Sunday, September 30, 2012

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 30 September 2012

There was a storm somewhere last night, a good deal of lightning to the west, the morning is damp though mainly dewy. Temperatures between 16 and 21 at 8.30am with some blue sky between the clouds. The yellow alert is still in place for storms and rain, though it should pass by the late afternoon. The satellite at 8am shows a clear mainland with the front over Menorca and further east in the Mediterranean. The forecast for the week is for an improvement from tomorrow and for mainly good, sunny weather, temperatures in the mid-20s and lightish winds.

Spent Force: Tourist statistics

I have in the past said that I would never refer to tourist spend statistics again. Recently, a letter to "The Bulletin" from Ian Morrison mentioned an article of mine in saying that he takes no notice of various statistics (and I seem to recall Mr. Morrison having specifically highlighted tourism spend statistics previously). I take no notice either, Ian, other than to bring attention to how unrepresentative they can be.

Let us try, once and for all, to understand what the figures that come from the Egatur survey of tourism spend represent. And if we can understand them, then perhaps we can all stop bothering referring to them or suggesting that the "authorities" are somehow attempting to deliberately misinform. They are not. Within the scope of the Egatur surveys, the information is very clear. At the foot of this article is a link which shows just how clear the information is, and it is to this that I address my initial comments.

When I have written in the past about the spend statistics, I have made the point that the average daily spend per tourist or average spend per visit is arrived at by including data which is only partially related to what many people would think would represent spend, i.e. that on the ground, so to speak.

In a graphic for 2010 (to which the link refers), the way in which daily spend is divvied up is shown. For someone on a package holiday, the daily spend is 126.50 euros, 92.30 euros of which are for the package itself. Just under 30 euros go on restaurants, goods and other costs, with under three euros being spent on transport. For an independent traveller, there is no cost of a package but a figure (24.30 euros) for accommodation and 28.30 euros for transport. Spend on restaurants and other costs are 36.20 euros.

I will make the point that this graphic is for Spain as a whole, but it indicates nonetheless what the spend statistics comprise. My guess is that most people intuitively think that this spend is on restaurants and so on and that they don't think to include the cost of the package. Yet, for the package holidaymaker, it represents three-quarters of the spend. It is this which is the primary source of confusion as to the spend statistics, and of this three-quarters, a good chunk of it goes to non-Mallorcan (or Spanish) businesses - airlines and tour operators. What is illuminating about the graphic is that if a proportion for airlines and tour operators was taken out, the spend in-resort for package and independent travellers would be pretty much identical. And what is also illuminating (at least it was in 2010) is that spend on restaurants is almost the same between the two groups.

The figures just released for August suggest, if you want to be open to suggestiveness, that the British market is far rosier than had been thought. An average of 931 euros per stay is spent by Brit tourists (a figure for the whole of Spain). But what does this mean? It is in fact lower than German spend and significantly lower than that of Scandinavian tourists and those from "the rest of the world" (and I think we can guess what "rest of the world" mainly refers to). Yet even these comparisons are misleading when you factor in the cost of the package. Scandinavian and Russian tourists are the big spenders but then the cost of their flights and packages are generally that much higher. At the lower end of the spend scale are the French, but then how many French tourists travel independently to Spain?

For tourism spend statistics to ever be even vaguely meaningful, the cost of packages or the specific costs of hotels, other accommodation and air transport need to be stripped out or shown separately. They would also be more meaningful if they were to identify just how much spend goes on stuff like tobacco and booze to take home, on supermarket shopping and even on purchases from chemists. Even then, they would only ever be a snapshot. Far, far more relevant is how spend varies according to location, as it would be bound to vary between resorts.

Why isn't there greater drilling down to get at meaningful information? One reason is that it would require a good deal more effort than the interviews which are conducted at airports, border crossings and ports to obtain the statistics which are presently gathered. Another is that the current information is collated according to demands made not by government but by the Bank of Spain and the European Central Bank. The statistics are therefore only general economic information. They have very little relevance to tourism as it really is.é-se-dejan-los-cuartos.html

Any comments to please.

Index for September 2012

Baby buggies - 25 September 2012
Binissalem golf - 7 September 2012
British culture and observation of Mallorcan life - 15 September 2012
Catalonia and independence - 24 September 2012
Catalonia and Mallorca history - 17 September 2012
Coincidence - 23 September 2012
Colonia Sant Pere prefabs - 5 September 2012
Columbus and Ibiza - 29 September 2012
Complementary sector and hotels - 13 September 2012, 16 September 2012
Convergència and La Lliga merge - 21 September 2012
Democracy standards criticised - 22 September 2012
Educational standards in Mallorca - 20 September 2012
Eurovegas - 10 September 2012
Hotel occupancy and attractions into September - 18 September 2012
Hotels and holiday lets - 8 September 2012
Import of waste from Europe - 14 September 2012
IVA rise: it won't work - 3 September 2012
Japanese tourism - 28 September 2012
John Hirst and fakes - 4 September 2012
Mariano Rajoy, his future and the bailout - 12 September 2012
New economic model needed - 2 September 2012
Pop music in Mallorca in the sixties - 9 September 2012
Population growth in Mallorca - 11 September 2012
Return to school: normal this year? - 6 September 2012
September - 1 September 2012
Slogans and tourism - 19 September 2012
Tourism and economic diversification - 26 September 2012
Tourism spend statistics - 30 September 2012
World Tourism Day and renewable energy - 27 September 2012

Saturday, September 29, 2012

MALLORCA TODAY - Son Saletes golf course is authorised by Council of Mallorca

The Council of Mallorca has approved the building of a golf course on the Son Saletes finca which lies predominantly in Sencelles and partially in Binissalem. The course has been declared as being in the "general interest", this despite opposition from Sencelles town hall. The debate at the Council, without mentioning names (or name to be more accurate), referred to "a friend of the Partido Popular" who is behind the golf course.

See more: Diario de Mallorca

MALLORCA TODAY - Pollensa seeks opening of military base again

Pollensa town hall, with almost total unanimity of the various political parties, has approved a text to be forwarded to the ministry of defence to demand public access to the military base in Puerto Pollensa - a subject that has been bubbling away for some years. The town hall has also, despite the abstention of the Partido Popular, approved a call for the Council of Mallorca to apply sanctions to the owners of the old Can Morató carpet factory which has fallen into a state of dereliction. A further motion by the town hall's session was to approve the demand for the small fountains (some say water taps) to be restored to their original place in the Plaça Major and to be rebuilt in the Calle Mena. The PP, meantime, abstained in a vote which objected to the import of waste for incineration at Son Reus.

See more: Diario de Mallorca

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 29 September 2012

A shower and now sun at 8.30am, plenty of dark cloud around, a local high of 18 degrees. The alert for rain has been taken down for today and indeed tomorrow, which is perhaps surprising as the alert is still in place for storms. Today's forecast does look rather better than it had, but tomorrow's appears appalling.

Afternoon update: After a bit of rain in the morning, the afternoon was mainly sunny if breezy; a high of 25. The yellow alert is still in place and tomorrow still looks bad, but there again today was meant to have been but wasn't. 

No Comment: Columbus came from Ibiza

You will have heard of María Antonia Munar. She was the one-time leader of the Council of Mallorca who is going through a process of various court hearings and trials to do with her alleged misdeeds while in public office. Munar was, as a member of the discredited Unió Mallorquina, particularly keen on advancing claims that Mallorca might have to elevate the island's status. To do so fitted with a philosophy of Mallorcan nationalism, and one such claim had to do with Christopher Columbus.

In October 2004, Munar said in her capacity as leader of the Council: "I have a patent interest in Christopher Columbus being from Mallorca. I feel satisfied at having shown my support for Professor Gabriel Verd, and I intend to continue to do so". This quote was reported in the local press as was a note regarding a research programme, "Development of Human Genetic Research on Columbus's Origins", which was to receive a grant of nearly 54,000 euros to study theories that Columbus was born in Mallorca and "whose staunchest supporter is the historian Gabriel Verd".

At the end of this quote from the local press on a website - - there are two words: "no comment". They are intended to be critical, as they are supplied by Nito Verdera, a writer from Ibiza and also an investigator into Columbus's origins. His "no comment" was deliberately sarcastic; he has no time for Verd's theory that Columbus was Mallorcan and no time for Columbus's origins being hi-jacked for political reasons, which he was basically accusing Munar of.

Verd's theory, and it is one to which I have referred on several occasions, places Columbus's roots in the town of Felanitx in Mallorca's south-east. It is a theory with which I have some sympathy but it does have discrepancies. There again, mostly any theory to do with where Columbus came from has some discrepancy or other, even the accepted one to do with his birthplace having been Genoa. It is is the fact that there have long been some questions arising from the Genoa theory that has created the Columbus "industry" and prompted numerous counter-theories. This said, these counter-theories have often been as a consequence of political aims, though it is also fair to say that the Genoa theory has been subject to these as well; Mussolini urged Italian historians to defend Columbus's Italian nationality.

Verdera's belief is that Columbus's mother tongue was Catalan, that he was a converted Jew and that he came from Ibiza. Each of these claims has support elsewhere; Verdera is not alone in having come up with any of them. But getting official backing for his theory has proved difficult. Until now. And only sort of.

Ibiza town hall has just engaged in something decidedly odd. It has voted in favour of permitting the idea that Columbus was from Ibiza to be disseminated. It has done so on condition that it doesn't cost any money to do so, and it was only an agreement by various parties at the town hall that it wouldn't cost anything that carried the vote; the lady mayor of Ibiza had in fact been opposed to the motion.

Just one of the oddities with this decision is that it is one that comes not from the Council of Ibiza but from the Ibiza Town town hall. I confess to knowing little of Ibiza's internal political workings, but now I have found out something about them, a question arises: why is there a town hall for Ibiza Town and for other places on Ibiza when the population is only around 130,000 and there is a Council as well? The answer would appear to be to enable a town hall to devote its time and energies to an issue about which it is clearly unconvinced.

There does, in all of this, seem to be a bit of inter-island rivalry. Verdera clearly doesn't think much of Verd's theory. What Verd thinks of Verdera's I couldn't honestly say, but I would imagine that he would disagree with him. In the battle of the historians with similar names, Verd has an advantage over Verdera when it comes to official support. There was Munar's backing, while the mayor of Felanitx, Gabriel Tauler, has been beating the Columbus drum for some time, partly in the hope of attracting American tourists.

So, which of them is right? Verd or Verdera? The chances are that both are wrong and there is a great deal of history (to do with the Genoa connection) that would need to be disproved once and for all to make either of them right. Which is not to say that either is wrong in trying to prove their theories. But Columbus having been an Ibizan? I don't know, so it's best just to say "no comment".

N.B. The website link mentioned above will take you to an English version of Verdera's views. Click Part V under English.

Any comments to please.

Friday, September 28, 2012

MALLORCA TODAY - What Taiwan makes of the pain in Spain

The Spanish press has been taken aback that Spain is the focus for so much overseas attention. How can it be? There is so much to sink teeth into, and even the Taiwanese are up to it. The link is to a video (with English subtitles), featuring Rajoy as Pinocchio.

And according to "The Guardian", Spain's cultural fabric is being torn apart.

The Guardian

MALLORCA TODAY - Government supports Inca Christian theme park

The regional government tourism minister Carlos Delgado has informed Inca town hall that plans for the Christian theme park ("Tierra Santa") are in accordance "probably" with the new tourism law.

See more: Ultima Hora

MALLORCA TODAY - Hotasa hotels will be sold to the highest bidder

The judge overseeing the affairs of the Hotasa chain (part of the collapsed Nueva Rumasa group whose founder, José María Ruiz-Mateos is being investigated for matters related specifically to the hotels) has declared that they will be sold to the highest bidder, no agreement having been arrived at between Hotasa and creditors. The hotels include the Sarah, Santa Fe and Clumba Mar in Can Picafort.

See more: Ultima Hora

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 28 September 2012

Dark clouds and a bit windy, but no rain at 8.45am. 21.7 the local high, which may improve as the cloud is due to lessen later on, but remaining windy. Alerts for rain and storms tomorrow as the weather moves across from the mainland. Sunday not a lot better with rain forecast for the morning at any rate. Improving from Monday.

Afternoon update: A high of 23.3 today. Some rain but only a little, some sun but not huge amounts. The yellow alert for storms has been pushed into this evening, so the bad weather on the mainland is due to arrive a bit earlier. Tomorrow's outlook remains poor with an alert for storms and rain and Sunday's is looking even worse at the moment. 

Mallorca: Big In Japan?

The first time I went to Haworth in West Yorkshire I discovered that signs were all in Japanese. The signs were of course there for Japanese tourists. Thousands of them flock to Haworth as it is at the heart of Brontë country. What I hadn't appreciated was that the Brontës are central to English teaching in Japan, hence students and others who came in search of Heathcliff or perhaps Kate Bush.

Mallorca doesn't have any Brontës. It doesn't have any historical literary greats or any that anyone outside of Mallorca will have ever heard of. Ramon Llull might just qualify, but an obscure thirteenth century novel ("Blanquerna") written in Catalan is not the stuff of promoting huge tourist interest, be the tourist Japanese or from any other country, while the plot - a hermit who becomes pope - doesn't have quite the same power as Catherine and Heathcliff's passion.

It's a pity that Mallorca doesn't have a few Brontës, Shakespeares or Dickens lurking in its past. Imagine what even one of them would do for winter tourism. In the absence of any giants from the world of literature, it really would help if they could get a move on and prove once and for all that Columbus was from Porto Colom, especially as the Ibizans are currently trying to steal the Columbus thunder. As Mallorca has, in addition to no literary figures of any great importance, no legends from history, it can't get the Japanese (or anyone else for that matter) flocking to the island in winter. (And please for God's sake don't mention Chopin.)

Despite the slight drawback of being unable to boast of any characters from the past who would be meaningful to an international traveller, Mallorca is nonetheless hopeful of attracting more Japanese tourists. And top of the list of reasons why the Japanese would come (possibly) are shoes. According to the Japanese ambassador to Spain, Mallorcan footwear is very popular in Japan. Which will doubtless be welcome news to Camper and other footwear manufacturers on the island. It might even prove to be a boost to Inca's footwear museum which, when last heard of, was a footwear museum without much by way of footwear.

"Very bright" is how the ambassador has described the island's footwear companies' future. But there is a slight snag. The shoes may be popular or even very popular, but once the Japanese have schlepped as far as Spain they tend to stick with the mainland cities. More promotion is needed to get the Japanese tourist to eschew Barcelona in favour of Palma and hopefully other parts of the island. Shoes, by themselves, are not enough.

There is, his excellency has added, plenty to attract his fellow countrymen and women. Culture, history, the landscapes. Which sounds all quite novel. I can't think that these have ever been highlighted as potential attractions to tourists from other countries. Like China, for example.

Chinese tourism to Spain apparently grew by 30% in the first quarter of this year, and it would seem that Chinese tour operators consider it their duty to support European tourist economies, which is mightily altruistic of them. This sudden spurt in Chinese tourism hasn't, however, meant a great deal to Mallorca. There certainly haven't been hordes of Chinese on the local beaches this summer, though as the Chinese, as we have previously been told, don't really go in for beach tourism, their absence from the beaches wouldn't have been that surprising. Maybe they were hiding themselves away in Palma Cathedral instead.

The Japanese, on the other hand, are apparently pretty keen on beach tourism, which would make them more of an all-round option as a developing tourism market. With their love of footwear, a whole new opportunity - for upmarket flip-flops - beckons.

Potential tourism from the Far East is very much flavour of the month. The South Korean ambassador was recently in Mallorca and he spoke with President Bauzá about the possibility of a delegation going to Korea to help strengthen tourist ties with the Balearics. One says strengthen, but as none of the 100,000 or so Korean tourists who come to Spain currently venture as far as Mallorca, it would be more a case of establishing tourist ties, though were a delegation to head off to Seoul, there would be an outcry about the expense.

But this is the sort of effort that needs to be made and needs to be paid for. It's all well and good talking about markets like Japan, China or Korea, but they need cultivating, and this takes time and money. If Mallorca is to ever be big in Japan, some big investment is going to be required.

Any comments to please.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 27 September 2012

A grey old morning with drizzle. Not much by way of breeze and not much by way of temperatures either, 17 degrees or so. Wind likely to pick today and tomorrow, accompanied by possible showers, with Saturday and Sunday both looking wetter.

Afternoon update: Temperatures never higher than 21 degrees on a day of more or less unbroken cloud. The rain in the morning was persistent rather than heavy. In the evening (at 7pm), the sky is quite dark and threatening more rain. The forecast into the weekend has deteriorated; Saturday has a yellow alert out for rain and storms. Tomorrow looks like a mix of cloud and sun with some possible rain but rain and storms will be occurring on the mainland and might just move across earlier than Saturday.

We Are The World, We Are The Tourists

Today is a good day to be a tourist. If you are, then consider yourself well and truly a part of World Tourism Day. This, dear tourist, is your day. Moreover, this is your day when you also contribute to sustainable energy. You are a tourist in the brave new world of environmental and resource righteousness. Let the words of Ban Ki-moon, the secreatry-general of the UN inspire you: "tourism is especially well placed to promote environmental sustainability, green growth and our struggle against climate change through its relationship with energy". (Oh and if you're wondering about the "secreatry" bit, this is how it is spelt on the World Tourism Day website; never mind, eh.)

What happens on World Tourism Day? Do tourists the world over join hands, form a global human chain and partake in a worldwide karaoke? To borrow from USA For Africa - "We are the world, we are the tourists, we are the ones who make a brighter day, so let's start giving", with the giving being in the form of massive renewable energy subsidies provided by Spain. 

Were there such an international singalong, it would be organised from Maspalomas in Gran Canaria, where this year's World Tourism Day is being staged. And how very apt that it is. The UN's World Tourism Organisation is based in Spain (Madrid to be precise) and Spain is both a force in world tourism and a pioneer in renewable energy sources such as solar photovoltaics, "in which we are number one in the world, and wind power, where we are number two".

This quote comes from someone who should know about the relationship between tourism and energy (as the UN secreatry-general has pointed out). They are the welcoming words of Spain's own José Manuel Soria López, the minister of industry, energy and tourism; oh, and the former president of the Canary Islands, to boot. How doubly fortuitous that the minister should be so familiar with the host location of World Tourism Day and be a minister responsible for both energy and tourism, this year's theme. It's almost as if this year's World Tourism Day had been arranged with him in mind.

At a time when Spain is being shown up as a case study in how not to run a modern economy, it is good that José Manuel should be able to cast the country in a more positive light for once (a positive light supplied by renewables of course). However, as I mentioned in January: "The recent history of developing alternative energy sources has been a shambles. A much-heralded national plan for a green economy has backfired spectacularly. It has driven up the cost of energy and has created little or nothing by way of new sources. Indeed, central-government policy has been such that getting on for fifty separate projects for solar energy on the Balearics have been rejected."

But don't just take my word. Try the words of César Molinas, a writer, economist and one-time MD of Merrill Lynch in London, who in a forthcoming book talks about the "renewable energy bubble": "Spain represents two per cent of world GDP yet it is paying 15% of the global total of renewable energy subsidies. This absurd situation, which was sold to the public as a move that would put Spain at the forefront of the fight against climate change, creates lots of fraud and corruption. In order to finance these subsidies, Spanish households and businesses pay the highest electricity rates in all of Europe, which seriously undermines the competitiveness of our economy. Despite these exaggerated prices, the Spanish power system debt is several million euros a year, with an accumulated debt of over 24 billion euros that nobody knows how to pay".*

So, that good is Spain at being a pioneer in renewables, they provide very little and cost an absolute arm and a leg. Still, as it is World Tourism Day, it is reassuring to know that tourists in other parts of the world are benefiting from Spain's renewable energy subsidies ("so let's start giving"). That's something for José Manuel to brag about, though he probably won't.

Of course, he can put it all down to the previous lot if something has gone slightly wrong with the renewables strategy, whilst neglecting to thank them for having put Spain on the path to a green economy (even if it has been an unmitigated disaster).

But, I hear you say, let's not worry about all this, what is there to do on World Tourism Day? Well, you can get into some museums and such like for free and in Playa de Muro there are all sorts of things to do - like beach volleyball, building sandcastles, and tasting wines. All of it energetically sustainable no doubt and all of it in the name of world tourism.

* César Molinas, "What To Do With Spain?", quoted from "El País" (English), 12 September:

Any comments to please.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 26 September 2012

Quite blustery and quite grey but also sunny with highs just under 23 degrees at 10am. Should be ok today, though a risk of rain later, but from tomorrow and into the weekend things look a bit ropey with rain more likely at the weekend.

Afternoon update: A high of 27, fairly windy for much of the day and getting grey is the late afternoon. Though cloudy tomorrow, there is apparently only a low risk of rain; the greater risk is still at the weekend.

Needed: A New Model Economy

The Centre for Economic Research (Centre de Recerca Econòmica - CRE) has put the Balearics economy on red alert. I don't know if alerts had previously been issued but red should have been the colour since the turn of the century. The CRE knows this. In March this year it made an announcement that has now produced its red-alert warning, one to the effect that the economic multiplier effect of tourism has been shrinking since 2000. Put simply, this has meant loss of competitiveness; tourism numbers have risen but revenues and jobs have not risen in line with these increased numbers.

The CRE believes that the current model of tourism in the Balearics is out of date. It is difficult to argue with this. In fact, it has been out of date for very much longer than the years of this century. You can go back to the start of the nineties to find evidence of a percentage of tourism (around 10%) that constituted a net loss. In March the CRE put forward the case for concentrating on more profitable tourism, which would almost inevitably mean fewer tourists but ones with greater spending power.

Such a shift in emphasis has been previously considered. Five years ago the Antich government proposed this as part of its "Plan Turismo 2020". The problem with this plan was that there never any plan as such, though in provisions of the current government's tourism law there are clear nods in the direction of the principle of fewer but greater value-adding tourists. 

The pursuit of tourism profitability explains the expectations for Russian tourism. The director for Spanish tourism in Moscow has identified the fact that Russian tourists typically spend the equivalent of up to 40% over and above the cost of their holiday package. Or put another way, they spend at least 50% more than tourists from other countries.

Much as Russian tourism will grow over the next few years, the CRE has implied that there are the limits to this new tourism's capacity to adjust the current model of Balearics tourism. It is right to do so as it would be a case of short-termism to place so much emphasis and hope on a remodelling of the tourism industry without a simultaneous development of other parts of the economy. It is the lack of economic diversity that really concerns the CRE and it is one that should concern everyone and should have been concerning them for years.

In 2008 the IMF warned that Spain would be the country worst affected by the credit crunch. One can argue that it hasn't been the worst affected but such things are relative. Among what the IMF had identified, and which was pretty obvious, was the problem created by over-reliance on certain industries, notably tourism and construction. Such over-reliance was far greater in the Balearics than in Spain as a whole, and despite reassurances from regional government as to tourism's role in moving the Balearics out of recession or a state of very limited growth, these reassurances are weak when the capacity for growth that tourism offers is as feeble as the CRE suggests.

Short and medium term there may be a bounce because of tourism from the new markets, but it is the long term which counts and this entails diversification. The trouble is that this diversification, where it has ever been seriously addressed, suffers from vagueness as to what it might actually comprise.

Another of the Antich 2020 plans was for innovation and development. In that the ParcBIT technology park in Palma has grown over recent years, then one might suggest that this was a more successful plan than for tourism. Yet it remains unclear where Mallorca's technology is heading. Even more unclear is what it might mean in terms of employment or business creation. The island's talent will continue to be attracted to the mainland centres of industry rather than fanny around on Mallorca, while an absence of finance will prove an obstacle to entrepreneurship. But even if businesses are created, will they be anything more than small and so employ small numbers of people?

Diversification can mean all sorts of things. In the 1960s it meant one thing and one thing only - tourism - and the consequent loss of manufacturing and agricultural diversity. What Mallorca and the Balearics need is an overall industrial strategy, but who will develop it? The current government? This would be most unlikely when the minister ostensibly in charge of business affairs is the same one who is going around applying financial cuts. The CRE has pointed to structural failures in the Balearics economy. It might also add that there is a structural failure in government.

Any comments to please.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

MALLORCA TODAY - Suspect confesses to 13 forest fires

The suspect arrested in Menorca has confessed to being responsible for four forest fires on Menorca and nine on Mallorca this summer. The Guardia Civil is checking whether the fires match his movements between the islands, but he does fit the profile that the Guardia had issued - that of a former forestry worker with a motive of revenge (probably for loss of employment).

See more: Ultima Hora

MALLORCA TODAY - Further concern about tiger mosquito

The appearance of the tiger mosquito in an area on the boundaries of Palma, Bunyola and Marratxí is raising particular concern because it has arrived at just the wrong time when autumn rains can be anticipated. It is not clear if the tiger mosquito is capable of transmitting serious disease.

See more: Diario de Mallorca

MALLORCA TODAY - Albufera receives more visitors than other Spanish wetlands

The number of visitors to the Albufera nature park in Muro has been rising steadily. In 2011, it rose by nearly 10% and was 20% higher than in 2009, making it the wetlands with the highest number of visitors in Spain.

See more: Diario de Mallorca

MALLORCA TODAY - Now the Christian theme park might be in Inca

First it was Capdepera, then it was Ses Salines and in between there were apparently discussions with other towns, now it would appear that the Christian theme park planned for Mallorca could end up in Inca. Mayor Torres says all he knows about the idea is the consequence of an informal meeting.

See more: Diario de Mallorca

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 25 September 2012

22 degrees the local high on a clear sunny morning, the woody smell having gone but more than a whiff of marsh gas caught in the air. Set to be fine today with temperatures to the 30 mark, later in the week is now looking quite poor with rain from Friday and over the weekend accompanied by quite strong wind.

Afternoon update: A high of 29.4 on a windy day - gusts up to 60kph. The forecast now shows rain from Thursday and getting cloudier tomorrow.

Welcome To Buggy Central

The ability to transport passengers en masse by air begat mass tourism. Transport of all types, not just air, has been fundamental to the movement of humanity in pursuit of holidays, but of these modes of transport, there is none so important, after the jet airplane, as that which makes the smallest members of the human race mobile. Ladies and gentlemen, I humbly submit my theory that mass tourism would not be as mass as it is, were it not for one thing - the baby buggy.

Air transport was indirectly responsible for the baby buggy. By the mid 1960s, cross-Atlantic travel was commonplace when one traveller arrived in the UK from the US with what was then the still awkward and cumbersome conventional pushchair. She was the daughter of Owen Maclaren, a former test pilot and designer of the Spitfire's undercarriage. Maclaren observed the clumsiness of the pushchair and set about revolutionising baby and toddler mobility. It was he who invented the collapsible baby buggy.

While the pushchair was an inconvenience of inflexible non-collapsibility, it was less cumbersome than the perambulator, aka the pram. If you could imagine the kerfuffle trying to get prams onto Ryanair, then you can understand the vital role played by the buggy; there might never have been a Michael O'Leary without it. Moreover, prams invariably came with a nanny attached. Apart from the additional cost of transporting the nanny, were the pram to be with us in any great number on the streets and terraces of Mallorca, we wouldn't have moved on in musical terms but would instead have to suffer karaoke in an oh, gor blimey, cockney Dick Van Dyke style - "it's a jolly 'oliday with Mary", when it would be anything but.

We should, I suppose, be grateful for not having to put up with brigades of Julie Andrews waving umbrellas around, but what we have instead are brigades, nay armies, nay entire Panzer divisions of Kylies blitzkrieging their baby buggies along Mallorcan streets broad or narrow. The summer season is devoted to infant transportation but in the late season it arrives in bulk containers, the streets becoming impassable, terraces inaccessible. The Septemberist tendency takes over and it comes armed to the teeth with baby mobility. Mallorca becomes Buggy Central.

It is my contention that had Maclaren stuck to Spitfires, there would now be far fewer tourists and certainly fewer Septemberists taking advantage of post-August lower prices and the fact that young Jordan is still too young for nursery school. It is the relative convenience of the collapsible baby buggy that has enabled the Kylies and Waynes to opt to go "foreign" in a way that the pram would never have permitted.

In a sense, Mallorca and other tourist destinations owe an enormous debt of gratitude to Maclaren's invention. Without it, Septemberist mobility would be confined to the mobility scooter or the Zimmer four-wheeler. As a consequence of the various means of getting about, the Septemberists diverge dramatically in terms of age group, though they are all defined by modes of transport, some of them eschewing both buggy and mobility scooter in favour of the motor car. Typically, this is a Fiat Panda which moves at extraordinarily low speeds on account of the occupants admiring whatever view happens to be on offer. It is very easily observed, not just because of the sub-40kph speeds but because the occupants, for reasons that escape me, insist on wearing sun hats while inside the car. 

Mallorca can, mainly because it has no choice, boast being buggy-friendly. This contrasts with other parts of Europe. Vienna, for example, where A.A.Gill once observed that the buggy had been deemed a curse on civilised society and where a "waiter looked at the buggy the way a French polisher might regard a lawnmower on a dining table".

Buggy-friendliness results in whole terraces becoming buggy parking lots. As such, they are off-road liabilities, the potential for collisions with erratically steered mobility scooters or out-of control Zimmers on wheels heightened by the sheer weight of personalised transport that manoeuvres itself onto Mallorca's congested terrace space. Tourist forefathers could not have foreseen all this, but their descendants can now see it for themselves. The time has come for streets to have dedicated buggy lanes and for all bars to have dedicated buggy parking spaces. And given the wear and tear to Mallorca's already creaking urban infrastructures, there should be a buggy tax. A euro for every buggy that comes through the airport. It would raise millions, especially in September.

Any comments to please.

Monday, September 24, 2012

MALLORCA TODAY - Balearics had 93.3% hotel occupancy in August

Figures released today place August hotel occupancy rates for the Balearics at 93.3%. So let's see how Mallorca's hoteliers federation spins this news, given its ridiculous statement about a broken economy on account of there not being 100% occupancy in August when 90% has been the average since the turn of the century. Taken with July's occupancy rates (similar to August's), the two months represent the best high season since 2000.

The occupancy in the Balearics was way ahead of the regions with the next highest levels, Catalonia (78.4%) and the Canaries (77.7%). Santa Margalida, for which read Can Picafort, had a weekend occupancy rate in August of 99.4%, repeating previous performance as the tourist zone with the highest percentage occupancy in Mallorca.

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 24 September 2012

Sunny but also cloudy and with a woody, autumnal smell in the air. Warm at just on 25 at 9am. The yellow alert for wind today has now been dropped. The outlook for later in the week is now also more ominous with an increased risk of rain by Friday. (The woody smell may in fact have something to do with fires in Valencia apparently.)

Afternoon update: 28.9 the high on a mostly sunny and at times quite windy day. Just a further word about this morning's weather, in addition to the smell that seemingly had come from Valencia's forest fires. At around five this morning, the temperatures were unusually high, especially in Pollensa, where 27.9 was registered at five o'clock this morning.

The Crazy World Of Arthur Mas

Included in the Nueva Planta decrees issued by King Philip V in the early eighteenth century were those which allowed Navarre and the Basque Country to keep their charters. Both were given special privileges because they had supported Philip during the War of the Spanish Succession. Catalonia lost its charter because it had backed the wrong horse.

These special privileges still exist. Navarre and the Basque Country operate financial pacts with the Spanish state. These mean that they have tax-raising powers, a privilege that is not shared by Catalonia which wants greater powers as well as more of the financial pot and to stop having to pay for other regions to the extent that it has been. The president of Catalonia, Arthur Mas (who we should call Artur), has been told by Mariano Rajoy that he can't have such powers. As a result, Artur is considering not so much taking his bat home but pulling the whole team off the Spanish park.

Mas is saying that Catalonia needs its own structures as a state and that it is now its turn for transition (Spain having had its). The spokesperson for the Catalonian government, Francesc Homs, is saying that a referendum on independence is possible within four years. The King is telling the Catalonians to stop chasing rainbows. Rubalcaba, for the opposition PSOE, is telling Mas to back off. Rajoy is doing his best Charles de Gaulle ("non, "non") and is defending the Constitution. The European Union is getting into a bit of a flap about the whole thing.

When the 600,000, or one and a half million or two million (take your pick from the different sources) took to the streets of Barcelona on Catalonia's National Day (and the Catalonians celebrate a day when they were given a sound kicking by Philip V), Mas would have taken this as a signal to suggest he has a mandate for embarking on an independentist route. He doesn't officially have such a mandate, only one to negotiate a better financial deal for Catalonia, but this isn't stopping him from playing the independent card for his own political advantage (always assuming it is in fact an advantage).

Rajoy and Mas are not unalike. Both have the air of the cold fish about them. Mas has suggested in the past that he is more a technocrat than politician, so his movement towards separatism might appear strange. But technocrats can do their sums. Catalonia may be in debt up to its neck and may be needing a massive bailout from Madrid, but it would be argued that it wouldn't be in so much debt if it hadn't been made to hand over money to pay for mad projects in regions of Spain which don't have a euro to urinate into.

What Mas isn't is a raving loony. He is basically a conservative politician when he's not being a technocrat. There may in fact be method in his madness if it were to result in a redefinition of Spain's regions, one that is more federal. Yet this comes at a time when there are arguments aplenty to get rid of the regions because they have been so financially promiscuous. Mas can't be accused of this when he has been introducing austerity measures in Catalonia that have made him unpopular. The independence thing might, therefore, be purely a political gambit to re-establish this lost popularity.

It is, though, a dangerous game, and the danger goes deeper than just a threat to declare independence. It shouldn't be forgotten that in 2006 the army general José Mena was put under house arrest for suggesting that the military might intervene were Catalonia to be granted greater autonomy. Unlike Mena, an army colonel, Francisco Alamán Castro, appears to have avoided any sanction for stating the case for military intervention in the event of independence. This was in an interview with a far-right publication at the end of last month. Catalonia, separatism, independence conjure up memories and worrying scenarios that make the claim for independence a very different beast to that of Scotland's.

Mas may well call an election in November and hope that he gets a popular mandate for independence. It's not out of the question that he would, though any move towards independence would be blocked by Rajoy raising the defence of the Constitution which doesn't permit a region's independence. Mas argues that this is a clause that reflected the time when it was written, three years after Franco's death. Be this as it may, Rajoy has said he will uphold the Constitution if necessary. The question is how he is prepared to uphold it.

Any comments to please.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

MALLORCA TODAY - Real Mallorca 2 : 0 Valencia

High-flying Mallorca at home to a Valencia side that has had an indifferent start to the season, and this indifference was made more so after just seven minutes when Victor struck for Mallorca. Despite the goal, Valencia dominated the first half, hitting the bar and having the greater possession. If this sounded promising for the visitors, their hopes were swiftly dashed in the second period, sub Arizmendi extending Mallorca's lead. Though Valencia continued to make more chances and to have greater possession, they couldn't find a way through Mallorca's defence. A highly impressive result for Mallorca.

Aouate; Ximo, Conceiçao, Geromel, López; Pina, Márquez (Joao Victor 20), Nsue, Pereira (Alfaro 54); Hemed (Arizmendi 54), Victor
Goals: Victor (7), Arizmendi (54)
Yellows: Pereira (43), Arizmendi (61), López (64), Pina (65)

Alves; Pereira (Barragán 79), Rami, Ruiz, Cissokho; Parejo (Jonás 65), Costa; Feghouli, Valdez (Guardado 79), Viera; Soldado
Yellows: Costa (29), Parejo (40), Soldado (64), Cissokho (72)

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 23 September 2012

Cloudy again this morning though should all burn off to give a mostly sunny day. Yesterday evening and overnight was warmer than for a while and area temperatures at 8.30am are ranging between 21 and 24 degrees. The outlook for the week suggests increasing cloud and risk of rain come Thursday.

Afternoon update: A high of 30.7, the cloud having disappeared early on to leave a fine day. A yellow alert is out for wind tomorrow.

What Are The Chances Of This?

Well, a break didn't work out quite as it had been intended. The reasons why involved a story of a burning-out clutch (not mine), an access track of winding, narrow, wall-lined, steep impossibility - impossible even by some of Mallorca's impossibilities - and a reluctance to park up at a nearby inn and find a wheel clamp or a tow-away the following morning. The details don't really matter and shouldn't bother you.

It was a great shame. Here was a finca house in largely untended finca grounds with nary a hint of modernity, two sheep that insisted on invading the terrace, views of cloud-topped Tramuntana. Anyone familiar with the road over the mountains will know what driving is like, but get off road and driving becomes all but impossible. This was another world, one disinclined to worry about convenience for vehicles or convenience for anything very much. This was Mallorca in the raw, and it was all rather splendid.

The road from Sóller into the mountains is interesting, to say the least. You are never quite sure where you are going and so if in fact you are going the right way. It is road bereft of signage, bereft of most things, save, mercifully, tarmac. The rendezvous point was meant to have been the Cas Xorc agrotourism. There was a note appended to its highly misleading access track, saying that it was closed because of a private party. The misleading track was misleading as it was far from clear that it was the access track. I concluded it was when a car with obvious wedding sorts drove into it.

Because of the private party, a different rendezvous point was needed. Fortunately, it was close at hand, the rather wonderful Son Bleda finca hotel. This is a stunning place, not because the hotel is that stunning (it is understated but lovely), but because of the vista into the valley and towards the Puig Major. A coffee and a lemon Fanta came to 4.50 euros. Too much? No, not at all. You pay for location and pay for loveliness.

I was meeting with an old schoolfriend, Andy. He was staying in a finca house in largely untended finca grounds some twenty minutes walk away and off the dry-stone hiking route that crosses the Tramuntana. I hadn't seen him for twenty years. Or his wife. I had never met the couple with whom they had rented the house - Dawn and David.

The point of all this is that I could, were I inclined, write a twee piece about quaint, rustic, mountainous Mallorca, but I'm not going to. Far more important was the most remarkable coincidence, and it is one that will resonate with some Alcúdia veterans.

Andy, his wife Lynne, Dawn and David live in Norfolk. Dawn and David used to live in a place called Harleston near to Diss. I found this out as the result of a phone call I received while we were sitting on the terrace, watching the invading sheep. I wouldn't have otherwise, I suspect. Lack of modernity the finca may have, but there is still the mobile phone. I didn't recognise the number, it wasn't on my phone, but it was from the UK. This in itself was odd, as I rarely receive calls from the UK on my mobile. I thought that I recognised the voice, but I also thought I was listening to the voice of a ghost. "Andrew, Andrew, is that you?" "Yes, who's ... I don't believe it. Izzy!?" "Yes, Izzy."

Let me explain, though some Alcúdia veterans will not need any explanation. Izzy used to run what was then the Agra Indian restaurant, the one that became Taste of India and which is now closed. I hadn't heard from him for, how long, five years? I knew he had ended up in Cardiff, but this was ages back. I had never thought that I would hear from him again. I now had. And this is where it all got highly coincidental not to say weird. Izzy explained that he now has a Chinese takeaway. It is called Orient Taste apparently. Where is it? Harleston, Norfolk.

Any comments to please.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

A Day Off

To let regular visitors to this blog know, I'm having a day off, so there will be no weather update later today or tomorrow morning or indeed an article entry for tomorrow morning, though you never know, there might be one later on tomorrow.

MALLORCA TODAY - Tiger mosquito found in Bunyola

Researchers at the university have confirmed the presence of a colony of tiger mosquitoes in Bunyola, the first time this mosquito has been detected on Mallorca. Its bite can provoke more serious reactions than the mosquitoes commonly encountered on the island. Measures are being taken to combat it.

See more: El Mundo

MALLORCA TODAY - Santa Margalida celebrates the almond

The first almond show is being held this weekend in Santa Margalida. A film will be shown this evening about the almond and its cultivation locally and from 9am tomorrow there will be exhibitions and demonstrations of equipment associated with almond-growing and processing.

See more: Diario de Mallorca

MALLORCA TODAY - Protest walk will take down barriers on Pollensa-Lluc walk

The Council of Mallorca, despite having claimed legal right to the old road between Pollensa and Lluc, has still not been able to get barriers along the road removed so that free access is available to walkers. On 25 November, therefore, if the barriers have not come down by then, a protest walk is being planned which will entail the removal of the barriers.

See more: Diario de Mallorca

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 22 September 2012

A cloudy sort of morning, 23.6 the coastal high at 9am. Getting sunnier during the day with highs in the upper 20s and similar for tomorrow.

Autumn having arrived, the met office says that it will be "normal", which means that it will be sunny sometimes and rainy at others with the chance of heavy storms or "caps de fibló". The summer has been hotter and drier than usual, the highest temperature having been recorded on 29 June at Colonia Sant Pere (40.6C).

A Circle Of Apathy: Mallorca's democracy

The Economy Circle is an organisation that through literal translation sounds slightly odd. In its original it is Cercle d'Economia de Mallorca, but in English it gives the impression of a group of prudent housewives swapping household tips while knitting. A different translation can be The Economy Society, which comes across as being careful with the pennies, but the society bit is rather more to the point as the circle or the society, which is made up of high-powered businesspeople and professionals, gets its teeth, from time to time, into matters of importance to local society. In the past, it has had its say on education, advocating regular assessment of teachers, greater autonomy in head teacher decision-making and improvements in the standard of English. It has also spoken about how a dependence on tourism will mean that the Balearics will be the last of the Spanish regions to get out of crisis.

It comes out with a great deal of common sense but it has now come out with a report that, while it might not surprise anyone, should shock Mallorca's politicians to their very cores. This is a report into the quality of democracy in the Balearics and its findings make for grim reading.

180 experts have considered fifty factors to do with local democracy and only eight of these factors warrant getting a pass mark. The worst aspects are an indictment of this democracy: the party system, government administration, political consensus, the transparency and examples of and set by political parties. But it is not only the politicians who get it in the neck, the report concludes by observing that a culture of democracy is lacking and that there is general apathy within civil society.

One could always argue that society's apathy is a product of a political system in which there is little trust. The same argument is made in the UK. But there is a different context in Mallorca. Apathy was something that Franco used to play on. He thought that the Spanish people were too thick to really understand democracy and he also believed that apathy legitimised his rule because the people weren't all that bothered.

It could indeed be that this old apathy prevails rather than it being a new one brought about the current political system. This might sound contradictory when one considers some of the more strident voices in Mallorca, but then are these only the voices of minorities, loud ones admittedly but of relative unimportance?

I'm not so sure that they are unimportant. The combination of a poor political system, in the view of the Economy Circle, economic crisis and increasing radicalism within younger sectors of society, provoked by those with a more radical agenda and by a government that seems intent on driving wedges into local society, is potentially pretty lethal. It is exacerbated by a fact that shouldn't be overlooked, which is that democracy is still only quite young (some thirty years or so). Is it strong enough to withstand tensions, therefore, when even politicians and political parties don't appear to really understand what it means?

The answer is probably yes, but it is a system of democracy that has yet to grow up and to shake off its obvious excesses, as evidenced by the corruption cases and by a party system which owes as much to personal loyalties, networks and indeed nepotism as it does to ideology.

Any comments to please.

Friday, September 21, 2012

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 21 September 2012

Temperature range of 17 to 21 at 8.45am on another sunny, dewy morning, though there is some cloud lurking about. Forecast is for a good day with a possible increase in temperature today and over the weekend to 30 degrees, though this sounds very optimistic.

Afternoon update: A high of 29.1 in Sa Pobla, a coastal best of 27 on a fine sunny day. The forecast is now showing rather more cloud for the weekend.

A League Of Their Own: Mallorca's centre politics

History is littered with the dead of failed new political parties. The gang of four of the Social Democrats didn't succumb to "anthrax" but they might as well have followed the title of this track by the post-punk Gang Of Four so little did they really achieve, other than paving the way for Liberals to become Democrats and to ultimately eat from the same table as the Conservatives.

Two-party politics tends to be the norm. In Mallorca it is no different. Of the two, PSOE is by far the older, reflecting its good and once genuine socialist worker roots. The PP is a phenomenon of the post-Franco era but it had a stuttering start in its original "alliance" guise as the electorate on the terraces were screaming "are you Franco in disguise?".

In the Mallorcan centre, kind of, was the old Unió Mallorquina before it was finally consumed by its rotten-to-the-core culture of corruption and consigned to the bin of political history. Except it didn't disappear completely. It acquired a new name, the Convergència. The electorate weren't really fooled and so at the last elections it was given a sound kicking. At the same time as the UM had been undergoing its transmogrification, another political kid arrived on the block - La Lliga Regionalista. It sprang from a source known as Jaume Font (and if you don't get the gag, let me tell you that font means both spring and source). He had fallen out big time with the now president of the Balearics, José Ramón Bauzá, and so went off and formed his own party. It fared equally as poorly as the Convergència at the elections.

To the uninitiated, it was hard to tell the two parties apart. They both claimed the centre ground and they were both in favour of differing degrees of regional self-government. There wasn't ever room for both and now, almost eighteen months after having failed to set the political world alight at the elections, they've decided to merge. The Convergència will converge with La Lliga in forming a league of their own.

On the face of it, the merger makes perfectly good sense, in that Mallorcan politics can ever be described as conforming to notions of good sense. In terms of the current political landscape, it has a lot going for it. The PP, apart from taking everyone's jobs and money away, has been doing a thoroughly decent job in attempting to appear as though they have no interest in regional autonomy or self-government in the Balearics. PSOE, ripped to shreds at the last election, has managed to keep up appearances of being totally useless. There is a fair old amount of political ground, therefore, for a likely lad party to gobble up, assuming anyone takes any notice and also assuming they don't all have lovers' tiffs more or less as soon as they have jumped into bed.

In this regard, things aren't too promising. Pollensa is one of the few towns where both parties have some sort of presence, so much so that La Lliga is part of the ruling coalition and the Convergència has a couple of councillors. Unfortunately, they can't stand each other for reasons that would take an entire article to explain and at the end of which you would still be probably none the wiser. As a consequence, there threatens to be a mini-Moors and Christians re-enactment with political blood spilt all over the nice new floors of the town hall building.

Local spats aside, there should in theory be some optimism for this new party. But then there are the skeletons that will continue to rattle. Font was once cited in a corruption case. It was one reason why he left the PP because Bauzá wouldn't sanction candidacies from anyone who was on a charge. The fact that the charge was archived (i.e. was not proven and was filed) probably won't prevent the dirty-tricks brigade from reminding everyone of the charge. Then there is the Convergència, a UM rose by any other name, some would argue. And all the time that Munar, Nadal and others from the old UM hierarchy are keeping the local beaks in gainful employ the misdemeanours of the past will hound it.

But lurking in the background, as he will be for the foreseeable future, is Manacor's mayor Antoni Pastor. He says he is giving no consideration to joining the new party. Exiled by the PP and so stateless in party terms, he would give the new party a massive boost, but then he knows this. He would probably want to be number one, but that would be difficult. My guess is that he still anticipates being welcomed back into the PP fold as its saviour and were he to be, he would shift the PP towards the centre and back to a position that is more favourable towards regional autonomy. At a stroke, the new party would be doomed.

Any comments to please.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

MALLORCA TODAY - Binissalem golf course set to go ahead

The Council of Mallorca seems likely to give the green light to the construction of a golf course on the finca of Son Saletes that lies partly in Binissalem and partly in Sencelles. The Council's decision would seemingly take precedence over any decisions of the two town halls (Binissalem has recently reversed a local order prohibiting the construction of a golf course). As mentioned in an article (, the promoter of the course is Ventura Rubí, the president of the Partido Popular in Sencelles, and also the father of the secretary for communication in the cabinet of the Balearics presidency.

See more: Diario de Mallorca

MALLORCA TODAY - Pollensa and Cala Rajada fishermen stung by fee demands

Fishermen in the ports of Pollensa and Cala Rajada who normally pay fees for use of facilities at the end of the year are faced with demands from the Balearics Ports Authority for immediate payment in respect of the second quarter.

See more: Ultima Hora

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 20 September 2012

A brighter, sunnier morning, 18 degrees at 8.15am, with plenty of sun in store today and likely to be warmer than yesterday at around 26 or 27. The forecast into the weekend remains good with some cloud but mostly sun.

Afternoon update: An area high of 26.8 inland in Sa Pobla. It is meant to be warmer tomorrow and over the weekend. 

Failing Education In Mallorca

The schools have gone back and the arguments have already started. The great defender of Castellano, the Círculo Balear, has received complaints from parents whose children are not being taught in Castellano and has indicated that education minister Rafael Bosch should resign. In most schools (infant and primary, to which the new interpretation of "free selection" of teaching language applies), it would seem that there is no separation and that Catalan prevails.

The schools themselves say that they have had a lack of guidance from the regional government as to how they are meant to proceed with what are extremely low numbers of pupils whose parents wish them to be taught in Castellano. Three out of 400 at a school in Andratx, three out of 206 at a Calvià school, six out of 410 in Binissalem; these are apparently typical. 

The numbers are unsurprising as there had been plenty of advance warning that parents would overwhelmingly wish to stick with Catalan. The government, however, appears to have been ill-prepared in knowing how to accommodate these very small numbers. The Círculo Balear may be making a meal of the issue but the government had put free selection at the centre of its education policy. It has fallen flat on its face.

State education in Mallorca is in a mess. The free selection issue is in truth something of a diversion from the greater issue of standards and performance. To the annual reports from PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment), which repeatedly highlight under-performance in the Balearics (and quite serious under-performance at that), can be added data from the European Commission. Its report into educational inequality makes for alarming reading. It confirms what the PISA reports have shown, that there is a huge regional difference within Spain when it comes to educational standards, but it goes further in showing where regions across the EU stand relative to others.

The Commission has set out all manner of indicators. Let's take one of them, the percentage of the population in upper secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education (ages 15 to 24). Which region of Europe has the lowest percentage? The same region that is ranked eighth worst in Europe's regions in terms of attainment aged 15 or more. The Balearics. And bear in mind this is a comparison of 265 regions in 21 countries (six member states are excluded for statistical purposes, e.g. Malta and Luxembourg).

These findings are such that politicians should be hanging their heads in shame, and not of course just those in the current government. If it were a case of being able to explain them away on a disadvantaged populace, then one could have some sympathy, but there is no case for this. The Balearics are among the wealthiest regions of Spain in terms of GDP per head of population, rubbing shoulders with high educational performers such as the Basques.

And any sympathy at all goes totally out the window, when a leading politician comes out with a statement of embarrassing fatuousness as that uttered by President Bauzá. Responding to complaints about increased class sizes and so therefore a greater ratio of pupils to teacher, Bauzá has said that "there were 40 in (his) class and (they) haven't turned out so bad".

Bauzá is 42 years of age. He was in secondary education, therefore, in the mid-1980s. This may not be that long ago but in terms of the development of educational principles, it is a lifetime. In my first-year class at grammar school, in 1966, so 20 odd years before, there were also 40 pupils, but educational culture has changed enormously. Eras cannot be compared.

While there is an argument that class size doesn't matter and that all that does matter is the quality of the teacher, major and meaningful studies of pupil-teacher ratios all point to the same conclusion, one that intuition would lead one to make anyway; that smaller class sizes improve academic achievement. Instead, under direction from Madrid, class sizes are increasing.

What is troubling is that a president can make such a statement. It may be designed to appeal to people of his generation and older, but in its quasi-populism it shows a lack of regard for education as it now is and completely fails to recognise the failing nature of Balearics state education. And perhaps it fails to also recognise that the lack of attainment that both PISA and the European Commission have reported on creates a vicious circle in which the pool of potential (and exceptional) teachers is reduced and which therefore perpetuates the low standards of state education.

Any comments to please.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 19 September 2012

Something of a change this morning. Cloudy and breezy, 23 degrees at 8.30am. Due to remain breezy over the next few days but still good temperatures and mainly sunny.

Afternoon update: The odd spot of rain this morning but only the odd spot. The cloud was around till the afternoon and then it got sunny but not hot, highs of just under 25 degrees. 

Vorsprung Durch Slogans

"Vorsprung durch Technik" was one of the great advertising slogans. John Hegarty, now Sir John, was the person who discovered the slogan. He didn't make it up, as it was one that Audi had used some years before for German advertising but had dropped. Hegarty's agency, BBH, pitched for Audi's new campaign (in the early 1980s) and the slogan, despite resistance, was central to its successful pitch and subsequently successful series of adverts. It was brilliant because it was unexpected and went against the norm by being in a foreign language.

Hegarty explains all this in a video and points out that the ads also benefited from Geoffrey Palmer's gently mocking delivery, the addition of "as they say in Germany" and from the humour. The best of the ads was the one with the Schmitz, the Reinhards and the Müllers, driving to Spain on holiday, and with the punchline moral of the story: "if you want to get on the beach before the Germans, you'd better buy an Audi 100".

Humour sells and the humour of the Audi ads and slogan was one of ribbing the very country where the cars were manufactured. "Vorsprung durch Technik" would have been less effective had it not been for Palmer's dismissive tone. The slogan became memorable, despite being unintelligible to much of its intended audience, because it sounded funny and was made to sound funny.

All sorts of other things sell as well. Emotion for one. I don't know if Thomson's "Time For A Holiday" ad has been nominated for the Travel Marketing Awards in March next year but it should be. It was one that had a number of sub-slogans, such as "the most precious time of all". These awards, organised by the Chartered Institute of Marketing in the UK, cover a range of media and marketing disciplines, and in 2011 there was a special award for travel brand of the decade. It was Virgin Atlantic, winner again of the travel brand of the year award in 2012, partly thanks to its slogan "your airline's either got it or it hasn't" and to another example of resorting to the use of foreign language - "je ne sais quoi, defined".

A slogan is only as good as the advert or the rest of the marketing campaign but it is like the comedian's catchphrase; the marketing element that is instantly recognisable and is instantly associated with the product. Which brings us to some examples in Spanish and Mallorcan tourism.

A hotel chain in Mallorca insists that "you've got to live it". Really? Live what exactly? I'm not sure that I much care for being told what I have got to live. But assuming that I have lived it, am I going to remember the slogan? I doubt it. There is nothing definable about the slogan and nothing to associate it with the hotel. A slogan really needs to convey an attribute and this doesn't. Going back to Audi, though the slogan was German, its core attribute was clear in terms of engineering quality which was primarily what Audi was selling.

Turespaña have for some time been telling everyone that they "need Spain". The "I Need Spain" slogan is snappy enough and it is clear enough as to what it is referring, but, and rather like "you've got to live it", it begs being parodied by having words added. I need Spain like I need (add as applicable). There is also a hint of desperation. It is need rather than want. "I Want Spain". Not sure, but it might have been better.

Desperation was implied by an old series of promotion for alternative tourist activities dreamt up by the former Balearics tourism agency, Ibatur. Golf, meetings, good food, these were all appended to the curious slogan "Much more than ...". Hence, for example, "much more than golf". It didn't really make sense as the intention was to promote golf but it sounded as though you were supposed to forget about the golf and indulge in much more. Of what, I'm not sure. Meetings perhaps. But the use of "much" was the hint of desperation. "Mucho más." To say that it wasn't a very good slogan would be generous.

And then we have the recent contributor to marketing excellence, Palma's "passion for ..." slogan. One that can also have various things added, the tangible, such as gastronomy, or the intangible, like enjoying. It also isn't much good. It's passé, unimaginative and says nothing about Palma as such.

With all this in mind, there is scope to create slogans that are good, are meaningful (or meaningfully enigmatic, like Audi's) and are memorable. So, this is your challenge. I feel sure there is creativity in abundance out there. Send me your slogan suggestions for promoting Mallorca.

* The John Hegarty video:

Any comments to please.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

MALLORCA TODAY - Arrests over Sóller mayor car fire

A 20-year-old man and a minor have been arrested in connection with the deliberate fire that burnt out mayor Carlos Simarro's BMW a couple of weeks ago. The 20-year-old has confessed to this fire and also to making parking meters inoperable by setting these on fire as well. Reported by his initials, J.P.C., he is the son of former councillors at Sóller town hall.

See more: Ultima Hora

MALLORCA TODAY - Santuïri walk in Pollensa to re-open

Further to the note of 15 September, Pollensa town hall has now promised to re-open the Camí de Santuïri, so a happy ending after all.

See more: Diario de Mallorca

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 18 September 2012

Hazy cloud and sun, a humid morning with a local high of 20.4 at 8.45am. Up to 30 degrees later, tomorrow is set to see a slight fall in the temperature but remaining generally fine and sunny.

Afternoon update: A day's high of 31.6C in Sa Pobla with coastal values just under 30. 

From Woe To Joy: Tourism announcements

I hate to bang on about all this, but some decidedly odd and contradictory statements have been emanating from sectors of the tourism industry over the past few weeks.

Towards the end of August, the hoteliers federation came out with its now infamous statement about the economy being broken on account of a failure to register 100% occupancy in August, a statement I showed to be fallacious as historically August occupancy across Mallorca averages around 90%. At the same time predictions for September and October were said to be poor. From the middle of September, added the federation, bookings were set to fall drastically and from the start of October there would be "a massive closure of hotels".

We now have a situation in which September, according to the federation, will be "exceptional" and the "most profitable of the whole season, better than other years". Moreover, October is looking that good that the season, which had looked as though it would end prematurely with the massive closure of hotels in the first week of the month, will certainly extend until around the 20th of the month.

The simple explanation for this positive news appears to be an unexpectedly high level of last-minute bookings, with the British market performing particularly well. It is quite possible that bad weather, the Olympics and Paralympics can explain this late rush, but the British market is not unique; most markets are apparently performing well - German, Russian, Scandinavian, Italian, you name it.

While one can never truly understand tourist consumer behaviour and so dismiss a collective desire to book last minute across much of Europe, it seems more than slightly strange that the situation should have changed so dramatically from one of woe three weeks ago to one of joy now. But in fact, one didn't have to wait three weeks. On 3 September, a week after the federation was issuing its warnings about a poor second half of the month, certain hotel chains were explaining to the website that their figures for September were already exceptional: Garden Hotels with seven establishments in the north, Arenal and Cala Millor were announcing 92.3% occupancy for September; Viva Hotels (thirteen hotels in the north and Palmanova) were anticipating at least 90% and possibly even 95%. Moreover, in Viva's case the first half of October was pretty much full.

This altogether rosier picture does appear taken some hotels and the federation by surprise, or so they say, but is it all attributable to last-minute bookings? Perhaps it is, but if it is, then it serves as a reminder (again) to be wary of what actually is announced by sources such as the hoteliers. Even poor forecasts should come with a caveat; they can apparently change dramatically.

Then we have the island's tourist attractions. At the end of the first week of August I wrote about how the attractions can blame the wrong sort of weather for a failure to bring in the punters. Too hot and people stay away. Yet we were told a week ago that August had been very good for many attractions (and we're not talking waterparks here). And this despite this August having been the second hottest since 1961. So, how can this very good August be explained? A change in the profile of visitor, it is said, to a family visitor and from a youthful tourist in previous months.

This in itself is odd. It's hardly news that August attracts more families than other months. I'm sure the attractions are well aware of this historical trend. Have they therefore been taken by surprise by good August sales as much as the hoteliers have been by September's and October's? It would appear that they have as the logic of the hot weather spin would suggest that they should have done poorly in August.

The explanation regarding the family tourist in August doesn't chime with what one is typically told on the streets. Plenty of businesses hate August because tourists, despite the numbers, spend less, precisely because they are families who, not unreasonably, are worried about the pennies when they have various juniors in tow. And as for tourists in June or July being more "youthful", I simply don't buy the argument. Apart from anything else, especially in July, there are plenty of families because of variations in school summer holidays in Europe.

I am left to conclude, and I shouldn't really need these latest examples as confirmation, that most of what one is fed by the local tourism industry is, for different reasons, at best questionable and at worst just plain wrong. Why do we (I) even bother reporting what they say or comment on it? God knows.

Any comments to please.

Monday, September 17, 2012

MALLORCA TODAY - Alcúdia seeks business help for families in need

Alcúdia town hall, confronted with growing demand for assistance from families in need, is seeking support from local hotels in providing Christmas hampers made up with frozen food that they will have.

See more: Ultima Hora

MALLORCA TODAY - Opposition from mayors and hotels to waste import

The Council of Mallorca faces growing opposition from the mayors of Alcúdia and Bunyola as well as from the hoteliers federation and tourist businesses to the import of waste for incineration at Son Reus. The grounds for opposition range from the use of Alcúdia port, local contamination and a poor image for tourism.

See more: Diario de Mallorca

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 17 September 2012

19.5 degrees, clear and sunny, very dewy at 7.55am. Another good day in store, temps towards 30 again. If you are very observant, you will notice that only the temperature and time have been changed from yesterday, as yes, things are almost exactly the same as yesterday. Starts to get a bit cloudy from tomorrow, it would seem.

Afternoon update: Another hot September day, Sa Pobla topping 32 degrees, so a bit cooler on the coasts but still very good for this time of the month.

Vandalism: Mallorca is neither Spanish nor Catalan

The history of Mallorca and its association with Catalonia has led us to today's obsession with which language should prevail and to vague notions of Mallorca as part of an independent Catalan Lands. Will Besga in "The Bulletin" (16 September) set out a case for debunking the notion of Catalonian nationalism. I'd like to go further and consider this nationalism within a Mallorcan context.

Will's article dismissed, quite rightly, the belief that there was ever any such thing as a Catalonian kingdom in the early Middle Ages. What there was, was a Count of Barcelona (Ramon Berenguer and successors) and this "crown" (it was granted principality status) was brought through marriage into the orbit of the kingdom which did exist, that of Aragon. It was Jaume of Aragon who gave Mallorca its Catalan history through virtue of his conquest of 1229.

One has to go back much further than this, however, to appreciate fully what Jaume's conquest represented. Mallorca had, prior to this conquest, little connection with mainland Iberia. When Mallorca was occupied by Islamic forces in the tenth century, it had been ruled not by a mainland authority but from Sardinia as part of the Byzantine Empire which otherwise had its hands on only limited territory in southern Iberia. But further back than this, the removal of the Romans in the fifth century had been marked by a division in invading forces. On the mainland, it was the Visigoths who took over parts of southern France, most of modern Spain (including Catalonia) and Portugal. In Mallorca it was the Vandals. They were two distinct tribes, but the distinction is important as it means that, except loosely in Roman times, there hadn't been an historical link between Mallorca and Iberia before Jaume appeared.

The story of 1229 and all that has something of the myth to it. Often styled as a "re-conquest", it wasn't. It was a conquest as there was nothing to actually re-conquer other than to eliminate the Arab occupation. The re-conquest to regain the Visigothic kingdom had been going on for five centuries. Jaume's invasion was  partly in response to this ongoing re-conquest, by then largely driven by the dominant kingdom of Castile, and to his own ambitions to expand the kingdom of Aragon to include Mallorca.

Aragon itself had become home to the Franks of Charlemagne who had moved southwards in the ninth century in helping to drive back the Arabs. As such, therefore, a separate people within Iberia had been created in Aragon and surrounding areas, a cross between Frank and Visigoth.

The Kingdom of Aragon became the Crown of Aragon and embraced not just Aragon but also Mallorca, Valencia and Catalonia. Though part of this Aragonese federation, Catalonia had its own legal and administrative systems even after the union through marriage of the Count of Barcelona in the first half of the twelfth century. One reason why was that in Catalonia they spoke a different language to the people of Aragon.

The Crown of Aragon survived the marriage between Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabel of Castile in the fifteenth century which ostensibly created a unified Spain. But there was no dismantling of legal and administrative systems. This only occurred in the eighteenth century when Philip V abolished the Crown of Aragon, did away with Catalan institutions and prohibited the official use of the Catalan language.

While the Catalonia of today has ambitions for independence and nationalism that are based on somewhat questionable foundations, what of Mallorca? Sympathy for Catalan, Catalonian nationalism or indeed independence for the Catalan Lands stems entirely from the invader Jaume who introduced the Catalan language despite being king of a land whose people spoke a variant of Catalan; just like the Mallorcans do themselves. This linguistic confusion is similar to that of the confusion caused by the manifestation of Catalan sympathy which hangs outside some public buildings - the senyera. This was originally the flag of the kings of Aragon; Catalonia borrowed it. 

Mallorca's historical association is with Aragon and not Catalonia, and even then it is partly through confused linguistics and certainly not through common tribal origins. What cannot be disputed, though, is the absence of an historical "Spanish" connection. Mallorca was not a part of the post-Roman Visigothic kingdom. It only came into a "Spanish" orbit because of an Aragonese king. But it might not have been had events turned out differently.

Over a hundred years before Jaume, an attempt was made to drive the Arabs out. The invasion force was led by Pisa in Italy, but it comprised Catalans from Catalonia, the first time such people and such a land had been identified in historical sources. If it had succeeded, Mallorca might now be Italian, or perhaps its Catalonian association might be that much more legitimate.

Any comments to please.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

MALLORCA TODAY - Osasuna 1 : 1 Real Mallorca

Mallorca doing their play-safe, look to hit on the break with the longer-ball away routine. Very little doing therefore in the first half, Osasuna making most of the running. Neither side had bargained for a red card on the 33rd minute when Llorente and Nunes were sent packing for some penalty-area argy-bargy. Osasuna remained dominant in the second period, Mallorca providing minimal threat, and finally, in the 69th minute, that dominance counted, Osasuna sub Sola heading the home side into the lead. But then, almost totally out of the blue, Mallorca hit back, this season's goal machine, Hemed, heading in following a corner and then Joao Victor hitting the bar. A good point for Mallorca, a triumph for patience and trust in a system but whether it will work against better sides than Osasuna remains to be seen.

Fernández; Bertrán, Lolo, Flaño, Damiá; Oier, Timor; Cejudo (Nino 85), Armenteros (Sola 57), Sisi (Lamah 67); Llorente
Goal: Sola (69)
Red: Llorente (33)
Yellows: Oier (72); Damiá (89)

Real Mallorca:
Aouate; Navarro (Arizmendi 73), Nunes, Conceiçao, López; Pina (Joao Victor 65), Márquez; Nsue, Alfaro (Geromel 41), Pereira; Hemed
Goal: Hemed (78)
Red: Nunes (33)
Yellow: Geromel (52)

MALLORCA TODAY - 5,000 attend seaplane event

Not quite what was expected, seaplanes and sea helicopters for people to look at, 5,000 taking advantage of admission to Puerto Pollensa's base to see what amounted to only three seaplanes other than the base's Canadair. But the organisers considered the day a success and a springboard for future events, more planes apparently already in the pipeline for a repeat on 1 May next year.

See more: Diario de Mallorca

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 16 September 2012

19 degrees, clear and sunny, very dewy at 8.30am. Another good day in store, temps towards 30 again. The week's forecast showing cloud coming in on Tuesday and especially Wednesday.

Afternoon update: Another wonderful day, a high of 31.7C.

Two Stars In Their Eyes: All-inclusive

If you were looking to limit the effects of all-inclusive, what might be your suggestion? And you can't answer just get rid of the lot of it because that wouldn't happen. If you need some help, then why not seek the views of the complementary sector? You'll remember the complementary sector as I wrote about it the other day and about the fact it was going to come up with proposals to limit all-inclusive. And this is just what has happened. Stand back, everyone, here is the moment you've been waiting for, the moment when the rest of the tourism industry (more or less) which isn't hotels comes up with its great solution to the all-inclusive problem. Drums, please!

All-inclusives should be confined to hotels with a minimum of three stars. Sorry, what was that? All-inclusives should be confined to hotels with a minimum of three stars, so no more all-inclusive in hotels with one or two stars. That's it? That's the solution? Erm, well, yes, is there something wrong? I'll say there's something wrong. Talk about urinating in the wind, but more importantly, are you not aware, complementary sector, that the tourism law envisages the elimination of one and two-star (key) accommodation? That there won't be any within four years and that if it isn't upgraded it will be closed either temporarily or permanently.

Do you know the percentage of total hotel places in Mallorca that is made up by accommodation of lower than three stars? No, you probably don't, so I shall tell you. 7%. At least, this was the percentage in 2008, and there is no reason to believe it would now be greater. So, the complementary sector has come up with a cunning plan to lessen the harm of all-inclusives by suggesting a measure that would affect, at a rough estimate, about 20,000 hotel places in the whole of Mallorca, of which only a proportion would be offered on an all-inclusive basis (which wouldn't be full all-inclusive as there is no way that a one or two-star could offer it) and which won't be around for much longer in any case.

This cunning plan was so cunning that I assumed that I had misunderstood what I was reading when it was reported. So I read it again. No, there was and is no misunderstanding. Frankly, it's bizarre.

The other proposal regarding all-inclusives has more sense. It is one to stop the practice of hotels offering a day's all-inclusive rate, which has always seemed like the principle of free competition being stretched too far, so I have no problem with this proposal, but otherwise, if all that can be conjured up is the one and two-star solution, then I'm sorry but the complementary sector has made itself a laughing stock.

Of course, it could all just be an example of attempting to show muscle (not that there is any) and so feed the media with something with which the unquestioning media will nod its collective head and present as the complementary sector being active for once. The complementary sector must surely know that the proposal is a pointless gesture. Or does it? My worry is that it doesn't.

Like the hoteliers have been prone to making recent eccentric statements about occupancy, we now have their opponents in the complementary sector coming out with some eccentricity of their own. I am so stunned by the proposal that I can't figure out if it is a propaganda ploy, and so in the style of the hoteliers, or if it's a case of being genuinely clueless.

Meanwhile, the attractions part of the complementary sector, which has been reporting in certain cases record numbers of visitors in August (the Palma Aquarium, for example), has been expressing its concerns about this winter's tourism and about losses that are going to be suffered. This isn't anything new, but this winter's problems are going to be compounded by a significant reduction in assistance for the Imserso senior citizens tourism from the mainland.

Though Imserso does help the local tourism industry, this social-services tourism brings only limited benefits. It is not a big-spending tourism and it helps hotels more than it does other parts of the tourism industry. But it may also have contributed to a certain lack of initiative in the past. Because it was there, and could therefore tide over some parts of the industry, there wasn't the motivation to seek other remedies. Knowing what these other remedies are is of course the question, but don't go asking the complementary sector for them.

Any comments to please.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

MALLORCA TODAY - Alternative to Alcúdia for waste being considered

With pressure from Alcúdia town hall, the Council of Mallorca is to look at alternatives (which would mean Palma) for the shipping into Mallorca of waste from European countries, Alcúdia maintaining that its port is already at saturation point.

See more: Ultima Hora

MALLORCA TODAY - Sa Pobla changes locutorio regulations

Sa Pobla town hall has modified local regulations which increase the distance between locutorios and cyber cafés from 250 to 450 metres. These locutorios are typically operated by people from Morocco and/or South America. Mayor Serra says that there is no "bad intention" behind the regulation only a need to regularise such establishments.

See more: Ultima Hora

MALLORCA TODAY - Pollensa's Santuïri walk still not re-opened

Despite a petition with over 800 signatures having been presented to Pollensa town hall in late July which demanded the re-opening of the camí de Santuïri, it remains closed. The town hall is being urged to comply with an agreement by its own assembly to re-open the walk.

See more: Diario de Mallorca

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 15 September 2012

A fine, sunny but chilly morning, area temperatures from 15.5 to 18.5 at 8.15am. Sun all day, it would seem, mid-20s probably. The same for tomorrow and Monday, but Tuesday likely to see the arrival of cloudier conditions.

Afternoon update: A good day. Cloudless skies, coastal top of 29, just about right.

Mallorca As Britain

Chris Moyles had been presenting his Radio One breakfast show for over eight years when it came to an end yesterday morning. It's a long time, longer even than I have been providing insights into Mallorcan life that make me the most astute and regarded writer on Mallorcan matters of a generation. (I can, if pushed, be as immodest as Moyles.) Unlike Moyles, these insights were not originally daily. They have only been so five years. Still a long time though.

I'm not about to perform an act of sympathy with Moyles and announce my retirement, if for no other reason than I don't have a successor lined up. There is no "youthful" replacement, a likely Nick Grimshaw to fill my incomparable writing boots and attract a whole new, younger audience, eager to acquire knowledge about Mallorca. It falls to me and the Photo Blog's Klaus to be the ageing imparters of daily awareness. Such is our lot.

The daily exercise of writing about Mallorca brings with it vast knowledge. It can't help but do so. But in the process of acquiring this vast knowledge and then disseminating it, one might think that I have also undergone a process of having gone native, of having forgotten, neglected or distanced myself from aspects of British life and culture. One might think this, but then there is Chris Moyles. Had I undergone this process of nativisation, there would be no daily listening to Moyles nor would there be listening to Five Live or Talk Sport.

Being knowledgeable is not the same thing as being integrated, whatever this means. God knows, I have devoted articles to considering the concept of integration, but I am left to believe that it is, at its most diplomatic, illusory, and at its least diplomatic, a colossal load of old cock. Moreover, I couldn't care in the least bit, when I even think about the subject, whether I am integrated or not. It just doesn't matter.

Or perhaps it matters insofar as not being integrated facilitates the observational process. Observer is how I have tended to describe myself when people ask me what I think I am. I was described recently (by Paul Danks, financial person of the parish of Puerto Pollensa) as a diarist, which is accurate in terms of practice, but I prefer observer. It means looking on, digesting, accumulating but also interpreting. It is a more abstract state of being, and through non-nativisation one is able to retain a capacity for abstraction. Integration, at its fascistic and totalitarian worst, means a loss of objectivity, a being sucked in, a groupthink mentality, a failure to question, a blackening and whitening.  

What happens in reality is that one cherry picks one's cultural alliances and in my case this is cherry-picking of a multitasking type. I can listen to Moyles whilst reading Spanish news websites. It creates a hybrid of appreciation of local society and culture, a quite deep appreciation, that is still suffused with an alien's perspective. Intellectually, one is acutely aware that observation solely through British eyes is wrongheaded. I understand this, but it is the distance that comes from having a strong but not innate appreciation that enables observational objectivity. It's why I challenge so often an insular parochialism in Mallorca. Not because I wish to be deliberately critical but because the conceptualising of issues (tourism, for example) should require a stepping outside of such parochial mentality and the assumption of the onlooker's role.

I'm not sure how Moyles' blokishness fits with any of this. Except for influencing how one perceives aspects of Mallorcan life with chameleonic and multifaceted cultural references from Britain which one can adapt to help explain this Mallorcan life in terms that resonate with an English-speaking (and predominantly British) audience. Moyles is a blokish extreme but it is an undercurrent of how one seeks to convey this life by alluding to football, music, soaps and some slightly less Philistine manifestations of British culture. 

Any comments to please.

Friday, September 14, 2012

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 14 September 2012

Rain overnight and still some rain about. But hey, forget the weather, I'm watching the last Chris Moyles show on live stream ( and not worrying about the rain. Laters.

Oh, ok, so there's a break following Fearne Cotton in her swimsuit. Time, therefore, to say that it chucked down last night. According to the forecast it is sun all the way today, except there's no sign of it at 8.52. High of 20 or so. 

Afternoon update: An area high of 25.7 once the sun had truly come out this afternoon to give clear, blue skies which are likely to be around throughout the weekend.