1. Well if I’m to be completely honest with myself – and this is something that has been exercising my mind recently – complete honesty with myself – I’m a gigolo. No. It is the only appropriate word. Le mot juste, as the French would say. I imagine I surprise you. To look at me, you’d say I was a retired Naval Officer or the headmaster of a minor public school on holidays, wouldn’t you? Now I look back and it all seems to have just happened to me. Life I mean. I’m afraid that, somewhere along the line, I rather lost control of it. Ah well. Mustn’t complain. Can’t really,
I live in a comfortable house in a very pretty village. I have very few duties. I eat well. All in all, it’s not a bad lot.
O.K. So I’m a gigolo. So what? I was only ever good at one thing. Fucking. And now I keep a fat frau happy with my prick. Hein? I live in a big house, I go to lunch every day. All I have to do for this is to fuck the old bag once or twice a week, if I can’t get out of it, and feed her mother’s cats twice a day. She bought me a terrific motorbike. She buys my clothes, she looks after me. So what if I hate her and her famille incroyable de monstres, so what? I have what I want. And I tell you something mon ami, I have not worked in twenty years. Not bad, hein? Unless you call humping the ugly old bitch work. I just close my eyes, and think of young boys.
I suppose you would like to know exactly how I started in this line of business? And I would like to know why I am telling you all this. I have lived in this village now, five years, and said hardly a word about myself to anyone. But you are a stranger, you appear genuinely interested and you are obviously a gentleman. And I have so desperately wanted to talk to someone. Anyone. This is not my first -ah – position. Oh dear me no. Very well. This is difficult. It is best, I find, in my line of work, to keep one’s own counsel. Quite interesting, actually, how I have developed, what shall we call it, a set, a code of ethics? Yes. Ethics. I like the word. I have attempted to do the job ethically. I once tried writing down these – ethical considerations – and I found I couldn’t stop, I just kept on writing. Quite remarkable, really. Never written anything more than a shopping list in my life. Anyway, this, thing, this writing, became some sort of a story of my life. A memoir.
I was – rather proud of it. Showed it to a writer chap in Maya. He took it from me, and not a word. Not a word, mark you, very rude I thought. Anyway, eventually, one night, rather late one night in the bar, I plucked up the courage to ask him what he thought. He turned to me, he was I’m afraid, rather full of brandy, his eyes were bloodshot, and he said, sorry old boy, no good, no good at all. And then he added, rather gratuitously I thought, you couldn’t write bum on a wall. Well, I didn’t quite know what to say. Never did ask him for the manuscript back. Me? What time is it? Ah. Well, it is by way of being my day off, as Eva is visiting her mother in Vista del Mar. An old people’s home. Eva sorted the whole thing out, very comfortable. I don’t usually drink before five, but that is kind of you. A gin and tonic if you please. Gordon’s. Slice of lemon. Thank you.
Sure. What the hell. A whisky. She sleeps all afternoon. I do what I like until six. And then, well, I do what I can to get her too pissed to stand. That gives me the night off. Of course sometimes we both get too pissed to stand, and then, hah! We fight. We fuck. We sing. My God she is a dreadful woman. Her money? Well, she is German. So, you understand, hein? I think there was money in the family from steel or something. Then she married an architect – he designed the house. He died of a heart attack. No, I never met him. He looks like a shit in his photographs. Me? No, this is not my first – job? Is that what you’d call it? Hah! Oh, I have lived off women, and men, but not one so old. No. My friend, can you imagine how hard it is to fuck the old bag? My God, my imagination needs to be so strong! Another whisky? Sure, sure. Pourquoi pas? Maybe you would like to come home and meet the old salope, non?
Chin chin. Aah. That is a lovely drink, don’t you think? Everything about it says summer to me. The gentle tinkling of the ice. The tiny bubbles rising. The faint hint of lavender through the frosting. The yellow of the lemon. I do love the way they make a gin and tonic here in Spain, don’t you? The bartender fills the glass with ice, slices off the lemon, pours the gin to the brim, then passes it by the tonic. Just enough to give it a pleasing fizz. The proportions are perfect. Now. Where were we? Aah, indeed. My start in the gigolo business. I was in Madrid. I was trained originally as an accountant. And I had secured a position with a film company, a film company making westerns in Spain.
Oh yes, quite a few were made here – not spaghetti westerns, they used to call them paella westerns. Rather droll. Anyway, film accounting was my specialty. We were staying at quite a nice hotel, and we were due to go out on location to La Mancha. And one of the actors didn’t turn up. Not a major role. None of them were, really. What they call in the business ‘walk through’ parts.
Well, they weren’t very good films, I’m afraid. Rather basic. This chap was to play the manager of a miner’s hotel in the Old West. The director, scruffy little chap, looked at me one day and said simply, “You’ll do.” Well, it was a bit of a lark really. Of course it was all dubbed, so it didn’t matter how badly one spoke one’s lines. And it went on from there. I actually did fifteen films. Not a lot of money, not very taxing work, and there I was. A film star if you please, at the rather advanced age of thirty three. This was all in the early sixties. And, my goodness, it was so much cheaper to live here then. Anyway. Time marched on. And so did the film companies. They stopped coming to Spain. Rather left me high and dry. By that time, I suppose I was rather spoilt for the old life. Oh. Dear me. Will you excuse me for a moment. I’ve just spotted Eva’s electrician in the bar. We have a problem with the kitchen light. I said I would speak to him. Of course my Spanish is somewhat better than hers. It seems rather difficult for Germans to speak the language. I shan’t be a moment.
Bien. I am from Nice. My father? Quel connard. He worked all his life in a little bank. Every morning, he would shuffle off. My mother and I, we hated him.
He died young, about fifty. Bonsoir, au revoir. Ah, but my mother. She was something else. Very beautiful, very chic. When my father died, she had no shortage of lovers, let me tell you. And me? I was handsome. You can still see it, hein? This little belly, pfou! It will go one day. Ah, the hair, it is going already! What the hell. When I was a young boy, my God I was beautiful. They were all after me, the girls, the boys, the old men. So I leave school. I get little job here, little job there. I work in a nightclub, the old lady of the owner, she was fucking me, then he find out, pouf, no job. I work in a boutique, the sale pede who owns it, he fucks me, then his boyfriend find out, pouf, no job. This is becoming a pattern, hein? You don’t want to know the rest. I came here with a girl, she left me, I had no money. And the old bag, she saw me in the cafe. Me? I saw her money. My God she had a wad to kill a donkey. So. Here I am. Now, she talks about marrying me. Not bad, hein? She is old, she will die, the husband, he gets everything. Hah!
Where was I. Ah, yes, stranded in Madrid. Well, it was rather awkward really. I mean, I couldn’t possibly go back to England. Apart from anything else, at that time it was in a dreadful state. That appalling Wilson chap was still smoking his pipe in Number 10. That would never do. Me? Well, originally from Weston Super Mare. Yes, my father was also an accountant. Frightfully normal really. Very dreary. Well, anyway, I had a stroke of luck. There was a film crew, coming to Lavinya. Making a film about the hippy colony in Maya. Do you know the village? Very pretty, on the coast between Los Huertos and the capital. All sorts of odd bods live there. Well, so did I for many years. Poets, painters, writers, and lots of chaps who would like to be poets painters and writers. Lot of talking goes on in Maya. Another? Well, goodness me, why not. It is such a beautiful day, is it not? Although, you know, I really shouldn’t – what did we used to say in Madrid? Only a fool breaks the one gin rule? But why not be foolish, just once? You’d hardly believe it is February. Aah, lovely, gracias Paquita. Of course the same thing happened. Film company moved on, poor old me left behind. Stranded, otra vez, as the Spanish say. Only this time, the most extraordinary thing happened.
See that bitch – cette grosse larde – over there, stuffed into jeans. The blonde hair? Quelle connasse, that one. She came around to the house one night. I was out – I have a boy in Los Huertos – what am I to do? I must keep my fantasies stocked for fucking la vieille – and that vache, she went to the house to tell her that I have this boyfriend. You know what I do? Come closer mon vieux, this is not for the world. I go to her house one night, and I give her une fessée, a spanking, that she will never forget. I tell her if she goes to the flics, she is a dead thing. And the next thing you know, she is kissing me, almost bites my lip off, and we fuck! Mon Dieu, women! Will we ever understand them? Hah! Look how she run past me looking the other way. Aaah. Life. It is good, no?
You know, I never tire of looking at those mountains. Some people here, they become totally immured by them. Or else they don’t see them. For me, every day brings something new, some nuance of colour, some trick of light through the haze… no, no I’m alright. I just have this.. rash. It’s nothing, really. Well, it does have its moments. Over Christmas it covered my chest. That was rather unpleasant. Oh yes, she took me to a specialist in London. He said it was emotional. Well, I said, is there any medicine for that? No he said. You must change the way you live. Well, for God’s sake, is that why you pay a doctor? To be insulted? Where were we? The saga of my life. I said something extraordinary happened to me. It did. I was sitting in a bar in Maya. I honestly had no idea what to do next. I think I had one hundred pounds in the bank. This rather attractive woman sat down next to me and introduced herself. An American woman. She told me she had houses here. Not that she was married, which I found out subsequently. She was as fascinated with my accent as was I with hers – she was from the South – Georgia? Yes. Savannah, Georgia. Or Ge-owja as she said. Well. One thing led naturally to another. And I moved in with her. It was all done with such…discretion? Diplomacy? It wasn’t until she bought me a sweater that I realised – my status. I remember the occasion quite well. She had been to Los Huertos, some errand. I was pottering around in the garden, weeding, a useless exercise here – it must have been Autumn, the first of those little wild lillies were springing up between the flagstones, tenacious little devils, friar’s cowls they call them, can’t for the life of me think of the Latin name – and she turned up with this sweater. She dropped it on the garden table. ‘I noticed your sweater was getting a tad tatty’, is what she said. It was, I remember, a beautiful sweater. Pale yellow, almost primrose, cashmere. I didn’t sleep that night. I lay awake plotting my escape.
Hola mon ami, ca va bien? The plumber – a true shit, but we need him, my old bag and I. He is close with the Mayor. Ah, the mayor, now there is a salaud. But a necessary one. Mon vieux, you look to be a man of close mouth, hein? Let me tell you a little secret. This Mayor, he and I are like that, you see? Now. He has the land. And I have a little money… no, don’t ask. Let me say only this. The old bitch is rich. I look after the money. You understand? Omerta, the code. We plan, this salaud and I, a development that will put this village on the map. On the map I tell you. Merde, it’s a boring place. What happens here? Nothing! At night, you will find two old soulards in the cafe, drowsing over their brandy. No life! Only those damn mountains, like a fence to keep our eyes like the horses. We are planning something, I tell you! but zut, not a word! We talk only in French the Mayor and I, that helps a little. No, I speak no Spanish. Believe me Mon Vieux, to live here fifteen years and speak no Spanish, that takes some doing no? Many of these peasants, they speak bad French, when times were tough here, they went to France to work, their own patois – a filthy language – is like a bastard French. We get along. So. What more do you want to know? You are here long? A pity. I could show you around Pamboli, the capital. Not a bad little place, the food, atrocious, well, the seafood can be pas mal, but they cannot cook. Mon Dieu, the things they call food these Spaniards! Filthy red sausages, and the lungs of sheep!
My escape. I just couldn’t find the energy to leave. One was so comfortable. Somehow the incident of the sweater became – normal. She would buy me clothes, I would accept them. This shirt, for example. Please don’t tell Eva. Each day slipped by so easily, we would have lunch, a siesta, dinner with friends, occasionally we would fly to the mainland, and tour. I had nothing to worry about. I think I even began to become quite fond of her. Well, to cut a long and tedious story short, she left. Quite abruptly as it happened. It appears she had a husband, some sort of gangster I am told, in Chicago. It was all rather embarrassing. He must have got wind of what she was up to. These two strange men appeared. I was frogmarched out of the house. And I have never heard from her since. I have been told I was rather lucky. They can be a little violent, I understand. And that was the end of that. And then? Well. If the truth be known, I was passed on. Like a good recipe. Or a favourite cat. She told a friend that I was, ah, good value, and the friend invited me to dinner. And that, I’m afraid, was twenty years ago. To the month, as a matter of fact. What? Three in all. Counting Eva. I was only thinking about it this morning. I was thinking – well, you don’t want to hear this. Do you? You don’t mind? Yes, it does rather.
It’s frightfully hard having no one to talk to. Only a brother. He was in the city. No, I never see him. I’m afraid he rather disapproves of me. Well, I was thinking – and it really is a quite depressing thought – that if I had my life over again – I wouldn’t want to repeat one minute of it. It has all been ghastly. From the first to the last. No. Please. What’s that? Six chimes? I really must go. Eva will be back soon. And I really must get the house in order. We’re having a few friends over for dinner. Eva has sorted the whole thing out. Thank you awfully for the gins. And the conversation. I don’t believe I have enjoyed myself so much in years. Perhaps I shall see you in the Plaza some other day?
Eh bien copain, I must go. If I am to see my young friend before the old bag gets home. Ah, he is some boy let me tell you. His cul, you would not believe it.`Crumpled like a carnation, mauve and dim’ Verlaine. Hah! You thought I was stupid, non? Oh, I have read. Verlaine – now there was a man after my own heart.
Boys, girls, as long as they had a hole Eh! Hah! Always chasing Rimbauds, eh, I make an English joke, eh? Au revoir, Mec, I will see you here some day, non? Next time, I buy the whisky.
Ah, mon mec! Me voici, encore! Sit down. Now it is my time to buy. How have you been? How do you enjoy our little village? Boring, non? Listen, you want boys? Girls? Both? We must go into Pamboli one night, I know it well. There I can show you a good time, here, c’est rien a faire. In Pamboli, they have ces filles de joie merveilleuses! The eyes! The tits! It’s the Arab blood, they don’t know how to work, but mon dieu do they know how to fuck! Paca, ma belle, viens ici ! What will you have? A coffee? Merde, what’s wrong with you man? Dos coñacs por favor! Now that much Spanish I know. Look, look, here he comes. No, that one, cet vieux connard with the stick. You like stories? Well, that one, he lives with the sister of my old salope! Oui, oui, he also is a gigolo. Although, my God he would hate that word. He’s English. I must tell you, his is worse than mine, and ugly! And he is such a fool! He makes nothing from her – nothing! Yes? I suppose so. We are beau-freres, he is my brother-in-law. What a laugh! I have never thought of that. Sssh, he comes this way. Mon vieux, que tal? how is Eva? Ah. But of course, you two know each other?
Good morning. Yes actually, we do. How are you enjoying our peaceful little backwater? Isn’t the weather just too beautiful? Not too well, I’m afraid. The skin problem. It seems to be worsening somewhat. The stick, yes, well my legs are slightly swollen. No, no problem to get around. The stick helps considerably. I’ve just come up the hill to buy Eva’s lunch. She does like a little bratwurst. They keep it for her. Very kind, the people who run the shop.
Asientate, frangin,, have a coñac, My friend here was telling me all about you.
Was he really? That must have been rather boring for you. Thank you all the same, but I must go. Eva gets rather peckish around midday. But be sure to give my regards to Hildegarde. No, you probably won’t see me around. I think I’m going back home. To England. Yes, after all these years. Quite a wrench, actually. I shall miss this place. To a little place in Bournemouth. No, no, a sort of a hospital. Eva sorted the whole thing out, very comfortable. Well then. I must be off. See you soon – or should I say au revoir?