Everybody's talkin'

The Cultural Centre in Malaga used to put on regular free concerts in their small but rather charming theatre quite a few years ago. The trouble was that, especially if it was cold, groups of older people from the area used to attend just to be able to have a good old natter with their chums somewhere warm. So, then the people in charge began to put a nominal price on the door (one or two euros, I think) which immediately put paid to the problem of the real life chat groups.

Today, I visited the Arabic baths in Malaga city centre in order to disengage from the hustle and bustle of city life for an hour or two. The atmosphere engendered by the decor and ambient lighting was just as you might expect - tranquil and relaxing.

Unfortunately, our deep-seated need to jabber at each other incessantly no matter the context meant that the a constant burble of chit chat considerably lessened the effect of my little time out.

One small group of women from the UK seemed to think they were in Blackpool municipal baths such was their behaviour. I half expected one of them to indulge in a bit of pool bombing à la Peter Kay. Mercifully we were spared.

Then, about an hour in, there was an almighty kerfuffle with people yelling in Spanish at the top of their voices. At first I thought our UK women friends must have undertaken the most intensive one-hour language course ever, but no it was a group from Malaga urgently calling their friends over.

For a split second, it crossed my mind to say something but no one wants to be the whinging old bloke so I put a sock in it. This turned out to be extremely fortunate, since the cause of the hullaballoo was somebody having slipped and fallen, resulting in minor injuries. Imagine the embarrassment of intervening.

"Excuse me. Would you mind piping down, please? Some of us are here to contemplate the deeper questions in life and all this yelling is simply not conducive. I say! Didn't you hear me? You! Yes, you with the stethoscope! Turn that ambulance siren down before I throw you in the thermal pool."

Things subsequently became much calmer and I had a marvellous time in the end but the fact remains - we've become very limited in our ability to adapt our social behaviour to our surroundings.

It's a basic human need to converse and socialise with others but there's a time and a place - about nine thirty in the local pub, in my experience.