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





'Life is full of chances and changes.'

Every year I spend some months during the summer in Spain. I am no longer a mere tourist since I own a comfortable apartment in Marbella, which is, for me, home from house. In an earlier book, I have described how I came to settle in Spain - that is as a gipsy like me can ever be said to have settled.

This year, my faithful Franny accompanied me. Readers of such books of mine as XAVIERA'S MOGIC MUSHROOMS and THE INNER CIRCLE will remember that I have described Franny as being a son, a daughter and a slave to me. Her personality changes simple life the weather. There are times when she is a happy and apparently uncomplicated, almost like a child at play. This is Franny relaxed, perhaps when she is playing tennis or helping me with odd jobs around the house. Then I am contented also, and I show her affection to which she responds eagerly. At other times, it as though clouds have obscured the sunny side of Franny's temperament. She is nervy and awkward, difficult and critical, driving me into such a rage that I will strike her with my hand or with her whip or paddle, satisfying my own deep-seated sadism and her ardent masochism. One thing never alters with Franny: that is her unfailing devotion to me, no matter how mean I am to her. So, she is an ideal companion to me since she can be relied on when I go through some bout of loneliness or moodiness on one of these days when nothing goes right. And when life is fun, Franny can let her hair down with the best of them. No matter how much we may argue or how cruel may be our sessions together, the love hate bond that ties us is unbreakable and each year it seems to get stronger.

'So, what goes on is his Marbella?' Franny asked, as we sat on the balcony of my flat, enjoying the sunshine, men of war as a lover's embrace. She had just carried out suitcases and all the other parcels and packages which we had brought from Amsterdam up from the car, and we were recovering from the last leg of the grueling drive across Europe. 'Are the beaches good?'

'They're alright,' I answered. 'I've seen better with whiter sand or less polluted water. But, you know, once you have been on a few of the famous beaches in Bali, Java, Australia, Mexico, Argentina or Rio or St Tropez, you don't get so excited by the sight of one stretch of coasts or another. The climate here is lovely, and of course. We'll go on the beach and get a good, deep suntan. I have a lot of friends also who have villas with pools, and we can call on some of them and sunbathe away from the tourist crowds. The sunshine is one of the few things about Marbella which has not changed during the five years I have been coming here.'

'What did change?' Fancy slipped of her shirt as she put the question to me.

'Well, for instance, what you are doing now,' I told her. 'Going topless was unheard of when I first came here, not that long after the death of Franco. Spain was a typical catholic country, modest to the point of prudishness. I think that I can claim the honor to be the first frigidity in women who brought topless sunbathing to Spain though I never received an official citation. Now, there are even some secluded beaches which are totally nudist, but naked sunbathers are expected to cover up when, on a Sunday afternoon, their deserted beach is invaded by peter from poona, Momma and all the little ninos with their picnic baskets, blankets, rubber balls and inflatable rafts.'

'So, the country has become more tolerant, more liberated?'
'Yes, in some ways, but there is still of lot of humbug. A policeman who may make trouble for you if you are guilty of what he calls indecent exposure and offending public morality will drool over the photos of the chicks in "Penthouse pet ". Of course, in Madrid, or even more so in Barcelona, you will find sophisticated sex shows, but in places which are a bit off the beaten track, sexy entertainment is a hell of a lot more crude. Porno pulp magazines, pictures of women with tits so large they could not stand upright - even women with three tits, in case you were so short sighted you did not notice the first pair.'

'But here, in Marbella,' Franny wanted to know, 'it can't be that backward. After all, this is an international resort, even the locals must have become more sophisticated.'
'You'd be surprised at the things I have seen,' I retorted. 'I've seen the respectable Spanish citizen sitting on a topless beach beside his decently covered wife, looking at his newspaper and ignoring the spectacle of soft, seductive female flesh. It's only when you get close, that you see that the stern and sober senor has bored a couple of peepholes in his paper so that he can play at being the unseen voyeur.'


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