FORTROSE -- Malcolm McKenzie, 55, of Rose Street, has just returned from holiday in Spain. "The wife and I, we like going to Fuengirola every year," he said. "It's got everything we need. The local shop has even started stocking [Tunnock's] Tea Cakes so now we don't have to stop by the Co-Op on the way to the airport."
But the routine nature of their holidays does not necessarily delight everyone. This year, in an effort to broaden the couple's cultural experience, McKenzie's wife, Teenie, also 52, booked tickets for an English-language coach excursion with a local tour company.
"Don't get me wrong," she said. "We love the Spanish way of life. A pint, a pie, a pub quiz at Jackie's [Bar], it's all so exotic. But if Malcolm doesn't get his bum off that barstool soon I may just have to go all Shirley Valentine on him." Her reference was to the title character from a 1989 film in which a British housewife travels to Europe and finds a new life outside the confines of her humdrum marriage.
The coach tour in question, El Vagón de los Pálidos Británicos, takes takes visitors from various towns along the Costa del Sol to the city of Málaga for the day. The tour concludes with a visit to the famous Picasso Museum.
"The walk up to that castle or whatever just about did me in", said Mr McKenzie. "It was positively roasting and there wasn't a pub in sight, not a proper one, anyway. By the time we got to the museum I was ready for a wee sit-down."
Having broken away from the group, McKenzie headed to the museum's outdoor café in search of refreshment. "Are they joking with those prices?" he said. "I'm not paying €8 a bottle for some local swill. Plus, it's positively roasting out there."
Back in the museum, McKenzie finally found a cool place to sit. He told us his bench faced a painting that was surrounded by a group of enthusiastic museum-goers.
"They were blocking the view, so I decided to get up to see what all the hubbub was about". That's when the controversy began.
"A very rude man bulled his way through our group," recalled Sylvia Manischewitz of New York City, via video link. "At first, I thought he was an albino. Then I heard him speak and realized he was just British, poor thing."
She went on to recount McKenzie's reaction to the painting, Head of a Woman No. 5. "He kept saying, 'That's rubbish' and 'I could have painted that'. Okay, if he's such a great artist, where's his museum?"
"Aye, it's true," offered McKenzie when asked for his side of the story. "The eyes were miles apart and the nose was where her ear should have been. The guy buys a couple of paintbrushes and suddenly all the girls are taking their clothes off for him. That Picasso was a real artist all right, a first-rate pish artist."
In a separate interview, we asked Mrs McKenzie if their day of culture had achieved its purpose of bringing Malcolm and her closer together as a couple. "I'm not sure if this counts," she said with a downward glance, "but since we got back, whenever he asks, 'fancy a quickie?' during the advert on Strictly, he has this Continental accent. I don't mind saying, it's very romantic, like."
Tis article contains additional reporting by Jess Anderson