The approach to Torremolinos – easily done via a 30 min ride on the electric train from Málaga – is a rather depressing business. There are half a dozen beaches and stops, but its a drab, soulless landscape of kitchenette apartments and half-finished developments. In recent years the local council have been trying to give the resort a facelift, the main feature of which has been the construction of a new seafront promenade and the renovation of the old town, the narrow alleyways of which are not without charm.

TORREMOLINOS, to its enduring credit, is certainly different: a vast, grotesque parody of a seaside resort, which in its own kitschy way is fascinating. This bizarre place, lined with sweeping beaches and infinite shooping arcades, crammed with Irish pubs and real-estate agents, has a large permanent expatriate population of British, Germans and Scandinavians. Its a weird mix, which, in additions to thousands of retire people, has attracted – due to a previous lack of extradition arrangements between Britain and Spain – an extraordinary concentration of British crooks and more recently Russian mafia bosses. Torremolinos’s social scene is strange, too, including, among the middle-of-the-road family discos a thriving pram-pushing, gay transvertite scene. All in all it’s an intiguing blend of the smart and the squalid, bargains and rip-offs.