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Local heroes

If someone says they work in a tyre factory and they're a member of their local bar billiards club, I genuinely want to know more – I could talk for hours about that stuff

Friday, 1 December 2023, 17:19

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If there's one thing life's exceedingly good at, it's smacking a fellow about the chops just as he's become convinced of his own wisdom on any given matter.

Only the other day, I was pootling around Malaga city centre doing nothing of any particular import, while ruminating on the demise of the town in terms of its Spanish identity as the juggernaut that is modern tourism lays waste to the last vestiges of Andalusian community spirit.

My train of thought was, however, interrupted at regular intervals by people waving cheery hellos or stopping to chew the fat for a minute or two. This, of course, was in direct contradiction to my dubious theory. As a fun aside, I decided to start counting my interactions with others as I pottered about. I gave up after six in under five minutes and that didn't count the comical dance I was involved in with a complete stranger as we both kept moving in the same direction as we tried to avoid each other. There can be no doubt about it - Malaga city centre still maintains a sense of community, especially if you avoid the tourist hotspots around calle Larios and calle Granada.

These events tied in nicely with something else that happened earlier in the week. While making small talk with a couple of relative strangers on a short car journey out into the sticks, a strange thing happened. The woman in the passenger seat asked me a straightforward question: 'Do you like travelling, Peter?' It was, in essence, a rhetorical enquiry. She knew I would say 'yes' and so did I. Except I didn't. For some reason, the words 'Yes, it's ok I suppose' spilled from my lips. The ensuing silence was couldn't have been more deafening if I'd insulted her mother. Everyone in the car was quite taken aback, including me.

Reflecting upon all of this later in the day, I came to the conclusion that my answer to the woman's question had been a truthful one – I quite like taking trip now and then but there are lots of other things I'd rather do and nearly all of them involve interacting with the local community. This all started to make sense; for the last eight years in the pub, strangers have regaled me with tales of their travels, often whipping out a mobile phone to show me the evidence, at which point I've invariably remembered a distant table that needs a thorough cleaning.

Malaga City
Malaga City SUR

'We've just got back from Machu Picchu via Easter Island.' I never know quite what to say to these things , so end up murmuring something generic like 'Oh, that sounds great', although, actually, it doesn't really. What does sound great is when people tell me about their local communities. If someone says they work in a tyre factory and they're a member of their local bar billiards club, I genuinely want to know more – I could talk for hours about that stuff. If, on the other hand, someone offers some tale about how a coffee in Venice costs more than the plane ticket out there, it's all I can do not to nod off. And that's just rude.

Malaga city centre, without doubt, still maintains something of a community spirit and we're very proud to form a part of it at The Shakespeare. With regard to travelling, I'm not sure when my next trip will be, but I'm already wondering if they offer tours of tyre factories anywhere.

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