It wasn’t long after we’d moved from London to Mallorca that we started to recieve house guests. A steady stream of people came to rubberneck at what they percieved as our good fortune to have miraculously landed in a Meditteranean idyll (but with my Dad knowingly repeating his personal mantra to our guests: ‘the harder you work, the luckier you get’, they soon got the picture that it wasn’t an accident or fortuitous lottery win that had got us to where we were).
Whilst O got on with working as a chef in the middle of the summer in an extremely hot kitchen, and I spent days out promoting my new business, our guests were often left to their own devices during the day, and into the evening. Often, this was of no hardship to us, as some of our visitors we barely knew – the classic, ‘friend of someone you once used to work with’ scenario, or the second cousin of a distant relative. But some we did, and we were particularly looking forward to a visit from fellow Londoners (and all round workaholics), a friend of O’s and his girlfriend. We planned trips: a day out on my father’s boat, restaurant visits, Palma nightlife excursions and general jollyment. After the pressure and craziness of physically moving to the island we were very excited to finally have people visiting who we liked and enjoyed spending time with. But we were to find out that sometimes, even guests that you know well, you don’t really know at all.
Living in a rented (and falling down) three storey house in the town of Andratx meant we had plenty of space for people to stay, and I lovingly prepared the guest bedroom, which in my opinion was by far the nicest room: I loved the sun peeping through the shutters as you heard the faintest echo of goat bells in the morning. Perfectly peaceful ambience. I even ironed the bed clothes which were of embroidered white linen. So far from our haphazard London days, I wanted to try to be a good hostess.
It was with mutual delight that our guests finally arrived for their week long stay. We had a wonderful couple of days, drinking wine on the terrace in the evening, listening to mellow music and putting the world to rights. But then things started to go wrong, O and I couldn’t work out what we had done, but suddenly his friend’s girlfriend started to act strangely. She locked herself into the perfect guest bedroom for hours on end, and refused to come out. We were distressed to hear her crying. The couple would disappear off for the day and then on their return go to the bedroom and not come back out for our customary end of day terrace session with a couple of bottles of cheapo vino. My father’s boat trip was to have been a highlight, but the girlfriend just couldn’t shake herself out of her malaise and sat with a dark cloud over her head for the entire day, whilst the rest of us jumped off the back of the boat into the clear blue sea. We simply couldn’t understand it. Surely we weren’t such terrible hosts? Why didn’t she like us anymore? Were we being boring, talking about how great Mallorca was? O’s friend was apologetic, but would not explain what was going on, and I think we all started to wish the days away until their departure.
The mystery was finally solved a week after they had returned to London when I received a letter from her: in it she thanked us for our hospitality and with a painful air of embarrasment apologised for her unfortunate timing in deciding to come off of her anti-depressant medication whilst on holiday, trying to capture the simple happiness that O and I were also persuing that seemed to be so elusive to all of us in London . . . I know that after her rather bumpy start, she successfully stopped taking her medication.
We attended their wedding in Wiltshire last summer, it was an incredibly happy day.
Copyright VMcLeod 2008