THE MUSIC MAKER
Amid the unveiling of Dexamethasone as a life-saving drug and the bizarrely dramatic scenes involving historical statues and the corresponding antics of their attackers/defenders, each utterly convinced of the veracity of their opposing arguments, you may have missed the news that The Shakespeare pub, Malaga, opened its doors again this week after three months' closure.
We didn't have a clue what to expect on the first night back but it soon became clear that it would be a wholly heartwarming experience and it was a real joy to see so many people making the effort to pass by on a roasting Tuesday evening when every terrace within a ten-mile radius must have seemed a much more inviting prospect than our little bar. The good will on display lifted our spirits no end.
Actually, it's been generally wonderful to witness people supporting local businesses around Malaga city centre recently, as the town tentatively awakens and edges its way back to some semblance of normality. I've had three coffees, a fruit juice and a coke already today, only two of which I really wanted or needed. I'm not the only one. Pass by any small business and you'll almost certainly see a customer in there - the few people knocking about are clearly conscious of the need to cooperate and collaborate if we're to maximise our chances of emerging from all of this with minimal damage.
Malaga's principal problem currently is one shared by many cities around the world: it has relied far too heavily for far too long on tourism for its economic survival. Like a small business that depends too much on one big client, the city has been vulnerable for years to the damage a decline in foreign visitors would cause.
So what's to be done? Well, maybe nothing. It's certainly an option to let things take their natural course. It's possible this would result in a gradual return of Malagueños to live in their own city centre once more, as landlords found themselves compelled to reduce rents in a saturated market. There'd be something rather poetic about that, especially if online working flourished and a worthwhile percentage of those local residents were gainfully employed. It's also possible that tourism will recover and it won't be long before swathes of trundling suitcases return to the city's historic streets to provide the soundtrack of our lives once again. The trouble is nobody really knows and so we're left to try to adapt as best we can to wildly unpredictable circumstances.
While I sit and contemplate the future, I'll order another coffee. And a cake, even though I'm not in the least bit hungry.