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 Simple Life

'Come, live with me and be my love, And we will all the pleasures prove Of peace and plenty, bed and board, That chance employment may afford.'

Next day, Herman and I went shopping in the market. As we wandered from grocer to butcher and from ban the baker to fruit stall, Herman dug me in the ribs and pointed, 'Do you know that handsome man, over there?'

I looked at the man who had caught Herman's eye. He was a slender, suntanned man in his mid-thirties, busy buying groceries. What first struck me were his bright, green eyes and the thick black curls which cascaded down over his shoulders, half hiding his face. I watched his full lips, as he argued about the price of something; there was a strong, resolute look to his face due to his sharp, slightly curved nose. I was fascinated by the way the tight curls of his hair, sprouting from his chest, seemed to grow our in all directions. He was wearing alight, white shirt which unbuttoned, billowed out in the breeze. The rest of his clothes were well chosen and artistic - a small, golden chain around his neck, bell-bottom, Indian style, pants and neat leather sandals. Most striking was a beautifully decorated, hand embroidered belt.

'I think that I have seen him around town,' I answered Herman. 'He certainly is an improvement on the blond baby you brought home last night. this one looks as if he might have some brains as well. That's a good, intelligent face.'

'Well, let's go and talk to him,' Herman said.
'What? Simply walk up, out of the blue and pick him up? You must be joking, Herman.'
'Leave it to me, Xaviera. Watch, I'll show you how it is done.'
Herman pushed hi way over to where the stranger was standing and, turning his head to talk to me, bumped into him, as if by accident.
'Oh, I am so sorry. Please excuse me. Do you happen to speak English?'
the man looked too dark for an Englishman and I reckoned that he could well be a Spaniard or even a North African. However, much to Herman's discomfort, he replied in faultless English, though with a pronounced accent.

'Yes, of course, although I am myself, French. What can I do to help you?'
That was the point at which Romeo Herman ran out of lines. He swallowed, searching for words, so I stepped in to rescue him.
'We wanted to know where you got such a lovely belt,' I told him in fluent French. 'We both remarked on it and also your shirt. They have so much more style than the things one normally sees around here.'

'Exactly,' added Herman, 'Just what I was about to say. By the way, my name is Herman and this is my friend, Xaviera.'
'Pleased to meet you. My name is Jacques.' He turned back to me and flashed a smile at me which melted my knees. 'I am so glad that you like the belt: here, feel it, if you like.'

Before I could stretch out my hand to touch the belt and judge its quality, Herman had grabbed it and fingered it, making sure that his hand rubbed against the young man's stomach. Then, with his other hand, he felt Jacques' trousers.

'And that's fine pair of pants that you have there. Though I am sure that you have something even finer underneath.'
I was horribly embarrassed. The young man had a feminine grace about him, yet I was convinced that he was not gay. However Jacques appeared good natured enough not to take offence at Herman's unsubtle advances, but the ignored his remark and addressed me.

'Are you honestly interested in knowing where you can find belts and clothes things like those I am wearing?'
'Yes. If there is a shop near here, I would go now and choose things like those to buy. There's something about the style which I find immensely attractive.'
'Do you have a car here?'
I nodded.
'Well, if you don't mind a drive to fiesta in ojen, I invite you to follow me home. You see, these things are made by my wife, Jeannine. She supplies clothes and accessories which she makes, to some of the better boutiques, but as you have noticed, what I am wearing is a little different, but she has a few more belts like this. So, if you really want to -'

'That's very kind of you,' Herman interrupted. 'Xaviera, will you just go and bring the car, while I wait here with Jacques and then we can follow you house.'

I was a bit worried at the prospect of leaving Herman alone with Jacques in his present excited state, but there was no alternative. So I hurried to where the BMW was parked and drove straight back as quickly as I could.
When I rejoined the two men of war, Jacques had explained to Herman that his family planning were Sephardic Jews who had settled many years ago in Morocco but who had become French citizens and had quit Morocco to settle in Paris while he was still a child.

'So you must be circumcised,' Herman announced cheerfully and grabbed at Jacques' pants to try to confirm his deduction. I was just in time to prevent my exuberant companion form peeing beneath Jacques' waistband, and I led him firmly back to the car. We watched Jacques climb into his open Dune Buggy and we swung in behind him.
'He seems a real nice guy,' I said to Herman. 'I am glad that we picked him up.'

'What do you mean, we picked him up? I saw him first, and I was the one who went over and talked to him. If you want to learn how to pick up a guy, just you watch your old pal, Herman.'
'Yes, you gave me a demonstration last night with Don magician. I had to come to your rescue.'
'This man will be different, Xaviera. You see, the Spaniard last night was straight.'

'And what makes you think that Jacques is gay?'
'It's obvious isn't it. Look at the way he invited me home. You weren't taken in by all that talk about belts and clothes, were you, Xaviera?'
'And what about Jeannine, his wife's love affair?'

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