Francisco de la Torre has been Malaga mayor since 2000. / FRANCIS SILVA

Mayor power to your elbow

'...if I'd have had half the fizz of the mayor, The Shakespeare would have been an international franchise by now.'

Peter Edgerton

Two unobtrusive bodyguards took a short, sharp step forward, before immediately relaxing back into their original positions on the periphery of proceedings. It was my fault; I'd instinctively stood up when somebody offered to shake my hand and, given that the gentleman in question was the mayor of Malaga, you could understand the vaguely nervous response of his minders.

It must be about ten years since that little vignette unfolded and, as I write, Francisco de la Torre is still in office and still full of beans at the not inconsiderable age of seventy nine. If you'd be so kind as to wait just a second, please, I'll Google when he first took the helm... thank you for your patience... since the year 2000, according to Wikipedia. That's a mighty long time to be running the sixth biggest city in Spain and a feat that deserves enormous respect regardless of one's political persuasions.

The latest news is that Francisco has just been awarded an OBE by the UK bigwigs for his sterling efforts with regard to Malaga's relationship with Britain. Imagine that. Living and working all your life in Andalucía and being awarded an OBE. That'd be like beavering away in Liverpool for decades and suddenly finding yourself presented with the Orden Civil de Alfonso X El Sabio.

Much to his wife's dismay (allegedly), Francisco is, according to all reports, considering presenting himself at the next elections for a further term in office. Not only that, he recently told reporters that if he does so, he really will have to find a way to introduce a bit more sport into his daily schedule, which already involves an early morning swim. A quick game of darts after lunch, anyone?

It rather puts us mere mortals to shame, all of this, doesn't it? I've mentioned to friends on a couple of occasions that if I'd have had half the fizz of the mayor, The Shakespeare would have been an international franchise by now. I haven't, of course, and it isn't.

There are all kinds of photos on the internet of Francisco engaging in sporting activities from trying his hand at padel to riding a mountain bike on a ramp designed for teenagers (he fell off as I recall). I do hope that a year shy of my eightieth birthday, I might be tumbling unceremoniously from mountain bikes and brushing up on my serve and volley technique, though not in a suit and tie as the mayor's usually attired on these occasions.

There are many policies and decisions that he has taken over the last twenty years with which I've vehemently disagreed but that doesn't stop me from recognising a top professional when I see one.

Hats off, then, to Francisco de la Torre Prado, mayor of Malaga, O.B.E.