Wave culture

It might be prudent, I think, if we all began to adopt the gestures of one of those golden Chinese waving cats as we toddle around town - simply flapping our arm up and down and sporting a vaguely sinister rictus grin. As things stand, I can see no other feasible solution to what can only be described as a social nightmare.

A couple of years ago, on these esteemed and hallowed pages I wrote about the difficulties of negotiating the summertime in Malaga because, frankly, people in sunglasses all look exactly the same. As a consequence, you often end up saluting chaps you don't know from Adam and ignoring your own granddad.

Now, with the masks and everything, the situation has reached a whole different level. At least before there was a chance you could distinguish someone by their Mick Jagger lips, mummy's boy chin or crooked, rotting teeth; not now, though. Only yesterday, somebody waved at me wearing a mask, sunglasses and humungous baseball cap. It could have been anyone from Homer Simpson to Barack Obama for all I knew. Anyway, just to be polite, I responded with a hearty salute, only to realise far too late that he was, in fact, a total stranger saying hello to the bloke who was walking just behind me. I tried the old scratching-behind-my-ear-like-a-flea-bitten-dog routine in a futile attempt to claw back some dignity, but all to no avail I'm afraid; the damage had been done and I looked like a total chump.

Another possibility would be for nobody to ever say hello to anyone - a bit like living in Yorkshire, then. Sadly, I don't think the Andalusian joie de vivre would adapt very well to the occasional grunt offered to nobody in particular. It's a good job that all those Spanish fond embraces have been sidelined for the moment; there's enough confusion already, without having to contend with random strangers throwing their arms around you on the high street having mistaken you for their spouse.

No, I think the Chinese waving cat solution would be the best. A fixed, false smile, glazed expression and constantly pumping arm for everyone - that should do the trick.

After all, politicians have been acting like that for centuries and it doesn't seem to have done them any harm. Oh wait..