Malaga's cathedral got the go-ahead to get a new roof. / ÑITO SALAS

Summer works

In Spain, getting stuff done during the summer months is nothing short of a miracle

Rachel Haynes
RACHEL HAYNES

We've finally made it to the last Friday in August and can look forward to normal activity picking up again in September when everyone gets back to work.

It's round about this week every year that the typical July and August headlines, old faithfuls that keep us going during the hot and sticky season, start to fizzle out.

Daily jellyfish updates on the country's beaches - or headlines wondering where they have gone to this year - and record temperature forecasts with heatstroke advice along with numbers of bathers on beaches are losing space to other late seasonal favourites, such as how to deal with post vacation blues and how heavy the kids' bags should be when they go back to school.

In Spain it has always been understood, albeit not directly written in the official state gazette, that no paperwork and red tape will get dealt with in August, as every 'funcionario' or politician is on the beach, with or without jellyfish, reading about how to avoid sun stroke, and how they are swelling the numbers of bathers to record levels.

One of this week's headlines in Malaga, then, is especially impressive. Planning permission for someone's new roof has been granted in record time... and in August.

OK, so the property in question is Malaga Cathedral and the work needed is more than two centuries overdue, but let's raise a glass of chilled gazpacho to the city official who stamped a piece of paper in August.

Now the Diocese has to raise the 15 million euros it needs to do the job and it will be months before work can start, so the licence could probably have waited till September after all.

Of course we know really that the thing about Spain grinding to a halt in August is more of a myth, or something limited only to bureaucracy and a few other sectors.

In this part of the country, workers have been busier than ever, making sure the peak season on the Costa del Sol runs smoothly.

First in line for respect must be those on the chaotic and often tragic summer frontline: health workers and forest firefighters, among many others.

However, the many music festivals, summer fairs, moonlight dinners and chiringuito lunches, only happen thanks to an often invisible army of summer workers, who only seem to get noticed when something goes wrong.

And of course don't forget the journalists, left working hard to make headlines out of a lack of jellyfish and hot weather, while their holidaying colleagues join the funcionarios on the beaches, doing their bit to swell the numbers of bathers to headline-making figures.