Everyone gets paranoid that they’re not going to wake up in time to catch their early morning flight. I’ve slept through countless alarm clocks: from shrill sirens, pneumatic bleeps, the crack, fizzle and drone of morning radio, to the increasingly aggravated shake of my Mother. One grey morning I slept through an earthquake. So you’ll imagine my surprise when I woke up at 4.30am (an unprecedented event in itself) a full fifteen minutes before my alarm was set to go off. I soon realised, seeing the idiot blink of my alarm, that sometime during the night we’d had a power cut. If that isn’t proof of divine intervention then I don’t know what is.

Ah, Barcelona.

We stowed our things at the cheap central apartment that Diana had acquired for us and drove to the beach. This is what you do when you arrive in Spain. We clung to towels and cans of coke as Kate and Tom pointed out Gaudi buildings and I craned my neck to see them. They were fantastic. I tried to remember reading about Gaudi but I couldn’t remember anything about him, yet the architecture so suited my prediction of a city made of termite mounds.

We walked halfway between the gay and straight areas on Marbella beach, a compromise with our entourage of two gay boys and two sets of straight couples. There was a glut of nubile bodies; sun kissed buttocks; proud Catalina noses; penetrating Spanish eyes. The guys were pretty cute too. Kate pointed out some of the more notable penises. One was soft and pink, hiding under a pot belly. Another scared her with its length. Next to us a naked young Dad with a mullet frolicked with his mulleted young son. Groups of friends lay semi supine, tufts of pubic hair stirring in the sea breeze. I consider us to be very close but none of the Scoobies were brave enough to get nudy in public. We needed time to acclimatise. A good five years would probably do it.

If you’re concerned that we spent all our time tanning, don’t be. Diana’s French boyfriend Olivier could get us on all the better guest lists, he promised. We danced on a terrace in a castle on a hill. We drove out to a Warehouse for an after hours club. We went to Sitges and danced by the Sea. The only major drawback was that the Spanish love their progressive house. For a gang who loves strings and builds and sweeping vocals, the monotonous boom boom boom was a disappointment.

Sam, with his muscles, only had to take off his t-shirt to be tapped on the shoulder by a beefy Dutchman on holiday. I had less luck. My Spanish is as good as my Urdu. I could give sex-me-up-eyes but the boys I lusted after were the aloof ones. It would take more than a glass of San Miguel and a hopeful “Hola!” to charm them.

We had arguments. The couples had tiffs. Sam can be stubborn, Diana is famous for being moody and I can be a tad disagreeable if I don’t have enough of my infamous ‘me time’. But the measure of a holiday is when, after a few days, the lasting memory is not of occasional bickerings, but of Kate’s face as - whispering - she points out a particularly tanned and curvy penis.


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