I could feel it seeping through my trousers. There I was, minding my own business, at one of Trevor’s memorable wine appreciation extravaganzas, when a large flute of cava, filled almost to the brim, belonging to the woman on my left, was tipped directly into my crotch, with such laser accuracy that all of it reached that destination. It wasn’t her fault at all. The man on her left had waved his right arm, while making some point about something or other, as you do after sampling five glasses of wine without spitting any of it out, and the fingernail of his right index finger kissed the edge of her glass with just enough force to send it directly to my groin area.
You know that feeling you get when you piss yourself in public? No, neither do I, but I can now imagine what it is like, except for the presence of hundreds of fizzy wine bubbles around the scrotum, which I have to say were not entirely unpleasant. The woman was very apologetic, not that she had anything to apologise for. I began to sense that steam was beginning to rise from the affected area, and instinctively put my hand over my groin, but then realised that it was probably not a good look at a dinner table – or even anywhere else.
I could not remove my trousers or underpants, for fairly obvious reasons, so I sat there gently marinating my genitals in cava. Fortunately, it was soon time to leave. As my wife and I crossed the road to the carpark, I took her hand, though the man or woman on the Javea omnibus could be forgiven for thinking that she was helping an incontinent wino across the road.
You meet such interesting people at Javea social functions, finding out the interests and proclivities of all sorts who have washed up on these shores with stories to tell. We first came to Spain in the early 70’s to visit my wife Morag’s parents who had moved to an apartment near the Arenal. On one visit they introduced us to a friend in a bar, a charming man who came from Birmingham, to which I was just moving to work. He looked vaguely familiar, and his name rang a bell. He got on very well with my parents-in-law, and we were glad they had made a good friend. On returning to England, I came across a front page headline in the Birmingham Post and Mail showing a photo of this man under the caption “Birmingham’s Most Wanted”. He was a well-known local gangster who had fled to Spain at a time when Franco was still alive, and there was no extradition treaty with the UK. We never saw him again.
Apart from him, I don’t think we have ever met anyone here who I would describe as bad or dangerous, a few have been a little mad perhaps, annoying, dysfunctional, drunken, oafish, balls-achingly boring and downright rude (though not all of those at the same time), but the vast majority have been good people, interesting company and fun to be with. And I have learned so much from them – from Heidi, who runs the Spanish classes for U3A, where we also met many good friends; from members of Labour International, which as a long-time Labour Party member I joined on moving here in 2012, and have made close friendships, even if some of us do have the odd falling-out, as happens in any family; from involvement in two weekly quiz teams over the years, only one of which is active at the moment, whose members remind me of how little I know; from music groups, a poetry group, and in particular the U3A afternoon book group, the prestigious Xabia Book Circle, and the short story group which I joined after lockdown and where I am surrounded by people who can write, and who are all far better read than I will ever be. And that brings me full circle to Trevor’s wine group.
Trevor is the Falstaff of Javea, with an easy manner and popularity that so many crave. About 5 years ago, I sat at a desk at the annual U3A meeting where group leaders sign up new members to their groups. I was there for the book group, and Trevor, sitting next to me, had just taken over the wine group. In nearly two hours, I was approached by all of two people, one of them a woman who said “What! I have to buy the books myself! Pah!!” and strode off. Next to me, Trevor had a queue of eager new members. I began to wonder what it was that he was selling that I wasn’t. It dawned on me that wine might be more popular than books, though the two can go together. So we joined Trevor’s happy band, which today has a long waiting list.
What would I have done if I had stayed in England? Looked out at our back fence, at the house backing onto us, at the grey Midlands sky, and the wet earth? No, not for us. There is so much to look forward to here, like Trevor’s wino group Christmas lunch, where we are expected to wear something red. I am looking for a pair of red incontinence trousers.