The Second Coming!
Paul sat in the verdant garden of an old Cantabrian house which had obviously been transformed into a knocking shop for middle ranking coppers and dodgy MPs. As he watched Andrew smoke a cigarette he took a long, deep breath.
And then out.
Just as he’d read how to do in the countless self-help books he’d read and re-read over countless unhelpful years.
It made absolutely no difference. He was still pissed off after being snubbed by a couple in white linen, quite obviously unmarried, who had both sneered at his apparel whilst conducting an insidious affair over a bowl of green olives. They’d not even given him a nod as he bade them Buenos Tardes, both far too busy betraying their kids and their partners and whispering their sweet somethings.
Not even a slight smile.
Paul didn’t care.
After all, he had just driven nearly halfway across Spain, lost he and Andrew’s passports,(allegedly!), driven back the other way, sorted the emergency travel documents which were now needed and then raced back across The Iberian Peninsula. Carmen and Carlos conducting their sordid little liaison behind a Mimosa, minus manners, were certainly not going to prove the proverbial last straw that broke his donkey’s back. Paul was far too determined to get back to Blighty without any more hitches – so any rudeness from some unhitched blighters was easy to ignore. Besides, he and Andrew’s journey during these strange Covid’ times had turned into somewhat of a questionable road trip.
Much like ‘Thelma And Disease’.
Only The Lola Boys were hoping for a more uplifting ending.
Of course, there had been some dramas and adventures on route. They wouldn’t be named Paul and Andrew were it not so.
And just a few detours.
When the boys learnt that the next boat on which they were able to smuggle a Pomeranian was in another three weeks they had to think on their heels. They knew they couldn’t stay on the road – it had already proved difficult with Lola and they’d be completely skint by the time they hit Portsmouth. Luckily, a few friends had come up with offers of accommodation, which Paul and Andrew accepted with gratitude and apprehension. After all, one never knew a person until they lived with them.
Think ‘Big Brother’ thought Paul. The tv show, not the novel. He was fairly sure he and Andrew didn’t have any friends that were that controlling. But only fairly!
He and Andrew first drove south to Jerez, the only town on route they’d heard of which was willing to accept Lola. They spent a night on Sherry, the drink, not the woman, and attempted to focus on the end of the Eurovision Song Contest, which Andrew decided to blast from the decrepit tv which was almost attached to the wall.
It had not been worth it.
The United Kingdom – nil points!
Paul wondered if he really wanted to turn back, but a sense of compassion and musicality allayed any fears. The winning song had been dreadful after all. The whole charade had become quite political, Paul wondered jf the UK shouldn’t just make another Brexit from the competition and leave it to the likes of those famous European nations such as Australia and Azerbaijan to fight it out. It all seemed most unfair.
As did the fact that he and Andrew had to vacate their room the following day. Jerez seemed to be a vibrant place which deserved more time, but of course, they were not on a jolly. They were heading back to sort out their replacement passports and their’s and Lola’s Covid checks.
But before that came Tarifa.
Paul and Andrew had heard tales of a Tarifa for years. It was found just around the corner to the ‘Costa Del Crime’ on the Costa Del La Luz, but Paul and Andrew had yet to see the light.
Paul did not want another long drive following he and Andrew’s ‘Cannonball Run’ to the centre of Spain and back, so Tarifa, with her cool winds and vibe to match seemed the perfect place to chill. The boys also had a friend who resided in the town, Naomi, whom they had messaged the previous evening. She had not yet got back to them so instead they had checked into a small hostal which had been recommended by another friend. Paul knew it was good to have friends. It made the journey through life,(and Spain), a little easier – unless they were full of bullshit of course!
The hostal was most odd. After taking over an hour to find somewhere to park their packed car they eventually found the place. No name, no number and one entered up the stairs to find only a stark white corridor with several white doors also showing no indication of numbers. The keys in the doors provided the clue. And after Paul had called the absent owner and read the booking instructions correctly, he worked out that it was one of the keys that was the key. The room number was found on on the key fob. Fab! Finally they were in. They had three nights of sun, sand and speedos and more importantly Lola had a place to rest her weary, yet fussy little head.
After finding their bedsit, they collapsed onto a table and chairs at a small cafe which occupied the corner of their alley and the main drag. They managed to sink a couple of beers rather too quickly and were discussing whether Naomi had been in touch when around the corner she suddenly appeared. Like the shopkeeper from Mr Benn! Only more glamorous!
It was a crazy coincidence. As it came to pass she had spent a rather crazy night – the details of which had to remain entirely confidential – and had therefore not got their message. But she was thrilled to see them both – and Lola. Suffice to say, their relationship rekindled, the boys and Naomi spent a terrific few days and nights in Tarifa.
Paul and Andrew loved the town.
The beaches knocked the flip flops off any others they’d visited in Spain and the hippy/party atmosphere was right up their street.
Heading away from Tarifa, towards good friends in Sotogrande, they were both nursing evil hangovers. But it had been worth it. They would certainly return. Naomi had shown them the ropes – even though they now felt as if they were on them!
Sotogrande proved just as fun. The boys’ mates, Darren and Paul, were wonderful hosts. Generous to a fault and the three days they spent at their gorgeous house was just the tonic they needed – of course, it was infused with more than a touch of gin, so Paul and Andrew left feeling much the same as they had when saying adios to Tarifa.
Marbella was the next stop they had been offered – and absolutely perfect, being close to Malaga, from where their emergency travel documents were to be couriered. Their old friend Jan had been house sitting for a rich bird who had flown off to Australia and Jan was now residing in the mansion with her charming daughter Lily Rose. Jan had known The Lola Boys from the days of their showbar, when she had appeared in many of their shows. It was great to spend time with her and reminisce about the bad old days – they had a great time.
Losing their passports had turned out to be rather fun – if not a touch expensive. But with both of them now delivered, in Tiffany Blue coverings, it was time to breakfast somewhere else.
They hit the road yet again.
This time they eschewed Naomi’s offer of a return to Tarifa, fearing they may never leave the place. Even Lola was chilled out in it’s sexy environs. Instead they headed for Merida – the town in which their passport had gone missing in the first place.
At least Paul knew the way.
And this time, he thought, they may get a peek at the magnificent Roman ruins which studded the town.
No such luck.
After arriving at the Hostal Imperial, which was unfortunately Imperial only by name, they set out for the ancient roman theatre. The extramaduran heat beat down with such ferocity that they had no option but to perch themselves under the first umbrella they came across. Lola snored in the shade whilst the beers flowed, mostly due to relief that the unlucky trio were now well on their way. All they had to do now was head further north to the old university city of Salamanca – where Paul had organised Covid tests for the humans and another health check for the dog.
It had seemed far more sensible than completing them in Andalucia and then bombing it towards Santander. He thought it better that they had some leeway – should any further drama occur. They had booked an extra night in Merida so they could take in the culture before hitting the highway. Unsurprisingly, what with the ale and the addling heat, they managed to see even less of the town than they had on their first disastrous visit. And when the guides at the Roman Amphitheatre explained to Paul and Andrew that they would have to decant Lola into their man bag before being allowed inside, they both knew they wouldn’t be seeing very much more. They were sure that in forty degree heat poor Lola would end up more ruined than some of the statues they’d bumped into.
And probably less lifelike!
She may have been a Pom, but they didn’t want her to end up like a Pompeian!
So they acted like complete Philistines, hitting the Roman cobbles and sating themselves with beer and berenjenas instead.
Surely the citizens of ancient Rome would have approved.
The following day and another sweaty drive, sans air con, to Salamanca, saw them pulled over onto the side of the motorway and questioned by the Guardia Civil. A six foot six specimen in exceptionally tight trousers questioned them first.
‘Do you have any alcohol, tobacco or drugs in your car?’ he asked.
’No’ Paul lied, attempting to look as innocent as possible, which was never an easy look for him to pull off. He blamed that on the act, although even he wasn’t even entirely convinced.
‘Step out of the vehicle please sir’, the giant in the fitted pants continued.
Paul and Andrew were both beginning to wonder if they would ever get out of Spain. It felt as though she had them in her latino clutches and was refusing to let them go!
Nearly an hour later, drenched with sweat and reeking of panic, after having to remove all of their suitcases and place them onto the hard shoulder to be searched, the boys were back on route. The Guardia had been incredibly polite, especially when, which much amusement, they had clocked the size eleven six inch stilletos.
And so very thorough.
As Paul and Andrew continued along the long Spanish highway , Paul knew the first thing he would do when he reached Salamanca was open the one bag the Guardia had not. He was sure there was some herbal tobacco nestling indiscreetly inside an blue Indonesian box of his that would take the edge off !
Ten minutes later and a convoy of six Guardia cop cars, sandwiching a plain white van, came speeding past them. The boys in green had obviously found what they were looking for. Although Paul doubted the illicit cargo had been of that colour. There had been far too many automatic weapons around – the force had obviously had a tip off. Which had paid off. But also caused him and Andrew considerable delay.
They pulled into Salamanca during that unnaturally quiet time in proper Spain when the death in the afternoon was just about to become evening and life would soon begin again. It was all very Hemingway. And was actually rather good timing. The motionlessness serving as an antidote to their constant motion.
What followed was an evening of tapas and treats for Lola and the boys.
And an early night.
They were all exhausted, and the next day they had to complete all of the boring Coronavirus swabbing and worming which was required of them before they could get back to their country of origin.
The following morning the GPS on their mobile managed to take them to the wrong hospital for their tests. They were directed by a charming woman to the second floor where they wandered around the Intensive Care department, Lola in tow, searching to be swabbed. Paul asked a doctor where they were to be tested. He appeared rather confused.
‘For Covid’ Paul had reiterated in his best Spanish, ‘you know Covid?’
‘Yes’ replied the poor medic sardonically, ‘I know Covid!’
Paul suddenly felt ridiculous. He’d obviously not meant to impute the Doctor’s medical knowledge, he was simply very tired.
The driving was driving him crazy. The heat making him hot under the collar. And the rapid Spanish making his pulse race. He did manage to get directions, from a wonderfully friendly nurse, to the clinic at which they had arranged appointments . Mercifully, it was a fairly short walk away, although Lola had to be carried neath the merciless sun.
They were poked and swabbed yet again – and yet again they were found to be negative. Which made them both very positive.
Next, the vet for Lola. Hopefully to receive the all clear.
Paul went alone as Andrew could no longer walk properly. An old injury from a pair of high heels during a performance of ’The Rocky Horror Show’ had reared it’s ugly cartilage. His cruciate was excruciating – so Paul offered to locate the surgery in advance of taking Lola, leaving one man and his dog to rest under another large sunshade with another cerveza grande.
Unfortunately, Paul had managed to find the wrong establishment, and when he later returned with Lola in his arms the friendly, young veterinarian had no idea why he and his feisty Pomeranian were even there. Luckily , Paul had recalled, in quite an abstract fashion, that the vet at which he’d made the initial appointment was named ‘Picasso’. As soon as he mentioned this he was directed, very kindly, to the vet in question. Which was thankfully on the same street, hence the mix up.
Lola sailed through her examination, mostly coz the wind had been taken out of her sails and she had little energy to bite back. She had never before visited two vets in one day. Or been wormed quite as frequently.
Nor had Paul!
The boys and their bitch spent another night in the stunning city of Salamanca which proved to be a revelation. Her ‘Plaza Mayor’ was stunning – her basilica even more so, along with the university freshman who were working as waiters to fund their studying. Getting fresh with some of them proved as enticing as the dishes these dishy guys were serving. But Paul knew he was too old for them – and if not, certainly too knackered!
He retired before Andrew that evening knowing he had another drive to do in the morning. Andrew had come up to the room a couple of hours later waking Paul whilst mumbling something about the ‘fucking police’.
Paul made the pretence of being asleep.
He really didn’t want to know.
In the morning it transpired that his partner had got into trouble for smoking without a mask whilst keeping one leg on the terrace. It seemed rather pedantic, and Paul wondered how one could fumigate with a face covering, but chose not to get into semantics. It was far too early and it was going to be a another marathon drive in their Ford with little focus!
And so they motored into the relative cool of Cantabria in northern Spain. At least this time they had no enforced stops and no swabbing to do on arrival.
This time the journey was fairy uneventful, except for a dizzy spell at 100mph – Paul chose not to share this with Andrew. He was a nervous enough passenger as it was.
By four 0’clock they had pulled into the car park of their final resting place before they took to the high seas.
Andrew hit the pillow for a coupleof hours and Paul went down into the garden to try and appreciate the semi-luxury they had for at least one night.
As he took a selfie in the Cantabrian countryside Paul could not help thinking he looked a complete, he didn’t want to use the word, but he certainly felt like it!
His hair was too blonde. He looked like he’d stroked, and he was clearly showing every one of his fifty three years!
He wondered why he loved to travel so much – as it was quite clearly not so keen on him! No wonder the stuck up bitches in the white linen conducting the affair had snubbed him. He would probably have done the same.
Or handed over some loose change.
It had never seemed a big issue to be terribly casual on an Indian train or a Cambodian mini-bus, yet it was clearly not so when staying in a semi posh brothel full of semis !
There was a certain snobbery abounding which Paul chose to ignore – after all the surroundings were astounding and the staff pleasant – ish!
Dinner was that boring combination of being both expensive and crap. Raw lamb chops and a steak which looked as if it had been dissected! Paul would like to have done the same to the chef, but his energy was too low. And he knew the clientele hardly came for the cuisine. The privacy and the coming were quite enough!
Besides, he, Andrew and Lola were on the home straight. Even if they weren’t going home and they weren’t straight!
They needed no more drama.
No more Covidness.
In fact, no more anything.
But, of course, being The Lola Boys, that was not to be the case!