EVER wondered what became of the original Genesis drummer? No, not Phil Collins – the gangly youth who kept the beat for the rock band long before it found both Collins and world-wide recording fame.
Having left the bright lights of school-hall performances well and truly behind him, Chris Stewart is ensconced these days in a ramshackle farmhouse outside Málaga in the hinterland of Spain’s Costa del Sol, where he juggles producing organic oranges with writing hilarious and self-deprecating autobiographical books.
The title of the fourth instalment in his series about life in rural Spain refers to the winding down of his role as taxi-driver to daughter Chloé as she sees out her final year at the local secondary school and moves on to university.
With an empty nest following their only child’s departure, Stewart and wife Ana occupy themselves with shelling waves of homegrown fava beans, scouting for industrial quantities of fine Spanish red wine with which to toast their ever-helpful neighbours and cooking wild boar from their own hillside for a “mystery guest” who turns out to be celebrity TV chef and fellow Brit Rick Stein. Along the way Stewart manages to inadvertently label himself bisexual while trying to extol the virtues of coeducation to Chloé’s schoolmates in a language he has yet to conquer. He is also forced by a stroke of meteorological bad luck to reprise skills learned half a lifetime earlier while still a student as he labours long and hard to create a bridge over the roaring river that separates his family from civilisation beyond their rocky farmlet.
Last Days of the Bus Club is a highly entertaining, fast-paced and colourful continuation of the story launched in Driving Over Lemons and can be read equally effectively as a natural follow-on from its three predecessors or independently in its own right.