It was good to see a face from my distant past. He was in the snug at our old local. This long-term expatriate was back “for good”.
Now in his 80s, the Spanish heat and a hillside garden were too much. There were some health concerns but he and wife were well. There was still a sparkle in his eye.
“Where else would you rather be?” he asked, adding that family ties were a draw, alongside our NHS.
“Mind you, everything’s changed.”
By a shake of his head that was clearly not all for the better. As if to confirm this, dozens of young men at the nearby bar were baying at a giant soccer screen while, across a busy road, toddlers played in the doorway of a bookies – busy with Sunday afternoon punters.
Still, we were enjoying chewing the fat, though the real chewing – on giant burgers and pizzas – was going on next door, in a family dining room where you could hardly move.
“There are so many obese people!” the slim veteran observed. “The Spanish diet is the healthiest in the world. Mind you, the young there are getting fat now, too. It’s this fast food.”
But the fast life wasn’t for him. “My credit rating is zero,” he said, “because I’ve never spent more than I could save.”
He was pleased I was still happy at the same house as a quarter of a century before.
He said: “Why not? Everything you want is near. I’m not climbing back on that property ladder. How can anyone afford such prices?”
Instead, they had a static home on a rural site, minutes from coast, town and superstore.
That was heartening too for, like a fresh breeze from the past, he was a reminder of how much had changed – but what still mattered most.
* For Roy’s books visit www.royedmonds-blackpool.com