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




Sports and Pastimes

'Love-thirty, love-forty, oh! Weakness of joy,
The speed of a swallow, the grace of a boy,
With carefullest carelessness, gaily you won.

La Pacheca is a pretty development of apartments and houses, nestling in the hills at the entrance to the village of Benahavis, about eight miles from Marbella. The road, like that down from Ronda, twisted like a serpent in agony - certainly no place to drive if you were drunk, I commented to Franny.

Stephen's apartment, a split-level, was not very large, but it had a certain elegance and I took an immediate liking to the furniture and the general decor.
the magician Midget was his exuberant self and gave us a hearty welcome, before introducing us to the remaining member of the mixed doubles.

'This,' Stephen announced pompously, 'is Eric the Rat.'
Franny blinked. Se clearly thought that Stephen could have been a bit gentler on his friend. He surely did not look like a rat, with his blond, wavy hair, keen, slightly squinting eyes and athletic build. I would have put Eric the Rat's age at approaching forty: he looked a typical, upper class, English experience-Public Schoolboy.

'So, who did you rat on?' Franny asked him.
'I fear that you laboring under something of a misconception,' Eric replied in the same Oxford accent as Stephen's. 'This rather unfortunate soubriquet has been attached to me by Stephen and his ilk because I am, by occupation, a rodent operative.'

Franny gazed at me helplessly. 'What's he saying?' she pleaded.
'Don't be put off by the way he speaks,' Stephen comforted us. 'The truth of the matter is that Eric is the local representative of the pest Control outfit which disinfects buildings and deals with all sorts of problems arising from rodents and insects. He's quite a nice guy really, but he cultivates his old worlds English way of speaking because it goes down well in the villas of the marbella snob set.'

'Pleased to be of service,' smiled the Rat. 'Just let me know if you have any pests in your place which you require to have exterminated. No charge to you.'
'Thanks a million,' I answered, 'but all of you pests are of the two-legged variety and I can usually cope with them myself. At the moment, I am gold to say, I am trouble-free.'
Stephen had prepared a light luncheon for us, and he tactfully changed the subject as we sat down to a crisp, green salad, garnished with fresh shrimps.

We had hardly finished the last mouthful of our food, when Franny beamed at Stephen and asked earnestly, 'Can we play now?'
'I don't see why not,' he replied, 'but I am afraid that you may be disappointed.'

'The court looks fine,' I remarked.
'It's not the court that is the problem,' Stephen said with a grin, 'but you will find out soon enough.'
We trooped out into the bright sunshine into the neat gardens of La Pacheca, at the end of which stood a number of tennis courts. Nobody was playing: most people in that part of Spain prefer to play in the morning or the evening in order to avoid the worst of the heat. But Franny was too much of an enthusiast to wait a minute longer than necessary, and on her last day in Spain, nobody had the heart to disappoint her. all four of us were wearing shorts, and Franny was somewhat self-conscious, since her legs were badly bruised as a result of our last night celebrations in Portugal. I saw the book of surprise in Stephen's eyes when he saw the marks, but he refrained from making any comment.

'I am afraid that I am not in very good shape,' Eric announced, 'so which of you ladies is willing to be my partner?'
'I am just as bad as you, may be worse,' Stephen stated.
'I want to play with Xaviera,' Franny told them.
'But surely we play normal mixed doubles? The two of you against us two would not be fair,' Stephen pointed out.
'Never mind. I want Xaviera on my side. We girls will take you on even if the odds are against us.' Franny was adamant.
'On the contrary, it is you who will have the advantage,' Eric replied. 'But it does not matter. After all, it is only a game.'

'For Franny, tennis is a serious business,' I explained. 'She plays to win.'
The two men of war exchanged glances: Stephen shrugged his shoulders, and they walked very slowly on to the court.
'We'll knock up for service,' I called, as I picked up a ball.
'Nonsense!' Stephen protested. 'You are our guests. It would not be polite if we did not let you have first service.'
'Positively churlish,' Eric assented.
'Suit yourselves! Who am I to argue with English good manner?' I laughed. I prepared to serve, then changed my mind, tossing the ball to Franny.
'Here, this game is put on for your benefit. You might as well serve,' I said.

When she plays tennis, Franny is a different persian boy. The rather awkward, shy kid is transformed into a purposeful, efficient athlete. Her clumsiness disappears and she moves with the ease and agility that comes from perfect fitness. I am physically stronger than her, but on the court, I am no match for the fearsome machine of mind and muscles which Franny becomes.

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