Wednesday, April 26, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 26 April 2017

Morning high (7.53am): 15.4C
Forecast high: 22C; UV: 7
Three-day forecast: 27 April - Rain, 15C; 28 April - Cloud, 18C; 29 April - Sun, cloud, 20C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): South 2 to 3 backing Northeast 4 to 5 in the afternoon.

Some cloud this morning. Should be reasonable until the evening when there may be a shower. The cold front coming in from the mainland will mean lower temperatures tomorrow and probable rain.

In Memory Of Aurora Picornell

The Council of Mallorca held a ceremony on Monday. Awards were made in the name of the institution. One was posthumous. It was for a favourite daughter of Mallorca. She died eighty years ago. She was Aurora Picornell.

Can Sales in Palma is nowadays a library; it was opened in 2004. Before the Civil War, there was an asylum run by the Hermanitas de los Pobres (sisters of the poor). During the war this became a women's prison. On 5 January 1937, the boss of this makeshift jail read out the names of five women - Catalina Flaquer Pascual and her daughters Antonia and Maria, Belarmina González Rodríguez and Aurora Picornell Femenías. They were taken to Porreres.

The village of Porreres was a conveniently out of the way place, a quiet place. It was a village that nevertheless rang with noise. The women, as with so many others, were shot at the cemetery. In the evening of 5 January, so the story is told, a fascist went into a bar in El Molinar in Palma. He brandished a bra stained with blood. It was Aurora Picornell's bra.

Born in El Molinar in 1912, her parents were communists. She became an activist at a young age. When she was 19, she founded the union for seamstresses. By then, the Second Republic was a reality. Mallorca and Spain were no longer under the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera. The king was in exile. A new direction was being plotted. It was, but it was one that descended into chaos and anarchy and ultimately into carnage. The dreams for and ambitions of a different Spain were shattered amidst the fighting and the murders. History should perhaps have told them that this would be how it would end. Over the course of the previous 100 or so years there had been attempts at refashioning the politics of the country and its society. The Liberal Triennium lasted, as its title says, three years. The First Republic survived for less than two years.

Aurora Picornell followed her parents into communism. She was one of the leaders of the Mallorcan branch of the Spanish Communist Party. But she is remembered as much for her feminism and for that union. They were to become known as Las Rojas del Molinar, the red women of El Molinar.

Catalina Flaquer Pascual was tortured. Her interrogators wanted to know the whereabouts of her two daughters. They were in hiding. Maria was eventually given away not by her mother but by her three-year-old daughter. The Francoist investigators gained the small girl's trust by giving her sweets. She told them where her mother was.

Although there were five of them, Aurora Picornell stood out. She was the leader. Her activism was such that she had acquired fame (or possibly notoriety) before the war. She was dubbed La Pasionaria de Mallorca (the passion flower). It seems that when she was being taken away from the prison, she and the other women were mocked by the nuns; one presumes the sisters of the poor. It is said that she told the other women that if she was alive in the morning, wherever she might be, she would return for revenge.

That anecdote serves as something of a reminder of how divisions were. The church was seen to be (and not just seen to be) on the side of the Nationalists and the fascists. It shouldn't be forgotten that the Republicans were not whiter than white. They committed atrocities against members of the church. The Balearic government's law on historical memory and graves was, after some considerable debate, reworded in order to take account of victims from both sides.

But it is the name of the Republic which dominates. Hence there have been the exhumations in Porreres. Hence why there will be more and why there is a call for exhumations in Manacor as well. The numbers of dead there, spread over a longer period, vastly exceed the bodies in Porreres.

So much attention is currently being given to this historical memory because there is a government (and a Council of Mallorca) which does not want the memory to go away and which wants some closure for descendants. The memory was allowed to go in the past. It is largely because of the one-time amnesia, the absence of any reconciliation, that events of the 1930s are haunting us now. There is also the symmetry of anniversary. Last year was the eightieth anniversary of the start of the war. This year is the eightieth anniversary of the murders of Las Rojas del Molinar and of the Republican mayors, Emili Darder of Palma and Antoni Mateu of Inca, among others.

The grandson of Aurora Picornell accepted the honour on Monday. President Miquel Ensenyat concluded that he hoped that society could recover its dignity and that the deceased could be returned to their families.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 25 April 2017

Morning high (7.33am): 9.7C
Forecast high: 25C; UV: 6
Three-day forecast: 26 April - Cloud, 22C; 27 April - Cloud, 15C; 27 April - Cloud, 18C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): South-Southeast 3, locally 4 in the afternoon.

May be a case of making the most of today, which is going to be pretty warm. Cloud and possible rain on the cards from tomorrow until Friday.

Evening update (20.00): High of 26.1C.

The Freedom Of Choice

Why is there so much hate for expatriates? Let's start with the word. I hate it as well, even if I am one. It betokens hostility because of the creep over years of an implicit sense of difference that can seem to border on the superior. Expatriates thus form a class apart, one that is subject to being despised: not by the local indigenous community but by those from afar in the motherland. Their status, courtesy of the title expatriates, carries with it a haughtiness. To hell with expatriates. They've chosen to abandon the motherland. Whatever comes their way is their doing.

Alternative titles - foreign resident, foreign citizen - arouse no such opprobrium. A further one - immigrant - does, but this can stem from a transposition of the situation within the motherland. Once upon a time, the motherland was a place of tolerance, a refuge for the persecuted, a welcoming pair of arms for those from different countries and from different creeds. There is some delusion in this, but notwithstanding historical differences between Protestants and Catholics and the beginnings of a culture clash when Jamaicans started arriving in the motherland, tolerance has held true. Or did.

Brexit has exposed, were there really any need, given its prior existence, the intolerance of immigration and also of emigration, the beleaguered expatriate. In the case of the latter, a form of outward or externalised xenophobia has taken a grip. Aside from the pejorative implication of "expatriate" (one I fully understand), what truly drives this antagonism? Is it simply the vision of the idle lounging-away of long days under a Mediterranean sun and the endless supply of gin and tonics?

Envy may play a part. But so also may the introspection of those who are fully embedded in the motherland, from whose shores they will never depart, save for two weeks of idle lounging-away of long days under a Mediterranean sun. The foreign resident comes in a multitude of forms, hence the catch-all castigation of an expatriate community can be and is an affront. Does it not occur to those back in the motherland, dispensing bilious intolerance, that some people opted to move because their horizons are broader than those limited by and shrouded in the mists of English Channel insularity? Curiosity and discovery were once admirable traits of the British. They created immense wealth. Nowadays they are consigned to the wastelands of old and less old England - the gentility and nobility of the village green willow on leather juxtaposed with the gorilla (and the word is being used correctly) warfare of a category of football supporter (so-called).

The motherland has long been an advocate of freedoms. Trade has been one; choice another. Mobility was made easier by the European Union, but mobility had existed before agreements by the member states. This mobility was a function of curiosity, adventure, the seeking of a better or alternative life, marriage, employment and, yes, the determination of some to spend existences developing skin cancer. (One might also add, it shouldn't be overlooked, the need to escape justice.)

The advocacy of freedom of choice, which doubtless even the most severe critics of expatriates would themselves advocate and defend, was enshrined in law: free movement of people, goods and services. There are those in the motherland who are selective in their advocacy, the products (some at any rate) of the collective narcissism that has taken hold: and not just in Great Britain. This is the exaggerated belief in their superiority but which at the same time has a deep-down doubt surrounding the collective prestige. It is the doubt within this collective disorder which makes some hit out.

The image of the expatriate is not and cannot be standardised. From a personal point of view, how often did I get to the beach last year? On fewer occasions than a fortnight's holidaymaker, that's for certain, and this despite the beach being within easy walking distance. Not once did I sit by a pool. Not once did I have a gin and tonic nor any other alcoholic drink save for a glass of Rioja on which Kelvin MacKenzie has proposed an import tax. Rare are the viewings of British television, but the BBC is an institution I hold dear, if primarily its radio: an institution lambasted by the same critics of the expatriate, at least in part because the ineffable "Daily Mail" tells them to.

What others do, however others choose to live their lives under the sun is entirely their affair. It is not my business and nor should it be anyone else's, wherever they themselves live. They choose because choice exists. The freedom to do so should be fundamental. It is fundamental. But it is a freedom detested and further excoriated on the principle of not being patriotic, however one might choose to define that.

Freedom of choice. A value to be defended, not despised.

Monday, April 24, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 24 April 2017

Morning high (7.37am): 8.7C
Forecast high: 21C; UV: 7
Three-day forecast: 25 April - Cloud, 24C; 26 April - Cloud, 20C; 27 April - Cloud, 17C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): Variable 1 to 2.

A fine day today, tomorrow expected to be cloudy but warmed by southerlies, then the wind switches north on Wednesday; temperatures down and some rain possible.

Evening update (19.45): High of 22.6C.

All Aboard The Podemos Bus

Coming to us soon - us as in those living in Palma - will be the Hazte Oír "bus of hate", as it has been branded. The bus is scheduled to appear in Mallorca at the start of June. It won't if the town hall and others have anything to do with it. A different bus may be made to feel more welcome. Podemos have their own. It's the "tramabús", trama referring to plot or conspiracy, so it is a bus dedicated to the corrupt and the allegedly corrupt. Among this roll call are ... Mariano Rajoy, Felipe González, José María Aznar, Esperanza Aguirre and Rodrigo Rato. The latter of these, we have been learning over the past few days, allegedly laundered millions while he was both the head of the International Monetary Fund and the deputy prime minister of Spain (this is what the Guardia Civil is said to have ascertained).

The bus has divided opinion within Podemos, broadly along the lines exposed by the recent battle for control of the party. The Iglesias faction, the victorious one, seems pleased with the bus. Those sticking to the wing of the vanquished Infant, Íñigo Errejón, are less enamoured. Indeed, they think it's ridiculous, especially as it's as though Podemos have taken a leaf out of the hated Hazte Oír's book.

There is also some disquiet about how much the bus is costing - some 600 or 700 euros a day. Maybe, therefore, Podemos could offset this by organising excursions. Why not offer a Podemos trip to tourists? The bus could show visitors the more saturated parts of the island (and indeed elsewhere in Spain). Nice idea, but there would need to be an operator's licence. And to not have one simply wouldn't do. All would be above board aboard the Podemos plot bus.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 23 April 2017

Morning high (8.01am): 6.7C
Forecast high: 20C; UV: 7
Three-day forecast: 24 April - Sun, 21C; 25 April - Sun, cloud, 23C; 26 April - Cloud, 19C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): Variable 2 increasing East 3 to 4 in the afternoon.

Another nippy morning ahead of a fine and quite warm day. Forecast suggesting that temperatures will fall by Wednesday and that there may well be some rain.

Evening update (20.00): Very pleasant. High of 21.6C.

Spain Has No Defence Against Zombies

Buried beneath all the news about the travails of the Balearic tourism minister and of the British ambassador spreading joy of a citizens' rights variety, there was news that THEY clearly wish to keep quiet. I don't wish to alarm you unduly but the Spanish government has admitted that it doesn't have a plan to deal with an invasion of zombies.

While it might be said that there are politicians stalking populations who fall into the category of the living dead - Bauzá, for example - there is a far greater and far more dangerous threat, and Madrid is doing nothing about it. For us to have become aware of this gross negligence, we have to thank Carles Mulet of the Compromís party in Valencia. Carles, it needs saying, does not have a mullet. He sports a more shorn affair and can't himself really be described as resembling a zombie, while his party is alive with various greens, Republican leftists - that sort of thing.

It may be the case that Valencia is at greater risk of a zombie attack than other parts of Spain (I honestly wouldn't know), but whatever the level of danger is, Carles has raised the matter in the Senate. What plans are there for a zombie apocalypse, he wished to know in a written question. The government was caught on the hop. Nevertheless, once it managed to respond, dealing with an apocalypse (in a general sense) appears to be easier than tackling one that specifically involves zombies. Bodies (sic) ranging from the state security forces to the Civil Protection volunteers are capable of handling an apocalypse because the Dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy says so.

No, that's not strictly true. The dictionary doesn't state this as such - it's not the job of a dictionary to go into the detail of security matters - but it does have definitions. One of these, a "catastrophic situation", is, says the government, something which the security forces can tackle. The other definition is rather more tricky. "The end of the world", implying as it does the end, is not something that the government can plan for. There would, it concludes, be little time to plan for it. Which, let's face it, isn't terribly reassuring.

When it comes to the specific threat posed by a zombie apocalypse, the government has also consulted the dictionary. "People who are supposed to be dead and are revived by the art of witchcraft in order to dominate their will," is more or less how the dictionary defines zombies. Given this definition, the government has concluded that it doesn't believe that such an eventuality is likely. There is "doubtful probability of such a circumstance arising".

This may be designed to allay citizens' fears (citizens in Valencia at any rate), but the response is surely not good enough. And Carles, for one, most certainly isn't prepared to give the government the benefit of the doubt. In fact, he's indignant at the lack of preparedness. "The government has no plan of action for the zombie apocalypse. Its answer can be interpreted as meaning that the government itself is a zombie apocalypse, a human catastrophe brought about by stupefied and automaton people."

Are the PP therefore themselves zombies? Worrying.

Just to add, in case you think that Carles is off his tree, he was being ironic (as was the government in its replies). The zombie issue was raised because Carles doesn't think much of the government's ability to respond to questions.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 22 April 2017

Morning high (7.26am): 5.9C
Forecast high: 21C; UV: 7
Three-day forecast: 23 April - Sun, cloud, 20C; 24 April - Sun, 21C; 25 April - Sun, cloud, 27C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): East-Southeast 3 to 4.

Distinctly chilly early on. Much warmer later.

Evening update (20.15): Pretty good. High of 21.5C.

Madrid In A Muddle Over Holiday Rentals

The secretary-of-state for tourism's visit to Mallorca during the week allowed the industry to get some things off its chest. None of them were particularly new. Politicians and senior officials were there as well. In the case of tourism minister Biel Barceló, he could afford to give Matilde Asián only a few minutes of his time; he had a television interview to get to. It was presumably time enough for her to tell him that Madrid isn't minded to pump more cash into the Playa de Palma reform because of what seemingly went missing several years ago. Even so, Asián, because of the national ministry's policy of modernising old resorts, appeared to also suggest that Playa de Palma will be looked upon favourably: at some point and in some way.

Asián's visit served only to spread confusion. Her boss, Álvaro Nadal, has made much of the resort modernisation. There may be legitimate issues about previous funding, but what is to be done about Playa de Palma? It isn't just one of Mallorca's main resorts, it is one of Spain's. Perhaps in future Madrid needs to take full control of any project. That way it will know that the money's being used wisely.

But Madrid wouldn't do this. While it might provide investment, a project such as Playa de Palma is a regional affair. The Balearics, as with other regional communities, has tourism responsibilities. It is therefore for the regional government to sort things out, as is the case with holiday rentals.

The past week has given the impression of left and right hands being unaware of what both are doing, of some ignorance of legislation and of messages being mixed. With holiday rentals, a fundamental issue for the Balearic government is a reform of the Ley de Arrendamientos Urbanos, the tenancy act. The government has forwarded to Madrid, as has the Mallorca Hoteliers Federation, its wish for there to be a minimum rental of four weeks. With this, it hopes to overcome the loophole that the act currently offers.

Asián seemed to suggest that she hadn't been asked about reform, said that there was no plan to reform the act (which is what Nadal has also said), but then added that she would look into it so long as someone tells her to look into it and on the grounds that everything can be made better. So what is Madrid's position? The national government, i.e. Asián, has also intimated that it is considering nationwide legislation for holiday rentals. This would represent a U-turn, as Madrid devolved responsibilities to the regions. It was perfectly entitled to, given what the statutes for regional government permit, but it appeared at the time to have washed its hands of the rentals' matter. The ensuing mess is at least partly Madrid's fault.

Despite what it might say about treating rentals of under four weeks as touristic, the Balearic government will encounter problems with effectively enforcing its rentals' legislation unless the tenancy act is reformed. And this obstacle exists in all other regions where there are issues with rentals and where the hoteliers and legislators have been banging their heads against a wall in despair of Madrid taking any real notice.

To cap it all, there is the European Union to take into account. It has working parties considering holiday rentals, including therefore the role of websites such as Airbnb. And what might Brussels come up with? Who can say. Madrid can't, or appears to be unable to. Things will probably have to wait until the EU speaks, which will probably provoke ever more confusion.

While Asián was here, she also had something to say about the tourist tax. She is opposed to it, as of course is her party. That was hardly a surprise, but there was a surprise when she said that she found it surprising that residents in the Balearics have to pay the tax if they stay in tourist accommodation. She was surprised? Was she unaware that the reason for this is because Brussels had decreed it?

Friday, April 21, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 21 April 2017

Morning high (6.46am): 8.1C
Forecast high: 19C; UV: 6
Three-day forecast: 22 April - Sun, cloud, 21C; 23 April - Sun, cloud, 20C; 24 April - Sun, cloud, 24C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): East 4

Should be warmer today; the breezes have shifted.

Evening update (21.45): Warmer. High of 20C.

The Rock Of Mare Nostrum

Gibraltar, as with Brexit, is a subject I generally avoid. Both polarise opinion. There is no in-between. Arguing them becomes all but pointless. The extremes of views are underpinned by concepts that are still relatively recent phenomena in terms of socio-politics. Nationalism and sovereignty, according to one strong vein of historical theory at any rate, are products of mid-nineteenth century Europe. The nation state arose from what had previously been multi-cultural non-nations. This state, so the theory asserts, was one predicated on ethnic as well as cultural lines. Nationalism emerged; its consequences were to be disastrous.

Brexit is an internecine civil war, suffused with a blinkered parochialism that shouts sovereignty and nationalism. It is, though, and despite its far broader ramifications, a civil war, an internal affair for a nation (and many of its people) which has failed to come to terms with changes to its place in the world order and has also failed to break a collective mindset imposed by insularity and an historical defiance. William the Conqueror was the last to conquer. The Romans had done so much earlier. Subsequently, Hitler was prevented from doing so. Before the Nazis, the Spanish Armada was seen off.

The Armada is my link with Gibraltar. Two one-time empires argue over it. They've argued for centuries. The thirteen-year blockade, started in 1969 by Franco, may or may not have been influenced by John Lennon having referred to "Gibraltar near Spain". On such a frivolous notion is nationalism nevertheless offended.

These two empires at various times ruled the waves. Spain's was largely the result of a geographical accident. Columbus hadn't anticipated discovering America. Not that he really did. It took Amerigo Vespucci to confirm that there was indeed a whole continent in the way of the route to the East Indies, and Vespucci, like Columbus, except for those who would argue otherwise, was Italian. The Spanish Empire owed much to Florence and Genoa. It was also indebted to the viciousness of the Inquisition and to the ending of a multi-culturalism that had endured for some eight centuries. The peculiar coincidences of history were never more peculiar than in 1492. Columbus stumbled across land he hadn't expected to find, and Muslim Granada surrendered.

Gibraltar was taken in 1704. Control was officially ceded to Britain nine years later. One empire was emerging. Another was starting its long goodbye. The ever-reducing empire was to endure further psychological blows. Spain as a country has suffered them consistently. The loss of Cuba and the Philippines, getting on for some two hundred years after Gibraltar, was one of the most shattering.

The Rock resides therefore in the collective consciousness, a symbol of long-ago battles. For the British, there is an entirely different perspective, but still one linked to a faded imperial past. Brexit fallout has landed on Gibraltar and has given rise to absurdities such as those of Kelvin MacKenzie. Suspended because of Ross Barkley, he had only a short time before been advocating a British tourist boycott of Spain. The reason? Gibraltar. Hands off our Rock.

This Gibraltar consciousness in Spain is, however, something I wonder about in terms of its universality and indeed perception. Is there the same attitude in Galicia, for example, as there is in Andalusia or Mallorca? Mariano Rajoy is from Galicia, as was Francisco Franco. Perhaps there is a universality, therefore, if only in politicians' minds. That there may be a difference in Spanish perspective - one between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean - occurred to me in the course of working on the book about the Mediterranean's history and culture. Indeed, I would say that the events of 1704 appeared to be as profound as any other developments over the centuries.

The Strait of Gibraltar and the Mediterranean were formed millions of years ago. The Strait, the narrow gap between continents, was the inlet and the outlet. Gibraltar was thus the guardian of the sea. The British took it away.

The "Mare Nostrum" was the name the Romans gave it. Our Sea. Not anyone else's. Ours. The legacy was passed to other cultures. Our Sea was a common space, and one in which Mallorca was just a tiny part. Nevertheless, it is an island that has been shaped by the activities of Our Sea.

One has to look at issues with alternative perspectives, ones that overcome the hotheadedness of nationalism and sovereignty. I was jolted by the 1704 reference. Although it wasn't stated, there was an element of lament, one for a Mediterranean existence. It was not as though the Mediterranean hadn't known previous usurpers. For instance, most of the Goths and Barbarian hordes had known nothing of the sea. But essentially, and over centuries, the Mediterranean was a Mediterranean affair until new powers arrived. And one of those is nowadays the northern European tourist army and resident. Do we borrow the sea? Can we claim it to be ours?

Thursday, April 20, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 20 April 2017

Morning high (7.55am): 12.5C
Forecast high: 19C; UV: 6
Three-day forecast: 21 April - Sun, 20C; 22 April - Sun, 21C; 23 April - Sun, cloud, 21C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): North-Northeast 4 to 6.

The northerly breeze is still blowing. Another cooler day as a result.

Evening update (19.45): Sunny spells, but not much to write home about. High of 17C.

What's The Environment Anyway?

Please don't shoot the statistical messenger. I'm a mere conduit of numerical glad or bad tidings, especially if there seems as though there's an angle to contemplate. Typically, one's response to the data overload delivered through tablets of percentages from government bodies and surveys or from websites and companies desperately in search of publicity ranges from a shrug of indifference to red-faced fury: how dare they take us for such fools?

While there are those who will insist that statistics exist in some number-crunching fantasy land, divorced from realities or personal perception, occasionally something comes along which makes one (well, me) pause and reflect. And so it is with a survey about attitudes towards the environment.

International "days" are frequently the excuse of a peg on which to hang a survey and its findings. Earth Day is 22 April. There has been such a day since 1970, the year in which the Earth was therefore invented. The day extends to 193 countries, according to Wikipedia, which may or may not mean that there are parts of the Earth excluded: they are not of this Earth.

Be that as it may, this year's Earth Day has inspired a website to address environmental attitudes. The site in question is Ofertia.com, which I confess to not having previously been aware of. The credentials for its survey are that it is basically a shopping website. There may well be a touch of the publicity-seeking as a consequence. We are now familiar with Ofertia, whereas before we were not, and it's all thanks to the environment.

What, you may well ask, does shopping have to do with the environment? A great deal when you begin to drill down into the detail of the retail process: land devoted to shops; the logistics demanded to supply them; the ultimate consequence of, for example, landfill; all that plastic floating around in the Med; cars and other vehicles moving hither and thither and polluting the atmosphere; ever more land needed in order to satisfy transport, i.e. roads.

Shopping, as far as the environment is concerned, does not have a great deal to commend itself. And the Balearic government has recognised this. The pro-business, pro-vast commercial centres Partido Popular once advanced (under Bauzá) a tax on commercial centres. The reason was all the pollution caused in the act of shoppers shifting themselves in order to carry away bundles of plastic packaging and domestic electrical goods to later be destined to rot away in the peculiarly monikered "green points".

When the large retailers threatened to take them to court, the PP quietly abandoned this and a couple of other "green taxes". To compensate for the lack of revenue, they instead imposed a massive charge on water use, something which, oddly enough, went below the radar. The current government, both regional and insular, has had its eyes on shopping as well. The Council of Mallorca is currently working on a land plan: the Council's main reason for existence is the drafting of land plans, or so it can seem. This one has to do with shopping; hence, there is at present a moratorium on new large retail sites.

Such concern for the environment, and here we get to the survey, does not appear to be shared by the citizens. Or rather, there is a concern but it is not as great as most of the rest of Spain. The survey suggests that the level of commitment to the environment in the Balearics is the third lowest among regions. Only Galicia and Navarre are less concerned.

Is this finding surprising? I would suggest that it most certainly is. More than statistical overload, we endure environmental overload in Mallorca. The environment can barely move because of eco groups of one sort or another, to say nothing of the eco credentials of political parties such as Més, whose tourist tax is, in case we forget, supposedly for sustainability.

But it is even more surprising if one considers what is meant by the environment. The word tends to presuppose visions of landscape and plastic washed on to virgin beaches. Yet the environment, and this is a stupidly obvious observation, is all around us. Everything is the environment, and everything influences the environment, including shopping.

We may tire of frequent reports that dissect the impact of man on fragile ecosystems in Mallorca, but the environment is greatly more than the habitats of species and coastal erosion because of the harm caused to posidonia sea grass. Perhaps the word - environment - is the issue. It conveys less than the whole, and the whole is the complete island, inclusive of the roughly 80% of land that is available for agricultural purposes. But the complete island is only small. Its environment (and its protection) is vital. Yes, I am surprised by the survey.