Sunday, January 21, 2018

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 21 January 2018

Morning high (8.12am): 16.2C
Forecast high: 19C; UV: 1
Three-day forecast: 22 January - Sun, 21C; 23 January - Sun, 20C; 24 January - Sun, 20C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): West-Northwest 5 to 6 easing 4 to 5.

Mild morning. Sunny day to come.

When Bel Went To Madrid

"Now then, Bel, just listen to what I have to tell the hoteliers, and then later, when the press want to hear from us, give them the normal lines about seeking consensus, lengthening the tourism season, diverting tourists away from the summer to the low season thanks to the success of the 'Better in Winter' campaign, redistributing wealth, creating jobs and so on. Have you got that?"

"Yes, I think so, Francina. But are you saying that I shouldn't say anything to the hoteliers?"

"That is exactly what I'm saying, Bel. Look, you may be the tourism minister, but you've barely been in the job a month, which is not enough time for you to have the faintest idea what you're talking about other than spouting the normal nonsense to the press like myself and every other minister."

"Oh, very well, but I thought this trip was going to be my chance to demonstrate what a firm grip I have on tourism in pursuit of sustainability and securing the future of the environment and the wealth of the citizens."

"You may have thought that, Bel, but the hoteliers aren't going to fall for you being even remotely in charge or having a firm grip on anything. If you must, when it comes to the press, you can trot out some percentage of what the tourist tax will cost the typical family of four relative to the total cost of the holiday. Biel used to do that, which would stun them all into silence for a moment or two."

"But I don't know what the cost of a holiday is for a typical family of four."

"Quite. That's why you're the tourism minister. Now, are we ready for the hoteliers?"

"Yes, Francina."

And so, alas poor Bel, who sat round the table, maintaining a respectful silence as the hoteliers trained their eyes only on Francina. But it wasn't all a waste of time. There were the various photo opportunities. Look, there's the delegation from (insert the town hall as applicable), time for a photo with them. Not that Bel was left on her own. Oh no, all the others were in the photos as well. Francina, Cosmic Bonet of the Council, Mercedes of the Council, Mick of the Council, and anyone else they could drag in.

For the town halls, what a splendid event the Fitur fair was. My, how the media drool over all this stuff. "Mr (Ms) Mayor, what is your assessment of your participation at this year's fair?" "It has been extremely positive. A great success." Meanwhile, and out of view, the massive piles of newly printed brochures for cultural tourism in whatever municipality were remaining stubbornly massive.

Although Mick, Mercedes and Cosmic had taken themselves off to Madrid to, for instance, demonstrate how Mallorca inspires culture (about which we heard not a botifarró), they had more urgent, headline-grabbing matters to attend to back in Palma. Yes, the Great Map Of Mallorca's Zones was unveiled, a cartographer's delight of colour coding, each colour designed to strike sorrow or joy into the hearts of prospective owners of holiday rental accommodation.

"Now then, the red zones are ... ?" "They're saturated." "Ok, and the purple ones?" "They're high tourism pressure." "Isn't that the same thing?" "No, red is saturated and purple is high tourism pressure." "But they amount to the same thing." "Well, yes, sort of." "The grey areas - and I'm not referring to the whole thinking behind zoning - what are they for?" "They're industrial estates." "Industrial estates?" "Industrial estates." "Since when have car showrooms been likely holiday rental accommodation?" "Have you looked on Airbnb lately?"

What a fabulous week it was for tourism, but less than fabulous for Bel, whose thunder was stolen in Madrid and then later in Palma when the Great Map was put on display.

Still, we can now expect her to refer to the Great Map when explaining how sustainability is to be assured, how wealth is to be redistributed to the citizens, how the land (our land) will be saved, how jobs will be created ... . What she probably won't be saying is anything about the tourist tax percentage of the total cost of the holiday for a family of four. Where's Biel when we need him?

Saturday, January 20, 2018

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 20 January 2018

Morning high (6.40am): 8.7C
Forecast high: 15C; UV: 1
Three-day forecast: 21 January - Sun, wind, 18C; 22 January - Sun, 17C; 23 January - Sun, 15C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): Northeast 4 veering Southwest 4 to 5 around mid-afternoon.

Should be reasonably sunny today after a cloudy start. Windy later and overnight. The next few days are looking very pleasant.

Evening update (20.00): High of 18.3C.

Gloves Off: Rentals And Tax Handbagging

When the tourism industry troops off for its away days in London for the World Travel Market, an impression given is that the industry doesn't air its dirty linen. The impression is of course a false one. The hoteliers and tour operators are happy with the tourist tax? They most certainly are not, though they tend to confine their criticisms to places behind closed doors. At the last fair, however, they came out with the line about one million tourists being lost.

A big difference between, say, the London fair and the one held in Madrid is that the latter is, fairly obviously, a Spanish affair. Sure, there is a big international element, but Madrid provides way more of an assessment of Spanish issues than London, Berlin and others ever will do. As such, therefore, London is not truly representative, and by and large the whole of the industry prefers to keep it that way. A full-on public barney doesn't look good and only creates negative publicity.

London also doesn't have a pre-fair conference quite like Madrid has with the Exceltur forum. Organised on behalf of the tourism industry elite (which Exceltur represents), it offers a stage for what one might describe as full and frank discussions. The Spanish media is engrossed, but other media pay scant attention. It is only Madrid, after all, and they all speak Spanish, unless someone attempts to sneak in some Catalan.

This is to demean the importance of Fitur. Much though London or Berlin might consider themselves to be the centres of the European tourism universe, Madrid is the real centre. The UN's World Tourism Organisation is based in Madrid, the capital of the country that receives more tourists than any other on the planet with the exception of France. Despite the Catalonia effect, Spain leapt above the US last year. The Trump effect, the negative Trump effect, was a key reason why.

The Spanish tourism universe doesn't of course solely revolve around the Balearics, but given that the islands account for more than 15% of the annual foreign tourist total, then what happens in the Balearics matters. The islands are the tourism arguments in relatively large microcosm, and these Balearic arguments tend to be heard more loudly than those of any other region of Spain. They were being given full voice at the Exceltur conference. The foreign media and indeed foreign tourists are naturally familiar with some of these arguments, but if they aren't, then they most certainly would have been if they had been paying attention to Madrid.

President Armengol was basically subjected to a complete handbagging. It was led by two of Mallorca's leading hoteliers - the baron of Meliá, Gabriel Escarrer, and the baroness of Riu, Carmen Riu. They laid into her over the tourist tax and the holiday rentals legislation. With the latter, it was perhaps odd to hear that the government was being accused of not being restrictive enough, but the point was nevertheless emphasised, as if it needed to be: the hoteliers want tight regulation of the rentals sector.

On top of this, Armengol was reprimanded by José María González, the president of Europcar, who was supposedly moderating the session. His beef had to do with government interference in the hire-car sector, including the plan for electric vehicles. Then there was the president of the Baleària shipping company, Adolfo Utor. It was illogical, he said, to have a tourist tax which supposedly is going to reduce tourist numbers, while the government is at the same time looking for better subventions for travelling to the islands and also wanting there to be a cut to the tourist rate of IVA (VAT).  

The impression of all this is far from being a false one. Most of the tourism industry, and not just the hoteliers, seems to finally be losing its patience and rag with the Balearic government. Such an impression wouldn't be conveyed at other fairs, but at Madrid it can be, as it is mainly one for a domestic audience. But a problem for the hoteliers, and not only those in Mallorca, as the issue applies widely in Spain, is that the more they go on the offensive over questions such as holiday rentals, the more they can be (and are) accused of just looking after their own greedy interests.

Yet they do have a substantial amount of support. It is curious support because much of it comes from an entirely different political and social perspective. While the national tourism minister, Álvaro Nadal (Partido Popular), can coincide with the hoteliers in blaming holiday rentals for tourism saturation, so left-wing governments and organisations level the same blame.

But the hoteliers would basically like an industry cast in a PP image. A further problem for them, however, is now being able to rely on the PP at elections. Rather than handbaggings, maybe there needs to be more glad-handing.

Friday, January 19, 2018

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 19 January 2018

Morning high (7.52am): 5.9C
Forecast high: 18C; UV: 2
Three-day forecast: 20 January - Cloud, sun, 19C; 21 January - Sun, cloud, 19C; 22 January - Sun, 19C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): West 2 to 3 occasionally 4, veering North by the late afternoon.

Fairly cloudy first thing. Expected to be mainly cloudy with some chance of a shower this evening and overnight.

Evening update (21.45): Wasn't too bad really. High of 18.5C.

Too Slow To Legislate: Rentals

Javi López is an MEP from the PSOE socialist party in Catalonia. Via the European Parliament, López has called on the EU to act against websites such as Airbnb. He says that these websites - or more accurately the availability of rented accommodation for visitors - are driving residents out of large cities such as Barcelona. He recognises that the so-called collaborative economy constitutes a market revolution and does offer new opportunities for consumer. However, this comes at costs - unfair competition, the "gentrification" of urban centres, threats to labour rights, exorbitant increases in prices, loss of trade for small businesses, the creation of "ghost" urban centres deprived of life because residents have been expelled.

In order to address these issues, López wants the EU to regulate websites at a European community level in similar ways to which cities or governments have done in order to ensure the "equitable" availability of housing. The chances of the EU doing this are, you would think, pretty slim. In June 2016 the European Commission presented its recommendations for member states with regard to the collaborative economy in its different guises, so therefore the likes of Uber as well as Airbnb.

These recommendations included one which stated that restrictions or bans could only be permitted if they were "proportional", which did rather beg a question as to what proportional means. “Absolute bans and quantitative restrictions should only be used as a measure of last resort,” said the commission, a vice-president of which stated that stricter regulations on sharing economy companies could cost Europe. What also is a "last resort"?

While not seeking to be restrictive, the commission nevertheless accepted that the collaborative economy does raise questions related to employment and consumer protection, social security, tax issues and safety standards. Since then, there does seem to have been a shift in European thinking. While remaining steadfast to a principle of non-restriction, there has been a growing appreciation of difficulties surrounding matters that had been identified in June 2016, not least the payment of tax.

The European Commission is in the process of analysing guidelines for the holiday rental industry, but it would still seem most unlikely that it would go as far as politicians such as López would like. Meanwhile, and despite the recommendations that were made some eighteen months ago, there are all manner of local regulations that are designed to be restrictive.

In Amsterdam, as an example, the town hall has announced that from the start of 2019 owners of apartments that promote via Airbnb or similar will only be able to rent out for a maximum of thirty days per annum. At present, there is a limit of sixty days. The decision has been taken in order to "limit the negative influence of holiday rental apartments". According to the town hall, the numbers of apartments marketed on websites went up from 4,500 in 2013 to 22,000 in 2017. This increase has "unwished-for repercussions in various neighbourhoods of Amsterdam".

The situation has of course been mirrored elsewhere - Palma, for instance - and it has cascaded downwards from the big cities to the resorts, and not only in Mallorca. The Amsterdam figures, with a fivefold increase in the space of five years, speaks volumes for the spectacular rise of the collaborative economy holiday rental industry, but the term collaborative economy has now been shown to stand for speculation and for abuse. What was once a good idea has been turned into a monster of greed with its demands of complete freedom of market, often with little consideration for labour and tax standards, that is breeding social discontent.

I will continue to maintain that had there been legislation in 2012 or 2013 that would have permitted the legalisation of at least a proportion of apartments (if not all of them) so that these could have been openly marketed as tourist lets, we would not now be in the situation that we find ourselves. Much of the stock of holiday rental apartments that has surfaced since then is purely because of speculation that has been created by the websites. Had there been legislation, effective and clear legislation, anything coming onto the market after, say, 2013 or 2014, would have been illegal and would remain illegal. Unfortunately, the Partido Popular chose to sit on their hands and did nothing.

As a consequence we have the broad brush approach of the current government allied to the absurdities that are bound to emerge from zoning. And this approach, meanwhile, seems to run counter to what the European Commission recommended. Or is it a justifiable and proportional "last resort"? Who knows, but the Aptur holiday rentals association would like to get an answer; hence why it intends a challenge to the Balearic legislation in Brussels. But a challenge based on what? The EU now seems unsure. The collaborative economy has created a legislative minefield that is being plotted with slowness and uncertainties.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 18 January 2018

Morning high (7.24am): 9.9C
Forecast high: 18C; UV: 2
Three-day forecast: 19 January - Cloud, sun, 17C; 20 January - Cloud, sun, 19C; 21 January - Cloud, sun, 19C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): Southeast 3 to 4 veering West-Southwest around midday.

Uneventful sort of a day - some sunny spells, light winds, mild.

Evening update (20.00): High of 17.3C.

In An Abandoned Way

Tucked away not far from the bullring in Alcudia is what remains of a one-time club or disco. You wouldn't know it was there. You would have to go and look for it. I just happened to come across it. I have long meant to find out more about it, though whenever I've mentioned it, I have drawn blank looks.

This is a case, if you like, of unobtrusive abandonment. The place has been left to rot, but it doesn't offend the senses; that's because it's hidden. But there are numerous examples of obtrusive abandonment. Mallorca is littered with them.

Alcudia has a fine or rather not so fine example of this - the ruin that it is the Es Fogueró Palace. Once upon a time this was the grandest of all night spots. Julio Iglesias performed there. It's been closed for 25 years, and no one knows what to do with it. The town hall came up with a plan a few years ago. The idea was to restore the building and relocate much of Alcudia's nightlife to it. The thinking was, given its location and the location of the existing nightlife, that it would provide the perfect solution to problems with noise. The nightlife businesspeople didn't consider it to be perfect. The plan was scrapped.

Opposite this abandoned edifice is the industrial estate. At long last it might actually be used. And once life is breathed into it, then - so other thinking goes - Es Fogueró can be revitalised. It's not clear how or indeed why, but that's the thinking, which might be defined as: think straw, think clutch.

Abandonment occurs for all manner of reasons. Businesses go bust or are no longer viable; people die and there is no one to inherit (or willing to pay the tax) or the family engages in a feud; some legality or other intrudes; something new comes along; there is no more need. Wherever you might be in Mallorca, you won't have to go far to find abandonment. It's everywhere.

Solutions are sometimes found. Political imperatives ensure that they are. The transformation of Son Dureta is a case in point. No one seemingly ever applied any thought what to do with the hospital once Son Espases opened. President Armengol is right to have said that it couldn't have continued as it was. More than just obtrusive, it was offensive. When there are clear needs for people's health and welfare, then it couldn't just carry on being unused.

With Son Dureta there is only a functional issue. There have been no demands that it had to remain for architectural or heritage reasons. With other examples of abandonment, these are the reasons, however justified or unjustified they might be. Which brings us of course to the Gesa building.

What was it about some legality or other intruding? God knows there has been enough legality surrounding the Gesa building. The latest court ruling appears to establish that it doesn't actually belong to Palma town hall but to Endesa. Whoever owns it, no one is taking any care of it. Yet it has a protected status, meaning an obligation that it can't just be left to vandals and graffiti artists.

But the protected status is, for many, a nonsense. Preserve industrial or commercial heritage by all means, but the Gesa building unfortunately has little going for it, other than the fact that the revered architect Josep Ferragut was responsible for it. And the reverence paid to Ferragut may owe at least something to the question marks surrounding his murder.

The town hall has floated some ideas as to how to use the building, but again there seems to have been straw-clutching in a desperate attempt to justify it remaining, when many would argue that it would be better to demolish it. A question then, if that decision were ever taken, would be who pays for the demolition.

Endesa has other form in this regard, most obviously the old power station in Alcudia. Again, one does have to ask, as with Son Dureta, what anyone thought was going to happen with it after it was decommissioned. The industrial heritage lobby insists that it should stay, Endesa ideally wants shot of it, especially as the company has now sold the old Poblat Gesa estate opposite (designed by Ferragut), the one that Endesa itself allowed to deteriorate into a state of abandonment.

There is so much of this stuff, not all of it as obtrusive as the Gesa building. There are the old houses in village centres, invaded by rats and pigeons. Certain town halls, Felanitx is one, are finally trying to get something done. And there are the other relics of the industrial past, for example the Can Morató carpet factory in Pollensa. Their futures drag on and on. Their abandonment continues until finally someone has a sensible idea. Son Dureta is, however, an exception.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 17 January 2018

Morning high (7.51am): 17.8C
Forecast high: 18C; UV: 2
Three-day forecast: 18 January - Cloud, sun, 18C; 19 January - Cloud, 17C; 20 January - Cloud, 19C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): Northwest 5 to 6 easing Variable 2 to 4 during the afternoon.

Mild and windy. Clear and bright morning, clouding over later.

Evening update (20.00): High of 18.6C, but the temperature has plummeted by at least six degrees since the midday maximums.

An Embarrassing Lack Of Riches

Some few years ago now, I was chatting to a good friend who is in the excursions business about cultural excursions in the low season (sometimes also referred to as "the winter"). To cut a fairly long story short, there was no real mileage in the idea as it would to be too costly to arrange (by comparison with excursions in the summer), while the type of tourist who might be interested will go off on their own excursions anyway - they'll hire a car or maybe even cycle.

There was another potential drawback. While accepting that there is some fine "culture" on the island, does any of it have what might be described as a unique selling point? This chat was before the Tramuntana acquired its heritage status, and the mountains might just be said to be a USP, because of the mix of cultural influences that shaped the landscape. But where mountains and Unesco are concerned, the Tramuntana is hardly unique. There are the Dolomites, for example, a couple of parts of the Swiss Alps for others, the Meteora peaks with their monasteries in Greece for another. And then there's the rest of the globe.

How about the Talayotic culture then? Does this represent a USP? To an extent it does insofar as it was a prehistoric culture of Mallorca and Menorca. But then primitive civilisations like that of the Talayotic period existed elsewhere. They differed but they did have similar things in common, such as materials for building. There are bits of prehistoric stone all over the Iberian Peninsula.

Only since living in Mallorca have I come to appreciate the island's culture and heritage. It is rich and it is fascinating, but prior to living here I never gave it any thought. And much as I might be an advocate of what I have discovered, it's a tough call to try and assert that it outstrips cultural heritage of other parts of the Mediterranean or further afield in Europe. Everywhere has this heritage.

The numerous elements of this culture - architecture, archaeology, landscape, customs, fiestas - are to a large extent for those of us in the know. By that I mainly mean people who live here. For sure there is knowledge away from the Balearics, there are visitors who come, are inspired, and then return, but the culture does tend to be a reflection of insularity. As such, it is very important, it is something to be proud of, but it doesn't have major global resonance. Hard as attempts are made to, for instance, persuade an indifferent world that good old Ramon Llull was one of the most important figures of European mediaevalism, that world remains stubbornly more interested in the culture to be found on and close to beaches.

The insular perspective of the island's culture has bred the approach to its promotion. It is undertaken from a Mallorcan point of view and it has been under administrations that were unlike the current one with its strand of island eco-nationalism. This is understandable, of course it is, but it can create a barrier if there is to be a genuine pursuit of an appealing cultural message.

The title here - an embarrassing lack of riches - doesn't refer to any absence of cultural richness. Instead it is a statement of the approach, an indication of which is what appears to be going to happen at the Madrid Fitur tourism fair. The new tourism minister, Bel Busquets, who one fears is going to be completely out of her depth, has been saying that Fitur will all be about promoting the "successful" Better in Winter campaign and specifically cultural heritage. Success? Who says? I will say again that the only body that has had success has been Palma 365. With someone in charge who understands marketing a destination, Pedro Homar, the 365 foundation has eventually done some good. The government? No.

This evening there is apparently to be the presentation of a programme entitled “Mallorca Inspires Culture”, whatever this is. It won't be at Fitur itself; it's at the Hotel Barceló Emperatriz. Most of the presentations are at the exhibition hall. On the agenda for the other days of Fitur there are numerous seminars and what have you, certain ones among which very firmly reflect the government's tourism interests. There are panels of experts for these seminars. They come from local administrations, such as Lanzarote, Seville, Barcelona. Is there anyone from Mallorca and the Balearics? No.

But given the revolving door at the Balearic tourism ministry, this is hardly surprising. But even without the door, was the talent ever really there? It is, as I say, a very tough call selling Mallorca's culture and by extension Better in Winter. The private sector could probably make a fist of it, but the public sector? And as from April, the Council of Mallorca takes over the marketing reins. Insularity is about to get more insular.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 16 January 2018

Morning high (7.24am): 11.8C
Forecast high: 19C; UV: 1
Three-day forecast: 17 January - Cloud, sun, wind, 18C; 18 January - Cloud, sun, 18C; 19 January - Cloud, sun, 18C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): Southwest 4 to 5.

Fairly breezy morning. Westerly wind blowing all day and due to pick up this evening and overnight. Shouldn't be too fierce for this evening's bonfires and demons fire-runs though. Otherwise fine and sunny during the day.

Sant Antoni: Pigs And The French Connection

This evening in Manacor's parish church they'll be singing the "goigs" of Sant Antoni. The goigs are, roughly speaking, songs of joy or praise. They are sung elsewhere in Mallorca in celebration of the ancient saint, there are even practices for them in other villages, but Manacor specialises in the number of its rehearsals and the sheer emphasis placed on when the good folk of the town eventually gather for the real thing. While the likes of Alcudia and Muro are being bedevilled by demons with fire, Manacor is in the church and having a good old sing song.

Given Antoni's history, you will be unsurprised to learn that the goigs aren't entirely joyous in terms of content. Here was an ascetic saint who did after all live in the desert and was pestered by the devil on a regular basis. Hence, there are references to Lucifer (and the saint's triumph over him) and to the "perverse Demon". But thanks to the saint having not succumbed to the devil, the chorus for Sant Antoni - "glorious Sant Antoni" - calls on him to "guard us from all peril".

There is one possibly confusing reference to be found in the goigs. It is to Sant Antoni himself. We know him as Sant Antoni Abat, but the glorious Sant Antoni is in fact Sant Antoni de Viana. So, have we been getting it wrong with Sant Antoni Abat?

The Abat is a reference to an abbot. Antoni never was an abbot. Nor did he found a monastery or an abbey. It would have been difficult for him to have, given that he spent so much time by himself, living in caves or an abandoned fort in the Egyptian desert. The abbot part of his name would seem to have been given to him several centuries after he died (supposedly in 356 at the age of 105) and in a place a fair old distance from Egypt.

It is said that Antoni's preference was to have been buried in a secret place. As it turned out, the place wasn't so secret. His remains were taken to Alexandria and eventually to Constantinople, but they didn't stay there. In the eleventh century, concerned about what the Arabs were up to, Antoni (what was left of him) was transported to a region of France - Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, as it now is. A grand church was built in order to house him. The place became known as Saint Antoine-l'Abbaye. It was near to a village called Vienne which, to give it its Catalan name, is Viena del Delfinat. In Mallorquí, Viena was transformed into Viana.

Antoni does, depending where he's celebrated, have a number of names - Sant Antoni de Viana, Sant Antoni Abat, Sant Antoni d’Egipte, Sant Antoni l’Ermità, Sant Antoni del Foc, Sant Antoni del Desert, Sant Antoni dels Ases, Sant Antoni del Porquet and Sant Antoni el Gran. He is the patron saint of domestic animals; hence the blessings that take place tomorrow. Two of his names reflect this - ases (donkeys) and porquet (little pig or piglet).

The pig angle does, however, require a little more explanation. In 1095, a monastic order was founded in Sant Antoni's name in Saint Antoine-l'Abbaye. This was by a nobleman who was said to have been healed by the saint's relics. At the time there was a serious illness - ergotism, caused by the ergot fungus on cereals. This order went on to establish hospitals and to treat ergotism. One of them was in Palma.

A point about the pigs was that the monks from the order used pig fat in the treatment of patients - they would be smeared with it. Another point was that the pigs that belonged to the order were very much free range. They went more or less where they liked and were fed by the local people, who also gave food to the monks. This was despite the fact that in 1719 pigs were forbidden from wandering around the streets and squares of old Palma. The monks fought against the prohibition and retained their pig privileges.

The pigs were well looked after until it came to the day of Saint Martin, 11 November, which remains the traditional start to the "matances" season, the slaughter of pigs in order to make products such as sobrassada.

The order was dissolved in the late eighteenth century. It was the one which had in the seventeenth century tried to get the image of Sant Antoni moved from Sa Pobla to Palma. A lawsuit put an end to this, and the victory of Sa Pobla still inspires the cry of "Visca Sant Antoni", which will bellow out of the church this evening at the end of the Compline service. That victory does rather sum up the place of Sant Antoni in Mallorca's culture. He is very much the saint of Mallorca away from Palma, but when it is said that Antoni is the saint of Mallorca's peasant class, it is always Sant Antoni de Viana who is named.

* Re the image, "goigs" also written as "gois".

Monday, January 15, 2018

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 15 January 2018

Morning high (7.54am): 4.7C
Forecast high: 16C; UV: 1
Three-day forecast: 16 January - Sun, 18C; 17 January - Sun, cloud, wind, 19C; 18 January - Cloud, 18C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): North 2 to 3.

Cold start again. Should be mostly sunny today. Very good for tomorrow if a little breezy.

Evening update (19.30): Quite nice. High of 16.9C.

Compulsive Disorders

Biel Company is allegedly the president of the Partido Popular in the Balearics. For several months, despite his having been given this accolade, he was rarely to be seen or heard. He is now finally beginning to demonstrate that he is indeed the president and to allay any suspicions or fears that he had been run over by a tractor in his native Sant Joan while regressing to his former life as champion of the farming community.

If you are not already aware, then by goodness you are going to become aware that there is an election in sixteen months time. The long campaign has started. Biel will be hopeful that this campaign heralds the long goodbye for Sweet and Friendly Francina and her chums in Més and Podemos. His hope may be misplaced. Biel has not exactly been rallying the electoral troops to the PP side.

Doubtless recognising that his party is at present heading for another election disaster, Biel has come out fighting in the long campaign. If all else fails, and there is in fact nothing else to try and pin on the incumbent Balearic president, then it is necessary to call her a compulsive liar. Which he has. Francina's lying has to do with a demand that the PP repays some 150 grand of 2007 election subvention. As if anyone actually cares. It was ten years ago, it was the time of Matas. Get over it, and talk about matters in the present. But no, the compulsion - for both Biel and Francina - is to rake over the past, and where Biel is concerned, the raking appears to mainly have involved the soil of his own personal agricultural heritage.

Is Francina a compulsive liar? No, she is not. She does, however, suffer from a compulsive disorder. It is not treatable. It is called compulsive consensus. So essential has it become for Francina to insist that her government abides fully by the principle of consensus that she has clearly come to believe this. Unfortunately for Francina, no one else does. The evidence stacks up by the day and will stack up further as she and her governmental buddies go into full-on election mode. Yes, we have sixteen months of all this to endure.

If there is a compulsive liar, then last week once more revealed who it was, as if the revelation were in fact needed. Donald Trump is not just a compulsive liar, he is a compulsive lunatic. But at least with DT there is the entertainment factor, even though presidents are not usually judged by their ability to entertain us all royally. So, Biel needs to understand the true meaning of compulsive lying in a presidential sense. Francina isn't even on the first rung of the compulsion ladder; not when compared with the master who has scaled its heights in The White House.

Biel should really be devoting far greater attention to a different disorder - compulsive citizenship. All Balearic politicians suffer from this due to their constant invoking of the citizens, but where Biel is concerned he needs to take due note of the party that has named itself in the name of the citizens (there's compulsion for you) - Ciudadanos. Biel said that he wasn't worried about the rise and rise of the C's. Well, he's wrong not to be worried, especially as he needs to be very nice to them. The PP hasn't got a cat in hell's chance of recovering all the seats that Bauzá destroyed in 2015, so the C's have to be looked upon as very real, potential coalition allies after the May 2019 election.

This, however, will mean that Biel has to cosy up to the morose leader of the Cs, Xavier Pericay. And he has his own disorder - compulsive anti-Catalanism. On and on he drones in this manner. Sixteen more months we have of this. The citizens may as a result decide to switch off from the Citizens party. The citizens might also wish to know what the Citizens party has to offer them apart from not needing to have a Catalan qualification for being a nurse. Curiously enough, the wild man of Més, compulsive independentist David Abril, has hit the nail on the head in this regard. Rather than constant attacks on Catalan, he said, let's hear some policies.

Xavier will unquestionably be aghast to learn that the leadership of the Council of Majorca, one part of which (the presidential part) has compulsive Catalanism, let the Obra Cultural Balear (compulsive Catalanists and compulsive independentists) have the use of the Teatre Principal for free so that it could turn its annual awards ceremony into propaganda for the incarcerated Jordis of Catalonia, with the acting speaker of the Catalan parliament, Carme Forcadell, handing out the gongs.

According to the Council's vice-president for culture, PSOE's Francesc Miralles (not prone to the same compulsion of the president), the Council always lets the OCB have the theatre for nothing. But Francesc declined to comment on what took place and nor has he said anything about the fact that apparently the cost of transmission for this gala occasion was borne by the IB3 broadcaster and the government's culture ministry (run by Més). 

Carme has since resigned as speaker, and when this became knowledge, our good friend Balti of the Balearic parliament (compulsive Republicanism) tweeted a message of support. "Health and Republic," said Balti, adding "strength from the companion islands".

Xavier will not have been impressed. Are any of us with all their various compulsive disorders?