There is a variety of groups, clubs and societies here in Valencia formed by British immigrants and retirees for fellow countrymen and women. I dislike the word 'ex-pat' because it suggests that to leave a sink estate in Acton for a maisonette with a partial Mediterrean sea view is necessarily unpatriotic, if not unreasonable. Many of these social clubs are really little more than an excuse to heavily inebriate onself, gossip and - if possible - pick someone up. We have the El Cid Bowls Club, the Jávea UFO & World Mystery Discussion Group, Costa Swingers, the Ayora Valley Arts & Crafts Club With Brian & Pamela (trios with anyone who fancies it) and, of course, Alcoholics Anonymous. Looking through the local English newspaper I see that yet another club has been unleashed: The North Costa Blanca Poetry Group.
Now, I appreciate that the world is a better place for having poets in it, but I honestly can't think of a worse way in which to pass an evening: people reading their poetry - to each other. It summons up an image of the school playground, walking up to some witless innocent, arms crossed and announcing "You know my friend over there? Well she wants you to read her poetry." I've dabbled a little myself but never allowed it to get out-of-hand. Besides, my efforts were so hopelessly characterised by the metaphorical, depthless abyss of the mind that I once cleared a room in precisely thirty seconds. Now, of course, I'm on Facebook - but have solemnly promised to leave at some point.
About two years ago I was invited by the editor of a bi-monthly English-language newspaper to write a column for them. I suggested an Agony Aunt page under the auspices of a 50-something, female divorcee from Stoke Newington called "Dear Pat..."
My husband is obsessed with saving money and it's really getting me down. We've been here for three years now and the cardboard packing box that stored all my silver is still being used as a coffee-cum-dining table. Any suggestions? Yvonne in Oliva."
Well he sounds like a right boring old tight-fisted git. Nick his wallet while he's fallen asleep in front of the telly and go buy yourself a big, f***-off table. And a brand new wardrobe for the summer, because by the sounds of it you're probably desperate by now for a new bra. If that doesn't work, crown him over the head with a paella pan and clear out."
Like yourself I'm a divorcee in my fifties. The problem is, I'm finding it very difficult to hook-up with people. I consider myself to have quite a bubbly personality, always cracking jokes, I'm fairly active and not ready to give up on a bit of fun just yet! Ha-ha. Maureen from Dénia."
I'm not surprised you haven't met anyone - you sound revolting. BUT, if you really want to meet people why not dress yourself up in a pair of lemon hotpants and a really snazzy, eye-catching top, go down to your local football club and volunteer to be their mascot? Alternatively, you could shoplift - that's a guaranteed way of meeting new people."
It didn't last very long. The editor - who had not an iota of humour - was horrified and pulled it. Shame.