You’ve come a long way, Baby

Giles Brown takes a look back on 30 years on the Costa del Sol

LAST UPDATED: 15 Apr, 2015 @ 16:53

Giles in the 80s
Giles in the 80s

AT the end of last month I celebrated something of a personal milestone.

It wasn’t anything that a self-help book, life coach or personal therapist had advised, but it was a significant achievement nevertheless. March 25 marked 30 years since I moved to Marbella.

As I am originally from Staffordshire, you can well imagine that the move was seamless. Stoke on Trent and Marbella are so similar, it is almost uncanny. Substitute the longboats on the Trent and Mersey Canal for the superyachts moored in the millionaires’ playground of Puerto Banus and you’ll see what I mean.

Education was even more fun. Coming from an all-boys independent school  – where you wore a uniform, where life-sized portraits of long-dead headmasters gazed sternly down on you during morning assembly and the school song was in Latin – to start in the sixth form of an international college on the coast was a shock.

This was the mid-80s, there was no school uniform and everybody looked as if they had just stepped out of a Brat Pack movie. Think ‘Top Gun’ meets ‘Pretty in Pink’ and you’ll get the general idea of the fashions worn in class. Classes were mixed, which caused all sorts of trouble with my adolescent hormones. To be perfectly honest, and judging by my dating history since 1985, I’m not sure I’ve ever recovered. Added to that was the fact that there were 32 different nationalities at the college from all over the world, when the closest we had got to that at my previous school was the replacement French teacher from Lyon…

Spain was a very different country then and I call the period when I moved over ‘Jurassic Marbella’. Franco may have been dead for a decade and Felipe Gonzalez’s socialists in power, but the police were still pretty heavy-handed when it came to dealing with teenagers on 50cc motorbikes. I learnt a painful and valuable lesson then that still applies today – never talk back to the Guardia Civil.

But at the same time, Spain was going through its ‘Movida’ stage, and young people were out to have a great time. I’ll never forget the first time that I walked down towards Marbella Port and saw hundreds of kids my age partying outside the dozens of bars. It was as far away to having a sneaky cider in the car park of a Stoke pub as you could imagine and I threw myself into the lifestyle with what could charitably be described as ‘gusto’.

To describe the following 30 years would take a book in itself (working title ‘It must have been a fun night. I’ve got bruises in all the right places.’) but one thing stands out. The many friends that I made that first summer of living in Spain are still my closest, and Marbella made me the man I am today.

Bald, single and heading back to rehab!!!


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  1. Giles… those were the days. In fact… wasn´t that photo taken for your first fashion show ever? It must have been around that time.

    I read and recognized many of your comments with nostalgia… those were the days indeed!

  2. As an 80’s child that got my first taste of Marbella in 1986 I’m very much with you Giles. Marbella has been through the same highs and lows as our adolescence and mid-life crisis. Here is to the next 30 years, may god bless her and all who sail in her…

    Viscount Parker