That was yesterday's culture. Today we have trouble already at 1B1 Victoria. Couple 'A' are at our door wanting to move away from couple 'B' and can they have their half of the money back. And here we were hoping for a blissful two weeks with only two of the apartments occupied.

I explain to couple 'A' that they have paid the owner of 1B1 Victoria for their let, not us. We don't have their money.

Then they want to know if we can phone the owner and ask for their money back?

Yes, we could phone the owner and ask for their money back. But what if the owner - who is a very good friend of ours - refuses to send their money back?

Well - could we find alternative accommodation for them and they would pay us later?

Yes, we could find alternative accommodation but we would require payment and they would then need to recover their loss from the owner of 1B1 Victoria. (they are young and poor and I can well remember what it was like to be young and poor) And have they really fallen out over a shortage of pillow cases? There are six.

"Why didn't you come and see us?"

"We came. You were out!" We almost get the accusing pointed finger.

"Sorry! How about a note under the door?"

Some embarrassment here, the problem is being cut down to size. "We didn't have a pencil."

Lizzie offers to lend two pillows. "Now go and make your peace."

"We're not going back there, are we Tony!"

"In that case I'll take my pillows back."

Oceans of argument silently sail past while they stand mutely in the hall clutching the pillows: "We'll sleep outside, won't we Tone."

"You don't take towels or bed linen on the beach."

The spy hole opposite has gone dark. Berenca is enjoying the show.

Desperately anxious to save the day I offer to go with them to 1B1. It's only a short walk but there is a hint of rain returning so I will take our cultured umbrella - saved yesterday at the last minute from a fate worse than death.

"OK but it's only to take our gear out."

"Then you won't be needing the pillows."

"This is a shit deal, mate!"

"Best I can do. Let's go."

Halfway there I discover that they have left their keys inside 1B1. Couple 'B' may be out. "Just like them. Gone out and bugger us!"

Clever Dick has prepared for rain but forgot to take the management keys. So I walk back and leave them screaming hate. And it pours cold October rain.

"Silly old fool!" Lizzie meets me at the door with the keys.

Couple 'A' are sheltering under the famous cat tree, pillows on their heads to keep off the rain.

Thankfully they are not our best pillows, but even second-best pillows don't work when they're wet. We complete the journey in sulky silence to find couple 'B' still inside the apartment. Discussion is lengthy and hostile. There is a strange inter-relationship here: male A and male B are brothers; female A and female B are sisters. And there is something else here, something I don't want to untangle. Can I leave now - before it gets any deeper?

"Look, I'm going now. Please try not to upset these nice people next door. And do try to enjoy your holiday." Escorted by silence I leave swiftly with the clear impression that chaos will ensue once I am out of range, hoping for the sun to break out and clear the air, and maybe - just maybe, the day may yet be saved!

Yes, the cease fire is holding, and yes, it's creeping towards the safety zone for our cockers pee at six. We do not take wine to a cockers pee. Marjory was well up this morning and into her shopping. Fred describes her as a good wine that does not travel well. He does his butler's pantry act with striped apron and double cuff and polished shoes. Chicken and salmon wedges, biscuits brought from Wales, and Lizzie has done a great cake, a classic Victoria sponge, too large for Grandma's cake stand, brought round on our drinks tray. Our cheddar cheese will be presented to us and we will be eulogised as the greatest hosts outside Wales. Dr Gethin, his wife Brenda; Paul Bundle an arranger and composer and wife Gwyneth an oboeist; George Stockton in the music publishing business and his wife Gloria who tunes concert pianos - a happy bunch of people who actually like our company - though I've never fully understood why we are so special, nor why the Booths don't book into a hotel as their friends do.

"It's a long time since I was in the business," says Fred.

I never got closer to their history than this, and frankly I didn't want to. Obviously at one time Fred was closely connected to the music business, maybe Marjory was a singer? We speculate but leave the gate closed, not wanting to destroy the plateau we are standing on. And here we are talking about everything and nothing in particular as people do at cocktail parties. And then the cheese. Best Welsh Cheddar received with many thanks because you can't get decent cheddar out here.

So how do you tune a concert grand? Just an innocent party question on a wet day by a man who has tuned his son's guitar and his daughter's violin, and is now revealing his appalling ignorance. "Good Lord! I had no idea!"

"No, I don't tune pianos - I teach the tuning of pianos."

"I had no idea it was so complex. I often wondered what the third pedal was for... Music and maths... really! You tune the middle range first - I see..."

Lizzie who appreciates music but can't read a note is talking with Brenda and Paul Bundle about their group tour of Las Canadas tomorrow. If the weather clears they should get a good view of El Teide and his early snow. &Wrap up warm," we advise. Snow in the tropics is an interesting notion. Kilimanjaro is a good example. And high praise for Lizzie's cake comes forth; and then her story about teaching Berenca how to bake a cake, the Sisters of Mercy did not bake sinful cakes and Berenca's mother was a technician not a kitchen person. And then Gloria comes in with a tale about the strange things she once found inside an old upright piano including a china rolling pin.

The doorbell compels silence: "Who on earth..."

A mind too lofty to unbend over the ridiculous flotsam of juvenile life grips me with something close to hatred. "I think it's for me," I tell Fred. "I'll go."

Unset the face (I was young myself once) say hello to - whoever - and smile. Opening the door I smile at them, a sorrowful couple, his guitar plastic wrapped to keep it dry. Has she been crying or it it just rain? Berenca, being helpful, has sent them round.

Marjory is there instantly. "Oh, you poor dears. You're all wet!" Saved by a new interest the day survives. Somehow they are drawn in with a plate and a wodge of Lizzie's cake apiece. And Gloria is drying the strings with toilet paper and advising the boy about tuning a guitar because he's got it all wrong.

"So what happened about the keys, my prince?"

"Shush. Say no more! It's the psychology of the pathetic, the accidental event of wet people calling at the door. Marjory saved the day - so did your cake, beloved!"

"Which couple was it?"

"I didn't really notice. By the way - is Margery with a 'y' or 'ie'?"

"They've been visiting us for three years and you still don't know?"

<< Previously: Pillows

Next: Nice of them to invite us >>

Cristimar home page

Return to home page

Click here to return to Alan Mann's home page

     Text & paintings © Alan Mann 2006 - 2007