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After a week in the caravan in north Cornwall, I flew down to the Costa del Sol for a few days. I managed to get on a weekly flight from a west country airport with a budget airline. It was a smallish plane - rows of three either side of the aisle - and when we were airborne there was a quiz.

Each row of three constituted a quiz team, and we had to give ourselves a name. We were the Women from Venus, after the title of the New Age self- help paperback that the bloke in the window seat was reading.

On our team there was the bloke with this book, myself, and sitting between us a young woman with a bare midriff who cheerfully assured us that she was "sick". "That makes two of us," said the bloke with the book.

A stewardess called out the questions. Team captains had to press their call attendant button before answering. The three bottles of cheap champagne deservedly went to Mongol Hordes in the end, who knew everything and won by a mile. One of them even knew, without hesitation, the exact number of people killed in the Tenerife air disaster.

Women from Venus scored only one point. The question was: What is troglodytes troglodytes more commonly known as? "Troglo who?" said the bird with the bare midriff. "If anybody knows the answer to that one, they need help" said the bloke with the book. When I pressed the button and gave the correct answer (wren), they both looked at me as if I was mad.

In contrast to the wild and terrible Cornish skies I'd left behind me, the one above Malaga was cloudless and serene. Sid and Veronica were there at the airport to meet me. Sid, aged 72, was wearing an England soccer strip and a brand new pair of Nike Air Max. As it was on the way to Sid's apartment in Marbella and as it was nearly lunchtime we stopped for a bite to eat at El Rabioso, Maureen and Little-Eyed Dave's seafood restaurant in Torremolinos.

They were glad to see us, as always. "Hi babes!" chirruped Maureen as we trooped in. "You nice, Jel?" said Little-Eyed, seriously, to me, as if his future happiness depended on my answer.

During lunch, the major topic of conversation was Sid's face. Inspired by Peter Stringfellow's heroic example, and encouraged by Veronica, he's going to have the thing lifted apparently. It was the first I'd heard of it. Three grand it's going to cost him.

Maureen was agog. "They peel your face right off and then put it back again?" she said excitedly. "That's right, doll," said Sid, uncomfortable at the thought, but making light of it. "When they take Sid's off, they'll probably decide he looks better without it and leave it off altogether," predicted Little-Eyed. "Second thoughts, what about having a face transplant, Sid? I hear Tony Newly's is up for grabs at the moment."

I said, "What made you decide to do it, Dad?" Sid reached under the table for Veronica's hand and looked lovingly into her eyes. "I'm doing it for my darling babe here," he said. "She says that when I'm lying on top of her, my face sort of hangs off my skull and it puts her right off."

Veronica nodded shyly and looked down at her plate. Maureen choked into her wine glass. Little-Eyed said, "Why not buy her a blindfold, Sid, and save yourself three Ks?"

After the dessert, Veronica showed us what they hoped Sid's face might look like after his operation. Standing behind him, she pulled back the slackness of his face with her lovely long brown fingers, and secured the excess with clothes pegs, at a point just beneath Sid's ears. The effect was startling. With his eyes like slits and his lips frozen in a hideous grin, he looked like an elderly Chinaman recently paralysed by a stroke after a lifetime of debauchery. "What do you think?" he said, moving his lips with difficulty. "Very handsome, Sidney," said Little- Eyed. "Phwor!" said Maureen.

After the brandy bottle had come out and gone round a few times, Maureen went and got her peg bag and we all pulled back our jowls - even Veronica - and pegged them back behind our ears and sat there bristling and drinking in this way, and then some of Little-Eyed's and Maureen's other customers said they'd like to try it as well. Ex-pats, I find, can be very silly at times.

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