Costa del Soul

The Dalai Lama once said, ‘You should marry your best friend.’

Ok. Let’s take a look at this.

You meet somebody, they become your best friend and then you marry them. So there you have it, you’ve married your best friend and what can go wrong? Well, lot’s of things, probably, but that’s another matter.

I first met Emma on a job about ten years ago. We’d been shipped out to Spain to film some bald, inconsequential twit talking about peoples’ holiday homes falling apart. It was the start of the noughties and every TV exec in the land was commissioning programs that involved property and often disaster.

As I sat at the baggage reclaim waiting for the kit I had the suspicion that this job might be one of the bad ones or one of the good ones but nothing in between. Well there you go, I was and am still a superstitious SOB and am prone to outbursts when I get a good feeling on something, which is probably why I’m relaying this story to you.

We’d been waiting for some time and it was HOT, so HOT in there. The Old Spanish hadn’t bothered with the air conditioning and we were English, it didn’t matter to them really if we lived or if we died. We were still waiting for the tripod and the godammn lights and after a while I couldn’t be bothered to wait standing up anymore so I sat down on the carousel instead.

‘Hey, excuse me, are you the crew?’ came a voice.

I looked up and saw an average looking woman with a man’s haircut and a pair of cheap sunglasses.

‘Yes,’ I said and I stood up and introduced myself.

‘Hi I’m Vicky’ said the woman and she shook my hand. ‘I’m the AP,’ she said.

‘Oh great,’ I said and I turned and looked for Ben the cameraman. He was nowhere to be seen. Then I saw him standing by the little entrance to the carousel lifting the tripod tube off the ramp. He had a trolley and was in control of the situation.

‘The Producer is just getting some water,’ she said and she looked over towards the little store by the window. They had a stall before you went through customs? Evidently so.

‘Ok, no problem,’ I said and I sat back down on the carousel and waited for the cameraman to come back.

‘That’s Ben over there,’ I said and I pointed to where he was standing with the trolley. He saw me and started over with his bits and bobs.

I wasn’t feeling entirely brilliant that day. I’d just split up with a girl who had been a good deal younger than me and felt I’d made some grave error. However we were not meant to be, I knew that much.

When Ben arrived he introduced himself to the AP and I rubbed my head with my hands. Then the Producer came over with a handful of water bottles and introduced herself. She seemed nervous and irritable. And hot like the rest of us.

I got to my feet and introduced myself. She had an expensive haircut and one eye was blue, the other brown. She looked bonkers.


The hotel was good, well better than expected and we all had coastal views of Benidorm or wherever in God’s name they’d brought us. It was the Costa Brava and it looked like each and every postcard or nightmare snapshot you had seen of developed Spain. As a child I had been on a long and arduous trip around Andalucía with my then alcoholic Mother but amongst all this chaos I had seen a side to Spain which was raw, beautiful and almost profound. Sometimes you have to search hard for beauty and we had sure found it at the hands of a series of near disasters that weren’t particularly our fault but doubtless would have been avoided had she not been drinking. The trip read like a catalogue of what not to do if you were feeling vulnerable and travelling with your teenage son. There you have it, I’ll let your imagination do the rest or if you like I can help put pointers in your mind as to my previous experience in this hot and sometimes evil land.

We’d flown into Malaga and hit the ground running. Our bags were easy to find at the airport and before we knew it we were on the way to the middle of town via some taxicab that we’d flagged down. My Mum didn’t have a hotel booked and the idea was that we wing it, that we settle down somewhere, take in the heat and space of the place and then find our way from there.

It must have been 35 degrees Celsius even at 4pm in the afternoon as we sat in a bar and ate tapas, my Mum drinking beer.

The place was done out nicely with some vines hanging from the ceiling and we could here flamenco music. Traffic tore wildly past down the main drag and we were glad to be out of the sunshine. I was already burnt and put my hand on the back of my neck to feel it. I was wearing a black t-shirt and it hung sweatily from my coat hanger like figure. I must have weighted 9 or ten stone, no more than that and months in boarding school eating the predictably shit food and running cross country and being hearded around a rugby field twice a week had taken its toll. Plus I was dreadfully unhappy there and longed for a normal life. We were allowed out once a month to see our parents and we had no access to girls. The biggest kick we got was imagining a hand job off the new young matron called Mrs. Ford who always wore a skirt and a blouse and got chatted up by the cooler, harder kids. I was not one of those children nor wanted to be but people left me to my own devices. I got very little shit off the others and was able to handle myself when it came down to it. I’d come from a tough home life and all the other kids looked like a spoilt bunch of molly coddled rich kids to me, which, most of them were.

So we sat in the café and she drank beer and I drank lemonade and we ate fried boccarones or whatever you called them. I had no opinion on Spain. I neither liked it nor loathed it but it certainly didn’t excite me. It seemed loud to me. Like a place that was always going to be loud and full of life no matter what happened to you. It felt impersonal, like a lot of people and been getting on with their shit here for years and years and years and what happened to you, a foreigner was no skin off their back. Well I guess you could say that about any foreign city, or could you?

Mum kept her handbag close to her and I looked down at our two bags. One was red and the other was black. A bunch of sparrows landed and began eating crumbs off the street. Somebody inside the bar shouted for no good reason. We were tired, we needed to lie down.

The waiter came and Mum asked him in Spanish where there was a nearby hotel or pensione. He wasn’t very helpful but he eventually came up with a place and wrote it down on the back of the bill. It wasn’t cheap either. Still we were in a city and you had to accept the way it was. Maybe it would be cheap in some gypsy village somewhere? Maybe not.

Mum payed and we picked up our bags and began walking. She was wearing a Panama hat and Rayban sunglasses and I was wearing Raybans too but I had on my bush hat that I’d brought back from Australia. It was still hot; my neck hurt but there was light at the end of the tunnel.

‘Ok. So we go here and then here and then take a right turn and the place should be just there,’ she said and off we went.

We’d been walking for about five minutes when I noticed all the boats in the harbor or marina just to the right of us. There were all kinds of sizes of yachts with different shaped hulls and masts all painted different colours. But what really stood out was the colour of the water, which was turquoise blue. At the end of the marina was a big three-mast schooner with a flag flying at the top. It did look good. Like something from a film I thought.

Pretty soon we walked off the main road and began up the side streets. There were stalls and little restaurants with people milling about. It was certainly a lot more quiet and peaceful down there and I was beginning to feel relaxed. Mum had her map out and followed the streets with her forefinger. ‘Ok,’ she said ‘we just need to go up here and then turn right here.’

I kept walking behind her. She seemed to know where she was going. She still had that dark raven hair cut in a bob as if to say, ‘I know who I am.’

But did she know where she was going?

We kept walking.

Then we came to the hotel or a sign outside the hotel, which said ‘Pensioned Iglesias.’

‘This looks like it,’ she said and she turned to me.

I looked up at the front entrance. It didn’t look to bad so we headed inside and stood in the un air conditioned foyer. The chances of air conditioning on this trip were minimal I thought to myself. I’d better get used to it.

A strange woman with thick glasses was sitting at the booth inside and as we walked in she greeted us.

My Mum got to work on the Spanish.

She seemed to do well.

The woman gave us a set of keys and pointed to the corridor. We walked down with our bags and found the third door on the left.

‘This is it,’ said My Mum.

She put the key in the lock and walked into the room. I followed her in and was greeted with a not unwelcome sight before me. The windows, tall and almost ceiling height were wide open with muslin curtains billowing between them and you could here the sound of the street outside. I went over to one of the beds and put my bag just beside it. Then I flopped down onto the bed and almost fell asleep straight away. I heard my Mum in the bathroom fiddling around with something. Then the phone rang. I couldn’t be bothered to get up but Mum came out and picked it up. She said something in Spanish and replaced the receiver. I felt tired. Tired but good.


In Benidorm you had to take your chances when it came to restaurants but we didn’t feel like taking chances so we booked ourselves into one of the most expensive places we could find and settled in for the evening. We had drinks first in a nearby bar and in total we numbered five. There was myself, the cameraman, Vicky, Emma and the Presenter. We sipped at beers and talked about old jobs. Then we ate some prawns and I marveled at all the fluorescent lighting they had in those places. Jesus it was harsh but it was also hospitable.

After a couple of more beers we walked over to the restaurant. The Presenter was lagging behind and he seemed disinterested. I wondered why this was? Usually a Presenter was one of two things. He other liked to be centre of attention and take control or he or she was slightly aloof, barely registering your presence if indeed hanging out with crew and production at all.

We made our way into the restaurant and took a seat at a large wooden table. Wine was brought to us. We ordered quickly and I chose the venison in some kind of cream sauce. The others had other Spanish dishes like paella and stuff with chorizo in it and exotic tapas for starters. The presenter ordered chicken and chips. Or at least tried to. When they wouldn’t bring it for him he became moody and disagreeable. We looked on.

Shortly before the end of the meal he decided that he’d had enough and asked for the bill.

We looked on.

When the bill was brought he asked Emma to pay and she replied that she wished to finish her meal first and then she would settle the bill.

He looked on.

There was an air of disquiet around the table.

‘Why couldn’t we just have something simple?’ he said.

He seemed very on edge.

Then he got up and went to the toilet.

Vicky turned to us.

‘I think he’s diabetic,’ she said. ‘He’s gets a bit funny sometimes.’

‘Well frankly fuck him,’ said Emma. She said this quietly.

I finished my venison and watched as the Presenter came back to the table and sat down.

‘Right,’ he said. ‘All finished?’

We wrapped up the meal and Emma got the bill. Then we headed out onto the street. Before we knew it he’d taken off and looked to be walking back to the hotel.

‘Wait a minute Dominic,’ said Emma. ‘I think you’ve forgotten something,’ and she waved her hand to him.

He ignored her and carried on.

It turned out they’d already had some kind of falling out that afternoon. As we nursed a final drink in a local bar it became apparent that there were editorial issues that there had already been a clash of wills. I observed this.

Then we finished our drinks and headed back to the hotel. The idea was to film by the beach the next day, just a few links, that kind of thing. It was the jolly to end all jollies or so it seemed. While we had that last drink I watched Emma smoke several cigarettes before bed. She acted like there was something on her mind and it wasn’t just the job.

The next day we drank coffee at breakfast and ate watery scrambled eggs. There was the usual collection of motley tourists, a few German, a few English and the hotel staff milling about. The Presenter was already sat bot upright at a table of his own when I came down and I watched him talking on his phone. By this time he had something of a reputation on daytime TV and this was a career that had come later on to him. He had all the features of a born again Presenter. Cheap but slightly try hard clothes, a look of slight apprehension that said ‘what the fuck am I doing here?’ and a desire to be loved. It was clear he already considered himself famous. I made sure I sat at another table. It didn’t do well to be too friendly with the talent for if they turned, and they invariably did, you would be their first port of call. I’d once known a boom op on a job that struck up a chummy relationship with an actor on set and before long the said actor had a strop and the boom op had found himself unemployed. It happened.

The day went rather well, the battle of wills between Presenter and Producer seemed to advance slowly and deliberately with little fall out. Before long we had finished. I sat on the beach with a beer and my kit and clinked glasses with the cameraman.

‘This is a paid holiday,’ I said.

The cameraman laughed.

Just then Emma and Vicky came over with their drinks.

‘Well cheers,’ said Emma.

‘Cheers,’ we said and we all clinked glasses.

Emma got out a cigarette and began smoking. She looked good in her working outfit, the girl clearly had style of some sort. I looked at the cameraman. He seemed to be one of the most contented people I had ever met. I considered this. Then Vicky mentioned the presenter. Apparently he had returned to his room in a huff, something about a battle of wills with the Producer. I looked on.


I sat opposite my Mother in the restaurant. She drank from a glass of beer and smoked a cigarette. We were in a little upstairs room that looked out over the street below. It was nice enough. Behind her I could see all kinds of flashing signs and hear the sing song melody of a street filled with holidaymakers.

“Well cheers,’ said My Mum and we clinked glasses. I was on the lemonade and grenadine. Jesus I must have had a sweet tooth..!

Mum smoked away and eyed the other guests. I hoped she wouldn’t become drunk and disagreeable. Often, public situations put her on edge as they did me but she had the capacity to become volatile. I steered the conversation towards nice things.

The waiter brought us our food and before long we had finished both courses. Mum smoked another cigarette and I looked at a plate of ice cream. The couple next to us appeared to be on their honeymoon and looked very romantic together. I wondered if I’d ever get married, have children that kind of thing? Then my thoughts were interrupted by my mum who was complaining about something or rather. I didn’t take much notice but I heard something about her ex boyfriend Nick, who had been something of a shit. I disliked hearing about him as I hated him and I tried to change the subject but to no avail. Before long she had ordered a brandy and was well on her way.

The conversation became difficult, she started to object to a lot of what I said so I decided not to say much. After we’d payed the bill I decided I’d like to go back to the hotel but my Mum was up for going out. I decided to leave her to it and she seemed like she might bite my head off at any point so it felt like the right thing to do.

At 11pm I left her in the street with a cigarette in her hand and walked slowly back to the hotel. I was 15 years old and I’d never had sex with a woman. I was wearing blue converse basketball shoes, some multi colored shorts and a black t-shirt with Led Zeppelin written on the front. I weighed about nine stone and I brushed my hair back with Brylcream to keep my overly long fringe out of my face. I was a textbook public school boy from the 80’s.


Around 130am I heard the door of the hotel room open and I found myself awake.

My Mum stood at the foot of my bed with a cigarette in her hand and then advanced towards the window which I’d left open.

She turned to me.

‘Well we’re fucked,’ she said.

‘What’s that?’ I said and I sat up in bed. I put the bedside light on and squinted over towards her.

‘What’s fucked? What??’ I said.

I was still half asleep.

‘I lost our fucking passports didn’t I?’ said my Mother.

She was really quite drunk and could hardly get the words out.

‘Where?’ I said.

‘I fucking dunno,’ said my Mum and she threw her fag out the window. Then she groaned and went and sat on the bed.

I lay bay down again and looked at the ceiling.

‘What do you mean?’ I said.

‘I lost my fucking bag,’ said my Mother. ‘Those two CUNTS took it.’

‘Which ones?’ I said. I’d been in similar situations before and was not willing to panic or worry until I knew the full story. I really just wanted to go back to sleep but that seemed impossible now.

‘Oh those two fucking CUNTS I met in the bar,’ said my Mum.

I considered this. She’d met two guys in the bar or a couple or something.

‘I don’t know what we’re going to do,’ she said and she got up and went to the bathroom. She’d certainly had her bag when I last left her but not anymore. This was depressing I thought to myself. And what about her money? I put it out of my mind.

She came back in and lay down on the bed again.

‘Oh well,’ she said. ‘There’s nothing we can do now I’ll just have to back there tomorrow and find them,’ she said.

‘Ok’ I said and I reached over and turned off the light. Within a minute or two she was asleep and had crashed out fully clothed. I turned over and went back to sleep.


The next day we hauled ourselves out of bed and Mum threw up in the toilet. I put on some fresh clothes and walked down to the concierge. The woman was there as usual and I talked to her or at least tried to. I asked her of she had our passports but she looked confused and said no. I walked back to the room and sat on the edge of my bed looking out the window.

‘Well are we going to stay here tonight or move on?’ I said.

‘Good question’ said my Mum then she started telling me what had happened the night before. She’d got talking to two guys in a bar after I had left and they’d had a few more drinks. Then the sailors (they were in town on a big yacht) asked her of she wanted to come back to the boat with them. She’d declined and decided she wanted to go back to the hotel so they accompanied her part of the way and then left her to it. Then she woke up or was woken up by an old man by the side of the road sitting in some bushes. She had come too and the first thing she realized was that her bag was gone.

‘Those CUNTS,’ she said to herself.

I looked on. It was a tricky situation and one that could be hard to resolve. I wanted to rewind back to the previous day when everything had been fine with no booze. That however was impossible.

‘They must have taken my fucking bag,’ she said. ‘They must have mickey finned me,’ she said.

I considered this. It was highly probable. What else had they done? I thought it over.

‘Right,’ said my Mum in a moment of confidence, ‘we have to go and find them, I know they’re staying on a big boat in the harbor, they told me.’

I got up to wash my face and brush my teeth. It must have already been 75 degrees out there. I put a cold flannel on my neck and then found some sun cream. I applied it liberally and looked at my mum sitting on the bed from the bathroom mirror. She didn’t look too pleased.


We made our way down to the harbor in the searing morning heat. The boats looked good bobbing up and down and the water was still clear and blue as it had been before. I felt strangely optimistic and hopeful about the whole situation and glad to be in a foreign land without all the usual associations you had being at home. For instance I wasn’t thinking about school or worrying about what I was going to eventually do with my life. In some ways it was oddly liberating being in a strange land with things slightly outside your control. I’m not sure how long I’d feel like this but I decided to savour the moment.

My Mum was looking a little better for getting a coffee inside her and she had her hat and sunglasses on to protect her hangover from the heat. We made it down to the roadside and found the spot where she had woken up. There it was, sure enough a large flax like bush that looked like it had been sat on.

‘Let’s have a look, it might be here somewhere,’ said my Mum.

We began searching in vain and after five minutes or so we gave up.

‘No sign of it,’ I said.

My mother took a cigarette from a packet she had just bought and lit it with a plastic see-through lighter.

‘They must have taken it,’ she said as she blew smoke out of her nose. She looked down at the ground and thought hard.

‘I know that when I came to my first thought was that it wasn’t under my fucking arm.’


‘And I know I had it there because I remember telling them to go away when they tried to help me.’

‘Help you with what?’

‘I dunno, get a cab or something. I’d had enough of them by then.’

‘Ok,’ I said.

A taxi tore past and beeped its horn.

‘Come on let’s go,’ said Mum and she began walking over to the pavement. I still had some cash in my wallet and we weren’t totally up shit creek but we really needed the bag and the passports. I followed her towards the Marina.


After the shoot was over we had a bite to eat in the restaurant we’d been to the night before, well it had been so pleasant we decided to go back without the Presenter who’d decided to get an early flight back to the UK. I didn’t blame him really but clearly he was relatively hard work. He’d learn. Or maybe he wouldn’t. Either way I didn’t give a damn, I just wanted to enjoy my last night in Spain with a group of people I got along with. It wasn’t really much to ask.

After we had left the restaurant we went for a few drinks and then Emma and I decided to get a drink or two elsewhere. It wasn’t the fist time I’d spent a bit of time with someone further up the food chain and it probably wouldn’t be the last and besides I found her company quite enjoyable. I was thirty three years old, I’d had a younger girlfriend, an affair with a very beautiful and dangerous married woman and I was still looking for anything to take my mind off the fact I’d lost a woman whom I’d been with for almost ten years. We had gone our separate ways a while back but I still couldn’t get it out of my head. I never had understood really why she left me and since then I’d never found anyone suitable, if there was such a thing. It was tough when she texted me to let me know she was getting married but I wasn’t surprised. I went into my flat and found a bottle of champagne I’d been keeping back. Then I decided not to open it. What was I thinking? Such was the effect she’d had on me. As a man you never truly know what it is that makes you keep thinking about a woman even after she has gone and often you’ll pursue the idea of her, the remains of her even though you know you’re stuck in a fantasy of how you think it was or what it is you think you’re missing. The bottom line is you know she’s with another guy now or maybe she’s just sitting in a room somewhere drinking a glass of wine and listening to Spotify. You don’t know and you don’t want to know all you want to do is preserve the good times in your mind which by this point are largely false.

I sat down next to Emma in the bar and we ordered a couple of drinks. I ordered a brandy, fuck knows why, probably because I was abroad and she had a glass of wine. Emma I think is an alcoholic. An alcoholic that does very well with it. At least I used to tell myself that until she became more and more unpleasant and out of hand when she was AND wasn’t drunk. She put it away and it was her favourite tipple. I couldn’t blame her I guess, we all had our poisons. But it was like walking the dog for her. When I drank because of unhappiness I put it away to medicate consciously, cognitively. I knew what I was doing and I was full of protestant self-loathing. She wasn’t or didn’t. She just did it because she liked it and it made her feel good.

I drank my brandy which didn’t taste very good and ridiculously ordered another. We talked about her lives. I told I had been in love with a married woman a lot older than me and she didn’t seem very interested. She didn’t seem to have much of a history with men I noticed. Or women for that matter. Maybe she didn’t need people much? Maybe neither of us did but that night I realized one thing, we kind of needed each other and that was kind of alright because we didn’t seem to have much in common other than that except maybe the fact we’d both been to relatively harsh boarding schools and our friends were middle class. She was the sailing type, slightly ostentatious, loud and attention seeking. I was attention seeking in a different way. I was relatively self-effacing but gripped by sorrow. Sorrow of what I had lost, what I had never had and what I wanted to but couldn’t be. Really I had nothing to feel sorry about but she was a good shoulder to lean on.

Now I won’t say she was Mumsy because she wasn’t and she wasn’t particularly in to being that either but she had a certain female wisdom about her and that wisdom was that small things in life weren’t to be worried about and that it was better to just get on with the bigger picture. I obsessed over small, what I felt to be important details and she laughed at me. I made her laugh. Yes this helped. Was I attracted to her? Yes but I didn’t know why.

We staggered back to the hotel, high fived and made it to our rooms. The next day I missed her on an earlier flight and I wouldn’t see her for some time.

The cameraman and I sat in the airport lounge and talked about the shoot. He was a good-natured gentle guy and he’d go far. He didn’t feel like he had any issues and he’d married a girl who I used to work with and who was quite beautiful, something of a hit amongst the rest of us. A guy in the office had been in love with her for a while and he knew I knew this and he hated me as a result and saw me as a threat. He was a good man and his father had been a priest but he had his fair share of hang-ups. So did I.


We approached the boat by walking up the long jetty. My first thought was that it was very much like the boat from Dead Calm that film Mum and I had been to see a couple of years before. Mum liked the new films and she usually chose well. When I was 10 I first saw Apocalypse Now because she’d recorded it on video for me. I didn’t ask her but one day she said you might want to watch this. While I watched it my Stepfather sat in his robe on the corner of the settee stinking of alcohol and making sarcastic remarks. I couldn’t blame him after all Brando had pretty much ruined the film and Coppolla I guess was to blame for that but the film had a lot of balls and you had to hand it to him for really going for it. I liked the scene at Do Lung where Willard went looking for the officer in charge and found a strung out bunch of doped up black guys. That scene really put the hook in me and as I remembered the great final sequence where the compound was blown to smithereens. It really was something at least ten minutes long once you’d factored in all the music and the credits and everything else the film had to offer which essentially was a trip, a journey to another place where you could work out things for yourself and probably draw no conclusions whatsoever. Other films from the time included The Terminator and a whole other heap of action films that were released around then. These films were the soundtracks to my home life, when I was there. When I wasn’t locked away in school with all the other maniac kids who’s parents had given up.

The great boat stood before us like something out of a pirate film and seemed to be unmanned. Things were looking tidy on deck and it was as though no one had ever set foot on her.

‘This must be it,’ said My Mum. ‘This is exactly the boast they described.’

I nodded and followed her up the jetty. She called out ‘Is anybody there, hello??’

The boat creaked and we stood there in the morning sunlight. Then a hatch opened down the far end and a man stuck his head out.

‘Hello? Veronica is that you?’ he said.

‘Yes,’ she said. Then ‘ Hello, I’ve come to get my bag back.’

I’d stopped walking by this point and decided to keep my distance.

The man came walking up the boat towards us. He had a ponytail and his skin was very brown as of he had been at sea for some time.

‘Hi,’ he said as he walked over.

There was an uncomfortable moment where neither party said anything and then he looked at me and nodded.

‘Well how are you?’ he said. ‘You were quite drunk last night I think.’

‘Was I?’ Said Mum.

‘Well yes,’ said the man. We left you over there by the road. We tried to get you a taxi but you weren’t having any of it,’ he said.

‘Is that right?’ she said. She was on the warpath.

‘Yes,’ he said. ‘We tried to flag down a taxi for you and stop you walking off into the night but you were standing there having none of it.’

Mum had taken out another cigarette and looked at me before lighting it.

‘Well my handbag has gone missing,’ she said,


‘Yes I couldn’t find it when I woke up’

‘This morning?’

‘No last night.’

‘You had your bag with you when we left,’ he said. ‘I seem to remember that.’

He had a kind of European accent possibly he was of German or Scandinavian descent. He seemed Ok to me not too shifty.

‘Why don’t you come aboard and have a coffee?’ he said.

Mum looked at her cigarette and said ‘Ok then.’

I walked over to her and we both climbed aboard. It was exciting to be on the ship and I looked up at the great tall masts as they stood there.

‘My name is Fritz,’ said the man and he leant forward to shake my hand. ‘And you must be Veronica’s son?’ he said.

‘Hi,’ I said, ’I’m Gabriel.’

‘So tell me, would you two like a coffee or a cup of tea? We have everything down below,’ he said.

‘Yes if you’ve got a coffee that would be great,’ said Mum in a very uptight voice. I opted for tea and he went off to make the drinks. I stood on the deck with my arms folded feeling quite odd. He wasn’t acting suspicious per se but it was a strange position to be in. I looked at Mum. She had her hangover back and she was waiting for that next coffee.

Soon he returned and he stepped over to us with a tray.

‘Here you go,’ he said and he offered both of us sugar.

‘She’s a hell of ship huh?’

‘Yes,’ I replied. I didn’t really know what to say.

‘So your bag,’ he said. ‘What are you going to do about it?

‘Well I need to get it back,’ she said.

‘I definitely remember you having it under your arm,’ he said. ‘You were clutching it like this,’ and he did an impression of her with the bag. ‘We were worried about you, that something might happen to you but then you just told us to fuck off!’ he said and he laughed.

I sipped my coffee. A great seagull landed on the hatch further down and squawked loudly.

‘Well I’m afraid I don’t remember that,’ Mum said.

‘Have you lost your money?’

‘Yes and the passports.’

She was feeling better now because of the coffee.

‘Well do you need to borrow some?’ he said.’ We don’t have much but we could lend you something?’

‘No it’ll be fine,’ she said.

I wasn’t so sure of this.

‘You must be careful in Spain Veronica.’

‘Yes I realise that,’ she replied.

‘And Gabriel where you out in the clubs?’

‘No I was in the hotel,’ I said.

‘OK,’ he said.

It was quiet for a time and we all sipped our drinks.



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