The inbetweeners

A huge lorry inched noisily past the cafe window yesterday, just as I was burning my tongue for the second time on what used to be known a white coffee but no doubt has a faux exotic moniker these days. Anyway, said vehicle happened to be transporting Malaga's city centre Christmas tree back to wherever it came from.

Were I a photographer or even if I'd had a camera on me, or , in fact, if I had the slightest idea how to work the one on my phone and had had that about my person rather than in my house where it belongs, I'd have taken a snap.

There happened to be an old woman shuffling across the captivating scene with an empty shopping trolley and an even emptier gaze. It would have been a clumsily cliched 'when the party's over' kind of photo, admittedly, but at least it wouldn't have been one of what I was eating which, these days, is quite a novelty in itself, I'm sure you'll agree.

Ah yes, the very last gasp of the yuletide season which, if I recall, began some time just after the ice age. Even by Spanish standards, that was a very long festive period indeed.

I love these fleeting in-between times; the vacant days that ghost along imperceptibly, except for the occasional keening cry of a chap who's just received his Christmas spendathon credit card bill.

This is where the beauty lies - in the spaces interwoven among the holidays and the revelry and the pomp and the celebration, all of which are good, of course, but don't hold quite the same melancholy magic as the greys of January.

If anyone ever conducted a survey on the subject, I'm sure we'd discover that most great art is created in these pining hours, where nothing is really happening but everything we hold to be true whispers gently at our shoulder, for good or for bad. No one ever wrote a great song on Christmas Day, I'll bet; but on a wet Wednesday in January? No doubt.

Soon, it'll inevitably be time for more celebrations of some kind but, in the meantime, let's raise a glass to these, the inbetween days, which smoke gently rather than sparkle but appear no less beautiful for that - and I make that assertion from the perspective of a man with a lightly burnt tongue.