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Nigel's Story - A Narrow Escape
by Jilliana Ranicar-Breese

I am always fascinated and yet sincerely interested when people I meet seem compelled to tell me their true life stories.

Such was the case when I had the pleasure of spending the day with Nigel Higgins, now in his early 50s and happily living on his finca, far from the ‘maddening crowd’, in Santa Margalida, Mallorca.

Nigel was a reformed ‘bad boy’ having spent 15 years living in Italy where he learnt to speak excellent fluent Italian with the well known alternative Mutoid Waste Community.

Nigel wanted to tell me of a crazy night when he was 16 in 1984, just after he had finished his O levels back in England. I listened carefully, making some word prompt notes.

He was hitching with his then best friend, Glen Wilkinson, in France for 20 days without any money with the inevitable backpack and sleeping bag. Nigel described himself as a blond New Romantic Punk, whose idol was David Bowie-cum-Ziggy Stardust.

On the road to Saint Rafael, in the south of France, young pretty boy Nigel and his mate stopped a 2 door dark blue Pergeot driven by an older man called Jean Paul. It was getting dark and the boys were desperate for a ride. Any ride but not to be taken for a ride!

The car screeched to a halt and they both piled into the back seat, tired, sweaty and hungry. The stranger spoke impeccable English and was exceptionally friendly. He introduced himself as Jean Paul through the reflection of the car mirror. Nigel could not stop thinking how much their driver looked like the current Polish Pope Jean Paul 11; a most uncanny resemblance. Out of politeness and typically British, he said nothing being the polite guest in his host’s car.

Midnight, the hour of the pumpkin was arriving as they sped to St Rafael. Jean Paul offered to put them up for the night in his flat. He knew in advance his live-in Asian boyfriend Sanjay had prepared a delicious authentic curry with basmati rice and accompanying home made chutneys. How could the starving boys refuse?

The Puegeot purred into a smart underground car park. Up they went in the lift to a modern but comfortable abode. Indian wood statues and ethnic paintings adorned the walls and the large glass dining table with 4 carved wooden monkeys holding up the bevelled glass, completed the picture of hospitality.

Sanjay had prepared a feast with chilled lagers and afterwards Indian ice cream in little ceramic pots, a souvenir for the boys to keep and use on their journey back to England.

After a sumptuous tasty dinner, Jean Paul suggested the boys strip off and take a refreshing hot shower. This was welcomed and the boys innocently tried to shower but found the taps a bit stiff to work.

Jean Paul to the rescue and, in the know, boldly came in to the wet room to “help” and take a look at how well hung they were! Being British, the boys were coy and showed it by their body language, so their host quickly retreated. Obviously they were not up for what he had in mind, perhaps a foursome with randy Sanjay?

Time for bed but no spare bedroom. Only a sofa in the lounge which Glen was quick to take and thus Nigel was led to Jean Paul’s adjoining study. Through the French windows they went to the big terrace where the loungers were kept. This was to be Nigel’s final resting place with more privacy in his sleeping bag for ‘protection.’

On the way through the study, Nigel was quick to notice several framed black and white obviously professional photographs of the easily recognisable Pope Jean Paul 11. He said nothing but was determined to go back after his host had retired to bed, to take a closer look.

Good nights were said and Nigel could hear the crickets and see the whole of the large terrace filled with architectural plants as there was a full moon. He was wide awake and intrigued by the photos, so wearing only his navy blue boxer shorts, he crept back into the study.

There were about 6 photographs of Jean Paul 11 in darkest Africa with VIPS and Dignitaries wearing white robes and skull caps smiling for the press. Some were stultified in groups while others were quite natural off the record photographs in different places at different official engagements.

Looking closer and closer, Nigel saw it was his host and not the real Pope. Jean Paul was, of course, a professional Look-a-Like!! Having satisfied his curiosity, he got back into his sleeping bag to curl up for the remainder of the night.

To sleep and perchance to dream? Was he dreaming he could feel his arm and shoulder being gently stroked? No, but when he felt his back, down to the tip of his spine, being stroked, he turned and saw in the moonlight, a grinning cat-like Jean Paul. Nigel jumped out of the bag like a cat, fortunately still in his boxers, and was amazed to see his host struggling to do up Nigel’s own trousers! Jean Paul asked young Nigel for help! Seeing that his potential victim was horrified and not going to be seduced and buggered, he coughed nervously and retreated, leaving Nigel with a thumping heart louder than the sound of the crickets. Nigel tossed and turned under the full moon and the stars listening to the noisy crickets for the rest of the remaining night terrified his host might return.

Dawn approached and, after no sleep that night, Nigel rose. Jean Paul amazed his guests by preparing the perfect full English breakfast. 2 poached eggs, rounds of crisp toast, 2 grilled pork sausages each, fried soft tomatoes, garlic mushrooms with parsley and crispy bacon. He then explained he had been educated in Sandhurst and later gone up to Oxford to study English literature.

A perfect ending to an eventful night, Jean Paul accompanied by Sanjay, drove the boys to the nearest petrol station to continue on their road to nowhere, waving Adieu with a never to be forgotten mysterious smile.

Written in Dalt Murada Hotel, Palma, Mallorca on 20.1.19.