I’d never heard of La Marina, I’d vaguely heard of Alicante, and I only knew about it’s big sister (Benidorm) because of the TV show which came out in 2007. With that as a reference, I wasn’t exactly going on this holiday with the highest expectations in the world, but it was cheap and with good friends, so how could I refuse!
Stereotypes are something I’ve learnt to reject as far as possible. In this case the stereotype was of geriatric english men, with small villas, and even smaller minds. Well, lets just say I was wrong to reject that stereotype. Apart from my dear friends, the individual who featured most prominently in my trip was Dez. Where to start with Dez? Dez, a retired tax man, from Yorkshire, searching for something else in Alicante. To call Dez a taxi driver, would be wrong. Although he did drive a cab, un-licensed and poorly. To call Dez an idiot, would be wrong. Although he did give me his house keys rather than the villa keys. To call Dez ignorant, would be wrong. Although he did tell me he hated the Spaniards because they were a bunch of idle ‘dickheads’.
The latter comment was on my first journey with him, a journey defined by my attempts to make civil conversation while Dez undermined me, repeatedly. Upon being asked about why he had moved to Spain, Dez didn’t even consider before shooting back, “To get away from the [insert racial slur] in Bradford’. Quickly followed up, and justified with, ‘And yes, I am a racist’. This set the tone.
I asked if he spoke much Spanish,(already I should have known better), to which he responded, ‘No, it’s not a proper language, they’re not even proper Spaniards round here. Proper Spaniards have blonde hair and blue eyes’. Trying to move the conversation away from racial classifications, I asked if he had any family, usually a safe subject when you’re avoiding touching politics with a 10ft barge poll, ‘Oh I don’t talk to my son, he’s a bad ‘un, and my daughters a fucking slag’. At this point I attempted a lighter subject, and commented on the beautiful mountains I had seen during my landing. Even the beauty of nature could not tempt a softer side out of Dez, instead he retorted, ‘This part of the coast is fucking arid, and it’s full of Moroccans, but at least they keep to themselves’. It was like banging my head against a brick wall. The remainder of the journey was, obviously, spent in silence.
Upon arrival in the urbanisation, which I was convinced he referred to as lambirna (I assumed a bastardisation of Lambrini), Dez should have taken me to my Villa. He didn’t. Instead he took me to his house, where I was unceremoniously dropped off and left with his wife, Karen, clad only in a towel. I was informed she would dress and take me to my villa, while Dez went to pick up more people from the airport. As he left, he stuffed a bunch of keys into my hand. This didn’t seem like the most professional arrangement I considered, while Karen got changed in another room.
If I had been expecting a quick trip to the villa, I would have been wrong. Upon Karen’s reappearance, now fully clothed, I was offered a beer, which I accepted for lack of much else to do. Rather than being taken to my vila however, we sat together watching Eastenders. Eventually soaped out, Karen ushered me into another car and we set off for the villa.
We pulled up outside, in the dying Spanish sun, it looked lovely and I couldn’t wait to get up onto the roof, to read, and finally relax. However the key’s didn’t work, on closer inspection Karen realised they were actually Dez’s house keys. The ordeal went on for a further two hours, in which various members of the community offered differing degrees of help. The most terrifying, no doubt being from Karen herself, telling me I was welcome to stay with her and Dez if I couldn’t get in.
Upon Dez’s return, he came to get me from the Villa. My knight in shining armour (sweat), mounted on his trusty steed (a converted transit van). It appeared the police had been following him, and once he was out of his van-cab they pulled over greeting him in Spanish. (I think I saw him convulse at the utterance of hola.) He quickly whispered to me, ‘If they ask how we know each other, say you’re my son’. I nodded, realising I was playing the part of the aforementioned ‘bad ‘un’.
Police dispatched, and Dez driving me back to search his house, he tried to break the silence. ‘I bet you’ll fancy a beer after all this’, it felt like an olive branch, perhaps the start of a beautiful relationship in which I broke down Dez’s intolerances. This was quickly shattered however, when I informed him Karen had given me one earlier on. ‘ONE OF MY FUCKING BEERS I BET’, he roared.
That was not the last I heard of Dez.