Male, Spanish first names that combine two into one, really are double trouble. Try as I might, I can never remember them. Ever. Juan Manuel, José Fernando, Juan José and the like all provoke a cerebral short circuit in my bonce, which inevitably leaves me shaking hands with some poor chap I've just been introduced to while smoke billows merrily from my ears. Let's not even mention José María or, for that matter, María José. Blimey, I'm feeling quite faint just thinking about it all.
Anyway, a few weeks back, I was toddling down the street, minding my own business when, quite out of the blue, an old acquaintance hove into view. I felt a chilly bead of sweat trickle slowly down my back as I realised it was one of those blokes with one of those double-trouble names.
"Hola, Peter. ¿Qué tal?"
"Hola. Nice to see you. How's Claudia?"
In an extraordinary feat of mental gymnastics and from amid the mind fug of Josés, Carloses, Juans and Felipes whirling around my head, I'd successfully managed to extract his baby daughter's name and, thus, deftly extricated myself from a social minefield. The chilly bead of sweat evaporated as quickly as it had first appeared and we proceeded to shoot the breeze in the pastel shades of early evening like two old timers on a mid-west front porch.
It turns out that these days he works for the ayuntamiento programming music concerts.
"Actually, I was going to call you, Peter. (Damn, he used my name again). Do you want to play a couple of gigs in this year's Terral En Tu Zona festival?"
The question seemed to be uttered in slow motion, like they sometimes are in cheesy films. It's been years since they've asked me to play at anything of any import and I was delighted.
"Yes, please!" I replied just a little too loudly and a little too squeakily. Mind you, at least I avoided the urge to yelp "Goody gumdrop!" and engage in an impromptu moonwalk. A man's got to keep his dignity, after all.
And so there it is, after years in the musical wilderness, I suddenly need to rehearse, buy new guitar strings and prepare a set list plus do all of the other things that professional concert preparation requires. I'm even looking forward to the sound check - well, as long as the engineer isn't called Juan Carlos, that is.
Sunday, 18th June, 8.30pm - Parque de la Alegria Ciudad Jardin, Malaga