Fair poor convention

This year, the Malaga fair begins with the traditional midnight fireworks on Wednesday 14 August and goes on until about 2026. Well, ok, until Saturday 24 August but the psychological effect will be about the same for any locals living in the city centre. Come to think of it, that's approximately seven people these days - residents who have, thus far, inexplicably been able to avoid being bulldozed out of town by the myopic greed of the tourist rental phenomenon.

Anyway, back to the fair. It's normally far too long at eight or nine days but this year it seems it'll still be rattling relentlessly on even as the Christmas lights go up. Something to do with the Thursday being a holiday and people needing to hear the same six songs on a loop for even longer than usual presumably because the consequent insanity distracts them from that overpriced sickly syrup dished out in plastic glasses that masquerades as a traditional alcoholic beverage but which, for the rest of the year, must surely be repackaged and sold as wood sealant.

Spain in general, and Malaga in particular, has an abundance of marvellous traditions but the annual fair is not, I'm afraid, one of them.

If you're thinking of popping into the city centre to see what all the fuss is about, I'd strongly advise an early arrival - 1pm, for example - and a hasty retreat by about 4.30pm.

This brief window will allow you to catch a glimpse of the fair's former glory, as it boasts musical groups of all ages merrily singing and dancing, dressed impeccably in traditional garb and having a genuinely wonderful time.

After about five, however, the atmosphere is apt to deteriorate as those unable to hold their drink are wont to seek out the role of protagonist and most of the lovely families return home exhausted from all that tambourine and castanet brandishing shenanigans.

We're closing The Shakespeare from 18th to 24th because, well, it's just not our scene man.

If you want the best of all tips regarding the fair it's this: pop out for an evening tipple on the first Monday afterwards.

Many bars and restaurants will be closed but the ones that remain open play host to the some very interesting characters indeed and, best of all, they won't be playing any of those six nightmare songs - under threat of staff walk-outs.