The day had, to say the least, started disastrously. To my great horror there was what appeared to be a tear at the corner of the pocket of the one and only suit that I have bothered to keep in reasonable working order (as a rule, one doesn't require suits, or ties, or crisply ironed shirts in the normal course of a Mallorcan day). With nary a needle-wielding wench close to hand (it's so difficult to find one nowadays), I headed off, as you do in such circumstances, to a local British bar to go in search of some needlework.
Do you remember the Python sketch in which Michael Palin finds that his bike has a puncture? He looks around and sees nothing. Except for ... a bicycle-repair shop. Or, maybe you recall the Yellow Pages adverts. The one for the French polisher, for instance. It was a bit like this on Thursday morning. As the tear was diagnosed as the corner of the pocket having threaded, an observant guest of the hostelry became involved. She was? A professional seamstress. Needle met cotton met holidaymaker who just so happened to be having a coffee, and Bob was my cotton bobbin uncle.
The cause of this great alarm was a rare visit to the other side. When crossing to the other side, one doesn't want to look as though one has just been shopping at Help The Aged. The other side is Mallorcan high society, one shot through with liberal doses of non-Mallorcan; British in this particular instance. There are variants on this high-societal paradigm, such as the Germanic-Mallorcan alliance, one that consists primarily of estate agents (the luxury end, naturally enough). This is one that might prefer a day's polo as opposed to slumming it at some grand old pile with accompanying 18-hole golf course just north of Palma, but a high-societal Brit is rarely to be found further than a one-iron's drive from a golf course, so pile and golf course it was.
The occasion was the handing over and the pinning onto the lapel of the honorary MBE for Pedro Serra, founder of the "Majorca Daily Bulletin", president of a Mallorcan media empire, friend of the arts, the man who helped more than most to promote the works of Joan Miró and Llorenç Villalonga, and representative of a streak of entrepreneurialism that the Mallorcans possess and which hardly any other Spaniards, save for the Basques, the Catalans and some in Madrid, have.
High society was, as a consequence, out in great number. Arranged around the high table, in fact the central table in the acoustic-wave-ceilinged salon of Oliver de Termens, were the great and the good. Erm, well ok, you make up your own minds as to greatness and goodness. You have the following to choose from: El Presidente, José Ramón Bauzá; La Presidenta of the Council of Mallorca, Maria Salom; the mayor of Palma, Mateo Isern; the secretary-of-state for tourism (it might be noted that Carlos was not present), Isabel Borrego; Paxo Minor, Jezza's younger brother, who is our man in Madrid; Paxo's oppo in Barcelona, Andrew Gwatkin, he who has assumed consulate duties for the Balearics. And. Oh yes, the Archers.
It fell to Paxo to pin the medal on the lapel. And once done, it was nosebag time. It couldn't have come any sooner. The day of near disaster with the pocket had left me decidedly nosebag-deprived. I was starving, in other words. It was gone ten by the time the prawn salad was served. I was attempting to avoid hearing any comments two to my right; I had asked the agreeable and amiable Marc Fosh if he had been invited to do the catering.
There was a fish thing on a potato (I think it was a potato anyway) and then some ice-cream with an unspectacular cheesecake affair, which, as is tradition now, was served on a massive plate that was far too big for the ice-cream dollop. Anyway, it went down more or less in one, just as the lights dimmed and an almighty shriek was let out. It was a singer who I confess I had never heard of. Michele McCain. Should I have heard of her? My God, though, she can belt out a tune. Bloody loudly as well. Oddly, I can't remember what she sang. And no, not a drop of alcohol had been taken. The memory of it has been lost among the sheer decibels.
Finally, it was the moment we hadn't all been waiting for. Various "Bulletin" acolytes, hacks and assorted others were required on stage for a tub-thumping oration from Jason, the newspaper's great leader (extremely well received, especially as it was initially in the local tongue). And you know something? I felt bloody proud and not a small bit moved. Pedro Serra received an honour from the Queen. He thoroughly deserves it.
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