Spain has been for many years the Nº1 fun in the sun spot for families, singles (18-30), stag & hen parties, etc. In fact since the 70s, when Sir Freddy Laker (God bless him) opened up the Hi-De-Hi horizons of the great un-washed, although the popularity of Spain as the first choice holiday for Mr and Mrs average does go up and down, like an up and down thing, there is still no denying the track record of a destination, that at the end of the day, does still offer guaranteed sun, reasonable good value and, lets face it, cheap drink and fags.
But lurking in the background, like an elusive scent behind the more familiar in yer face pong of coconut after sun and Hawaiian Tropic, is that almost extinct creature, the went away to find myself.
Back in the swinging 60s, when, if you didnt disappear up some mountain somewhere, you were the odd one out, Spain was great because it is full of mountains without being too far away needing five years grant money to get there and although you didnt get to meet the Dalai Lama, no doubt you were too stoned to know that Jose from Jimena wasnt in fact the Dalai Lama.
So, forty plus!! Yes, forty plus years later, what has happened to these higher mortals? Well, scratch under the surface of the every day folk, living and working and leading ordinary lives in Spain, and lets face it not as windswept and interesting as they would have their green with envy friends back in Blighty believe, and there they still are, as reclusive as a badger with a secret, but still spreading peace, love and bad paintings around like confetti.
Now to listening to me, you would think that I have some kind of chip on my shoulder in respect of these lentil eating, dog saving, bad art campo dwellers. On the contrary, in fact I think we need more of them!
My family and I lived in Spain, the Real Spain that is, over thirty years ago, in what was then an unspoilt mountain village, and, although I was a child at the time, I was privileged to have met some of the original Scooby Doo types.
Now I am living on the Coast and, to be frank, I am finding it a bit like Great Yarmouth with palm trees. One English bar, near where I live, even has a group of ladies of genteel disposition who meet to play Bridge and drink lemon tea. Yes, Bridge if you dont mind!
You cant move for the Big Screen Sports Bars and even the Spanish bars sell bacon without bristles! Where will it all end?
So what happened to the Free Spirits? I hate to say it, but they seem to have become respectable, there are a few old timers happily smoking and drinking themselves slowly to death, and, fair play to them, I am glad to say not a compromise in sight. But on the whole, the new crop has wandered a long way from the path of enlightenment.
The modern day Velma and Shaggy come to us hot foot from a killing on their Right to Buy council house, bringing a variety of elderly pets with them, two point four scared stiff children and an outdated desire to find and buy a bit of the Real Spain.
It is a sad fact, however that the Real Spain has long gone, Jose from Jimena sold it to Taylor Woodrow for more millions than he could fit on his mulo and anyway could these modern day drop outs from society really live in the Eldorado of the past?
Way back then the finca on the campo consisted of four damp walls, a leaky asbestos roof, no water, no electricity and no toilet facilities, a place that even Man Friday would swim to freedom from.
So what does all this tell us? Quite simple really, the Real Spain has been sold, the Spanish bars have sold out, the finca on the campo is a home from home and the original free spirits had necks as hard as jockeys b****cks!!
So did anyone ever really find himself or did they just get lost trying?
Next month: Healing, the answer lies within. (Not!)