As Brits, we worship the sun. Sure, we might allow our everyday lives to be crap, with unreliable transport systems, cynicism and questionable food choices. But that shining prospect of ‘a nice bit of sun’ is what gets us through the grey days and the icy nights. Regardless of whether or not this is the perfect solution to all our problems, it is this hope against hope that keeps us below the U.S.A in the international suicide rates.
And so it happened. The holiday line-up was simple: myself and two good friends whom, for identity protection reasons, I shall refer to as ‘ginger friend’ and ‘Turkish friend’. Envisioning sangria, sun-kissed bods, and not much suncream, we took a break from the stresses of non-stop student hedonism to book an Easter mini-break. Marbella was our location of choice; as European capital of the nouveau-riche, we suspected that this might be just the place to enjoy gaudy nightclub decors and complimentary alcohol. Nothing could possibly go wrong.
As the holiday drew closer, it seemed like the weather was somewhat against us. Ever the optimist, I envisioned a tropical kind of climate, with a brief half an hour of heavy rain to brush ourselves with oil in between baking sessions.
‘I didn’t pack a bikini!’, I realised, panicking.
‘Don’t worry!’, chimed my ever-helpful friends in unison, ‘we brought two!’
Crisis averted. As we sat on the plane, comparing pre-holiday fake tan faux pas and skimpy wardrobe choices, we couldn’t wait to get into Puerto Banus for a wild night out. In the mean time, our plane dining consisted of champagne and chocolate. With this level of morale, nothing could affect us. Not even Turkish friend’s cough and growing mountain of Balsam Kleenex.
One quick change around and an overpriced taxi to the port later, we were back on the Marbella nightlife scene. It was far from busy, but some things never change: there he was, the sharply-dressed club promotor poised to lead us, like lambs to the slaughter, to our club of choice.
‘Alright ladies’, he cried in his Brighton twang, ‘free drinks at Seven tonight!’.
On the way there, we made light conversation with this distinguished gentleman, who boasted three years residence in the country, and ‘60% fluency’ in Spanish. Upon arrival, we discovered that Seven, our favourite Marbellan hunt, had turned into a den of iniquity- even more so than before. What had once been the flashy club where, in my youth, I used to play ‘guess the prostitute’ had now been furnished with podiums topped with gyrating strippers. Then there was the clientele. At this early stage in the season, there were no friendly Don Juans peacocking in their coloured trousers. There wasn’t even a prospect of surprise reunions with friends from the North London circle. But then, out of the oblivion, came Kyle. Kyle was 53 and wanted to introduce us to the beautiful young woman he was babysitting. Assumedly to counteract the look of shock on all our faces, the woman- who was around our age- explained that she was his daughter. She was a sweet girl, and the sunburn on her nose excited us for the prospect of tomorrow’s tanning.
Woke up to rain. Not a wonderful sight, especially in the knowledge that we had to go out and forage for food. San Pedro is a funny little place, mostly Spanish, and tragically vulnerable to the turbulent state of the economy. Consequently, it took a while before we rocked up to a cafe which hadn’t recently changed ownership to a shoe shop. After finishing Europe’s excuse for an English breakfast, we looked around us to see a number of umbrella-wielding Spaniards.
‘Stay for a coffee’, the amicable old man next to us suggested, to which I responded with our intention to ‘vamos a la supermercado’.
‘My English is better than your Spanish’, delivered in a Winston Churchill accent, was the killer line with which he destroyed any intention of mine to revive some former linguistic ability. In any case, sat there with a beer in his hand at midday, perhaps Winston had the right idea…
One grocery shop and a further hour of rain later, we found ourselves back in the apartment. Whilst we did not have blue skies and white beaches to entertain us, what we did have was wifi, which allowed us access to the holiday photos of our lithe sun-kissed peers, uploaded somewhere nearer the Equator. Fuck that. We surveyed our rations. Being responsible adults, we had approached the grocery shop with foresight and frugality. Lunch consisted of Japanese peanut crackers. In light of the weather, we finally saw the necessity of drinking large quantities of wine. Around three glasses later, Turkish friend spotted a patch of sun on the balcony. Clothes aflying, we hurried our bikini-clad bodies outside, whilst ginger friend reassured us that she had brought enough SPF 50 for all.
Incidentally, the sunshine lasted for ten minutes. By which I mean ten minutes total; not all at once.
In any case, you have to admire our tenacity. Our spirits still higher than our alcohol tolerance, we headed out around 9:30pm to get a late dinner.
‘We’ll sit outside’, we repeated to the maître d’, deaf to his cries of ‘Es frío, es frío!’. Let’s bear in mind that it was around 12 degrees by this point- a pleasant temperature for us hardy British girls. But the Spanish waiters fussed around us as they indulged our ludicrous fancy, turning on the outdoor heaters and providing us with a large woollen blanket each. Later, after a lovely meal, we were grateful for their attentions as we sat huddled in blankets waiting for the rain to stop. Que séra, séra!
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