Stag's army

The positive transformation of Malaga city might not be as good as it seems

Peter Edgerton
PETER EDGERTON

About twenty-five years ago, I recall being very surprised to see the new street signs that had sprung up around Malaga: "Centro Histórico" they boasted, made, as they were, in the shape of an arrow to point everyone in the right direction. They replaced the ones that had, hitherto, simply said "Centro". It was clear that big plans were afoot and, credit where it's due, the city has undergone a radical transformation in the intervening years, positioning itself as a big cheese in the European tourist destination market. This state of affairs is, of course, a double-edged sword.

A subject of heated debate currently is the plethora of stag and hen parties that arrive in town each weekend. Some bars and restaurants have banned them. Down at The Shakespeare we simply dig out the Leonard Cohen albums and let nature take its course.

I've never been on a stag night but, as we live in times when everyone is an expert on everything, I'm not going to let that stop me from offering a few tips if you're planning to indulge in one of these dubious shindigs.

First, try to get out of it, using any feasible excuse available including family bereavements. "Sorry, my grandmother died," is fine - "The Lads" don't need to know it was thirty years ago. If, in spite of your best efforts, you still find yourself at the airport with eight middle-aged men wearing smudged lipstick and fishnet stockings, keep a polite distance, and sport a rictus grin which will make it look to your group like you're mildly amused by their infantile jokes but also gives onlookers the impression that you're embarrassed by their antics. You are.

Next, don't drink anything at the airport. It's called a "stag weekend" for a reason - it's a three-day marathon of beer and kebabs and your liver isn't twenty-three years old these days. If others start drinking before the flight, tell them you can't join them out of respect for your grandmother who choked on a bottle of lager.

Having arrived at your hotel/apartment, take a shower so long that the others might leave without remembering to take you with them. If this tactic fails, under no circumstances accept any fancy dress, especially involving lipstick or fishnet stockings. Ditto, T-shirts with rude slogans - these immediately make everyone loathe you.

From here on in, it's a question of preserving as much dignity as you possibly can. It won't be easy but most excruciatingly embarrassing situations can be mitigated to some degree. If anyone in your group climbs on a table/tries to get a lewd sing-song going/suggests a round of tequila slammers (or indulge in all three simultaneously), whip out the pocket chess set you secreted into your jacket pocket back home and offer any random stranger a game. Tut and shake your head throughout the match. Lose on purpose.

Apologise constantly for the rest of the stay, visit some museums or anywhere, in fact, that doesn't have a bar and (pretend to) sleep for the entire journey home. Phew! You made it - congratulations.