EXCLUSIVE By Caroline Peal
A BRITISH expatriate turning 100 has spoken exclusively to the Olive Press about the incredible changes he has seen in his four decades on the Costa del Sol.
Theo Oakley chose sunnier climes when he retired at 61, even though Spain was still firmly under Franco’s rule.
“The climate first attracted me, but before we left England we were warned we were going to live in a police state.
“When we got here, we found everyone to be very affable and reasonable. We rather enjoyed life in a police
But the regime’s strict attitudes to public decency (couples faced fines for kissing or holding hands in public) had its impact on Mr Oakley and his fellow sun worshippers from northern Europe.
“On the beach it was a shame because bikinis were frowned upon. I suppose it was good for the country, but not so good for us!
“Passing Spaniards would wonder what us foreigners were doing on the sand. Now it’s swung around – the
beach is their religion!”
Mr Oakley was born in India in 1910, but returned to England in the 1940s and worked in the oil industry before retirement.
“I used to enjoy a glass of wine and back then it cost three pesetas (two centimos) and a cup of coffee was two pesetas.
“Everything was easily available. I remember the Franco regime giving farm workers half a peseta per kilo of
oranges, so food was cheap too.
“And I have memories of accidentally leaving my wallet on top of the car, then still finding it when I realized
and went back for it later.”
But within two years of Franco’s death in 1975, ‘big changes’ started.
“The main one was people going from low paid jobs to very high earning salaries.
“It was all egoism and money. They could afford more varied food. Children suddenly found yogurts in the fridge.”
Mr Oakley, who turns 100 on November 04 now lives with his 89-year-old wife Charlotte in Los Boliches, Fuengirola.
The couple, who each have large families of their own, have been married for 32 years, having met in Torremolinos through their local church after both were widowed in the late 70s.
But, he says, there is no great secret to his happy marriage or long life. “I think it’s just divine goodness, one of those things.”
The Calahonda Church will be celebrating Theo Oakley’s momentous birthday with a special service on November 07.