Saturday, November 30, 2013

MALLORCA TODAY - Alfaro goal pushes Mallorca up among promotion hopefuls

Eibar 0 : 1 Real Mallorca
Mallorca away at Eibar in the Basque Country who are currently challenging for a promotion spot while Mallorca languish in mid-table.
Mallorca seemed largely in control but the first half was devoid of any real action. The second period started a bit more brightly, Mallorca playing with greater intensity, and Alfaro, who was particularly bright, headed the visitors into the lead after 61 minutes. Mallorca remained mostly in charge, even though Añibarro missed a clear chance to equalise with ten minutes remaining. Mallorca held on for a well-deserved away win that pushes them up among the promotion hopefuls.

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 30 November 2013

No Frills Excursions

Morning high (8.45am): 8C
Forecast high: 13C
Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays): North 4 to 5, occasionally West during the morning, veering and increasing Northeast 6 to 7 by the evening. Swells to one metre. Possible storm.

Another grey morning and a cold one, temperatures in areas as low as three degrees. Alerts for the coasts and for rain, continuing into tomorrow. Wind increasing in strength later to near gale force in areas. However, there is some good news. By the middle of next week, the forecast is set to change, with temperatures rising and sun replacing cloud and rain.

Evening update (19.45): Some rain during the day but not heavy; currently raining again. A high of just 10.2C.

Pouring Cold Water on Mallorca's Tourism Growth

A recent report of the signing of long-term contracts between Mallorcan hoteliers and tour operators suggested that Mallorca's tourism future as far as 2020 was secured, rosy and on the up. The report was, on first glance, misleading. It hinted that Mallorca would, by 2020, be receiving 100 million tourists per annum. On closer look, what it was saying was that in the seven years from 2014 up to and including 2020, the total number of tourists would increase to 100 million.

Currently, Mallorca receives in the region of nine million tourists a year, over half of them pressed into a period of around fourteen weeks in summer. Such a concentration of humanity leads to the August peaks of total population of the island (residents, tourists and transient workers) when there are, not untypically, 60% more people than in December. In 2012, for instance, on 4 August there were 1,350,000 people as opposed to 843,000 on 23 December. Were the island to in fact receive 100 million tourists over this seven-year period, this would correspond to an increase of just under 60% of what it would receive based on current figures. It would be an enormous increase - 5.3 million more tourists per annum.

On the face of it, if this 100 million were to in fact be a realistic and achievable number, then the island's tourism future would indeed be very rosy. But how achievable would it be? Allowing for the taking-up of hotel occupancy slack, especially in the lower months of the summer, the capacity wouldn't be there. Even if there were the capacity, it doesn't follow that tourists would come in the great numbers that would be needed to make up for what, based on current levels, would be a missing 37 million tourists over seven years.

What might make a difference would be a relaxation of rules on private holiday accommodation (something that would be most unlikely) and something of a construction boom (also unlikely). While there are new hotel projects in the offing, these would not amount to anything like the number of places that would be required.

One has to conclude, therefore, that the report was, at best, an exaggeration. At worst, it was just plain wrong and complete rubbish. Moreover, behind the glowing headline of 100 million tourists was the absence of some pretty obvious questions. Would Mallorca actually want so many tourists and would there be the infrastructure, not just in terms of accommodation, to allow for so many tourists?

Santa Margalida is a town with one of Mallorca's leading tourist resorts, Can Picafort. At present, the town's regular population is no more than 12,000 people. In summer, this can double, thanks to tourists who are primarily accommodated in Can Picafort. There is a limit at the moment on tourist places in the municipality. The maximum is 13,000.

Under an old urban ordinance, the total number of people that Santa Margalida could ultimately accommodate was set at 50,000. This was a figure arrived at years ago and one that did of course envisage significantly more development than has actually occurred. The town hall has now revised this number down to 34,000, but this 34,000 is a limit which does not foresee any meaningful expansion of regulated tourist accommodation, i.e. hotels. It is a theoretical figure which sets a limit on urban development of a residential nature, one that would see the resident population almost doubling but one that is not about to be attained in the foreseeable future.

Town halls do, in theory and usually in practice, have the final say on urban planning matters. The Balearic Government attempted to shift the goalposts on this where tourism accommodation was concerned but was forced to back down in the face of opposition from the town halls and the Council of Mallorca. The town halls do also have responsibility for certain vital services, such as water supplies. And it is these services, as much as anything else, which have to make projections of such a massive increase in tourism numbers highly questionable. If Santa Margalida is indicative of other towns, then it will not be attained.

Such an increase does, though, raise a question which is difficult to answer. Difficult but not impossible. And that is what might be the maximum number of people that Mallorca could support at any one moment in time? Water supplies are one part of the equation. There are others - airport capacity, roads, medical services, emergency and security services, power as well environmental impact. It would not be impossible to create computer models which might give an indication, but, and setting aside possible impacts of climate change, water supplies would be the most important factor.

In this regard, German research published in the journal "Land Use Policy"** highlights the harmful nature of a Mallorcan drive towards ever more "quality" tourism and so the use of water for domestic consumption, pools, golf courses etc. in what are often non-tourism areas of the island. This research echoes the so-called "Benidorm effect", the one by which high concentrations of tourists in limited areas are vastly more efficient in terms of managing resources than a sprawl of tourism. But as can be seen from what Santa Margalida are doing, there is no desire or intention to make its tourism denser.

100 million tourists might sound like good news, but could such a level of tourism be sustained? Where water is concerned, almost certainly not.

** Hof and Schmitt, "Urban and tourist land use patterns and water consumption: Evidence from Mallorca, Balearic Islands", "Land Use Policy", 2011.

Index for November 2013

Aznar's memoirs and the Madrid bombs - 3 November 2013
Balearics regional election and party leadership - 16 November 2013
Bank financing of tourist resort renewal - 4 November 2013
Catalan or Mallorquín - 18 November 2013
Doctor Who in Spain - 20 November 2013
Golf tourism - 14 November 2013
I Need Spain slogan - 19 November 2013
IB3 and its costs - 12 November 2013
Illegal rural property - 10 November 2013 - 21 November 2013
Innovation and Mallorcan culture - 27 November 2013
Mallorcan place names' ancient origins - 29 November 2013
Millennials and tourism - 15 November 2013
Muro pumpkin autumn fair - 1 November 2013
Olive oil dispensers - 24 November 2013
Palacio de Congresos - 13 November 2013
Poster designs: Pollensa and Muro fairs - 9 November 2013
President Bauzá interview on La Sexta - 26 November 2013
PSOE and national leadership - 11 November 2013
Sa Pobla Japanese tourism - 23 November 2013
Second casino and PP fallout - 25 November 2013
Smart all-inclusive resorts of the future - 2 November 2013
Solar energy law - 8 November 2013
Tourism growth in Mallorca and water resources - 30 November 2013
Tubular Bells, The Exorcist and Mallorca - 28 November 2013
Turespaña director-general - 5 November 2013
Unsold properties - 6 November 2013
Weather in November in Mallorca - 17 November 2013
Winter tourism products - 7 November 2013

Friday, November 29, 2013

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 29 November 2013

No Frills Excursions

Morning high (8.45am): 9.5C
Forecast high: 14C
Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays): North 4 to 5 easing 3 to 4 by the evening.

Some brightness this morning, so a punt being taken on actually being able to hang some washing out. Breezy as well. The weekend looks absolutely dire.

Evening update (18.30): Well, that proved to be a bad punt. It started lashing down in the morning. A high of 10.2C but more typically the temperatures have been down at the 6 to 7 mark. Rotten, utterly rotten.

Ancient Origins Of Mallorcan Place Names

The Mozarabs were the indigenous populations of Spain and the Balearics who lived under Islamic rule. In the case of Mallorca, this was from 902. The Mozarabic language was essentially a Vulgar Latin but it came to merge with Arabic, to some extent, and with the early Romance languages which emerged - those of Spanish, Portuguese and Catalan.

Mozarabic forms an important link with the pre-Jaume I conquest history of Mallorca , and while it continued in use for some time after 1229 it was eventually overtaken by Catalan and by the early stages of Catalan dialect development. Its importance, though, lies with toponyms in Mallorca (the history of the island's place names) and with personal names. This study of language, and the interest in it, is such that a town like Muro can devote a whole evening to a presentation of the origins of Christian names and surnames (as will be the case on 10 December). This linguistic past goes, in a sense, to the very heart of the Mallorcan; he or she wants to know where he or she came from and in understanding this, he or she forms a greater appreciation of the present as created by the historical links with Catalan and non-Catalan.

Álvaro Galmés de Fuentes, who was born in Madrid, was one of the foremost Spanish experts on philology (the study of language), dialects and the Spain of Arabic times. He died ten years ago, but his legacy is an astonishing amount of research, among which was a study of place names in the Balearics which were in existence in Mozarabic times.

One of the starting-points for Galmés' research was something called in Catalan the "Llibre de Repartiment", which literally means the book of distribution. It was compiled following Jaume's conquest and it was basically a survey of what there was on Mallorca in terms of settlements and possessions, who owned them and, just as importantly, which ones could be earmarked to be given to Jaume's followers. The "Llibre" was incredibly detailed, because even what are nowadays urbanisations within municipalities are, in some instances, noted. Gotmar in Puerto Pollensa, is an example. Whole towns have survived a process of Catalanisation to retain these same roots. They include Artà, Sóller, Inca, Valldemossa and Sineu.

Gotmar, though, is an example of a place name which had an earlier root. It became Gotmar in Mozarabic, but it, and it is the case with other place names, had a Germanic origin. It was Godomar. As such, therefore, it may well be that its name goes back to the time of the Vandals' invasion of the fifth century and their occupation of Mallorca for some seventy or eighty years.

And in fact, though Mozarabic amended certain place names or established them (e.g. Binissalem), there was a very much earlier influence, one that predated Roman times. It is difficult to say with certainty which languages did what, but there was an "Iberian" tongue and there was most definitely a Celtic tongue. There was also the Basque tongue, and there is evidence to suggest that there was a collision between these different ancient languages which resulted in what there now is. The town of Alaró is an example. "Iluro" is Iberian, while "ur" is also Basque (for water). In the Llibre, Alaró was noted as Olerono, Oloró and Olerón, and the latter was an island in the Vendée in France.

Artà is a name with seemingly distinct Latin roots, and in Arabic it was virtually the same - Artan. But it was also noted in the Llibre as Yartan or Iartan, which has led to the hypothesis that it was corrupted by or in fact formed from an Iberian language. There is an Arta in Vizcaya in the Basque Country. Muro is a name which has given rise to what is almost certainly a totally wrong hypothesis, that it comes from "moro" for Moor, as in Islamic Moors. The Romans appeared to name it, i.e. Murus, but there is more to it than even this. Both Mur(r) and Mor(r) were pre-Roman, and so the name probably derives from an Iberian language in the Pyrenees region or from Basque, Murru.

Mozarabic seems to have been at play with the name Llenaire in Puerto Pollensa. This is an intriguing name as it is an example of the diphthong "ai" being used, and this was Mozarabic. A simple explanation for the name is that it means a place with an abundance of wool ("lana"), but this doesn't stack up as the geographical conditions wouldn't have produced animals with wool. Or not in abundance. The more likely explanation is that a pre-Roman word "losa" became "leña" (firewood) and a Mozarabic suffix for place was applied, "ariu".

Galmés's research, and I can only cover a minute fraction of it here, was remarkable in its scope. While it established the existence, or more or less the existence, of place names by the time of the Catalan conquest and of ones that have been barely altered by Catalan, it showed that there was a very much longer history than that of the Mozarabs or even the Romans. Basque and Iberian influence is clear, and so therefore is the fact that Mallorca, far from being an isolated place in the Mediterranean, was in close contact with the mainland way back into antiquity.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 28 November 2013

No Frills Excursions

Morning high (9.00am): 11C
Forecast high: 14C
Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays): Northeast 6 easing and backing North 4 to 5 during the morning.

Following a windy night, rather calmer this morning with some blue sky and sun, but rain still possible during the day. Tomorrow, all things being relative, looks as if it might be better than of late with more sun about, but then it's back to rain.

Evening update (19.45): A high of 11.2C but in parts the temperature was at times down to just over six degrees. 

Forty Years Of Horror: Tubular Bells

It is arguably the most recognisable introduction to a rock music album ever created. Yet it wasn't really a rock album, while the introduction never ended. It was beautiful in its minimalist simplicity, yet the musical structure of seven-eight and nine-eight time was anything but simple. It was musical structure born out of the "progressive" era of rock music with a minimalism that was reminiscent of Terry Riley and Philip Glass. It was symphonic but not pompous, yet it was classical in its recurring theme and in its developments towards crescendo. It was repetitious and its introduction wove itself into your consciousness and would not let go. On 25 May 1973 it was released. It was "Tubular Bells".

Seven months later, on Boxing Day, a post-Christmas tradition was being maintained. This tradition was one of the film, the movie. The family would settle down to watch a classic and, as tradition came to have it, it would typically be "The Great Escape". Alternatively, the family might escape the confines of the turkey-stuffed, Christmas-light-lit living-room and head to the cinema. 1973 was a good year for films: "Live And Let Die", "The Way We Were", "American Graffiti". In Britain, the cinemas had yet to offer what was to be the second highest-grossing film that was released in 1973; it was not to be seen in British cinemas until the next year. In America, however, Boxing Day cinema-goers could have seen a film that was as far removed from Christmas as it was possible to get. The film was "The Exorcist".

If "Tubular Bells" broke new ground in the world of rock music, then "The Exorcist" ripped up the ground of the horror-movie genre and littered it with bodies defiled by the Devil. It wasn't perhaps entirely new as "Rosemary's Baby", some five years before, had taken a devil theme too, but "The Exorcist" it was which led to "The Omen", "The Sentinel" and "Carrie", and never before had audiences apparently been provoked into vomiting and being emotionally disturbed by a film.

These two iconic statements of entertainment in 1973 had a connection of course. The minimalist beauty of "Tubular Bells" lay in what it did not reveal. It hid the unstated. Its repetitiousness could conjure up whatever images the listener wished. It might never have been intended for these unstated images to be malevolent, haunting or horrific, but that it is what they were to become. Only a few months after its release, the unmistakable symmetry of "Tubular Bells" found its way onto the soundtrack for "The Exorcist". It became the unofficial theme tune for the film.

The story of how "Tubular Bells" came to be recorded has been told many times, and it is a story which raises ifs and buts. If Richard Branson had not heard Mike Oldfield's original tape, Oldfield might never have become the name he was to become. If it hadn't been for "Tubular Bells", would Virgin Records have been started or would it have been the success that it was to be? If it hadn't been for this success, then would The Sex Pistols have ever become as popular as they were to become? If it hadn't been for "Tubular Bells", would there have ever been Virgin Atlantic and all the other Virgin brands and would Richard Branson still be plain Richard and not Sir Richard? And if it hadn't been for "The Exorcist", might "Tubular Bells" have achieved the global sales which it did, especially sales in the US? 

Ultimately, might Mike Oldfield have ever been able to afford a luxury finca in Mallorca and so follow in the affluent footsteps of his Virgin mentor? He didn't tarry that long on the island, only some four years before finding that the Bahamas held a greater attraction, but it was long enough to discover that Mallorca was "an incredibly inspiring place to work"; this work included a remix of "Tubular Bells".

So, for a brief time, the two connected entertainment events of 1973 brought one of its protagonists to Mallorca. And in 2013, he returned if only via the miracle of technology and contributed, thanks to Skype, to the celebration for Kevin Ayers in Deià in August; Oldfield had been the bassist with Ayers' The Whole World band prior to recording "Tubular Bells". The forty years have witnessed unimagined changes, not just in communications technology. Were "Tubular Bells" to be made today, its recording would be totally different. Oldfield's multi-instrumental ability would not be required to anything like the same extent. "The Exorcist" would be an exercise in computer-generated imagery.

They were both extraordinary achievements of their time. But they were products of that time. Technology would dictate that they would now be different. Yet for all the technology, Oldfield and his period in Mallorca serves as a reminder of what stays constant. He found the island inspiring in the twenty-first century. In 1973, and in years leading up to it, Mallorca was inspiring and had been inspiring all manner of artists, a couple of whom in their different fields - art and literature - died this year on the island they had adopted, the American painter Ellis Jacobson and the Australian author Mark McShane. And in a cemetery in Deià, Kevin Ayers, who had lived in the village for some years, was also remembered. A dark place to be remembered maybe but not a dark place as that in "The Exorcist" and one that was brightened by the legacy of 1973. "Introducing ... Tubular Bells."

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 27 November 2013

No Frills Excursions

Morning high (8.45am): 9.5C
Forecast high: 12C
Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays): North 5 to 6 increasing Northeast 6 to 7 by the evening. Very rough.

Less windy but an alert still out for the coasts, some rain around this morning and plenty of cloud. Might be some sun later but the general weather pattern remains very poor.

Evening update (18.15): Brrrh! A high of just 10.2C.

Altered Minds: Innovation in Mallorca

It was informative to hear an interview for the BBC with Brent Hurley, one of the founders of YouTube. His business was a product of California's Silicon Valley, where he still believes, despite the emergence of serious technology leaders such as YouTube, that young entrepreneurs can make it if they have the right products and are able to draw on the right talent pool. Hurley described Silicon Valley as a "state of mind", one which allows new businesses, even when confronted with what might seem obstructive taxation (as there is in California), to breakthrough. It is all a question of mentality, and this mentality can permit similar technology-based clusters to rise up elsewhere.

Hurley's views are, however, ones predicated on a particular culture. The American business culture has long hailed the risk-taker and the entrepreneur, it has long been aided by risk capital, it has long been one of the "can-do" rather than the cannot. The American business culture also underwent a seismic shift in its attitudes when the realisation was made as to the competitive nature of Japanese corporations. From the late 1970s onwards, this culture was transformed within organisations. Hierarchies became less the order of the day. Participation, empowerment, flat structures all found their way into the management and organisational lexicon.

In Mallorca, ambitions are harboured for something along the lines of Silicon Valley. It would be more of a Silicon Hollow, one fancies, but there are certain factors which could allow such ambitions to be realised. Well, one in particular; the climate. Mallorca's a nice place to live and work, it has a nice lifestyle, it has a Mediterranean climate (obviously), one similar to Californa's. This climate-lifestyle axis has brought interest in terms of business location from overseas, while the technological infrastructure, notably Palma's ParcBit, does offer some grounds for being optimistic that a technological new age dawns in Mallorca and helps to move the island's economy away from its dangerous and lop-sided dependence upon tourism.

But initiatives such as ParcBit can only go so far. The vision, albeit an unclear one, for a more technological future is obscured by the existence of elements that California does not suffer from. There is, for example, a very different business culture, both generally and within organisations, one that is partially a reflection of what remains a societal culture: one of the hierarchy.

This hierarchy can often come in the form of a patriarchy or matriarchy. Families have a tendency to dominate the business culture and so the culture mirrors the deference shown within the family structure. It might be a culture which is healthy for continuity but it is rarely a culture which fosters free thinking, challenges to decisions, innovation. It is also a culture which can breed one of the most pernicious elements of the family organisation, that of nepotism, and this nepotism is something else which manifests itself in wider business and governmental society. Friendships, family ties, networks, who-you-know count for more than merit, talent and what you know. Nepotism and "amiguismo" are regularly cited by younger Spaniards as being reasons why they all but give up on finding decent employment and so help to fuel the brain drain heading abroad.

The hierarchy is everywhere. It exists in different types of business - from multinationals to the small business - in government "companies" (albeit the number of these are being reduced) and in political parties. Along with the omnipresence of the hierarchy comes the nepotism and the power of the network, and there is an example of just this which has seemingly been at work in Mallorca, an example right at the heart of business innovation.

The IDI is a Balearic Government "company". The acronym stands for Institute of Business Innovation. It should, therefore, be an agency for good in pursuit of a goal of greater economic diversification. But the IDI has been savaged by cutbacks under the current government. Jobs have gone, but there are also accusations flying as to the basis upon which job elimination has been made. They centre on political bias, i.e. employees with sympathies for parties (most obviously PSOE) were let go in favour of those who are supporters of the Partido Popular.

There may well of course be very valid reasons unassociated with political affiliation for employment decisions having been made, but if affiliation was a real factor then it confirms the power of the network being commanded by the hierarchy, in this instance one political party and that party's leadership.  

Mallorca has a disadvantage in the technological stakes which comes from its less than satisfactory educational system, but this cannot be wholly blamed for a lack of innovation. After all, for any group of underachievers there will always be one overachiever and potential business genius. Mallorca also has a history of entrepreneurialism. It is not as if, therefore, there aren't elements in Mallorca which could make a success of a new technological age. But paramount to this success is the need for a change in culture at governmental and corporate levels. The eradication of hierarchies and the doffing of the cap are as necessary as the elimination of the network and the nepotism.

Brent Hurley believes that Silicon Valleys can be replicated anywhere. If the talent exists, then maybe so. But they won't be if the culture doesn't allow them to flourish. The state of mind that needs to alter is that of the keepers of the hierarchies - the political parties and the corporations. Alter minds, and the entrepreneurial spirit in Mallorca might just fly.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 26 November 2013

No Frills Excursions

Morning high (7.30am): 10.5C
Forecast high: 12C
Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays): North 7, occasionally 8 until midday. Very rough.

Windy overnight and still windy. Mostly grey with the threat of rain during the day and snow on higher levels. No change in sight.

Evening update (18.15): A high of just 11.5C on a windy, chilly and cloudy day.

José Ramón Bauzá: The Interview

The Spanish television channel La Sexta first really came onto my radar during the 2006 World Cup. It was the home to the late Andrés Montes, the commentator attributed with having coined the expression "tiki-taka", and his two fellow commentators who together had the unnerving habit of singing during matches. La Sexta is, therefore, forever etched in my mind as the channel of the Three Tenor commentators, a channel of levity, one not to be taken that seriously. However, it has become a channel with more gravitas. It was La Sexta which took an in-depth look at the charmers who were the German Hell's Angels and at their organised criminality that had become centred on Mallorca. Now, it has given us José Ramón Bauzá: The Interview.

There is something distinctly odd going on with Bauzá at present. He is behaving as though he were a president. Not of a collection of small islands in the Mediterranean but of somewhere rather grander. He has been whizzing off here, whizzing off there, and it hasn't gone unnoticed. Why hasn't he been stuck behind his desk in Palma attending to domestic affairs rather than gadding off to the USA, South America and goodness knows where else? He's off to Brussels this week and at the weekend he was in Madrid for The Interview.

Going on La Sexta might, by comparison with Bauzá the statesman in foreign lands, seem relatively unimportant, but it was in fact quite the opposite. This is a president like others, notably his dear leader Rajoy, who don't as a rule do things such as give big interviews on national television. They prefer to keep mum, which in Rajoy's case is normally wise. Bauzá might have put in the odd appearance on Mallorca's IB3, but he wouldn't have expected there to be any awkward moments. Not when the channel is firmly under the control of his party. La Sexta is a different matter entirely. So, he should be commended, but the question is, what's he up to? Or where might he be heading?

The answers might be nothing and nowhere, but the sudden emergence of dynamic, man-about-the-international scene Bauzá inevitably leads some to suggest that he is being measured up for a suit with more than just a Mallorcan style. Why else would the nation wish to hear from a president of some islands which can scrape together only a fraction more than a million people, located some fair old distance from the Valencian coastline and known by most Spaniards, as by mostly everyone else, as places to spend their summer jollies?

Of course, certain things have been happening in the Balearics which could be said to be of some national interest, not least the whole teaching carry-on, and it was this - trilingual education, the teachers' strike, etc. - which was a key item on the agenda for The Interview. It is perhaps a shame that a subservient media in Mallorca wouldn't subject Bauzá to a grilling, even if he were to let it, and that the consequent communication weren't little more than press release propaganda, but then Mallorca and the Balearics are only Mallorca and the Balearics. They are not of national importance to the ambitious politician.

So, what did he have to say in The Interview? Some of it was, it must be said, perfectly reasonable. "Politics and indoctrination must be kept out of the classroom." Amen. A concern of mine regarding the teachers' strike and issues related to TIL is that it potentially radicalises schoolchildren. But then, who was it who started the politics? For Bauzá it was clear. "Behind the strike were the unions, PSOE and nationalists (i.e. Mallorcan/Balearics nationalists) who manipulated parents." These parents were among the thousands who demonstrated against TIL at the end of September. Bauzá offered his "maximum respect" to the protests but he went on to say that "the parents did not have all the information", such as the fact that TIL supposedly meant only a couple of hours more of English per week.

He was implying that parents had been misled or misinformed but what he wasn't saying was the regional government made such a pig's ear of communicating effectively with the public over TIL. Rather like teachers and unions had several months to get used to the idea of TIL and prepare for it, so the government had several months to prepare the public for its introduction and to explain it properly. It didn't. 

Leaving time to put in a good word for Aina Calvo as the new leader of PSOE in the Balearics (because she would be inclined not to scrap TIL were she to be leader and president of the islands), The Interview came to an end, the nation now familiar with the man who would be. Would be what? Was that what it was all about?

Monday, November 25, 2013

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 25 November 2013

No Frills Excursions

Morning high (8.15am): 12.5C
Forecast high: 15C
Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays): North and Northeast 6 to 7. Very rough.

Mildish morning but grey and breezy. Amber alert for the coasts. Getting a bit colder tomorrow with rain falling as snow down to 600 metres. The week staying chilly and windy with occasional showers.

Evening update (19.15): Fairly sunny today but a high of 15.1C. 

Gambling Men: The PP and the casino

A week is a long time in politics, so Harold Wilson supposedly once said. Much can happen within the space of seven days, and in British politics it does. In Balearics politics, little happens over the course of seven days. Or over the course of seven weeks. The impression might be given of things happening, but in truth little of any real significance takes place.

A week ago, there I was, suggesting that José Ramón Bauzá probably had a clear run towards being re-selected as Partido Popular presidential candidate for the regional elections in 2015. But it was a clear run because of the lack of any obvious challengers, except perhaps Maria Salom at the Council of Mallorca, rather than because the party was unanimous in being enamoured of him; the other Salom, Jeroni of that ilk, the president of the party, was clearly not.

What I couldn't have anticipated, however, is what is said to have transpired at Palma's yacht club the other day and which involved, in one corner, Mateo Isern, the mayor of Palma along with his number two and tourism councillor, Álvaro Gijón, and in the other corner, José Ramón and one of his oppos, the economy minister, Joaquín García.

Reports suggest, and there is no reason not to believe them, that there was more than just a slight argument involving the two camps. At one point, Isern didn't offer Bauzá outside but offered him behind, grabbing hold of him and taking him behind some curtains to give him a piece of his mind. Various matters were raised but what had caused temperatures to rise, and for Gijón and García to have already exchanged unpleasantries, was the government's decision to site Mallorca's second casino in the Teatro Balear in Palma. Isern and Gijón want it to go in Playa de Palma as part of the resort's regeneration and where the scheme for its location would also involve the building of a new five-star hotel.

What Isern wanted to know, among other things, was how the Playa de Palma alternative could, in the evaluation process, score virtually "nul points" in terms of guarantees and financing offered when the company involved would be the same one which currently operates the casino in Porto Pi and which had previously operated the casino when it was sited in Sol de Mallorca, i.e. one with a not insignificant amount of credentials and experience when it comes to casinos.

Gijón, it would seem, questioned the process of competition for the casino overseen by García, while both the Palma men were, to say the least, disappointed that what could have been a cornerstone of the transformation of Playa de Palma was being removed.

As far as the decision is concerned, I'm inclined to agree with Isern and Gijón. I don't really give a damn whether there is a second casino, but if there is to be one, then Playa de Palma would appear to be preferable because of the regenerative potential it would have. But the politics of the spat seem altogether more entertaining.

If you're Bauzá and you want to fall out with a mayor from your party, then it probably doesn't matter if that mayor is in charge of some backwater, inconsequential, alleged municipality comprising a few hundred inhabitants and several hundred goats. But if that mayor happens to be in charge of roughly half the population of Mallorca and is mayor of a town hall which behaves as though it was a government in its own right, then it probably does matter. And so, from nowhere, we are presented with the delicious prospect that Isern, having fallen out with Bauzá over the casino, might fancy a pop at being leader of the party. We can but hope so, as suddenly things have become potentially very much more interesting than they were a week ago.

It would of course be instructive to learn what the "various matters" other than the casino were when Isern offered Bauzá behind. Isern hasn't, for example, appeared to have been a flag waver for the anti-TIL faction in the PP, but he will know that it could yet prove to be a problem when elections come round. Whatever these matters are, though, he clearly isn't happy, and he is one of the few really big beasts in the PP who could make things awkward for Bauzá. He is also, were he to choose to thrown his hat into the ring, a somewhat more personable figure, not one who hasn't had his own critics but one who might just cut a more sympathetic character than the presidential incumbent.

Yep, a week is a long time in politics, and Bauzá might just have found out how long a week can be. Let battle commence?

Photo of the Teatro Balear from Wikipedia.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 24 November 2013

No Frills Excursions

Morning high (8.15am): 12C
Forecast high: 15C
Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays): North 6 to 7, swells to three metres.

Calm morning for now but wind expected to be a factor today plus some rain. A bit warmer today but expected to get chilly next week with rain and the snow line at times down to 600 metres.

Evening update (18.30): Not such a bay day as things turned out. A good deal of sun and a high of 15.3C.

Do Not Refill: Olive oil goes political

When the smoking ban was introduced at the start of 2011, there were warnings as to its dire consequences for bars and restaurants. Though various figures were subsequently produced which indicated a slump in revenues, the widely feared mass closure never materialised. But there was a further fear associated with the ban, which was the character of bars would change. If this character was a change from smoke-filled rooms, then it was a change very much for the better.

There is now a further challenge to this character looming into view. It is not of the same magnitude as the smoking ban, it is not a change that has been paid a great deal of attention, but it is one which, nevertheless, has bar and restaurant owners complaining once more. From the start of 2014, the way in which olive oil is dispensed is to alter.

It is common to find, even in the humblest of bars, an oil and vinegar set. The culinary tradition is to pour the oil and vinegar simultaneously onto a salad or pour only the oil onto whatever might take one's fancy. Oil will still be available, but not in the dispensers which are currently used. As of January, olive oil will only be served in capsules or in small, non-refillable bottles from between 250 and 750 millilitres. What this will mean in practice is that the current table-top dispenser, which is refilled, will disappear along with other more exotic oil dispensers, such as those which have spices in tall, thin-tipped bottles.

Restaurant and bar owners fear that this change, and it is one enshrined in national government law, will increase their costs, and there is a fear also therefore that the cost will be passed onto the customer. Indeed, it is hard to see how it won't be. The chances are that there will be a small addition to the bill, one to cover the cost of olive oil which, if it is there at present, is hidden.

Why is the government introducing this law? It all comes down to quality and to preserving the good name of Spanish olive oil. It might not be well appreciated just how easily olive oil can go off; unlike wine, which is meant to improve with age, the opposite applies to olive oil, as it will become rancid. Expose it to light (and dispensers are usually clear glass), to the air and to high temperatures, and it will deteriorate. In fact, olive oil deteriorates almost from the time it is pressed. It is similar in some respects to fruit juice. It is best used immediately, but it does of course undergo any number of processes, not least storage and transport. By the time it actually gets to a shop or a bar, it has already lost some of its quality. But further loss can be prevented by adopting measures which don't bring it into contact with environmental factors; hence, the government's law.

There is, though, a knock-on environmental issue associated with this change. What is going to happen with all the containers with half-used oil? Is there not actually going to be a great deal of wasted oil? Possibly, though the point is being made that a container does not have to be used for only one customer; it could, depending on volume, serve several. This, though, is likely to represent one of the biggest cultural shifts in how oil is consumed in restaurants at present. Customers aren't used to being offered another customer's leftovers.

But where customers might not have been that alert to the idea that the oil they were consuming was undergoing a process of deterioration, they will be more aware now, even if one non-refillable container is used. This is because the government will be telling them that it is deteriorating. Labels are apparently due to state that there is a "loss of integrity after a single use", which may be all very well in terms of consumer information but doesn't sound like a completely ringing endorsement of the very change it is effecting.

There again, most Spanish customers will be aware that oil deteriorates. They do, after all, buy huge amounts of oil for domestic consumption. Regardless of how many times the oil bottle might be opened and the oil therefore exposed to the air, the oil doesn't typically go rancid; it gets used up pretty quickly because it is so much of a staple of the Spanish diet, both the "suave" version and the higher-grade, more flavoursome, more health-giving extra virgin oil.

The government believes that this law will be helpful for exports - and Spain is the world's leader in olive-oil export - as tourists will be assured that what they are consuming in restaurants is of the very finest quality and be so impressed that exports will increase. Perhaps the government is right to believe this, but its argument sounds pretty weak.

Whatever the arguments for and against, by the end of February at the latest, all establishments will be expected to have used up any existing stock, and so will not able to use it after then. Two months before this, on 1 January, the new law will come in, and the nature of the serving of olive oil in bars and restaurants will change forever.

Photo from

Saturday, November 23, 2013

MALLORCA TODAY - Mallorca back to winning ways against Alavés

Real Mallorca 2 : 1 Alavés
Mallorca at home against Alavés, three points and four places below Mallorca with 18 points and in 15th position going into this match.
After an unremarkable first half, the game suddenly came to life, and it was Mallorca who provided it, Moreno and then Nsue scoring within ten minutes of the break. Mallorca then seemed to have the match firmly under control and, for the most part, they did, despite Borja Viguera popping up ten minutes before the end to pull one back for Alavés. A welcome win for Mallorca.

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 23 November 2013

No Frills Excursions

Morning high (8.00am): 8.5C
Forecast high: 14C
Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays): North 2 to 4 backing Northwest 4 by the afternoon. Swells of 2 to 3 metres.

Thunder and some rain. May be some sun later and becoming dry. The outlook remains really poor. This is an extended period of bad weather and it is extending right through the week.

Evening update (18.15): Following some quite heavy rain this morning, things brightened up somewhat, but chilly with a high of just 13.3C.

Is Sa Pobla Turning Japanese?

In September last year, the Japanese ambassador to Spain pitched up in Inca, where he declared that Mallorcan footwear was very popular in Japan, something that would have been welcome news to the leather and footwear industry with which Inca has long been associated. A few months before the ambassador's visit, a Japanese television production company had been in Inca. It had been making a programme about tourism possibilities offered by the town and by its footwear industry in particular. Featured heavily in this programme was the town's footwear museum, a building of some grandeur which unfortunately is not matched by what is inside it. A museum thrives on having lots of museum pieces. Inca's doesn't. Or didn't at any rate.

Inca town hall's tourism councillor (and yes, there is one) placed the Japanese programme within the wider context of attracting tourists all year round. Inca doesn't really have a great deal of tourism as such. It attracts plenty of them to its weekly market, and the leather shops are also an attraction, but the town is not a place to which tourists habitually hot foot it to in order to stay a week or so. It just isn't that sort of a place. It is an industrial town and, despite it having some interesting and attractive features, it is, if one is being perfectly honest, one of Mallorca's less appealing towns.

Hoping that Japanese tourists will suddenly discover Inca and flood into the town sounds a bit of a pipe dream. They might do were they already on the island, but Japanese tourism to Mallorca is far from being big business. It is very small business to the point of being almost non-existent. But such an obstacle should not deter a determined town from attempting to drum up something from the all but nothing. There are, after all, some potential Japanese cruise tourists who might fancy a swift trip up the motorway for an even swifter lavishing of credit cards.

And so, following in Inca's footsteps, comes Sa Pobla, a town which attracts hardly any tourists. Ever. Well, that's not strictly true of course. There are some who attend the jazz festival and some, those who have been let into the secret, who get frightened at Sant Antoni, but otherwise potato production is not a big draw for the tourist. Curiously enough, however, Sa Pobla is a place which is designated as a tourist zone, presumably because of its proximity to other places which genuinely are. This allows its shops to keep opening hours akin to those in, say, Alcúdia.

The local shopkeepers will, therefore, have been looking on with horror at the prospect of actually adopting tourist-zone opening hours as the Japanese consul general and mayor Biel Serra joined hands on a shovel and planted a cherry tree together. There is much in common between Sa Pobla and Japan said the mayor's advisors: rice, of which there is a lot in Albufera; eels, of which there are also many; cherries, of which there is an abundace. They missed one other: Biel himself, whose rigorous training regime has been turning him into a Sumo wrestler.

So there we are. The people of Sa Pobla had better get used to a year-round influx of happy-snappy Japanese sorts. Unless, that is, they have only got so far as Inca, emptied its footwear emporia and headed off back to the ship.

Photo from Talk of the North.

Friday, November 22, 2013

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 22 November 2013

No Frills Excursions

Morning high (7.45am): 13C
Forecast high: 14C
Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays): Northwest 6 to 7 veering and easing North 3 to 5 by the afternoon. Swells between two to three metres lessening.

Some thunder early in the morning, now it's mostly cloudy and damp, there having been some rain. Alerts for wind and poor coastal conditions. May well be sun later but not warm by any means. The weekend looks similar with the wet and cold weather continuing into next week.

Evening update (18.30): There was some sun but not before another load of rain and some thunder. A high 12.7C. 

From Abnormal To Normal: Spain's economy

Winter, rather than spring, is in the air, but the economic trees are bearing the first shoots of economic recovery. Come real spring and the economy will bloom into a magnificent display of vibrant greenness, its pollen wafted on the breezes to regenerate the barren lands of the past five years. Life will return. Everything will be as it once was. Everything will be normal again.

The Spanish economy is showing signs. They may only be small signs but they are signs nonetheless. Imports grew in September by 4.7%, so suggesting an improvement in domestic demand. Exports, which have been reasonably buoyant anyway, were up by 8.3%. The OECD, taking note of this performance, has issued a more positive forecast for Spain: growth of 0.5% in 2014 rather than 0.4%. Hallelujah. Unemployment is expected to have fallen to 26.4% (as a whole-year figure) rather than be 27.3%. It should fall a further percentage point in 2014. More hallelujahs.

Before we get carried away, however, the OECD, and it is not alone, has identified factors which will continue to pull the economy back, namely the requirement for fiscal consolidation (otherwise known as increased taxes) and a lack of credit. With Spain expected to fail to meet its budget-deficit targets this year and over the next two, then the Rajoy government still needs to find some pretty hefty savings, though how far it dare go with public-sector restructuring, which would certainly help in this respect, is open to question, especially with the elections looming in late 2015.

Those elections are beginning to look even more important than they might normally be. The Partido Popular maintains a lead in opinion polls but that lead (in one poll) is down to three points over PSOE. As things stand, an election could throw up all manner of confusion and potential chaos from the cobbling-together of coalitions, amidst which would be the Catalonia question. Assuming the Catalans haven't by then succeeded in finding a way of seceding from Spain, both of the major parties would be deeply reluctant to admit the Catalonian CiU into any coalition, which also assumes that the CiU doesn't lose further ground to the left.

The Rajoy government will talk up the weak signs of recovery for all they are worth, because in truth they will be all it has to talk up. The hope that IVA and/or income tax might be reduced ahead of the election looks to be as much of a pipe dream as it has been ever since taxes started rising. The pressures for there to be fiscal consolidation (and more of it) and for there to be greater inroads into the budget deficit simply do not permit a reversal in tax policy. Rajoy could badly do with being able to make such a reversal. His political future might be said to depend on it, as it would be the one thing that might convince the electorate.

Other things will not. Very weak growth won't and nor will very moderate falls in unemployment. It should be remembered that pre-crisis the unemployment rate was between 8 to 9%. Such a figure is not going to be attained any time soon. In fact, the bigger question is whether it might ever be attained.

For the foreseeable future, it is impossible to see the construction industry helping out with employment and its own percentage of the employed being brought back to the 14% level that it was at pre-crisis. While there are so many hundreds of thousands of unsold properties and there is so little credit, the property market is going nowhere and so nor is the supply of jobs for house-building. Governments can't help with construction either, as they once did with such profligacy. What about Spain's green economy? That also can't help either. It has been an unmitigated disaster. What about the new "knowledge" economy? What about it, when educational levels are as low as they are in Spain as a whole? What about the public sector? Not a chance. There have to be more cuts to tackle the deficit, though making them in areas of the country where government is the biggest employer will be very difficult, so talk of local and/or regional government reforms - true, tough reforms - are very unlikely.

At the top of this article, I imagined everything being normal again. But what is normal? Increasingly, distinguished economists are arguing that normality will be much like we have at the present. Things may improve by small amounts but not great amounts unless massive bubbles, such as those in housing markets, are manufactured and permit some move towards greater employment. The point is that, even before crisis and before the bubble burst, the employment rate was only reasonable not outstanding, and remember that this was a bubble blown by out-of-control bank lending, especially that by the crony-filled regional savings banks.

I myself have said before that there should be a realisation that possibly things will be never be "normal" in the way they once were, and so demand will remain that much lower than was the case. Perhaps, pre-crisis, things were in fact "abnormal". If so, it is about time that governments, not least the Spanish Government, appreciate this.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 21 November 2013

No Frills Excursions

Morning high (8.00am): 12.5C
Forecast high: 17C
Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays): West 5 to 6 locally 7.

A better morning in that it isn't raining and there is some sun. Should be more sun today though the wind will still be a factor and rain may return by the evening.

Evening update (18.45): Quite sunny for much of the day, some heavy clouds coming in later on but staying dry. A high of 16.3C. 

Quality Of Official Tourist Websites: Or not

There are times when I come across some article or other and my eyes light up. Oh please, let it be. Unfortunately, it wasn't. The article was about research undertaken at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra into the quality of websites run by tourist destinations. The headline promised me everything I needed to confirm my suspicions: "Tourist destinations' official portals lacking in interactivity". Going to a
PDF of a resumé of a further article published in Spanish by the journal "Tourism Management Perspectives", I was disappointed to not find the Balearics to be one of the destinations that had been researched. Never mind, though. The good professors at the university are planning to do some further research into the webs of all the seventeen autonomous communities. Can't wait. So much so that I had to go and remind myself of the official portal for the Balearics is. More on that in a bit.

To sum up the research, it found that the websites were ok (though the professors are not effusive) when it came to basic usability but they weren't ok when it came to allowing interactivity with users or with offering persuasion, which can include reservation systems but also lots of nice photos, text and what have you. The destinations, and there were ten of them, included websites for Andalusia and Catalonia and for cities in Spain - Barcelona, Madrid and Santiago de Compostela - as well as overseas, e.g. Wales.

A quick look on the Spanish sites was all that was needed for me to know just how poor the website for the Balearics is. The researchers were moderately impressed with some of what they found but when they come to doing their study into the websites of all the autonomous communities, they are going to be very unimpressed by The Andalusia portal, for example, is not too bad. Its home page is fairly engaging (helped by Andalusia having a funky, multi-coloured logo) but that's about as far as it goes. A facility to "Book your trip"? Sorry, but you can't.

But doesn't even have the saving grace of having an engaging home page, unless you count the rolling images for "much more than meetings", "much more than sailing", "much more than cycle tourism" etc. (I hadn't thought they were still banging on with this slogan, but clearly they are). It's when you get into the nitty-gritty of what's on this website that you really understand just how embarrassing it is. On the right-hand menu, for instance, is a banner to click for World Tourism Day. Which is when? Not is, was. 27 September. A further banner for "Estaciones Náuticas" gets you to ... "your request cannot be processed". I know the Estaciones Náuticas concept is useless but I do also know it's not so useless that there isn't a website. 

What about "Activities November"? This looks rather more promising. Up comes a calendar for the month full of different things to do. Except when you look closely, it isn't full of different things to do. For example, the Pollensa fair was mentioned but the Muro fair (same weekend) wasn't. Sa Pobla's fair (this weekend) is also not mentioned. And indeed several other fairs on the island are not mentioned. Hey ho. But at least somebody has been going on and updating the site. Or have they?

Under "Don't Miss It ..." with the current date on the same line, there's a little picture for the Oktoberfest in Santa Ponsa. October, November; I think you can figure out the problem. But had you not missed it back in October, what sort of "further information" would you have got? Where was it being held? Well, not in Santa Ponsa apparently. It was in Peguera, which is where it used to be held.

Then there is the main menu on the left-hand side. "Accommodations" (sic)? There's no direct booking, just links to other websites. "Activities"? What have we got here? It asks what you are looking for. I opt for "sports" in the whole of Mallorca between 30 November and 13 December. Result? There are none. Things do improve, it must be said. Information such as that for "tourism and culture" isn't so bad. But the overall impact of the website is anything but good. It's outdated, which might partly be explained by the fact that it is still down as being copyright of IBATUR, the tourism agency which was done away with three years ago.

There certainly is no interactivity, but then you wouldn't expect this from a Balearics Tourism Agency that can't even get its act together to create a Facebook page. And accordingly, there are no icons for Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or any other social media. I can only believe and hope that the website is being re-done: completely and totally overhauled.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 20 November 2013

No Frills Excursions

Morning high (8.00am): 12C
Forecast high: 14C
Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays): Northeast 3 to 5 backing Northwest and West by the afternoon. Swells to three metres easing later.

Rain, rain, rain. Utterly miserable. The snow line may be as low as 600 metres today. Some possible sign of the sun during the day, but this is small comfort. The general outlook remains poor.

Evening update (17.45): Some sun in the afternoon but that's about all that can be said for the day. A high of only 11.5C.

Doctor Quién?: A Spanish Time Lord

Saturday, 23 November, 1963 is a date of great significance in British television broadcasting history. The first episode of Doctor Who was aired. The day before had been altogether more momentous. Kennedy was shot. My eight-year-old logic told me that the shooting in Dallas would mean world war. It was one of the first times a major news event had truly come into my consciousness, and I was frightened. In theory, Doctor Who, broadcast some 24 hours later, should have made me more frightened. I don't recall that it ever did. The Daleks were never scary; even an eight-year-old could figure them out.

The fiftieth anniversary of Doctor Who, you might be surprised to learn, has been generating a degree of interest in Spain. The newspaper "El País", for example, has been devoting space to the anniversary and has issued fifty tweets with links to various episodes featuring the different Doctors. It does, though, have to do a bit of explaining. In one article it says that "Doctor Who es un viajero en el tiempo". This begs a question, therefore, as to how well known Doctor Who is in Spain. An answer, according to one commentator in the paper, is not very well. Though Doctor Who has been highly popular in many countries, in Spain it does not seem to have provoked "una gran repercusión".

This isn't that surprising. Though the first Peter Cushing film - "Doctor Who y los Daleks" - was released in Spain in 1967, it wasn't until 1988 that the television programme was broadcast and only shown between 1988 and 1991 on four regional channels in Galicia, Catalonia, Andalusia and Madrid. The episodes were all from the Tom Baker years.

News of the first broadcasts in Catalonia received coverage in the newspaper "ABC". "Doctor Who is a curious person belonging to a superior race of time lords. The Doctor travels across time on board the "Tradis", a spaceship in the form of an English telephone cabin." Well, maybe "Tradis" was a typo, while going into detail as to the exact nature of the telephone cabin was probably unnecessary. The article went on to explain that the fourth Doctor, Tom Baker, had set out to make his interpretation of the Doctor one that was a parody of Harpo Marx. Baker was always the best Doctor, in my opinion, and he invented a manic Doctor, but Harpo Marx? Maybe it was. The comparison has also been made by a Doctor Who historian, but I confess it never occurred to me.

Doctor Who's popularity worldwide was such that by the time the first episodes were bought by Spain, the series had been sold to some 60 countries. Many years before those first Spanish episodes, it had been bought by three Spanish-speaking countries - Venezuela, Mexico and Chile - at the back end of the 1960s. It seems a bit odd that it should have taken so long for sales to be made in Spain, though maybe not. France and Germany only started buying in 1989. Nevertheless, the Doctor was well known in many parts of Central and South America by the time that Spain got in on the act, and in Spanish parts of the American continent he was typically known not as Doctor Who but Dr. Misterio. He was never, by the way, Doctor Quién.

Otherwise, names tended not to be changed. The Daleks were "los Daleks", Morbius was "Morbius", but the Cybermen posed a slight difficulty. They became "los Hombres Ciberneticos".

The mounting excitement ahead of the anniversary is because of the special with Matt Smith and David Tennant that is to be broadcast on Saturday, and there is no lack of excitement among Spanish aficionados. "The Day of the Doctor" is to be broadcast simultaneously in several countries, but it won't be in Spain. It will also be shown in 3D in cinemas in different countries, and it seems that pressure from bloggers and fans has meant that the Cinesa cinema chain will show it, but only on a limited basis. It will be shown on the Spanish Syfy satellite channel some time in February, by which time any real fanatic will doubtless have found some way of seeing it. The best advice is probably to find some nice local Brits who have the BBC and go watch it round their place.

So, the fiftieth anniversary is likely to be somewhat muted in Spain. Whether Doctor Who represents anything more than an obsession among a very small band of fans in Spain is hard to say; a Facebook page for Doctor Who España only has some 900 likes. Still, parts of the Spanish press think it's a significant anniversary, and indeed it is.

* I acknowledge the wiki website for information here.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 19 November 2013

No Frills Excursions

Morning high (8.30am): 14.5C
Forecast high: 18C
Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays): Northwest and North 7 to 8 easing North 4 to 5 by the afternoon. Very rough, rain and possible storm.

Truly awful. Wind had got up during the night, it has eased a bit now, but the rain is pretty much constant and will be through the day.

Evening update (18.15): Horrible day. Nothing good to say about it. A high of 15.4C.

I Need A Slogan Change

When the "I Need Spain" slogan was launched at the start of 2010, I asked certain questions. Why does one need Spain? Was it some form of competition for which you had to add the missing words? I Need Spain like I need an enormous budget deficit, that sort of thing. Shouldn't the slogan be in a different order? Spain needs you, and at the time it most definitely did. As things turned out, I wasn't the only commentator to have considered that the slogan should have been Spain needs you. The reversal of the slogan's word order became something of a trade joke. 

Nearly four years on from the slogan's launch there is discussion of changing "I Need Spain". It is questionable whether four years is too short or too long a period for a slogan to be current, but the length of time isn't the issue. If the slogan has failed to do what it should do, then extending its lifetime isn't going to make it any better. In addition, four years in the travel and tourism industry is a long time. Markets change, products are launched; tourism is an industry in which it is necessary to stay one step ahead and to constantly be looking to the future.

Has "I Need Spain" failed to do what it should do? It's an almost impossible question to answer. While tourism has risen, to attribute this to the slogan would be ludicrous. Tourism has risen in part because of events in other countries. How much of it is even down to marketing (and not the slogan alone) by the national tourism institute Turespaña is anyone's guess.

"I Need Spain", as slogans for countries go, isn't by any means the worst. Very often they are no more than one-word slogans. Adjectives. It's hard to believe that there are in fact sufficient adjectives to enable all countries to indulge in this one-word sloganising, unless they borrow from other countries the lazy adoption of "inspiring", "incredible" or "magical". Indeed, "I Need Spain" was a vast improvement on what Spain had for two years between 2003 and 2005. Who can forget the slogan "Spain marks"? No, sorry, who can remember it? And what on earth did it mean?

Is it in fact essential that there is a slogan? If they're not much good and so are not memorable and do not convey a degree of emotion that would make the punter recognise the slogan and remember it, then it's probably as well not bothering. But the slogan is tourism marketing de rigueur; there has to be one, even if it doesn't really say anything.

In the marketing world there is a debate as to what constitutes a good slogan. One side says that it should be short, the other side says that it should be long (and by long, one means no more than ten or a dozen words). For tourism, though, there is a problem with longer slogans. One is getting the slogan onto banners at travel fairs (and I'm serious, this is an issue), another is how well it might translate. Though "I Need Spain" has been globally in English, it is reasonably understandable to many nationalities. Create a longer slogan, and it might not be.

Nike is a brand that has opted for the short slogan and used it hugely effectively. "Just do it" is not only simple, it is also strong and has an emotional element - one which says don't sit around thinking about it, get on and do it. It is a global slogan, even if it might not be readily meaningful in many countries, but its power as a global slogan lies with its role within the Nike approach to marketing as a whole. It is easier for a large business with deep pockets and with a focused set of products to brand itself effectively than it is for a country. And Spain as a country is a diverse set of products. One slogan that is representative of the whole country is a huge challenge.

"I Need Spain" isn't actually a bad slogan. The use of "need" is quite powerful. The problem with it has arisen because it has been so easy to take the mickey out of. But I'm not sure that it conveys anything and I'm certainly not sure that it has become particularly recognisable, except to those close to the tourism industry. For any slogan, short or long, to work it has to stick in the mind and to mean something, which is why "Just do it" is so good.

The slogan may be changed or it may not be, but there is a separate issue about slogans, one that tackles Spain's great diversity. Its individual parts, like Mallorca, could do with ones of their own, but given the track record with tourism marketing in Mallorca, I dread to think what someone might dream up. And more to the point, they would dream a slogan up and believe that it is the focus of the marketing effort. That it most certainly isn't.

Monday, November 18, 2013

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 18 November 2013

No Frills Excursions

Morning high (8.30am): 13C
Forecast high: 17C
Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays): West 4 to 5, occasionally Southwest 3 during the morning.

Another grey day. More rain due and no sign of any significant improvement; indeed, worsening as it gets colder later in the week.

Evening update (18.30): Mostly dry and some sun. A high of 17.1C. Tomorrow looks like kitchen-sink time again with alerts for wind, rain and poor coastal conditions.

Catalan Or Mallorquín: A dichotomy

Miquel Àngel Pradilla is a professor of sociolinguistics at the Universitat Rovira i Virgili, which has five centres, one of them in Tarragona in Catalonia. He is the co-ordinator of the sixth study for the Observatorio de la Lengua into the speaking, writing and understanding of Catalan in the different regions where it is spoken. The latest report, using data for 2012, says that the number of people who speak Catalan has topped the ten million mark for the first time. Catalonia registers the lowest number of people who don't know Catalan - 14.8% of the population - while in the Balearics, the percentage who don't know Catalan is virtually double, 28.5%. Taking all Catalan speakers together, the Catalan language is at sixteenth position among the languages of Europe in terms of the number of people who speak it, and the population of the different Catalan-speaking regions is 13.6 million.

Pradilla believes that a key reason for the rise in the number of Catalan speakers is education, i.e. the fact that Catalan is used as a teaching language. He is probably right to believe this, and the fact that Catalan-speakers, thanks to teaching, are increasing in their number may help to explain moves taken by national and regional governments to stop it increasing any more; we are talking, naturally enough, about the new national education bill and trilingual teaching in the Balearics.

But whenever there is discussion of or reports into Catalan-speaking, a question arises. What sort of Catalan is being referred to and what brand of Catalan is actually being spoken? And then there's a further question. Why, in a Catalan-speaking region such as the Balearics, is there a president of the regional government who seems so determined to want to do Catalan down?

The two questions tie in with each other and the answer to both, without wishing to sound daft, is Catalan, while a different answer could just as appropriately be Catalonia, and Barcelona in particular. To understand the politics of language in Mallorca and the Balearics and to understand the politics that run through the trilingual teaching law, one has to understand that, yes, there is an attack by the regional government on Catalan but it is an attack founded as much on antipathy towards Barcelona and Catalonia as it is an attack on the language per se.

Bauzá comes at the issue of language from a perspective moulded by a nationalist ideology. This is not nationalism as in Mallorca nationalism, one that would want greater autonomy, but nationalism as in Spanish nationalism; Spain as one state. The notion of a separate Catalonia or even a collection of "Catalan Lands" is anathema to such nationalism. It is a fear that somehow Catalonia and Barcelona might come to rule over the Balearics as part of a separate group of Catalan Lands that goes to the heart of the politics.

But this is a fear which is all but irrational. As repeated surveys of what people in the Balearics identify with show, an identity with the Catalan Lands barely even registers. There is absolutely no popular desire for the Balearics to become a part of such a group and there is little or no chance that such a group would ever come into existence. There are organisations in the Balearics, such as the OCB (Obra Cultural Balear), which might one day wish there to be a Catalan Lands, and there are political parties to the left who hold a similar view, but as far as the man in the street is concerned, the idea of the Catalan Lands is dead in the water. Indeed, if you speak to many Mallorcans, their attitude towards Barcelona and Catalonia is the same as Bauzá's. They don't want anything to do with Barcelona, except with the football team, and many of them insist that they don't speak Catalan but Mallorquín, which is probably because they do.

Bauzá has been consistent in advocating the use of the islands' Catalan dialects as well as Castellano. For his opponents, however, this is red rag. There are small, minority parties in Spain, very much to the right of the Partido Popular and to Bauzá, who advocate the same thing. These are the ultra-nationalists, ones who can't stand Catalonia and everything it represents, including Catalan. Bauzá, where some of his opponents are concerned, is bundled in with the far-right nutters; an association which is far from accurate.

Now, however, the regional government appears to be taking its attack on Catalan further and shifting the language argument towards the use of the islands' dialects. The Institute of Balearics Studies is preparing a book which pushes to one side certain Catalan usage and replaces it with Mallorquín usage. This book, so it is being said, wouldn't just be a set of recommendations for how to use Mallorquín but also become a manual for official use - by public-sector employees and ultimately by schools.

The government seems to think the time is right to make this shift in the language argument, and it may not be wrong to think this. If Mallorcans say they speak Mallorquín, why should they object? But many Mallorcan parents have sided with the teachers over trilingual teaching and the attack not on Mallorquín but Catalan.

There is a seemingly eternal dichotomy in local society about its Catalan heritage and its current-day language and politics, and it is a dichotomy that might be about to get even more difficult to reconcile.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

MALLORCA TODAY - Geromel red adds to Mallorca woe against Depor

Deportivo La Coruña 3 : 1 Real Mallorca
Last season this would have been a bottom-of-the table clash in La Liga. Mallorca might have hoped this would be a top-of-the-table clash in the second division, but while Depor are riding high, Mallorca are in mid table, and that's where they are going to stay. Luisinho put Depor ahead after 23 minutes but then calamity for Mallorca, Geromel being sent off four minutes later for a second bookable offence and Luis making it 2-0 shortly afterwards. Never say die, and Victor headed home just after the break to cut the lead, only for Marchena to restore it on 56 minutes. Substitute Nuñez hit a post for Depor, and other than picking up a couple more yellows, Mallorca had no response.

MALLORCA TODAY - Pollensa passes a range of anti-social measures

Pollensa town hall has approved a range of measures designed to maintain public safety and well-being. These include fines for begging or activities which amount to begging, the playing of games for money, spontaneous sports contests in public areas and for offering massage.

See more: Diario de Mallorca

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 17 November 2013

No Frills Excursions

Morning high (8.30am): 9C
Forecast high: 18C
Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays): South 2 to 3 occasionally Northeast, increasing West 4 to 5 by the evening. Rain and possible storm.

Calm enough morning. Quite grey. Unlikely to be much by way of sun as cloud and rain persist. The outlook for the whole week is for the same and becoming colder.

Evening update (20.00): A thoroughly dismal day. Rain and loads of it. A high of 12.6C.

Bad Thursdays: Mallorca's November weather

The largest fair to be held in Mallorca is Inca's Dijous Bo. It is always held on the same Thursday (dijous) in November, one that falls more or less in the middle of the month. "Bo" means good. Almost inevitably though, the weather for Dijous Bo is less than good. It always appear to be grey when it takes place, and sometimes the weather is worse.

In 2001, Dijous Bo, which should have been held on 15 November, was cancelled. Some indoor events went ahead but the outdoor events - most of the fair therefore - were impossible. On the front cover of the "Majorca Daily Bulletin" for that day, there was a headline which simply said: "Freezing". The island was on emergency footing after a forecast for freak weather had been issued. The emergency meant no Dijous Bo. It was a bad Thursday, and a photo of heavy snow in the mountains the day before showed just how bad things were.

In the paper for that day before, a report said that wind, rain and snow were to return. The report was accurate. On the same page as this report was a headline which read: "Balearics ask Madrid to declare the region a disaster zone". And yet, the freezing weather hadn't yet caused the havoc that it was going to on that Wednesday. So why would the Balearics have been looking for the region to have been declared a disaster zone?

That was because of what had happened a few days before. On the Sunday (11 November), the headline informed us that the Balearics had been battered by biting winds and torrential rain. There was more to come on that Sunday. Mallorca was living through what has gone down in the island's weather legend as the big storm or the hurricane of 2001. Snow, high winds, flooding, trees uprooted, roofs torn off, roads impassable and subsequently in need of repair, two people dead. And when it looked as though the worst of the weather was over, on the Wednesday came the freezing conditions and even more snow.

If you read through the report on Sunday, 11 November, you will note that it says: "hard to believe that this time last week people were on the beaches and even in the sea". It is a report which will sound very familiar. Mallorca hasn't been battered by quite the same weather as it was in November 2001, but in November 2013, the sudden transformation from summer conditions to dreadful conditions has been similar to what happened in 2001. Dijous Bo, for which the weather this year was rainy, went ahead without any problem. Had it been a day later, things might have been different. The rain was torrential, while in the mountains, where the temperatures are lower, the snow fell.

One of the more remarkable aspects about the bad weather that Mallorca has just been suffering is the amount of surprise that has been expressed. It does perhaps show the power of social media that photos of snow in the mountains have been met with incredulity and even suggestions that the photos were fake. Those who are unfamiliar with Mallorca's weather probably would find the photos hard to comprehend. But were they to consult weather records, they would comprehend an awful lot more.

The rainfall data for the Albufera weather station gives you an idea. These data are from 1987 to the current time. The average rainfall in November makes it the second wettest month of the year. October is wetter, but its slightly higher average is skewed by what occurred in 1990 - the great flood. Nearly 400mm of rain fell in October 1990. The second wettest (1994) registered 277mm, also in October.

When the records for this November are totted up, it may well prove to have been the wettest November since 1987. It will therefore top 2011 and 2012, which are in positions one and two in terms of rainfall, and in both years, when colder weather pushed in as well, in the mountains there was snow in November.

The exceptionally warm weather of more than a week ago created something of a false impression. With highs nudging the 30 degrees mark, these were far from normal. In the past few years, from 2005, the highest temperatures had been in 2009 and 2006 (26 degrees), and, astonishingly enough, in 2006 this was on 25 November. A year later, on 18 November 2007, there was a record low of 1.5C.

All this goes to show, as if of course we needed any reminding, that weather is unpredictable, and November in Mallorca can be very unpredictable. The high temperatures earlier in the month had many clutching at a winter-sun-tourism straw only to find that a few days later, the straw was buried under snow or had been washed away by a deluge of quite biblical proportions. It is this unpredictability which is at the heart of why the season ends when it does end. We should all admit that this is why it ends when it does end, and if we can't admit this, then we should take a look at the weather data, and if we still need some more convincing we should look at those reports from 2001.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 16 November 2013

No Frills Excursions

Morning high (8.00am): 16C
Forecast high: 16C
Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays): Southeast 4 to 5 easing and veering South 3 by the evening.

The heavy rain continued into the early morning. There have been up to 65mm in parts. The morning is quite bright, though the forecast is for more rain and possibly heavy rain, continuing into tomorrow and next week.

Evening update (18.45): Well, a pretty dismal day. Nothing like yesterday. Some rain but chilly and mainly grey. A high of 16.1C but also lows at times in the 12-13C range.

The 2015 Regional Election Has Just Begun

Let joy be confined. José Ramón Bauzá has announced that he will run for president of the Balearics again in 2015; Aina Calvo has announced that she will seek the presidential candidacy for PSOE in the Balearics. Neither announcement is much of a surprise, and neither will have the electorate salivating at the prospect.

Both Bauzá and Calvo would have to go through the hurdles of being selected by their respective parties, and of the two, Bauzá has probably got the clearest run. He has caused some surprise in making his announcement when he has, but it certainly wasn't unexpected. Indeed, the timing may have been determined by the fact that he has been off on a jolly to California with the Crown Prince, thus demonstrating how presidential he is; a Mallorca president on the world stage, even if the stage is only tiny.

True to form, the announcement made and the support has been voiced. But how genuine is the support? And indeed, might Bauzá's ambitions yet be scuppered if the courts find that his business interests made his position incompatible? This uncertainty will probably be removed. One says probably, but one can never be sure. Nevertheless, it would come as a surprise if the courts ruled that he would have to stand down.

Setting this to one side, what about the support from the Partido Popular rank and file? The last time there was a party congress and a vote for leader, Bauzá scooped up 94.5% of the vote, the sort of percentage normally reserved for dear and glorious leaders in parts of the world with a warped notion of electoral democracy and fairness. There again, as there was no one standing against him, there was little point in the rank and file voting en masse in favour of A.B. Stencion, and this was a vote only a year into Bauzá's presidency. Things have changed a bit since then.

The president of the PP in the Balearics (a different position to that of president of the regional government) has reminded the world of Bauzá's achievement in gaining a 94.5% vote in 2012, but what does this president, Jeroni Salom, really think, do you suppose, because at the end of September it was clear that he didn't think a great deal of Bauzá and the regional government's handling of the crisis in the islands' education system.

Ahead of the Palma demonstration against the government's introduction of TIL trilingual teaching, Salom admitted that many who would be demonstrating had good reason to do so. He agreed that it was lamentable that Bauzá was apparently closeted away in a bunker and wasn't fronting up over the whole TIL mess. He believed that Bauzá and the government had made a strategic error where TIL was concerned. It was hardly a statement of overwhelming support.

Salom knows, as do many in the PP, that TIL and the government's whole line on Catalan is what could cause them immense damage at the next election. The party might hope that it will all have been forgotten by then, but that is very doubtful. Schisms have appeared in Mallorcan society in general and within the PP. Bauzá has even been seen as something of a liability. Yet, the ability for parts of the party to act with self-interest should not be underestimated. A meeting of PP mayors gave Bauzá its support over TIL, but certain mayors now find themselves threatened for taking a line not endorsed by town halls. Biel Serra in Sa Pobla, who didn't attend the meeting and so therefore didn't vote against, is one. He faces a motion of censure.

Whether anyone will emerge to challenge Bauzá remains to be seen. It is hard to see who this challenger might be. There are no obvious candidates, except perhaps the other Salom, Maria, the current president of the Council of Mallorca. Meantime, for PSOE there will probably be no shortage of likely lads and lasses who fancy having a pop at being president. Francina Armengol, a former president of the Council of Mallorca, would appear to be in pole position, and she may end up in an all-female head to head with Aina Calvo, the former mayor of Palma who was given a drubbing at the last election. Both of them are losers in the past, and for PSOE in the Balearics its biggest challenge lies not so much with who leads it as making itself relevant, as it has spent the past two years or more looking anything but relevant.

The painful truth for both the PP and PSOE is that they are riven by factions. The PP is trying hard not to admit that it is, but Salom's attack on Bauzá at the end of September highlighted this division. The elections may be some eighteen months away but the intervening months are going to be about other elections: those for leaders. The hustings are open.

Friday, November 15, 2013

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 15 November 2013

No Frills Excursions

Morning high (8.15am): 10C
Forecast high: 16C
Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays): North 6 to 7 easing and veering Northeast 4 to 5 by the afternoon.

Rain and wind. In a word, awful. Staying awful for the foreseeable future.

Evening update (17.45): Terrible day. Snow in the mountains, rain at sea level and plenty of it. A high of 12.7C and a daytime low of 7.5C.

The Day Of The Millennial: Future tourism

Baby boomers, Generation X, now Millennials, marketing and social researchers love to categorise generations. They have certain attitudes, aspirations, lifestyles and values (both moral and financial). They become niches but in fact giant niches of global proportions, entire movements in terms of how they think and behave.

David Burstein is 24. He is the author of "Fast Future: How the Millennial Generation is Shaping Our World". Note his age. He is a Millennial. He is part of a generation which is giving a completely new meaning to the club of 18-30. The Millennials.

Mark Zuckerberg, a co-founder of Facebook, was born in 1984. He is at the upper-age limit, therefore, of the Millennial generation, and he, along with some who aren't Millennials, e.g. those who founded Twitter, has been a major influence in shaping the Millennial generation and so in shaping "our world". The Millennials are taking over. They will take over. They will be the most important generation, more so than the baby boomers. Millennial thinking will change the world forever.

Burstein, in a presentation for TEDxNYU (Technology, Entertainment, Design at New York University), compared the arrival of the Millennial generation and the primarily technological elements that are influencing it with the breakthrough at the start of the last century, one that saw the development of the automobile, the airplane and the harnessing of electricity help to bring about a greater democratisation of society and cultural change. The Millennial generation represents a time of fundamental shift, similar to that at the start of the last century, not just in terms of the use of technology and the pace of technological change but also in terms of what Burstein calls "social software"; how people interact and how this shift is affecting businesses and political systems as well as society. 

Certain characteristics of the Millennials are well understood. It is the generation which has totally embraced web and mobile technologies. It is totally connected online and through the smartphone. It shares, it apps, it is driven by technologies and innovations, such as that which Mark Zuckerberg unleashed on the world. But as with any generation, its characteristics are only really understood if practicalities are understood, and one of these is the impact on tourism.

It almost goes without saying that technology is important to the Millennial tourist. For this reason, and as part of what is now an ongoing debate within the Mallorcan and Spanish tourism industry, offers such as free wifi become essential and no longer a nice little extra. Both before and during their travels, Millennials make extensive use of social media. It is what his or her peer group says and posts and recommends which influences and guides his or her decisions. No player in the tourist industry can any longer afford to ignore social media, but unfortunately many still do or pay it too little attention.

Burstein has offered various thoughts as to how the Millennial tourist behaves. He or she looks to travel for the experience. He or she isn't necessarily attracted by ostentatious luxury. He or she customises the holiday, thus making the package less relevant. And to Burstein's thoughts can be added those from consultants (BCG - Boston Consulting Group) who say that the Millennial tends to book travel on a more last-minute basis than other generations and that, in five to ten years time, the Millennial will have become the dominant demographic in terms of travel spending.

This is all of course a tremendous generalisation, and there is one ingredient which appears to be missing: what happens when the Millennials start having families, and how will this affect their travel and holidaying behaviour? But I'm not inclined to dismiss Burstein's or BCG's ideas. Quite the contrary. As a student of Mallorca's tourism history, I can see a parallel with what Burstein says of the quantum leap at the start of the last century with what happened to Mallorca's tourism. It started, in that a framework was established to exploit and to understand what at that time was not understandable and highly uncertain. It took a long time for potential to be realised but Mallorca, in 1905, was right at the forefront of looking to the future.

If there is indeed to be a fundamental shift, then it is advisable that everyone gets their heads around what it might mean. Seeing the future, especially one that will develop as rapidly as it will because of technological advances, is far from easy. But, as with my vision of the Mallorcan "super all-inclusive", connected by technology which branches out of the current confines of a hotel complex and forms a mini-resort in its own right, it is time for there to be a serious debate as to the shape of Mallorca's tourism over the next twenty years.