I wouldn’t normally have an ice cream but the raspberry ripple at the wee cafe down at the harbour is so tempting. I like the girl that serves there, too. You’d expect somebody that gorgeous to be really stuck-up but she’s nice. I can’t say her name and she can’t pronounce mine properly either. “You vacation alone, Treeesh?” She’s got these huge dark eyes and skin the colour of toffee and slinky, wavy hair. People just aren’t that beautiful back home in Scotland.
Actually, I “vacation alone” because Bonnie called off at the last minute. My best friend Bonnie broke her ankle when she was out clubbing (without me, by the way) and fell off her Jimmy Choo shoes. Bony Bonnie broke her ankle: poor BB! I even call her BB to her face sometimes but she’s got no idea what it stands for. She thinks it means Brigitte Bardot. I’d never have an ice cream if BB was here. The only raspberry ripple that reaches her lips is the L’Oreal one at 25 quid, because, as she knows, she’s worth it. Bonnie says I should eliminate fats from my diet for a svelte silhouette. She calls me MTT: Muffin Top Trish. But my Bonnie lies over the ocean and this is my fourth ice cream since I arrived.
I stand in front of the café in a square of morning Mediterranean heat and soak up the sunny scene. I love this place. Gorgeous Girl is wiping the tables. It’s the end of the season so there’s not much doing. Today, I’m doing the tourist thing and going up the mountain to visit the castle. It’s supposed to be a must-see: “a mighty ruin with nice sight of lacy coast”, according to the leaflet. I’ve got my wee binoculars with me.
It’s a fab day again: blue sky but blowy so there’s white horses on the sea and the boats in the harbour are all bobbing and jingling. There’s a guy in Bermudas sitting next to a cute wee red boat that’s tied up to the pier. He’s brown and lean and all floppy hair and flip-flops and dangling cigarette and lounging in this striped beach chair. It’s like an ad in a glossy mag. And then he’s waving. I glance right and left but there’s nobody else around. Mr Handsome Hunk is waving at MTT. First I think I’m seeing things because I can’t focus that well with my new prescription sunglasses, but, no, he’s definitely waving. I saunter over, licking my raspberry ripple in a way that I hope is nonchalantly sensual. By the time I reach him he’s looking out to sea, very cool and casual and maritime. He pretends to be surprised when I cough to announce my arrival but a moment later I get this twinkly smile. He nods towards the boat. “You go sailing, pretty lady? Very nice swimming in next bay. ” I hesitate, wondering what his game is. There’s no board out advertising boat trips or anything. It’s a short slippery slope from raspberry ripple on the pier to date rape on deck. He raises his eyebrows, smile broadening. Very tempting. “Maybe later,” I murmur, studying my ice cream. “I’m going up to the castle this morning.” “Later is good,” he says. “I also sail later.” Then he laughs and winks and says, “See you later.”
Waiting at the bus stop, I think, “What’s the joke, Mr HH? Poor little MTT can’t resist - is that it?” But I’m useless at the outraged feminist thing. My raspberry ripple has melted and dribbled down over my hand. I imagine the wee red boat skimming over the waves with him at the helm as I lick the last ripple of pink from my fingers.
The mountain is more of a big hill really. You get a bus halfway and continue to the castle on foot. It’s steep but I’m quite fit and it’s well worth the effort. It’s so cool up here and I’ve got the place to myself. The wind tugs at me and greedily I sniff in the spicy fragrances it tosses around. (See if you can bottle that and put a price on it, L’Oreal!) The castle is more ruin than mighty, but as for the view … nice? How about stunning, stupendous, mind-boggling? It reminds me of a silk tapestry I once saw. The sea is this ruffled satin of blues and greens, studded with sparkling crystals and seamed with a curling hem of white and gold. The town down below is a jumble of white Lego houses, the harbour a jostle of toy boats. The “lacy coast” bit in the leaflet isn’t bad but I could upgrade the description of the view for them if they want.
I perch on a corner of the castle wall and let the wind buffet my thoughts. I’m on top of the world and it goes on forever. Bonnie would hate this: too high, too remote, too exhilarating, too free – she’s wary of things that cost nothing. She wouldn’t like the idea of the boat trip either. I can almost hear her words of wisdom. “Don’t be so naïve, MTT! You surely don’t think a guy like that could be interested in you (emphasis on the “you”). Don’t trust him, he just wants to have his wicked way - he’s foreign, don’t forget!” But I feel fearless up here, empowered and adventurous. I long to sail to the next bay and swim in that spangled sea. Don’t they say nothing ventured, nothing gained? What’s the worst that can happen - a terrible photo of me (BB would give them one) on the front page of The Sun under the headline Terror Trip for Tragic Trish? With my binoculars I scan the harbour. There’s HH still draped beside his boat. Would the trip be so attractive if the boatman wasn’t? Of course … well, no, possibly not. Suddenly he waves. I feel myself flushing as I thrust the binoculars back in my bag, horrified to think he’s seen me spying on him. But then I breathe easy again. I’m invisible up here; I can see forever but nobody can see me – not without a telescope, anyway. And as I relax, things become clear: it couldn’t be me Handsome Hunk just waved to, and it probably wasn’t me he was waving to before either. (BB: “Of course not, stupid.”) He just wants to make some quick cash on his day off. My mind’s made up: I’m going on that boat trip this afternoon. I’ll tell Gorgeous Girl at the café so if I don’t come back The Sun can be on to my case right away.
When I get to the café, I’m feeling quite excited. I’ve got my floral sundress on over my muffin-top-concealing swimsuit and I’m slick with factor 50. I glance over at the boat and HH waves. Nice life he has: sitting in the sun all day, waving. Gorgeous Girl, in a tiny bikini top and shorts, is just shutting up shop. “Hello, Treeesh. You come also on boat? My boyfriend say you come also swimming in bay.” We both look over at HH. Guess what – he waves. Now I get it. I smile and nod. Yes, I come also, and it’s going to be absolutely brilliant. GG and I run over and HH helps us both into the boat. GG gets a kiss and then we really are skimming over waves that flash black and gold in the dipping sun. Wait till I tell BB about this. I’ll take loads of photos. I might cut Gorgeous Girl out of the ones I show Bonnie, though.