Captain Mainwaring is alive and well on the Costa Blanca. I saw him on the number 27 bus, wearing a check shirt, stay-pressed trousers and plimsolls. His wife was with him, freshly coiffed and perfumed, in a jewel-encrusted black wool poncho. It must have been his wife because he hectored her throughout the ten-minute journey.
‘No compras nada! Then when he comes to the house you can tell him, there’s nothing here. Nothing! If he doesn’t like it, he can stuff it.‘
Who is ‘he’, I wonder? Do they have a son? A ne’er-do-well, who sponges off his parents? Or maybe he’s just a poor relation, or a chance acquaintance that Mrs Mainwaring has taken under her maternal wing. She’s been getting in food, it seems, in case he turns up with another hard-luck story.
Whoever, he is, he’s no match for Mainwaring. ‘Poor?’ he rants. ‘Of course he says he’s poor. He’s the bueno and the rest of us are the tontos. Well, if he turns up again, I’ll call the police, and then we’ll see who’s tonto.’
Under fire from the Captain, her resolve weakens. The young man will have to defend himself. She’s only got energy for her own survival.
‘But he phones me on my mobile. What am I to say to him?’
‘Tell him to speak to me. I’ll tell him where to go.’
By now her voice is barely audible. ‘But he doesn’t have your number.’
‘Well, give it to him, woman. Do you know it?’ He makes her repeat it, write it down. ‘Now if he calls, there’ll be no excuses.’
She says nothing. She’s shrunk into her poncho, ready for another few decades of oblivion.