Shades of summer

This is the time of year when I unintentionally offend vast swathes of people and I don't mean over-sensitive vegetarians or jazz fans or - heaven forbid - vegetarian jazz fans.

No, the root of the specific problem I'm referring to here is, in fact, sunglasses. The thing is, everyone who wears sunglasses always looks exactly the same to me unless they have a particularly distinguishing gait and waddle down the street like a strange cross between an exhausted Duracell bunny and Norm from Cheers.

A typically embarrassing scenario usually unfolds in the following manner:

Your humble servant is, as usual, hopping ungraciously from shadow to shadow in the hope of not turning bright red instantly as the result of a nano second of exposure to the merciless ball of fire in the sky. Someone will pass by in very uncool shades staring directly at me - as far as I can tell, anyway - and mutter under their breath "Hola, Peter" in a sort of semi-offended huff because I hadn't acknowledged them and I'll suddenly realise they're my neighbour or girlfriend or neighbour's girlfriend or some such combination.

"Ah, sorry, old bean - didn't recognise you in those comedy sunglasses." Is what I want to say but actually exclude the word "comedy" for reasons of diplomacy.

"Don't worry," they'll reply - clearly believing that I'm telling porkies and was deliberately ignoring them because of a decades old feud over a pair of secateurs that somebody lent somebody one Sunday afternoon and never returned.

This sorry scenario unfolds around four or five times a day. I'm lucky enough to know shiploads of wonderful people in Malaga but, unfortunately, it appears they all bought exactly the same pair of sunglasses on exactly the same day.

In order to resolve this troublesome issue, I've decided to play a numbers game. My plan is to say hello and offer a cheery wave to absolutely everybody I pass at all times, reasoning that - although it may be a tad tiring for the old larynx - it's better to have lots of people thinking you're stark raving bonkers (nothing new there, Ed.) than all of your friends, acquaintances and relatives believing you to be the rudest person in the world.

So, if you happen to spot a baldy middle-aged bloke grinning and waving manically on Calle Larios over the coming weeks, do wave back. You'll find him lurking in the shade - not wearing sunglasses.