After a two-year hiatus, this weekend sees the Malaga summer fair returning with a vengeance. The anticipation in the city centre is palpable as revellers begin to arrive from all over Spain - and further afield - trundling their wheelie suitcases through the bustling streets, their beaming sunburnt faces alight with heady expectation.
In case you're thinking of coming into town in order to partake of the fun and frolics, I'd like to offer some handy hints to maximise your chances of emerging unscathed.
First, arrive early. This is crucial if you wish to avoid feeling like a latecomer at the battle of Cannae. I'd suggest about 1.30pm to be safe. At this point the party people are just warming up and the atmosphere is lovely. Next, wear a hat. The sun is not your friend and the highly commendable efforts of the local authorities to provide shade are but small potatoes before the wrath of Helios. Don't, however, wear a baseball cap, unless you're fourteen. And American. If you're a bloke, I propose one of those wide-rimmed white Fedora type things which you should just about get away with. If you don't get away with it, you may look like Hannibal Lecter in the final scene of Silence Of The Lambs but, remember, a strong resemblance to a psychopathic serial killer is infinitely preferable to how you look in a baseball cap.
If you're a woman, you can don any headwear you wish except for a fascinator, which are anything but fascinating in my limited experience.
As for what to drink, I strongly suggest you stick to beer which is always your ally on these occasions. You will, however, see lots of people sipping on a treacly yellow liquid from pink plastic cups. This is the devil's brew; don't be tempted. If you find yourself weakening in the face of severe peer pressure (i.e. complete strangers thrusting a cup of the stuff in your direction before falling over in a cartoon fashion), think back to your grandmother forcing you drink syrup of figs when you were six. This is ten times worse.
Where dancing is concerned, for the men I suggest a bit of hopping from foot to foot as if you've got the underfloor heating on way too high while simultaneously flicking your fingers like a very rude person calling a waiter in a restaurant.
Pull the brim of your Fedora down over your face because every man and his dog will be wanting to record videos of the foreigners trying to dance sevillanas. At least this way, if you go viral, no one will recognise you. Women can dance as they wish, secure in the knowledge that, next to the men, you're bound to look good, especially if you're wearing a traditional dress.
Finally leave early unless you want to feel like a cleaner shortly after the battle of Cannae.
That's about it, then. Stick to the above guidelines and you're sure to have a splendid time.
Happy Feria, everybody!