Tuesday, July 31, 2012

MALLORCA TODAY - Dehydration among Balearics people

You might think that it is only tourists who fail to take on sufficient liquid (of a non-alcoholic nature) when it is summer in Mallorca and the Balearics, but a study suggests that one in three people in the Balearics have indicated symptoms of dehydration. The advice is, of course, to not wait until you feel thirsty and to drink between two and three litres of water a day in regular, small amounts.

See more: Diario de Mallorca

MALLORCA TODAY - Sóller parking metres sabotaged again

The normally sedate town of Sóller is currently suffering from acts of vandalism and sabotage directed at new parking metres controlling parking zones in the town. A third such act of sabotage has put 30 metres out of use.

See more: Ultima Hora

MALLORCA TODAY - Two more deliberate fires in Bendinat

Yesterday two fires were started close to each other and at roughly the same time around midday in the Bendinat area of Calvià, leading police and fire authorities to believe they were deliberate. The fires were stabilised swiftly, resulting in only some 2,000 or so square metres of wood land being affected.

See more: Diario de Mallorca

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 31 July 2012

Very much a repeat of yesterday, the weather settled, hot and sunny. 25.5 the local high at 08.30, rising to the low 30s, light breezes switching directions but southerly and easterly dominating. A similar pattern is set for the rest of the week.

The local met office has given its report for July, noting that temperatures, especially in the north, were slightly lower than normal but that the month has been particularly dry. The highest temperatures in the north were inland in Sa Pobla on 19 July (36.4) and coastal in Puerto Pollensa on 18 July (34.3). August is set to start with a light heatwave, which has already begun if Sa Pobla's 35 of yesterday is anything to go by, and is forecast to be dry, varying between periods of normal temperatures (around 27 or 28) and short bursts of higher temperatures. Chances of rain may increase in the second half of the month when colder air will combine with high sea temperatures in generating cloud, but such a development is pretty normal.

Afternoon update: Inland high of 34.9 (Sa Pobla), coastal high of 32.8. Warm. And a yellow advice for high temperatures tomorrow.

The Chou Chou Man: August holidays

When is a holidaymaker not a holidaymaker? The answer is when he or she is an Augustine. At least I think one could, were one of a mind to, refer to an August holidaymaker in this way. The British don't have such a term, but it exists elsewhere.

I became aware of the term in France, a notice having been chalked up onto a board next to a beach that welcomed "les aoûtiennes". They were mostly from Paris, or so a lunatic who used to dance along the beach selling chou chou nuts had it. According to his bizarre sales pitch, which consisted of a kind of poem, his chou chou nuts were the best for all the aoûtiennes "en vacances" from "Par-ee-yuh!". So effective was he, that he was a Pied Piper, trails of kids following him along the beach, joining in every time he gave chou chou the full chou chou treatment - "chou chou-wah!" They don't make beach salespeople like him any more, and more's the pity. Strangely enough, though he was clearly out of his head all the time, he was also legal.

The Spanish could have the equivalent of aoûtiennes, "agostistas" or "agostenses", though I suspect I've made both of them up. They certainly, and unfortunately, don't have mad beach sellers, only grinning young (and sometimes not so young) ladies who wish to give you a "masaje". But like the French, everything stops for August and holidays start, which is slightly odd when you think that the local schools broke up in the middle of June.

A Spanish news website recently had this thing in which it tried to convince its readership that, with August just around the corner and therefore holidays, the time was approaching to forget all that nasty IVA increase stuff, those horrible unemployment figures and the dreaded R-word. Instead, the "playa" was beckoning, everything would be all right, crisis would disappear, the euro would become the world's dominant currency and Spain would reclaim its empire.

Unfortunately, one fears that the "playa" has been part of the problem, and not only in August. There it is, a very pleasant temptation and diversion from the inconveniences of life, such as working. August may be here but so also is the head-in-sands burial time. So long as there's always the beach, nothing else matters.

A holiday is a time to put life's worries to one side, but it is pretty bloody difficult when your economy isn't going down the pan but already has. In the circumstances, rather than heading for the August beach, perhaps this August should be a month when offices don't all suddenly close, when shops don't suddenly decide there is no point in opening. There again, it is perhaps reasonable to argue that things are that terminal, another month of inactivity won't make any difference.

National politicians are, however, showing rather greater willingness to keep things going this August than in previous years. Prime Minister Rajoy, for example, will take a holiday next year, he says. It may actually be a very long holiday; a very long holiday from being prime minister at any rate. Otherwise, we can all rest easy in the knowledge that the minister for the Hacienda will be working practically the whole of August.

What of local leaders in the Balearics? Announcements have yet to be made, but how can they take holidays? The mayor of Palma, for example, is confronted with the possibility that Palma will be on strike for most of August, not that anyone would probably notice, given that it is August, but Emaya has announced eleven days of (in)action, adding to the strike dates previously registered by the bus drivers. The last thing any of these leaders need is being caught on camera, sunning themselves by a beach chiringuito, sipping a mojito. "¿Cree-sis? ¿Cuál cree-sis?" Bauzá in particular is going to need to be at his desk, aware that the man who in a few months probably won't be prime minister has called a grand parley of the regions' presidents in September, designed to show the world that Spain is united and strong (don't laugh).

Sorry, but August really should be cancelled, and this applies to everyone. No agostistas this year, thanks very much. The beach will always be there next year, assuming there is a next year and that we haven't all had to inure ourselves completely against reality by resorting to consuming industrial quantities of hard drugs and resigning ourselves to having to sell chou chou nuts.

Any comments to andrew@thealcudiaguide.com please.

Index for July 2012

August holidays - 31 July 2012
Catalan and public workers - 19 July 2012
Citizenship - 9 July 2012
Coastal development and human pressure - 17 July 2012
Coasts Law reform - 14 July 2012
Cruise ship in Alcúdia - 22 July 2012, 28 July 2012
Excursions and Mallorca's travel agencies - 29 July 2012
Fiestas: lesser known - 27 July 2012
IVA rise - 4 July 2012, 12 July 2012
Maria Munar - 18 July 2012
Meliá Hotels International and Palacio de Congresos - 6 July 2012
Noise - 24 July 2012
Norman Foster at Pollensa Festival - 10 July 2012
Nouriel Roubini - 1 July 2012
Olympics as seen from Mallorca - 26 July 2012, 30 July 2012
Poverty in the Balearics - 13 July 2012
Public toilets in Palma - 8 July 2012
Regional government and financial autonomy - 23 July 2012
Spain and Euro 2012 - 3 July 2012
Sports tourism and Bradley Wiggins - 25 July 2012
Sports tourism forum - 11 July 2012
Street names and historical figures - 16 July 2012
Strikes in Mallorca - 5 July 2012
Tourism law - 20 July 2012
Tourism opinion survey - 2 July 2012
Town hall rationalisation - 15 July 2012
Virgen del Carmen night party - 7 July 2012

Monday, July 30, 2012

MALLORCA TODAY - Palma public workers announce 12 days of strikes

The Emaya environment service workers in Palma are to strike on 12 separate days, eleven in August and one in September, in protest at measures taken by Palma town hall, which include the loss of jobs and longer working hours. The Emaya strikes, unless they are called off, add to those already announced by bus drivers in Palma.

The strikes will most obviously affect cleaning and refuse-collection services, and there is a possibility that other services will be affected but these would be subject to separate announcements. In addition to Palma, Llucmajor and Sóller will also be affected as Emaya operates services in these towns as well.

See more: Ultima Hora

MALLORCA TODAY - Electricity's history in Sa Pobla

A piece from the "Diario de Mallorca" that reflects on the arrival of electricity to Sa Pobla (it was the first town in Mallorca to have an electricity network) and the inauguration of the service during the Sant Jaume fiestas in 1912. This traces the background to the establishment of the service and supply and the transfer to different businesses before coming under GESA in 1930.

See more: Diario de Mallorca

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 30 July 2012

25.8 the best at 09.00 on a sunny but quite humid morning. The forecast for today and for the whole week is for cloudless skies and steady temperatures. Today's high may be over 30 but more likely around yesterday's 28 or 29.

Afternoon update: Quite significant differences in highs today. 35.2 in Sa Pobla and yet only 30 to 31 (only!) on the coasts.

Silent Comedy: The opening ceremony

I've been musing on the nature of Mr. Bean, a subject I had not expected to have to muse on and am only now doing so because of Danny Boyle. Of the various surprises at the Olympics ceremony, there was none so great as the realisation that Rowan Atkinson is still performing the same gag years after his alter ego ceased to be amusing - to the British at any rate.

It is explainable: Mr. Bean's triumphant return to stage and screen that is. International recognition, not necessarily a pre-requisite of Boyle's ceremonial oeuvre, required a comedic act known to and found amusing by all global societies save for the one that spawned it.

It is understandable that Mr. Bean should appeal to non-English-literate nations, e.g. the Spanish. It is less understandable that the Germans, many of whom have a command of English, should find Mr. Bean corset-burstingly hilarious. It is not understandable in the least that the Americans should do so as well, though as they had elevated Benny Hill to a rank in comedy legendhood equivalent to that reserved for Charlie Chaplin, then it probably is understandable.

Chaplin is pertinent to this discussion. Mr. Bean is a modern-day descendant, though as a character, he owes as much to Marcel Marceau. More significantly, and in the context of Boyle's celebration of British culture, Chaplin's fame and humour were made not in his native England but in America. The ironies in the choice of Mr. Bean as representative of British humour are that it is humour that does not require understanding of the language, as was the case with Chaplin, and that, and like Chaplin, the English language was an export. Boyle neglected the fact that Britain's single greatest achievement has been language. Through its adoption by America, it became the global lingua franca, yet the Olympic ceremony gave full voice to humour that was mute.

Humour was a key element of Boyle's masterwork, but defining and indeed embracing different elements of British humour is and would have been as impossible as defining exactly what it means to be British. In the cultural diversity that Boyle displayed, perhaps he was making just this point, but the humour, save for other overt expressions, such as the Bond sketch, bordered on the subliminal, certainly to an audience not aware of specific cultural references.

The Spanish, and I watched the ceremony on Spanish television, quite obviously didn't get a lot of it. The TVE1 commentators, who presumably had a copy of the running order, either didn't understand it or thought it simpler to not even bother attempting to explain. While the commentary was effusive and praiseworthy, it was more so of the effects and the spectacular elements than of, for example, the "EastEnders" Thames, which received no explanation.

The Spanish press, "El País" anyway, was complimentary of the way in which cultural heritage was shown in such a theatrical fashion. Another "El" newspaper, "El Mundo", was far less complimentary. Indeed, its contributor, Luis Martínez, seemed to have decided beforehand that he was going to hate the ceremony. It was as well that Boyle hadn't started proceedings with earlier historical references than he did, e.g. to the defeat of the Armada. Sr. Martínez, with a tell-tale mention of "British superiority", exposed his "patata" and "hombro" (chip and shoulder) that influenced a thoroughly spiteful dig at Boyle, the Queen and Kenneth Branagh.

What Sr. Martínez failed to appreciate was the occasional in-joke humour. He took a reference to "Trainspotting" as an act of self-tribute by Boyle, the film's director. Wrong. Like another British export to America, Alfred Hitchcock, Boyle was paying homage to the cameo as joke, just as Hitchcock used to. Sr. Martínez missed, or didn't mention, that there was a further cameo joke. Amidst all the music was "Born Slippy .NUXX", made famous by "Trainspotting", and the work of the opening ceremony's musical directors, Underworld. One might also suggest that the choice of "Oh Danny Boy" was a joke, though had Sr. Martínez acknowledged it, it would have been as a further manifestation of Boyle's self-aggrandisement.

Humour is not an easy subject to deal with because of its endless varieties and its different meanings to different people. Mr. Bean is simple humour. It was understandable to an international audience, but Boyle played plenty of games with that audience, and in attempting to pontificate on the subject, one foreign commentator fell right into the trap that Boyle had set. Mr. Bean notwithstanding, it was a great achievement. If some of the humour failed, then what did people expect instead? Frankie Boyle?

Any comments to andrew@thealcudiaguide.com please.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

MALLORCA TODAY - Inca considers privatising Dijous Bo fairs

Inca town hall is looking at opening up the management of the fairs that precede the Dijous Bo fair in November to private tender. The town hall would continue to operate Dijous Bo itself, the most important of Mallorca's autumn fairs, but the move is a reflection of the shortage of cash that had prevented the town hall from funding this year's bullfight before private sources stepped in to enable it to be staged.

See more: Ultima Hora

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 29 July 2012

Morning highs to 25 degrees at 08.00. Sunny and clear except with some typical inland haze. The outlook is for sun all the way this week with temperatures staying steady at about the 30 mark.

Afternoon update: Highs today, 29 inland and just a fraction lower on the coast.

The Excursions Industry: Mallorca's travel agencies

Thomas Cook, the Mr. Thomas Cook that is, is attributed with having invented the package tour and the excursion. The trip from Leicester to Loughborough - train tickets and food all in - doesn't sound as though it was a barrel of fun, and the barrel most certainly wouldn't have been rolled out and included in the price; not when the excursionists were members of the Temperance Society.

Thomas Cook, today's Thomas Cook, still deals in excursions as well as package tours. The excursion, as far as tour operators are concerned, is a core part of their business. A Mallorcan attraction's business model may not be wholly dependent upon tour operators and their clients, but it does rely greatly on tour operators; you might be surprised to know just how much influence the tour operators wield with attractions, or there again, if you work for an attraction (or indeed a tour operator), you wouldn't be.

Travel agencies belonging to the AVIBA association reckon that the sale of excursions has declined by around a million over the past ten years. The decline is attributed to a number of factors, but economic crisis is the most obvious one. As such, therefore, there is an obvious question to ask. If economic crisis is so significant a factor, which it clearly is, why are the travel agencies referring to the last ten years and not the last five?

Reports of the decline in excursion sales are not new. In August 2009, the travel agencies announced that sales for that summer were down by 20%. What was interesting about the fall in 2009 was that it coincided with a shortage in the car-rental sector. Yet, rather than excursions receiving a boost from the lack of hire cars, they still experienced a fall in sales.

Three years on, there isn't the shortage of hire cars, but economic circumstances are much the same. The travel agencies now attribute the one million loss in part to the competition from hire cars, whereas in 2009 it was less of a factor. There are other issues.

Anecdotally, the evidence where excursion sales are concerned is similar to that with restaurant sales. Whereas a family might once have bought two or three excursions, they now only buy one, rather like they now only eat out once every two or three days and not every day. This is one issue. Another is the demand for certain types of excursion. 2009 is again quite revealing, as the travel agencies were pointing then to a dramatic fall in excursions to evening attractions; sales of these were down in 2009 by over a million compared with ten years before. The numbers sound rather familiar therefore.

Has this trend continued? Consider the experience of "Daddy Cool". How long did this show run this summer before it had to close? Not very long. It failed to meet expectations. I'm not surprised. It isn't the only evening attraction that isn't meeting expectations. Or so I understand.

While there has been a fall in the sale of excursions, the travel agencies are only part of the distribution channel. Which brings you back to the tour operators that have been pushing excursions ever harder as a means of compensating for any fall in margins on holidays. To the tour operators, you can add the independent excursions operators. And when one considers the efforts of one of these - No Frills Excursions - one begins to see another issue: marketing.

No Frills, licensed as a travel agency but not an AVIBA member, markets itself strongly, especially through social media as well as through multiple outlets (in the north of Mallorca). The travel agencies, by comparison, are essentially passive. They are complaining about falls in sales, but one fancies that they haven't moved with the times in confronting competition of different sorts, not just that posed by car-rental firms. There is also the whole issue of pricing; its own little story and not one I intend going into.

The overall picture would still, despite sales being made by other operators, reveal that fewer excursions are being taken than in the good old days. Yet the bread-and-butter excursions, such as to waterparks or the island tour, are holding up, seemingly at the expense of evening excursions which have the additional complication of entertainment that is now commonly available in hotels. It may not be entertainment of the same high standard, but if budgets are tight, one can understand that tourist purchase decisions might favour the day and not the evening out.

The story of the fall in excursion sales is not all it seems, but then such stories very rarely are. The travel agencies may be taking a hit, but theirs is not the only story in Mallorca's excursions industry.

Any comments to andrew@thealcudiaguide.com please.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

MALLORCA TODAY - Taxi drivers' strike of 1 August is called off

The national strike of taxi drivers, which was to have been supported by drivers in Palma and quite possibly elsewhere in Mallorca, has been called off. The strike, which was called on account of concerns regarding de-regulation that would have seen an increase in so-called vehicles with drivers, has been averted following talks with the transport ministry on the scale of this de-regulation.

MALLORCA TODAY - Spanish reaction to Olympics opening ceremony

Spanish television - the opening ceremony was broadcast by TVE1, the national broadcaster - reacted positively. "Marvellous." "Beautiful." "Impressive". And at the end, one commentator used English to say "best ever". There had to be an explanation as to why the Spanish athletes were not coming out under "E" for España for the less knowledgeable of the viewers, but once they did come out, they were, naturally enough, given prominence, the customised screen allowing for separate images of Spanish athletes with their phones and cameras while other squads entered the stadium.

Newspaper reaction has been less gushing. Indeed, Luis Martínez in "El Mundo" wondered what the TVE commentators were on ("lysergic" is the word he has used to describe the commentary). Martínez was in fact scathing of the whole event. "From Trainspotting to Disappointing" was his title, and he reserved particular criticism for the idea that the Bond-Queen scene was all about showing "British superiority", saying that "no one in the world can take the (British) monarchy seriously". One fancies that Sr. Martínez was determined not to like the ceremony.

Walter Oppenheimer, writing in "El País", was more generous. "London 2012 reached for its intellectual inventory, its rich cultural heritage and its undeniable tendency for the spectacular. After all, what better theatre in the world is there than that of the British?"

MALLORCA TODAY - Muro legalises hotel development work from 1999

Muro town hall has accepted that work undertaken at a hotel in Playa de Muro in 1999 cannot be subject to a fine that it had imposed. An agreement is being reached for payment for further work at the hotel. The hotel in question, while not being identified in reports, refers to Arenas de Muro S.L., which appears to be an associate company of Iberostar, and the report in "Ultima Hora" shows "the hotel" with a tell-tale star.

See more: Ultima Hora

MALLORCA TODAY - Pollensa steps up police numbers for Patrona

Pollensa town hall will reinforce the number of police for the final days of the Patrona festivities this coming week and has also instituted certain bans, such as that on bringing glass containers for alcohol.

See more: Diario de Mallorca

MALLORCA TODAY - Playa de Muro's illegal beach selling

Criticism has been voiced by an opposition party leader at Muro town hall of the level of illegal selling that occurs on Playa de Muro beach. The mayor says the police are doing what they can to stamp it out.

See more: Diario de Mallorca

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 28 July 2012

A morning with a fair bit cloud again following another close night which featured thunder and lightning out towards the east of the island. 25.3 the local high at 08.45, low 30s due later. The cloud is due to go tomorrow, leaving a forecast for clear skies and 30-degree temperatures into next week.

Afternoon update: Temperatures down further than forecast - a high of 27.3.

Don't Believe The Hype: Alcúdia and cruises

I guess you could say that it looked quite impressive, even with its sails down. I said to some old Mallorcan woman who was just staring vacantly in its general direction through the wire fencing that it was "impresionante". Not that I really meant it. It was more a case of finding something to say. She seemed somewhat startled by the fact that someone would say anything, but she agreed.

It would have looked a great deal more impressive had one been able to get up close. I knew there was little chance of doing so, but I asked the port cop anyway. You need to be accredited, he said, which I pretty much suspected would be his answer. I hadn't necessarily wanted to get right by it, just to be able to go up onto the elevated walkway so that I might get a decent opportunity of taking a photo, rather than taking one with the lens through the fence and at ground level, the result of which was useless.

Accreditation and all that, but was there not something to be said for letting people get up close? It was, after all, the first time a cruise ship (of sorts) had come to Alcúdia. The old Mallorcan woman would probably have relished the opportunity of staring vacantly from less of a distance. Should more of an occasion not have been made of this maiden cruise voyage to Alcúdia?

Perhaps they realised that it wasn't quite as it seemed. Don't believe the hype. I wonder who first coined this expression. Was it from the sixties? Ralph Nader maybe? Sounds like the sort of thing he would have said. It doesn't really matter, but hype there had been regarding Sea Cloud's visit to Alcúdia. The first cruise ship. The only problem was, as I came to realise when trying to trace the ship's movements, that it wasn't a cruise as such. Not a scheduled one, as it wasn't listed anywhere. A charter doesn't carry quite the same weight as a scheduled cruise does, and I assume that it had to have been a charter.

Consequently, and despite the spin that has come and will come not least from Alcúdia town hall, Sea Cloud's appearance doesn't mean a great deal. Not in terms of future cruise ships coming to Alcúdia.

The pre-Sea Cloud hype extended to all manner of possibilities. Excursions around Alcúdia, more custom for local restaurants and shops, putting Alcúdia on the cruise map, even combatting seasonality. The only one of these that might be said to have some substance is that to do with the map. But then presumably cruise lines already know. They only have to look at a map.

I shook my head with amused disbelief at the apologetic table that had been laid out with a white cloth near to the entrance (and exit) to the terminal. There were a few "siurells", examples of local product, and some leaflets, one for the local restaurant association. It was pitiable in truth. The ship was in port for sic hours, there were only 47 passengers, they were travelling on a ship with five-star dining, and the hype would have it that the restaurants would suddenly be inundated with high-net-worth custom from a ship that would normally set you back around three and a half grand for a seven-day cruise. By the time I got down to the port, it was gone eleven. The ship had been in port for over three hours and was due to set sail at two. I counted at least 20 passengers who were already returning. So much for the excursions, so much for the local restaurants.

As I was walking away from the terminal, my less than adequate photos about to be deleted, I wondered what first impressions a visitor on a cruise ship would have. As you leave the terminal area and head towards the Paseo Marítimo, there isn't, if I am being honest, anything that is particularly remarkable. In fact, there isn't anything remarkable. Pleasant, but then so are many places. And what of the sight as you come into port? To quote Son Fe Mick, who commented on my previous article about Sea Cloud (22 July, "The Phantom Cruise'"), there is a "bloody great rusty power station. When are they going to knock it down and build a 1000 year old cathedral?" The point is very well made. Enter Palma by sea and the cathedral dominates the landscape. Enter Alcúdia and it is an abandoned power station.

An architect friend of mine, who hadn't know the background to the power station and plans for its redevelopment (now almost certainly also abandoned) until I told him, was amazed at the idea that they would keep the chimneys, which is what the plans envisaged. Industrial heritage and its preservation is fine, but only in the right context. Alcúdia's power station isn't Battersea's. It isn't the Tate Modern, which was part of the inspiration for the plans. It should be removed, and that includes the chimneys. But chances are that it won't be, and so future cruise passengers (two ships are scheduled for next year but won't have that many more passengers than Sea Cloud) will be confronted with the sight of the power station.

Alcúdia as a cruise destination. Nice idea, but don't believe the hype.

Any comments to andrew@thealcudiaguide.com please.

Friday, July 27, 2012

MALLORCA TODAY - Excursion sales have dropped by a million

Balearics travel agencies have announced that sales of excursions have fallen by a million over the past ten years. The decline is attributed in part to lower spending power. Excursions which have, nevertheless, maintained good levels of sales include the island tour and those to caves.

See more: Ultima Hora

MALLORCA TODAY - Sea Cloud's stop in Alcúdia

On the same day as a largish cruise ship moored in the harbour in Port Sóller for the first time, so the first cruise ship pulled into Alcúdia's commercial port, the ship in fact being the 80-year-old barque Sea Cloud. The ship was in port for six hours before setting off for Barcelona.

See more: Diario de Mallorca

MALLORCA TODAY - Sunbeds on Playa de Muro beach vandalised again

The sunbed wars of Playa de Muro and Can Picafort have re-emerged, and this time there is an admission that a new act of vandalism could be the work of a competitor. Anti-corruption prosecutors (why them?) have been notified as part of the investigation into the destruction of some 200 sunbeds at the far end of Playa de Muro's beach (by Ses Casetes) early on Wednesday morning.

See more: Diario de Mallorca

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 27 July 2012

A sticky night with temperatures up to 28 at two in the morning and now a sticky morning. Quite a bit of cloud, 27 is the high at 08.30, a yellow advice out for high temperatures later. A chance of a spot of rain, as there was yesterday evening but only a few spots. The weekend will remain hot, though not as hot as today, with some cloud around.

Afternoon update: A sweltering day that got really quite cloudy at one point but the sun came back again, combined with haze. Highest local temperature has been 33.7.

The Lower League Of Fiestas

The fiesta season is in full swing. No sooner have the fireworks of Alcúdia's Sant Jaume crashed into the night sky than the daddy of them all, in northern terms that is, gets underway. They were firing rockets of a different variety in Pollensa yesterday, announcing the start of Patrona. Because the fiestas merge into each other, at the same time as the Moors attempt the annual impossibility of pinching an away win against the Christians, Can Picafort will be putting up the bunting ahead of the most spectacularly stupid event in the fiesta calendar: the rubber-ducky race of Mare de Déu d'Agost.

Away from the highly publicised Premier League fiestas, there are the Division 1 and Division 2 events as well. If Mallorca's fiestas were English football teams, the typical tourist would always opt for the Manchester United of, say, Patrona, as opposed to a Donny Rovers or Dagenham & Redbridge where there are not the same high-profile fiesta players like the spectacular street theatre players of the Moors and Christians.

Yet for all that the main fiestas can boast some marquee events, the lower league fiestas bear considerable resemblance to the popular and better-known ones. Fiestas, at their heart, are essentially the same; they differ only in scale and in location.

This weekend there are two such fiestas (and I am talking north of Mallorca here): one in Playa de Muro, the other in Son Serra de Marina. Playa de Muro's fiesta, which lasts only for the two days of the weekend, has always had a touch of tokenism about it. Like the resort itself, it is an invention. There is no historical basis, as there is, for example, to Alcúdia's Sant Jaume fiesta, which can be traced back to the thirteenth century.

As such, the resort's fiesta is essentially a tourist event, which makes it different to other fiestas which are only incidentally for tourists. Were Playa de Muro not a major tourism centre, it is unlikely that there would be a fiesta. So, what does it have for the tourist? Well, it has many of the usual ingredients: the obligatory concert by a music band; giants going walkabout; a tapas route (which has now become obligatory whether at fiesta time or not); samba batucadas bashing about; and even fireworks.

Whether anyone much will be attending the fiesta, unless they live in Playa de Muro or are on holiday there, is probably doubtful. It simply doesn't have a fiesta name to live up to. Indeed, it doesn't have a name at all, as in there is no saint.

Son Serra de Marina, one of Mallorca's more bizarre places (how does one actually describe it, as it isn't a village, it isn't a resort, it isn't anything really), stages a remarkably good fiesta. But no one knows about it, much like many people don't know about Son Serra at all, which is probably just as well, because if they did it might lose the impression it conveys of having been abandoned even in summer.

This isn't strictly true of course. You tend not to see anyone because there is not one single hotel and the people who are there are all on the beach, which is Son Serra's main reason for existing. Fiesta events this weekend will have included two music parties into the wee small hours and on Sunday evening, if you could understand a word of it, the fiesta lecture is being given by the granddaughter of Joan Massanet, who founded the initial urbanisation, and so which might shed some light on how this peculiar place ever came into being.

Next week, there is another local fiesta no one has ever heard about. This one is almost non-league by comparison with those of Playa de Muro and Son Serra. It is the Sant Llorenç fiesta in the Ses Casetes des Capellans enclave in Playa de Muro. This is another odd place, one of small, former church cottages that are now holiday homes (though they might not be for much longer, if the Costas Authority gets its way and bulldozes the lot of them into oblivion). The fiesta here reflects the fact that Ses Casetes is very much its own little community. One would think twice about encroaching on it, but the fact that it is being publicised suggests visitors are welcome. There is nothing at all remarkable about the fiesta. It is just very homely, very simple and rather appealing for being so.

Fiestas don't have to deal in the spectacular. It's nice if they do, but even the smaller fiestas can create their own atmospheres without having any great pretensions to being something they are not. Playa de Muro's two fiestas and that of Son Serra prove the point. Support your local fiesta!

Any comments to andrew@thealcudiaguide.com please.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

MALLORCA TODAY - General strike may take place mid-October

Unions and other organisations are considering calling a general strike in mid-October which would be wider than other strikes in that it would also involve businesses and even sporting events.

See more: Diario de Mallorca

MALLORCA TODAY - Another British tourist falls from a Magalluf balcony

A 21-year-old British tourist, named as Peter Thomas, was attended by emergency services early yesterday morning having fallen from a third-storey balcony at a hotel near to Magalluf's strip. His injuries, while serious, are not as bad as might have been as he landed feet first. The fall is being attributed to the effects of excessive drinking.

See more: Ultima Hora

MALLORCA TODAY - Cala Rajada residents angered by youthful tourist behaviour

It isn't just Magalluf or Playa de Palma where there can be behaviour which upsets local residents and which causes trouble. Cala Rajada is also affected and the PSM-Entesa has called for urgent action to be taken to deal with drunkenness in an area of the resort known for its nightlife.

See more: Ultima Hora

MALLORCA TODAY - Tourist associations confront Bauzá

A group of associations representing various aspects of the tourism industry in Mallorca and the Balearics have sent a letter to President Bauzá expressing their dissatisfaction with recent developments affecting the industry. They are unhappy with the planned rise in IVA but also with the provisions of the new tourism law which are biased heavily towards hoteliers.

See more: Diario de Mallorca

MALLORCA TODAY - Pollensa assembly votes to demand the annulling of fines

Opposition groups with the exception of the UMP at Pollensa town hall have voted in favour of a motion calling for fines resulting from protests when President Bauzá visited the town in May to be annulled. The Partido Popular councillors abstained, but its La Lliga coalition partners voted with the motion.

See more: Diario de Mallorca

MALLORCA TODAY - Creditsafe employees to holiday in Alcúdia

The local Spanish press has finally caught up with a story that "Talk of the North" mentioned in its most recent issue (19 July), that of employees with the company Creditsafe, based in Caerphilly but with staff elsewhere in Europe, being given a four-day holiday in Alcúdia by a grateful boss.

See more: Diario de Mallorca

MALLORCA TODAY - Human remains found in Son Real necropolis

Archaeological work on the ancient necropolis in the Son Real finca near Can Picafort has unearthed four tombs and three bodies, one of which is said to be in a good condition. The human remains could date back to around 500BC.

See more: Diario de Mallorca

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 26 July 2012

Hazy with a morning high of 23.7 being encouraged by a southerly which is barely making itself known but is going to dominate today and tomorrow, hence the haze and what will be higher temperatures. Into the low 30s today and may well be mid 30s tomorrow.

Afternoon update: The haze became cloud and then the cloud went away but came back again. Sweaty and humid, a high of 32.6.

Over There: The London Olympics

There was that awful sinking feeling at the closing ceremony for the Beijing Olympics. You might have experienced the same, though you have probably tried your best to forget it. The London bus, the dancers with umbrellas, David Beckham booting a ball. Always David Beckham. Now and for eternity, it would seem.

There was a terrible sense of foreboding, that the London display hinted of a village fete Olympics to come, replete with mad Boris waving a flag. Danny Boyle will, though, presumably serve up more of the millionaire than the Mumbai slum for the opening ceremony. We are about to find out. And personally, I can't wait.

Individual Olympics are etched in the memory, mine at any rate, because of specific performances or where they were watched. 1964: Lynn Davies and Mary Rand leading the world in jumping. 1968: Beamon leaving Davies wondering why he should bother, but also Hemery gold, world record. 1972: coming home from what had been more or less an all-nighter, slumping on the sofa and listening in total shock to a commentary David Coleman could never have expected to have to have given. 1980 and 1984, both political Games but with the glory of Wells, Coe, Ovett, Thompson. Thompson especially, whistling through the national anthem. 1988: in Crete watching Ben Johnson. 1992: in France watching Linford Christie.

Thereafter the Games started to mean less. Like Montreal in 1976, they were mainly a blur, save for Cathy Freeman in Sydney. But 2012 is different. Very different. It is our Games. Ours, but not ours. They're over there, not over here.

I am in the wrong place. I know I'm in the wrong place. I am in the wrong place for being able to experience a cliché; once in a lifetime, though for some the Games aren't once in a lifetime. There are those who were around in 1948 and who have even taken an active part, such as Austin Playfoot, who passed the Olympic flame to my father 64 years ago.

That link is strong enough to give the Games added personal meaning, as also does the location; the Olympic stadium is a mile or so away from my mother's manor in the East End. I know I should be there, but I know why I am not: the rigmarole of applying for tickets. My brother-in-law's brother knew far better than most how to get round it. He applied by post and has a ticket for the men's 100 metres final.

The discussion of the London Olympics here, as in the UK, has revolved around the familiar arguments. Of course the Games are an extravagance, but then humankind is prone to extravagance, unless it happens to live in North Korea, and even there the nutters who run the place indulge in their own bizarre extravagances. Like governments, the British Olympic Association and the International Olympic Committee are guilty of highly dubious extravagances, so are all the rest of us. Extravagance appeals to the inner Ferrari-owner in all of us.

Yet, the discussion which is conducted in Mallorca is, like many other aspects of life in Britain, somehow artificial. It is remote and third-hand. The spend on the Olympics, issues of security, issues of transport, issues of legacy. None of them actually matter. Not when you don't live there. The discussion is artificial also in its focus on the man-made, on the physical manifestations of the Games. It neglects the natural, the personal, the meaning of the Games. And for some, myself included, London has meaning. So, there is a poignancy in not being there, of being only a distant observer of a party which one should be attending.

Great events only come around very occasionally, if at all. For all the naysaying, the Olympics is a great event. Its history is filled with the memorable, some of which, like Munich, would be better for there not being the memory. When Jacques Rogge uttered those words - "that the Games of the 30th Olympiad in 2012 are awarded to the city of London" - there was no feeling of jingoistic pride but instead a breathtaking shiver of shocked connection. A connection with London and with all that the Games, in their best ways, have come to represent and have to offer. And a connection also with the momentous.

So, don't let us down. Don't let there be any dancers with umbrellas. Don't let there be the 257 bus which has taken a wrong turning. But there will be, as there always is, David Beckham. Beckham, the eternal Olympic fame. Oh well, he deserves his moment, as do all the others.

Any comments to andrew@thealcudiaguide.com please.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

MALLORCA TODAY - Palma bus drivers to strike 16/17 August

Drivers and other workers with EMT, Palma's transport service company, have announced a strike for 16 and 17 August as a protest over longer working hours and the withdrawal of their Christmas bonus.

See more: See more: Ultima Hora

MALLORCA TODAY - Complaints about renting of houses in Ses Casetes

Ses Casetes des Capellans, the peculiar enclave by the dunes and the forest in Playa de Muro where the small houses are all under threat of demolition under a ruling by the Costas Authority, is the centre of a new controversy, one to do with the renting out of some of the houses. This is expressly forbidden under terms and conditions drawn up by Muro town hall.

See more: Diario de Mallorca

MALLORCA TODAY - Reopening of Santuïri walk demanded

Over 800 signatures have been gathered on a petition presented to Pollensa town hall calling for the reopening of the walk along the camí de Santuïri, a further example of a walk in the Pollensa area that is either closed or has restricted access.

See more: Ultima Hora

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 25 July 2012

22.1C, the local high at 08.15 on a more or less cloudless morning with negligible or no breeze. A predominantly south-easterly breeze is due which should take the temperatures up over the 30 mark later and tomorrow.

Afternoon update: 32.6 has been the inland high in Sa Pobla. Only 27 or 28 by the coast. Though some cloud is due in on Friday, there is also a yellow advice out for high temperatures.

Ace Face (Of Mallorca): Bradley Wiggins

The Style Council made some rotten videos. So rotten were they, that you have to assume they were deliberate. The most rotten (and obscure) was one for "My Ever Changing Moods". Weller and Talbot were lycra-ed up and engaged in a cycle race. It was rubbish, unlike the song. It was postmodernist irony maybe, though the irony was lost on me.

The Modfather on a bike, though, was apt. Apt for the new Modfather on a bike. The biker with burns. The retro roader. Bradley Wiggins, Brad Wiggins, Wiggo, Wiggy; he sounds as though he could have been in The Jam or The Style Council. The nearest to a Wiggo who was (is) in the pop-music business was Pete Wiggs of the ultimate retro dance group Saint Etienne. More aptness; Saint Etienne, which became eponymous in a musical context because of the football club, and just north of where Stage 12 finished. Of the Tour de France.

Musically, the Tour de France has only ever been done by German postmodernists. Kraftwerk. But, with the short hair, the sharp suits, Kraftwerk could have been electro-Mod. Everything comes around in creating a coincidence of synchronicity, itself with a Mod motif: Sting, the Ace Face of "Quadrophenia" - Pete Townshend and The Who's paean to the Mods - and the composer of "Synchronicity".

Bradley Wiggins' affinity for Modism and Paul Weller in particular has been well-chronicled. It's stretching things to suggest that Wiggins' success makes cycling the new rock 'n' roll, but his success does highlight a commonality with his musical hero. Wiggins, and Mark Cavendish come to that, has attitude. He is edgy. He has given cycling a profile among the British that a more conventional figure such as Chris Hoy, or Chris Boardman twenty-odd years ago, could not have managed.

At the same time, however, he has revealed the extent to which he wants to be seen as a role model. This doesn't come across as the self-important narcissism of a braggart but as coming genuinely from the heart. He is a character many times over, a true sporting hero among many who are held up as being so but who are anything but heroic.

Wiggins, as has also been well-chronicled, has an affinity for Mallorca. His association with Puerto Pollensa and Puerto Alcúdia is such that he is almost claimed as one of our own. As Humphrey Carter in his "Daily Bulletin" leader yesterday alluded to, the Balearics tourism ministry should be looking at how this claim can be turned into promotional gold.

Cycling, as much if not more than golf, is the mainstay of Mallorca's off-season tourism. Not every cyclist is a Wiggins or a Cavendish, not every team that comes to Mallorca in the winter to train is Team Sky, not everyone who comes to Mallorca in winter, or who might come, is necessarily a cyclist, but association is what counts. Alcúdia, home to Team Sky; the Tour de France, trained in Mallorca. And there is probably more association to be forged thanks to the Olympics.

The great white hope of winter tourism, namely sports tourism, will have its forum this October. If they haven't already, the ministerial organisers should consider seeing if Wiggins and Team Sky are available for some promotion to coincide with the forum. (As an aside, it is satisfying to note that Judge Castro, in charge of the "caso Palma Arena" corruption investigations, has made an association similar to the one I made in a previous article in respect of this forum and has requested sight of the budget. It is said that the forum in October will be costing 80,000 euros, massively less than the 1.2 million euros that a similar event arranged by the Duke of Palma's organisation did.)

The forum offers a golden opportunity. Wiggins may seem an unlikely "face" of Mallorca, but only because he doesn't conform to the norm. Yet, that quirky mix of role model, attitude and retro might be highly appropriate. Mallorca, the model for other destinations to aspire to, one with a touch of swagger, arrogance even that comes from a new-found self-belief (one can but hope), and one with retro holiday brought up to date for the modern world: "This Is The Modern World" for the brave new world of Mallorca's tourism.

And that unlikely face, the Ace Face of cycling's Modism, will be spied now and then, as he has been before, taking a coffee at Puerto Pollensa's Cappuccino or 1919. More aptness. The Modfather of cycling to the Modfather himself whose Style Council alter ego was that of The Cappuccino Kid.

Any comments to andrew@thealcudiaguide.com please.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

MALLORCA TODAY - Linda Hirst denies money-laundering charges

Linda Hirst, now estranged from John Hirst, has denied charges of money laundering at the trial at Bradford Crown Court hearing the case against John Hirst, his former wife and others for involvement in a Ponzi investment scheme into which expatriate Britons in Calvià paid significant sums. Linda Hirst has also said she knew nothing of John Hirst's conviction for fraud in the early 1990s.

See more: See more: Huddersfield Daily Examiner

MALLORCA TODAY - Palma slashes the budget for 2013 San Sebastià fiestas

Palma town hall has announced one of the most dramatic of the cuts to fiesta budgets that have been brought about by the holes in local authorities' finances. The most dramatic of cuts for the most dramatic of the fiestas and the biggest of the fiestas - San Sebastià in January. And one of the most obvious cuts will be to the fireworks display; the town hall says it can't justify spending 100,000 euros.

See more: Diario de Mallorca

MALLORCA TODAY - Palacio de Congresos paralysis attributed to financial uncertainty

The suspension of work on Palma's Palacio de Congresos convention centre and hotel and the failure to find a company to manage the centre has been out down to the financial uncertainty in Spain, this despite the fact that Meliá Hotels had put in a bid for management. Finance is being sought from banks to continue with the building and different options are being looked at, including separating the convention centre and hotel for consideration in a further round of tendering.

See more: Diario de Mallorca

MALLORCA TODAY - Nine hectares affected in fire near Caves of Drach

On a day when there were more fires on Mallorca, the most serious was one in forest off the road between Manacor and the Caves of Drach in Porto Cristo. Under control by mid-afternoon, the fire has resulted in almost nine hectares of primarily pine woods being affected or lost.

See more: Diario de Mallorca

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 24 July 2012

Fresh overnight and a fresh morning, temperatures between 17 and 23 at 08.15. Sunny without the breeze of yesterday, high due to be up to 30, which may depend on shifts easterly or southerly of wind direction later on.

Afternoon update: 30.4 inland high, 28.8 coastal high on a fine summer's day.

Make Some Noise!

"If you come from Manchester, make some noise! If you come from Liverpool, make some noise! If you come from London, make some noise!" Whether it was Westwood, Trevor Nelson or P-Money, it didn't make any difference. Make some noise! The rallying cry of club time. "If you love Magalluf, make some noise! If you're having a great holiday, make some noise! If you're loving the heat, make some noise!"

Noise. Where would be without it? In some sleepy little village in the island's hinterland probably, surrounded only by the rustling of the bougainvillaea. There again, there would be a damn great Canadair suddenly looming into sound, preparing to dump its watery payload on the latest work of destruction by a pyromaniac, or a group of protesters demonstrating against the Castellano imposition, taking to the nearest dusty lane and smashing the pots and pans of a cacerolada. Or, and even in the sleepiest of villages, there would be the fiesta party, enough noise to waken the dead and unleash the demons with their whirling, fire-cracking tridents.

There is noise and there is noise. The natural Mallorcan noise is that of the Mallorcans themselves. When I first trod the boards as a teenager, my drama teacher took me to a courtyard, made me stand on one side while he was on the other. Pro-ject, he demanded. There is a difference between shouting and projecting, but the Mallorcans have been schooled in what is neither. It is a natural form of communication, known simply as loud.

Noise, you fancy therefore, begets more noise. From the natural state of noise, the addition of the unnatural registers far less than when the natural state is for quiet or for less noise. This unnaturalness is crucial to a Mallorcan summer (and sometimes a Mallorcan winter as well). Fiestas, parties, the endless stream of motos, grunting along the roads, the endless stream of traffic full stop. But rarely is it the case that whole groups of people are cajoled into making some noise, lots of it, over and over again.

The ceaseless, repetitious enjoinment of the audience at the Radio 1Xtra gig at Mallorca Rocks to make some noise on Saturday evening was like the whipping-up of troops into a frenzy prior to battle. The sheer relentlessness of the command was a mesmeric imperative amidst the mesmerism of the constant thump of music.

Make some noise. Away from Magalluf and a couple of hours later, there is noise. It comes from a villa that has been rented out. It is not from the apartment opposite where the Polish workers had been making some noise, a great deal of it, until three the previous morning, culminating in the smashing of bottles as they were discarded in the bottle bank. This hadn't been a noise of which I had been aware, thankfully because it was directed towards the sea and was blocked by the building itself. The villa's noise, though, was heading south and so in the other direction.

There is some noise, some music you can put up with, but seriously, Phil Collins? At gone two in the morning? And to make matters far worse, Phil Collins singing in Spanish. This affront to any possible definition of common courtesy and consideration required action. Make some noise? I did. It wasn't projecting, it was shouting. But I couldn't be heard. Not even by shouting through the open window through which the one-time Genesis drummer was singing his Spanish lament of one more night. One more night of making noise. Una noche más. De ruido. Though why the Germans in the villa had Phil in Spanish, I've no idea.

I don't really hold with this business of resorting to calling the cops, but I was willing to make an exception, thanks to Phil Collins. Plod was on the scene swiftly, but by the time they arrived, the windows had been closed, noise was not being made. I suspected a tip-off had been given by the Poles opposite in a rare moment of fraternity across the Oder-Neisse Line of the road.

It is quite possible that on Saturday night Mallorca registered its highest ever levels of noise. If it didn't, it wasn't for lack of trying. But then noise, and a great deal of it, is inevitable. Noise is summer, summer is noise. Restrictions on building work, sound limiters, terrace curfews. They may all have been designed to cut the noise, but there are always other noises to step up to the plate and replace them.

Make some noise? Easy, no problem, and it doesn't really need a DJ to command it.

Any comments to andrew@thealcudiaguide.com please.

Monday, July 23, 2012

MALLORCA TODAY - Hotel Playa de Muro is 25 years old

A hotel that is emblematic of the quality of Iberostar and of many of the hotels in Playa de Muro, the hotel that takes its name from that of the resort is celebrating its 25th anniversary. It is a hotel that is rather different to others in the area, as it is open nine months a year, thanks to its involvement with cycling tourism.

See more: El Mundo

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 23 July 2012

A breezy northerly but clear skies with only some light cloud and a morning high locally of 24.2C at 08.45. Bright all day with maximums into the upper 20s and the outlook for the week is good with those higher temperatures due.

Afternoon update: Fine, sunny day with an inland high of 28.9 (Sa Pobla) and a coastal top of 28.

The Spanish Regions' Nuclear Option

The document that sets out the Spanish Constitution conveys an astonishing pretension of antiquity. Colourful, florid heraldry meets a robust calligraphy in bestowing on the Spanish Kingdom the "Constitución Española". The document is only 34 years old, but it could as easily be many centuries old. Of its contents, certain aspects had appeared in previous versions, one of which was the right to regional autonomy. The Republicans of 1931 introduced the concept, but they never had the time to implement it.

The constitutional impulse in granting autonomy was largely one of tackling the centuries-old claims of historical states within Spain - Catalonia, The Basque Country and Galicia. As soon as the autonomous cat was let out of the bag when the Constitution was in its drafting, Andalucía discovered a previously incoherent claim on quasi-statehood, and the autonomy that followed, which led to the creation of the 17 regions that included the Balearics (plus eventually the two autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla), became inevitable, as much by default in satisfying the claims of the historical states as by having been conceived as a laudable system of decentralised administration.

This decentralisation has been held up as an almost perfect governmental system. Or rather, it once was held up as being so. The perfect system cannot exist, and it clearly no longer does in Spain. Regional debt has been the underbelly that has softened Spain's finances to the point that the belly, starved of monetary nutrition, has suffered a prolapse. Valencia needs a bailout, so does Murcia, and Catalonia has admitted that it might do as well.

Prescriptions for tackling regional debt are as many as those for dealing with the debts of Spanish banks, and many are simplistic in that they disregard the institutional barriers to effecting them. One, that of just doing away with the regions, would, apart from the practical nightmare it would entail, run up against the  calligraphy of the constitutional "carta magna".

The Spanish Constitution is not beyond change, but changing it in any fundamental way would be hugely difficult, and it would require a constitutional nuclear option if the current system of autonomy were to be done away with completely.

However, the Constitution makes it clear that the autonomous communities are not above intervention that goes beyond simply handing them a bailout. Article 155 of the Constitution states that if an autonomous community does not fulfil its obligations or acts in a way that seriously prejudices the general interests of Spain, the government may take measures necessary to compel communities to meet these obligations.

Article 156 grants the regions financial autonomy, so long, however, as this complies with "principles of co-ordination with the state treasury and the solidarity amongst all Spaniards". It is these two articles which give the national government authority to in effect take over the financial running of an autonomous region, but neither establishes a principle by which a region could be merely done away with.

Theoretically, Madrid could decide that all the regions are acting in ways that are prejudicial to national interests. Rather as the establishing of the autonomous regions under the Constitution avoided complications that a piecemeal approach might have created, so a uniform approach to financial intervention might in a curious way be more palatable. But whether intervention were on a case-by-case basis or across the board, the consequences would be the same. With financial autonomy stripped away, the regions would have a diminished reason to exist. The structure of regionalism wouldn't necessarily collapse, but it would be severely weakened.

The political fallout from intervention could, though, be dramatic. A regional president and government may well feel compelled to resign, but who would wish to replace them, unless there was some assurance that financial autonomy could be regained? More than this, however, is the potential for an undermining of the Spanish state and kingdom, always rather shaky in any event because of those historical claims. Which would bring the Catalonia issue in particular right back into the frame. Catalonia may be hugely in debt and so would seem mad to wish not to possibly avail itself of the new national fund to bail out the regions, but it has also long been one of Spain's principal providers, if not the principal provider.

Economic crisis has demanded a hell of a lot of soul-searching as regards Spain's entire system of public administration. One fancies we are nearing the end game, but the question is what this end game will be. The Constitution's calligraphy is suddenly looking less robust.

Any comments to andrew@thealcudiaguide.com please.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

MALLORCA TODAY - Drinking, drugs and unsafe sex among young tourists in Mallorca

A study has looked at the level of drinking as well as at drug-taking and sexual behaviour of young British and German tourists in Mallorca, revealing, for example, that 60% of them admit to getting drunk more or less every day and that 15% say they have been sexually accosted.

See more: Diario de Mallorca

MALLORCA TODAY - Pyromaniac still on the loose in Mallorca

The police are looking for a new suspect in connection with the deliberate starting of fires on Mallorca. Yesterday there was a further fire in Na Burguesa in Palma. Two people who were previously detained on suspicion of having been pyromaniacs were released without charge.

See more: Ultima Hora

MALLORCA TODAY - Patrona and La Beata: the election results

In Pollensa they elect Joan Mas and Dragut to lead the Moors and Christians battle at the climax to the Patrona fiestas. In Santa Margalida they elect a local "girl" to be the Santa Catalina Thomàs in the procession for La Beata in September. In Pollensa the voting is open to residents over the age of 16. In Santa Margalida it's down to the nuns. And the winners are: Jaume Cànaves will be Joan Mas; Miquel Vives will be Dragut and María del Mar Quetglas will play Catalina.

See more: Diario de Mallorca

Diario de Mallorca

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 22 July 2012

Tops hovering around 23C at 08.15 on a morning with clouds of varying shades of grey, some looking quite threatening. Likely to remain cloudy today, but the week ahead is for mostly sunny weather and for temperatures heading back towards the 30 mark with something of a heatwave towards the end of the week.

Afternoon update: The cloud has lingered throughout the day, some sun coming through in the afternoon. A high of 26C in the area.

The Phantom Cruise? Sea Cloud in Alcúdia

26 July will go down in the annals of Alcúdia's history.

What great days there have been over the years. The day they officially opened the first roundabout and then unveiled the most un-horselike sculpture known to Western civilisation. The day they opened the bypass behind Bellevue and put an end to the coal trucks lumbering along the coast road to the power station. The day that Lidl opened.

Yet even these landmark days will be as nothing compared with when the first cruise ship arrives. The town band will be there, pipers to pipe the ship into dock. In fact, the pipers might well be there, too, a frightful bagpipe wailing at an hour when most would prefer to still be asleep. The folk dancers will ball their bot in their own peculiar Mallorcan way. Men may even wear hats, and the lady mayor will eschew the jeans she wore for the day when the market opened in the port and favour a summer frock.

Ships can sometimes be venerable because of their age. Cruise ships, as a rule, tend not to be particularly venerable. The multi-decked, all-inclusive on the high seas colossi that bounce over the waves of the Mediterranean are of far more recent vintage. Such cruise ships have not yet taken to arriving in Alcúdia. The length of time it has been hoped that Alcúdia might one day be able to welcome a cruise ship is to be marked by a ship that is suitably old. Eighty years old in fact.

Sea Cloud is not what you tend of think of when it comes to the cruise liner. Apart from its age, it isn't particularly big. Like some ships which have undergone transformation into becoming cruisers, Sea Cloud was originally a recreational ship; one of the finer of its time. It did, though, lend itself to the war effort; it was a weather ship with the US Navy during World War II. Its masts were removed but they are now back, all four of them. When Sea Cloud arrives in Alcúdia, one trusts the sails will all be in full billow. It will be a sight to behold, no question, but does it genuinely mark the start of a golden age of cruise ships coming into Alcúdia's expensive new terminal?

This is the hope of course. There will now be two and not just one ship next year. But three in two years do not constitute a golden age. Alcúdia will always have to contend with a ruddy great port on the south side of the island, to say nothing of those in Menorca.

The further hope is that cruise ships will bring with them a plenitude of passengers that they will disgorge in order for them to offer their patronage to the hostelries and businesses of the port. The great excitement, other than that generated by Sea Cloud being the first cruise ship, is that it will be carrying a payload with very deep pockets. Sea Cloud isn't exactly cheap, and its luxurious suites suggest anything but cheapness.

Not being cheap equals being exclusive. The leviathans of the waves that transport hundreds of passengers aren't exclusive, hence they produce the numbers that can be boasted about who end up in Palma's port and are then taken off to some caves on an excursion coach. Alcúdia will not be able to claim hundreds. It won't even be able to claim one hundred, or even fifty. Sea Cloud will have 47 passengers, 17 shy of its capacity. There will in fact be more crew.

The magnificent 47, once they have negotiated the prancing and the piping, once they have received gifts (what are they and who's paying for them?), once they have passed an array of gastronomic products that will be on display, will head off into the Alcúdia morning. Or will they? It is being said that they will be able to undertake an excursion of the town and maybe they will. But they only have six hours and they'll be off at two in the afternoon. Six hours and that'll be it for a year, until 6 August, 2013 when "The World" will arrive; not the whole world, you understand, but a ship by that name.

The only slight concern I have regarding the arrival of Sea Cloud is that, according to its schedule, it isn't actually due to be coming to Alcúdia on 26 July. Presumably it must be, but on its website there is no mention of the fact. There is a cruise that starts in Barcelona the following day, and one that will end today in Nice. I confess to being somewhat confused. Is it a genuine cruise or what exactly is it, and so who are the 47?

Any comments to andrew@thealcudiaguide.com please.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

MALLORCA TODAY - Judge wants to see proposal for tourism forum

I wouldn't for one moment claim that Judge Castro, who is the one in charge of the caso Palma Arena of which the affairs of Iñaki Urdangarin form a part, reads what I have to say, but on 11 July I mentioned the sports tourism forum to be held in Palma in October and referred to the fact that it was precisely such a forum, and the invoices that ended up with the regional government, that was the starting-point for the investigation into Urdangarin's affairs through his organisation, the Instituto Nóos. Anyway, Judge Castro has demanded that the tourism ministry lets him see the proposal regarding the forum that is scheduled for October.

MALLORCA TODAY - Pau Gasol will carry the flag for Spain at the Olympics

Following the withdrawal of Rafael Nadal from the London Olympics, the honour of carrying the Spanish flag during the opening ceremony has been handed to Pau Gasol, basketball player with the Los Angeles Lakers, and a native of Barcelona.

See more: Ultima Hora

MALLORCA TODAY - Britons in Magalluf pitched battle

More fuel to add to the fire of the bad reputation of the young British tourist abroad. Magalluf's Punta Ballena was the scene yesterday morning at around 5am of a battle between two groups of what the press delights in calling "hooligans". A youth was run over by a car, there were two stabbings and two Britons arrested.

See more: Ultima Hora

MALLORCA TODAY - Alcúdia anticipates its first cruise ship on 26 July

The first cruise ship to use the new terminal at Alcúdia's commercial port is scheduled to dock at eight o'clock in the morning this coming Thursday (26 July). Sea Cloud, a four-mast luxury sailing ship will bring 47 passengers, so hardly a big ship, but it marks what is hoped will be the development of Alcúdia as a cruise destination. Two ships are now due to come to Alcúdia in 2013.

See more: Diario de Mallorca

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 21 July 2012

Sea's got a bit of a strop on this morning, always a sign that the north is dominating the weather scene. 23.7C the top at 07.30, some early-morning haze, and light cloud may persist, but otherwise sunny with temperatures into the high 20s. Tomorrow still looks as though it will be cloudier with a low risk of a shower, but from Monday, clearing to give a mostly sunny week with temperatures on the increase again.

Afternoon update: The little cloud that was around in the morning went away to leave a pleasant day with a high of 25C.

Empty Shell: The Balearic Government

There I was, only a few days ago, praising Meliá Hotels for stepping into the breach and taking on the management of the benighted Palacio de Congresos when no one else seemed prepared to, and what goes and happens? The government and Palma town hall decide to put work on the Palacio on hold - again - and declare Meliá's submission void.

The explanation for this is that Meliá have not met conditions of the tender to manage the convention centre (which may have something to do with Meliá having planned to subcontract the centre but look after the hotel that comes with it). I stand by what I said about Meliá being a great company, but great is not a word that can be applied to the utter shambles that the Palacio has become. So what if Meliá wanted to subcontract, it was the only company willing to bid. Doesn't this tell its own story?

The first tender for the convention centre had to be withdrawn because there were no offers. The spin now is that there are interested parties, which allegedly there were first time round, but so interested are these interested parties that work has been stopped once more on this ridiculous project which has been dogged with problems ever since it was first conceived and yet another tender process will be undertaken. When? Who knows. No one in government, you would think.

The possibility exists of this half-finished project remaining half-finished and being a total eyesore on Palma's coast road. Don't bet against it remaining so for years. It runs up four million euros of debt per month, though Palma town hall intends opening up negotiations with the constructor to reduce this by at least one million in the hope that the building can actually be finished. We'll see.

The paralysing of the work comes at a bad time for the government. Its new tourism bill, one which that to succeed demands that the private sector, including Meliá no doubt, puts hands into deep pockets, is its flagship legislation. The Palacio de Congresos, all part of the shiny new tourism future, given that it is intended to attract  new meetings and conferences tourism, should be there on the flagship, but instead it seems destined for the lifeboats.

Economic hard times can be blamed for some of the problems surrounding the Palacio, but it was made clear that the original tender was too high. This was why there were no bidders. The second tender involved a reduction, yet Meliá was the only bidder. You can't help but feel that the lack of interest has as much to do with a  project possibly being ill-conceived as it does with tender conditions being too onerous.

The regional government has entered some rough seas. While it is being harangued for cuts that it has instituted, for which it had no real alternative, so the haranguing isn't totally justified, its other policies are causing it difficulty. The free selection of language in education has been a flop, its language policy as a whole is being attacked, and it is losing people. The health minister stood down two weeks ago, citing personal reasons, yet she had been presiding over an area of the biggest cuts. One gets the sense that here was an Estelle Morris, someone who couldn't really hack it.

The loss of José María Rodríguez as delegate from national government, caused by his resignation over old corruption allegations, is an embarrassment. The best that can be said about this is that his replacement, Teresa Palmer, is someone with a very strong tourism background. Not that this is necessary for the job, but anyone with such a background can only be of help to the region. Palmer's appointment also gets round a further embarrassment for the government, the fact that there were no women in its cabinet, once health minister Castro had resigned.

But now also there are other resignations, those from executive positions within the government. Both women. The government denies that either has resigned over its language policy, which can probably be translated as they have resigned as a consequence of this, or at least one of them.

To cap it all, there is to be an investigation of President Bauzá and the business affairs he hadn't declared. While these business interests really have no bearing on his position, the fact that he didn't declare them is a further embarrassment.

The Palacio de Congresos, still basically a shell, will sit there until or if new agreements can be reached on payments to the constructor and on its management. It is an unfortunate symbol for the government. There's a structure but there's nothing going on inside.

Any comments to andrew@thealcudiaguide.com please.

Friday, July 20, 2012

MALLORCA TODAY - Richard Pollett gives evidence in Hirst trial

Richard Pollett, the Calvia-based accountant who is accused of involvement in the Ponzi investment scheme operated by John Hirst and who denies a charge of conspiracy of fraud, has been giving evidence at Bradford Crown Court.

See more: Huddersfield Daily Examiner

MALLORCA TODAY - Large Palma protest against cuts

As part of a series of protests in major cities across Spain, 20,000 demonstrators (50,000 according to the unions) took to the streets of Palma to voice their opposition to government cuts and to the government. There were no obvious incidents, unlike in Madrid where rubber bullets were fired.

See more: Diario de Mallorca

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 20 July 2012

22.8C the local high at 08.00. A fine, sunny and hot day in store, though not as hot as the past two days. Wind has shifted and is due to be coming from east and more northerly over the next few days, bringing some cloud over the weekend and just an outside chance of a shower on Sunday, but staying quite hot.

Afternoon update: 29.8C the high today, so down a bit, which has been quite welcome.

Don't Mention Holidays: The tourism law

Have you ever tried reading through 115 articles that comprise a new law in the Balearics? In Catalan? Chances are that you have never attempted to or would attempt to were the 115 in Catalan, Castellano, English or Klingon, though the latter might make the most sense.

An oddity, given the regional government's apparent indifference to Catalan, is that it can publish laws in Catalan. So, forget everything I said yesterday. This is a government that defends Catalan to the hilt, all 115 articles of it.

This is the new tourism law, a law for tourists, though few will be taking a copy off to the beach to use as light reading whilst stretched out on a lilo. As far as I can see, there is no article or appendix which covers lilos; they are about the only thing which isn't covered.

Of course, no one really needs to read any of it as it had been thoroughly flagged up before heading off for parliamentary rubber-stamping. Some attempts at  amendment were always forlorn, while moans coming from the PSM Mallorcan socialists that, rather than the rise in tourist-rate IVA, there should have been provision in the bill for a tourist tax do somewhat confuse national and regional legislation; the Balearic Government cannot not impose IVA, or maybe the PSM doesn't realise this.

Much has been said about this new law and many column inches have been devoted to it, but is it any good? Well, I'm prepared to stick my neck out and say that it is pretty good. There will be those who hate it, but the underlying principle of modernisation, that of accommodation and resorts, is correct.

A further principle is one of seeking to bring some order to the general tourism offer. The bill has been criticised for turning the clock back to the disorderliness and wild-west style of the 1960s, so perhaps for this reason, the preamble to the bill refers to the lack of order in the '60s and also to legislative attempts of the 1990s to create some order but which didn't fully address competitive needs for the 21st century. The consequence of all this has been variable standards and lack of profitability.

There are no surprises in the law. We already knew, for example, about conversion of hotel use to condos; about the tax to be paid on the value of conversions which will find its way to town halls that have to use it for improvements in tourism areas; about the general upgrading of hotel stock that will result in an elimination of one and two-star accommodation.

For the most part though, most of you will find much of the law of only passing interest, if that. Aspects that will be of most interest relate to tackling seasonality, the role of all-inclusives and holiday lets.

Though there are several references to lessening the impact of seasonality, there is little that is of substance. Rural tourism will benefit from a relaxation of planning requirements, but a stipulation that had initially been made for hotels that convert to condos to be open for eight months has been watered down to six.

On all-inclusives, we had already heard about the prevention of food and drink being taken out of hotels by guests (not that frankly this makes a difference) and also about the requirement for hotels which offer all-inclusive to institute a plan for quality. However, on the key issue of service in an AI, as in the provision of food and drink and the time it takes to be served, the law is vague to the point of being opaque. One thing that may affect some all-inclusive establishments at the lower end of the market has to do with the provision of HVAC (heating, ventilation and air-conditioning).

Then there are the holiday lets. I should probably stop referring to them as holiday lets because the law says that it will be illegal to even apply words such as holiday, vacation or tourist to property that is not legally registered for tourism purposes. There has been no shifting where private holiday apartments are concerned. They are illegal and it is illegal to even advertise them. The fines now range from 4,000 to 40,000 euros.

The treatment of holiday lets is the one really bad part of the law. It is a mistake in what is otherwise a decent enough piece of legislation. But we knew it was coming, as the law is a law primarily for hotels. And unlike in Catalonia, where they are more sensible, the voices of the hotels are the only ones which matter.

Any comments to andrew@thealcudiaguide.com please.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

MALLORCA TODAY - New law to permit tourist fishing

The Balearics, oddly enough the only coastal region of Spain that has not got a law that permits fishermen to take tourists out on fishing trips, is to get one. This measure is due to be approved along with the rest of a new law on fishing in the final quarter of this year.

See more: Diario de Mallorca

MALLORCA TODAY - Nadal pulls out of the Olympics

Rafael Nadal, who had been due to carry the Spanish flag at the opening ceremony at the London Olympics, has had to pull out of the Games, owing to injury. "The saddest day" of his career, he has said.

See more: Diario de Mallorca

MALLORCA TODAY - Russian mafia boss has not returned to Mallorca

Gennadios Petrov, suspected of being head of the Russian mafia, who was arrested in Sol de Mallorca (Calvià) in 2008 but who had been let out of detention pending trial, has not returned to Mallorca after having been given permission to go to Russia because of a supposed family illness. A judge has been asked to issue an order to Interpol for his arrest.

See more: Ultima Hora

MALLORCA TODAY - Two arrested on suspicion of being pyromaniacs

The Guardia Civil has arrested a young man and his uncle on suspicion of having been responsible for starting fires that have broken out on Mallorca in recent days. Yesterday there were four separate fires in the Llucmajor area and another in the Albufera park by Sa Pobla.

See more: Ultima Hora

MALLORCA TODAY - Daddy Cool cancellation fallout

The cancellation of the "Daddy Cool" musical, which had run for only a short time, has led to accusations that the German producers have not met their full obligations. The show at the Trui Theatre had failed to meet expectations.

See more: Ultima Hora

MALLORCA TODAY - Investigation into Bauzá's business interests

At the insistence of the left-wing Bloc of PSM, Greens and Entesa, the regional government is to investigate the business interests of President Bauzá (a wine shop and pharmacy) that were not declared prior to his becoming president.

See more: Diario de Mallorca

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 19 July 2012

We have a local high of 23.3C at 08.00 and a southerly, so more big values on the cards for later this sunny day; indeed there is an alert out for high temperatures. Looking ahead - cloud due to come on Sunday and into next week but remaining very warm.

Afternoon update: Pretty much as you were with the high temperatures. Very similar to yesterday. 36.1C in Sa Pobla, and a coastal high at the Puerto Pollensa base of 33.5C.

Jaume I And The Battle Of The Public Workers

When Jaume I of Aragon entered what was then Medina Mayurga on 31 December, 1229, he might have believed that he would be changing the course of history but only because he was in the process of kicking the Almohad Moorish dynasty out of Mallorca. Jaume could never have foreseen how else he would come to shape history. Had he, though, and had he spoken about it at the time, he would have spoken in Catalan.

Jaume's army and court would have contained civil servants. It would have had scribes and learned men whose role it was to inform and teach. There would have been apothecaries and clerks to register land and to maintain ledgers. The common means of communication for these public workers would have been Catalan.

Language is not immutable. Language is organic and cellular. It splits, it divides, it is influenced and it is corrupted, but in essence it remains the same. Dialect is formed through the organic process, but it clings to the nucleus from which it was born, and this nucleus comprises two mutual, symbiotic life forces - language is one, culture is the other.

Organic growth and change are concepts well understood by business. They are the obverse of growth through merger and acquisition. When a company acquires another, more often than not it will seek to impose its culture on the acquired firm. This imposition comes in different forms, one of which is the language of the acquiring company, its jargon and its expressions, representative of the way it does things; its culture.

Merger is mistakenly believed to be the coming together of equal partners. In business there is hardly ever such equilibrium. Merger is acquisition by another name. The creep of cultural imposition may take longer, but creep there most certainly will be.

The great merger of Spanish history was that between the Aragon of a royal descendant of Jaume, Fernando, and the Castile of Isabel. The merger formed the state of the Catholic Kings, the nascent unified Spain, but from the outset, even if Isabel didn't actually wear the trousers in her and Fernando's house, Castile wore them when it came to the relationship with Aragon. The merger was a takeover.

Fernando and Isabel gave birth not only to Catherine, she of the miserable marriage to Henry VIII, but ultimately also to Philip V and Franco. Under Philip, Castellano was imposed as the sole language of Spain. Public officials, public workers, institutions had only one form of communication. Imposition through merger had taken over two hundred years, but it was the natural consequence of the amalgamation.

But the culture of the acquired cannot be eliminated, unless the acquired is that small, that subservient, that forgetful of its own collective memory. It reasserts itself because of the nuclear symbiosis of culture and language and it can cause merger and acquisition to unravel or for the relationship to be re-thought. When this reassertion is vocalised by thousands or millions, it is impossible and impractical to seek to subjugate it.

It is hyperbole to nuance the change to the law governing language requirements of public workers in the Balearics in terms of Philip or Franco. But it is understandable if some make such a comparison. The regional government's insistence that the change in favour of Castellano widens employment opportunities for those who are not Catalan speakers is legitimate from a practical point of view, but practicality and ingrained culture, when they represent two sides of a linguistic coin, do not make for natural bedfellows, be the bed in a hospital ward or wherever.

President Bauzá's government is making a rod for its own back. At a time when it needs the wholehearted support of the people of Mallorca and the islands in order to raise the Balearics out of a pit of economic disaster, it is making disastrous errors in driving a wedge between it and many of the people. Are parents who have overwhelmingly eschewed the opportunity to have their children educated in Castellano militant? Of course they are not, but they have been made more aware of radicalism that can be the consequence of messing with culture.

The Partido Popular can brook so little argument that it excommunicates Antoni Pastor and sends him into political exile. It stands alone, its language policy rejected by the left and by the nationalist and regionalist centre-right as well as by many within its own ranks, as Pere Rotger has implied.  

When Jaume I moved on Palma, it was with battle in mind. It was a battle spoken in Catalan and Arabic, Jaume supported by his army and his Catalan public servants. Of course he couldn't have foreseen what would happen. 800 years later, a battle over public servants conducted in Catalan and Castellano.

Any comments to andrew@thealcudiaguide.com please.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

MALLORCA TODAY - Peguera Oktoberfest to move

The annual Oktoberfest held in Peguera in late September and the first half of October is to move to a different location in Calvià, one in Santa Ponsa. This follows complaints regarding noise that the beer festival creates.

See more: Diario de Mallorca

MALLORCA TODAY - Puerto Pollensa swimming-pool contract criticised

The handling of the agreement and contract between Pollensa town hall and the concessionaire that had been operating Puerto Pollensa's public swimming-pool has been criticised by the PSM socialists. The town hall has been forced to pay electricity bills for the pool which currently does not have a company to manage it.

See more: Diario de Mallorca

MALLORCA TODAY - Pyromaniacs sought in Mallorca

The Balearic Government and the Guardia Civil believe that the fires on Mallorca - eight in the last day or so - have been caused deliberately. Yesterday there was a dramatic fire near Algaida that was nevertheless brought under swift control, but the sequence of the timing of the fires would suggest there may have been some co-ordination.

Update: Four fires today in the Llucmajor area all started around the same time, strengthening the view that most if not all the fires are being co-ordinated and are deliberate. Meanwhile, a fire also in the Sa Pobla part of Albufera which has affected two hectares.

See more: Diario de Mallorca

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 18 July 2012

26.3C the 08.30 inland high on a sunny morning; a degree or so lower by the coast. The wind direction is currently southerly which should contribute to higher temperatures; 32 being expected today.

Afternoon update: Very much warmer it has been. 34C at Puerto Pollensa's air base for example and 36C inland in Sa Pobla.

Mother's Ruin: The fall of Maria Munar

Since autonomous government was established in the Balearics in 1983, two politicians have been synonymous with the islands' democracy. And what democracy it has been. Gabriel Cañellas, president for twelve years from 1983, was forced to resign because of his implication in the Sóller tunnel scandal. He was eventually absolved.

If Cañellas is the patriarch of democracy in a Balearics style, then Maria Antònia Munar is the matriarch. There at the birth of a new party, the Unió Mallorquina, in 1982, Mother Munar went on to become its leader, the president of the Council of Mallorca and the speaker of the Balearics parliament. She has been sentenced to five and a half years in prison.

The detail of the case against Munar is of little importance. It is the charges that were brought that are. Perverting the course of justice, fraud, falsification of documents, embezzlement of public funds. The charges are almost always the same and they always amount to the same thing: corruption. 

There will not be sympathy for Munar. She treated the UM as her fiefdom and dispensed patronage as it suited her. Miguel Nadal, a former tourism minister, and himself sentenced to two years and seven months, owed his succession to leadership of the party to Mother. During a fractious campaign to decide the successor, Nadal at one point threw a hissy fit, withdrew, but was then brought back and anointed by Munar.

This was an example of how Palma dominated UM affairs. Nadal was a Palma man and virtually everything that has since emerged that was corrupt about the UM had to do with Palma. Miguel Llompart, formerly the UM mayor of Alcúdia, once told me that the corruption was all a Palma affair. It wasn't completely, but Palma or not, it had the effect of bringing down an entire political party, now named the Convergència.

Another of those who owed his position to Munar was another ex-tourism minister, Francesc Buils, condemned to three years inside in connection with a different case. Buils, it would seem, just did as he was told. And since sentence was passed on him, a further investigation has been opened up - one to do with alleged irregular payments for coastal cleaning operations under the auspices of Buils' tourism ministry. One of the strangest aspects of this is why the tourism ministry ever got involved in such operations. They had been the responsibility of the environment ministry and yet, for no obviously good reason, they were transferred to tourism. The police are keen to know why. The tourism ministry was to become the focal point for the wave of corruption cases that engulfed the UM.

Munar was widely disliked. One Spanish journalist once headlined an article about her "the most hated woman in Mallorca's history". She is an example of the maxim of all power corrupts, and she was all-powerful, seemingly stripped of principles. I once described her thus: "a Cruella de Vil who has kidnapped a doe-eyed and naïve democracy and bundled it into the back of an official limo, secreted inside a massive wedge of cash". The reference to the cash is to 300,000 euros Munar is supposed to have handed over to Nadal when she was president of the Council.

In March 2010, in an interview with IB3, Munar said that "democracy is based on the confidence that people have in the institutions and politicians, and when this confidence is lost a dictator can emerge". She was absolutely right but a court has proven that she was not righteous. She was a product of the new democracy that, despite the veneer of free political association and the ballot box, still behaved with some of the mores of dictatorship, not least the elevation of the seemingly all-powerful.

President Bauzá is to be applauded in his attempts to rid local politics of corruption. At a time when the deeply worrying voice of the military is expressing its discontent with the political class (clear echoes of the 1930s), the president must be aghast that José Maria Rodríguez, the national delegate to the Balearics, has been forced to resign over corruption allegations that date back to the Matas presidency. Yet, though these allegations relate to a separate case, Rodríguez, when interior minister, was implicated in the Andratx case that resulted in the imprisonment of Eugenio Hidalgo, the former mayor of Andratx.

Despite Bauzá's best intentions, it never seems to end, and it was the Andratx case that opened the floodgates to everything that followed - to Matas, to Munar, to Urdangarin. Matas and now Munar have fallen and been ruined. One to go maybe. But how many more might there still be?

Any comments to andrew@thealcudiaguide.com please.