 'you are all invited this evening to Churriana to call on my friend, Ben the Baker.'

'We've never met him,' protested Momir.
'No matter,' I replied. 'Brent is the most generous man I have ever met, and he has given me carte blanche to come up to his place whenever I like and to bring whomever I please. I called him from Marbella, so we are expected.'

We spent a lazy afternoon. Franny swam for a bit, but I was content to lie in the sun and gossip with my old friend, Herman.
Why don't you tell us something about Ben while we get ready to go up to Churriana?' Herman asked, as the evening drew nearer. 'Like why do you call him Ben the Baker?'

As we trooped in from the pool, I told them the story of Ben.


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