Sneezy like a Monday morning

Just when you think you've seen it all, you find yourself witnessing something so outlandishly baffling that you're obliged to do a cartoon comedy double take, rub your eyes in disbelief and then smack yourself about the head for half an hour just to make sure you're not dreaming.

Last week, I was pootling around Malaga city centre as is my wont most days. The dearth of people on the streets was quite astonishing. Eleven o'clock in the morning and barely a soul to be seen. Just ahead of me were a father and daughter and, coming in the opposite direction, a dumpy little chap wearing glasses and sporting what our Spanish friends call 'una cara de pocos amigos' (the face of a man with few friends). We were all wearing our masks, including the little girl walking just ahead. The dumpy chap passed by father and daughter and was just about to pass me at a distance of about three or four yards when the most extraordinary thing happened. He squinted and moved his head backwards in the manner of somebody about to sneeze.

That's because he was somebody about to sneeze. However, instead of covering his face with the inside of his arm as recommended by anyone who knows anything, he promptly took down his mask and sneezed forcibly and liberally into the morning air. I was stunned. Too stunned in fact to call him back and ask him what in God's name he thought he was playing at. He popped his mask back on and toddled off, presumably to offer the benefit of his nasal irritations to some other lucky souls in a random series of new found locations.

The story doesn't end there, though. Oh, no. That very evening I was regaling a couple of people I know with this tale of outrageous behaviour, expressing my righteous indignation by snorting fire from my nostrils.

"It was unbelievable - whipped his mask off, didn't cover his face and sneezed freely and heavily into the air." A short yet disturbing pause followed. And then...

"Yeah, yeah, I do that."

"Eh?" My head was spinning at this point and wasn't the three pints I'd had. "Sorry, what did you say?"

"Yeah, I do that. Well, it's not very nice sneezing into a mask, is it?"

"But that's precisely what they're f..".

I didn't finish the sentence but rather walked away bemused, smacking myself about the head once again but this time rather more forcibly.

Nope, I wasn't dreaming.