Maurice invited us to his gaff for festive drinks on Christmas Eve. I was delighted to discover that Bernard from Majorca was in town. Bernard is the El Presidente of the ‘First Wives Club’, the fellowship of the ring of exes with whom Maurice has remained friends. Liam thinks the whole concept of staying on good terms with old flames is unnatural. I have membership card number five. It’s fair to say that Maurice has a distinct type, since we are all stout short arses. His current squeeze is no exception. We are the six gobby dwarves to his stocky Snow White.
Meeting up with Bernard again reminded me of my encounter with the Spanish chapter of the guild of emigreys many years ago. Bernard runs a bar in Mallorca and Maurice and I visited him one wet, windswept winter. We were invited to Sunday lunch with an east country couple called Doreen and Jim from Norwich. Jim was doing hard labour retiling Bernard’s bar floor for which he was being handsomely paid. I asked what brought them to Spain. “Too many foreigners coming into the country and sponging off the social” came the depressingly familiar reply. I nearly fell of my chair when Jim boasted, without the slightest hint of irony, that he was claiming incapacity benefit.