Bryan Hemming

Tavira market

“Canna ashoo a queshoon?” I looked round to see a short, stubby woman lurching drunkenly towards me in the dingy, fishermen’s taverna near the river. “If you’rr marr’d, ah’m no’ intrresset.” Against the background of subdued Portuguese murmuring, the broad Glasgwegian accent was unmistakable, its rolling ‘r’s laced with spit.

Having already ordered a glass of red wine from my stool at the bar, I’d spotted her too late. Turning my back, in the hope she might go away, wasn’t going to work. A hip bumping against my thigh, as she closed in, was proof enough of that.

The scruffy, little drinking hole behind the market in Tavira had become my favourite. Being the only woman, and loud at that, Jan was impossible to miss among the coterie of hard-drinking males. Staggering from table to table, she was grabbing men’s hands and trying to get them to kiss her. One moment full of bonhomie the next…

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