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



The Road To Morocco

'We should consider every day lost on which we have not danced, at least once.'

The following day, Jacques and Jeannine presented themselves at my front door just as Stephen and I were finishing breakfast. They had already eaten but they joined us for a coffee before we hit the road.

I gladly followed Jacques suggestion and left my car behind, all four of us traveling in a rugged and rather worn station wagon which Jacques always took for long journeys in preferences to his Dune Buggy. We would have plenty of room, Jacques explained for everything that we might purchase and the Moroccan roads would have wrought havoc on my sophisticated BMW. We followed the coast road to Algeciras and took the car ferry across the narrow straits to Tangier. As we passed under the towering mass of Gibraltar, I could not help thinking how absurd it was that to get to the Rock peter from poona Spain, visitors were obliged to go to Africa first because of the squabble between the British and the causeway leading to Gibraltar.

We entered the great sweep of the Bay of Tangier and Jacques pointed to the gleaming white hotels which fringed the golden sands of the beach.
'We'll drive straight to one of these hotels as soon as we have changed some money and reserve a couple of rooms for tonight,' he said.
'Are we going to spend the whole day here?' asked Stephen.
'By no means. I want to get into the Rif Mountains, to Chechaouen actually, but accommodation can prove a bit primitive so I thought that, if you don't mind rather a lot of driving, heading back to Tangier for the night.'

'You're the boss,' I told him.
Passing through the customs was a wearisome business. However, Jeannine told me that coming back would be a hundred times worse, so we waited patiently while officials busied themselves with diamonds passports, car registration and insurance papers and a thorough search of the vehicle. At last , the final rubber stamp was affixed to our documents and we rolled through the docks, past the armed guard and into the town.

'First, we must change some money into dirhem,' said Jacques.
'We'll come with you into the Stephen told him, 'we have to change some money too.' 'The bank,' Jacques laughed. 'There, that's my bank.'
He pointed to a dilapidated cafe on the waterfront. Outside were three or four tables at which several disreputable looking men of war were sipping mint tea and smoking a mixture of cheap tobacco and local hash. Jacques informed us that he locals always promised that they would give the most favourable rate of exchange for pesetas since they had so many visitors from Spain, but he found that it paid to change dollars despite what they said. So Stephen and I handed him a few hundred dollars and entrusted him with the task of changing them.

Without a moments hesitation, Jacques walked over to the dirtiest and most dishonest looking of the tea party. The old bronx, dressed in a greasy, brown jellaba favoured us with a smile which exhibited his matching brown tooth to perfection. After several minutes of haggling, a bargain was struck.

The Berber banker then insisted that we take a mint tea with him and, although we wanted to get on the road, it seemed too rude to leave without accepting his hospitality.

As we tasted the sticky, sweet concoction, served in elaborately chipped cups, our host leaned over and asked in a confidential tone whether we would like to buy some hash.
'Yes,' I said.

'No. Jacques exclaimed with great emphasis. Before we left, the Berber whispered something to Stephen, but I could not hear what he said. Stephen laughed, shook his head and slapped the old villain on the back. We got up to leave but after we had walked a few paces, the owner of the cafe ran after us and demanded that we pay for the mint tea.

'It was a present from our friend' Jacques replied turning to point to the Berber. But, the Berber had disappeared so we handed over a few coins to the outraged cafe owner.

We climbed into the car but before we could drive off, a stout, while robed man walked over to us and said, 'Did you buy any hash or if from that old Berber?'
We shook our heads.
'Good,' said the newcomer, 'now you can buy some from me.'
'Not now,' Jacques called out, as he let out the clutch and we moved away.
'So what did the old fellow have to say to you in the cafe?' I asked Stephen.

'When he whispered in my ear? Oh, he was asking if I wanted a little boy.'
'What did you tell him?' Jeannine asked.
'I told him that I preferred girls. He seemed to think that I had a perverted taste but volunteered to find a girl for me since I was kinky that way.'
'Why won't you let me buy any dope?' I asked Jacques.
'Not here, Xaviera. These boys are looking out for tourists and they will all overcharge. One guy I know bought a big bag of has from some of the wide boys and when he came to smoke it, he found that under him layer of real hash, he had been supplied with some first class henna. Wait till we get out into the country.'

The Serraglio was a brand new five story hotel on the beach with its name misspelt in huge neon letters. We went inside and waited at the reception desk until a worried looking young man came to attend to us.
We asked for a couple of double rooms. The man regarded us in dismay. Very reluctantly, he opened the register and studied the list of rooms. I looked around me. A dog sleeping in a corner was the only sign of like.
'What's the matter?' I asked the receptionist. 'You can't pretend that you are full.'

It turned out that the hotel was actually empty and our arrival would mean that there would have to be a change in the staff's routine. That is to say they would have to do some work. The receptionist clearly felt that we were acting anti-socially in disturbing their untroubled existence. However, we insisted and we got our rooms. We dropped off our luggage and went out of the hotel, leaving the over worked receptionist, gently sleeping.

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