Sunday, May 31, 2015

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 31 May 2015


Morning high (7.00am): 17.5C
Forecast high: 27C; UV: 7
Three-day forecast: 1 June - Sun, 27C; 2 June - Sun, 26C; 3 June - Sun, 25C.

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): South 2 to 3 backing East during the morning.

A bit cloudy first up, but sun dominating later. The week's forecast - sun all the way with temperatures in the mid to upper 20s.

Evening update (20.00): Not bad. A high of 28.1C.

No Frills Excursions

Discovering Prehistoric Mallorca

There is no precise time placed on the first permanent settlements on Mallorca. The Talaiotic culture which arose from around the end of the second millennium BC is, wrongly, sometimes taken as marking the origins of permanent inhabitation, but understanding how permanent the population was prior to this is open to debate. Mallorca was certainly an island where there was short-term occupation from the time when the Mesolithic period (in the western Mediterranean) was crossing over into the Neolithic, otherwise known as the New Stone Age, or, if you prefer, at a time roughly a thousand years before the start of the Copper Age. This would place the first inhabitation of the island at around the sixth millennium BC.

There are different theories about the Talaiotic culture and its emergence, but there is little doubt that there was a settled population which was to develop the Talaiotic culture, the evidence of which is to be found all over Mallorca, as with the talaiot stone structures of, for example, Ses Païsses in Artà. When this pre-Talaiotic settlement began is the mystery, as the archaeological evidence of earlier settlement is - so to speak - thin on the ground.

It is reckoned that the earliest construction on Mallorca is the dolmen burial chamber of Son Bauló in Can Picafort. It was unearthed in 1961 and then given a proper examination in 1964. The remains of five individuals were found along with items of stone, flint and pottery as well as a hammer. The dolmen isn't Talaiotic. It comes from a time before. Researchers say it was constructed around 1700BC, so in the earlier part of the second millennium BC, a few centuries before the Talaiotic culture is calculated to have genuinely started.

The dolmen remained the most important find in terms of antiquity until another dolmen was found in 1995. One says found, but the remarkable thing about this other dolmen was that it was known about but had not been publicised. The story goes, and it is a true one, that in 1995 there was concern for the future preservation of the Son Bauló dolmen. This was because the Can Picafort industrial estate was being built right next to it. The press latched onto this and, lo and behold, someone stepped forward to say that he knew of the existence of another dolmen. This someone was a geologist named Lluís Moragues. He contacted a journalist who had been writing about the Son Bauló dolmen. They met, they went to the site and bingo, there it was - just like the structure in Son Bauló. Its location was in woods close to the Cala des Camps east of Colonia Sant Pere, i.e. in Artà. The place is known as S'Aigo Dolça (meaning fresh water).

Moragues had known about the dolmen because an archaeologist had sought permission to undertake excavation work at the site. Photographs of this site had been sent to the regional government along with an explanation that a potentially important archaeological discovery might be made. It wasn't certain that this would involve finding a dolmen, but the permission to dig was ignored: officialdom was not interested. So Moragues took a further look anyway, and he held the secret of the S'Aigo Dolça dolmen until he shared it in 1995.

It seems extraordinary that the government's culture ministry should have displayed such indifference to what turned out to be a discovery comparable to Son Baulo and so evidence of the first concrete (not that concrete was involved) sign of early Majorcan civilisation. With such a big thing now being made of the island's cultural heritage and its significance for tourism, it seems doubly extraordinary.

A point about the two dolmen, which are separated by a distance of roughly ten kilometres, is their location on the north-eastern coast. In Menorca there are various examples of dolmen, which raises a question. Had the first genuine settlers on Mallorca crossed from Menorca? Maybe, though as arguably the best example of a dolmen is in Formentera, then perhaps not. The truth is that no one knows when the first permanent settlers arrived. But the fact that the two dolmen are close by and are so also near to the large and unique necropolis of Son Real in Can Picafort (which came later, as it is Talaiotic) might suggest that this north-eastern part of Mallorca was the main centre of population for several centuries.

But, as I say, there is evidence of the Talaiotic culture all over Mallorca, and officialdom is now much more aware of the importance of this prehistory than it might once have been. This weekend, as an example, they've been staging an "Ancient Mediterranean Festival" in Can Pastilla on the opposite side of Mallorca to Can Picafort and Artà. On the small island of Sa Galera off the Caló de Son Caios the site of a Talaiotic settlement has been excavated. Discoveries there suggest it might date from as early as 1440BC. It was subsequently redeveloped by the Phoenicians and the Romans, but if its prehistory can indeed be traced to 1440BC, then it would be one of the earliest examples of Talaiotic culture or of the transition to this culture.

* Photo of Sa Galera is taken from the programme for the Ancient Mediterranean Festival.

Index for May 2015

Balearics election - 24 May 2015, 28 May 2015, 30 May 2015
Balearics public services underfunding - 7 May 2015
Bauzá vs. Rodríguez - 9 May 2015
Bonet de Sant Pere: Duke of Swing - 17 May 2015
British election - 6 May 2015
Bullfighting - 12 May 2015
Capdepera mediaeval past - 10 May 2015
Chiringuitos - 23 May 2015
Costitx bulls' heads - 5 May 2015
Day without music - 19 May 2015
Education in Mallorca and foreign pupils - 14 May 2015
Elections Mallorca - 16 May 2015
ITV (Spanish MOT) test - 27 May 2015
Magalluf, Playa de Palma and promises of improvements - 18 May 2015
Minority governments: Andalusia and Balearics - 11 May 2015
Municipalities and elections - 20 May 2015
Music festivals in Mallorca - 25 May 2015
Nixe yacht - 2 May 2015
Playa de Palma police - 13 May 2015
Politics of Mallorca's tourism - 8 May 2015
Prehistoric Mallorca - 31 May 2015
Seasonality - 22 May 2015
Sineu fair - 3 May 2015
Too many interests in Mallorca's resorts - 4 May 2015
Tourist tax - 1 May 2015, 15 May 2015
Tramuntana mountains - 29 May 2015
Voting and foreign residents - 21 May 2015

Saturday, May 30, 2015

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 30 May 2015


Morning high (7.00am): 16C
Forecast high: 27C; UV: 8
Three-day forecast: 31 May - Sun, cloud, 22C; 1 June - Sun, 25C; 2 June - Sun, 27C.

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): Northeast 2 to 3, increasing 4 at intervals.

A fine morning and a fine day ahead. Temperature forecast to dip a bit tomorrow but remaining sunny. Looking ahead to next week - all good.

Evening update (23.15): Very pleasant, a high of 27.1C.

No Frills Excursions

Elections: Where do they leave tourism?

Pablo Piñero, the president of Grupo Piñero, of which the Bahia Principe hotels and resorts is one part, sounded a warning before the regional election that the Balearics would be in danger if it was not governed by the Partido Popular. He considered that parties such as Podemos lacked people with the necessary abilities for tourism decision-making in government, comparing the alternative parties with the people that the PP has had at its disposal in government: "great professionals" who have benefited everyone and who have created thousands of jobs. He also attacked the idea of there being an eco-tax. Mallorca and Spain had, not so long ago, been on the point of bankruptcy, why would there now be an eco-tax, one that would be a repetition of a previous mistake?

To say that the elections in the Balearics (and everywhere else in Spain) have dominated tourism matters over the past few days would be an understatement. But not everyone appears to be as concerned as Sr. Piñero was prior to voting day. For example, Juan José Hidalgo, the president of Globalia (which includes Air Europa and Be Live hotels), said that he didn't really see a problem, believing that there would be talks and negotiations with newcomers to government to ensure that everything that is best for Spain will be done. Everyone should take a long hard look at tourism and talk, he suggested, and so respect a rule to create wealth and opportunities. He doesn't think that this "simple rule" will change.

Of course, there are those who believe that things will change. Dramatically so. The possibility of there being an eco-tax in the Balearics has become more likely as a consequence of last Sunday's voting. This might well prove to be unpopular with some, but what about proposals regarding private accommodation for holiday rental, all-inclusives and others?

The belief had been that a shift to the left at the election would lead to a coalition government headed by PSOE's Francina Armengol. This may well prove to have been wrong. Within tourism circles, and others, the belief now is that Biel Barceló of the Més socialists-nationalists could well become president of a PSOE-Més-Podemos triumvirate: he would be far more acceptable to Podemos, and as Més and Podemos together command more seats in the new parliament than PSOE, he may well be destined to become president.

The Més tourism programme does, therefore, require looking at. The eco-tax is one element of it. Otherwise, it refers to regulation of all-inclusives and of private accommodation. What this regulation would be precisely is not as yet clear, but the implication is that there would be restrictions introduced on the former and permissiveness introduced for the latter: essentially, therefore, what a lot of people have been calling for. Més is also proposing that there be tax incentives to facilitate a lengthening of the tourism season. Again, there have been many calls for precisely this type of fiscal intervention to encourage hotels and other establishments to remain open in the off-season.

While alarm bells in the tourism sector will have been ringing since Sunday, the Més programme is not especially radical. Clearly there will be concerns that investment might be undermined, but perhaps Sr. Hidalgo's rather relaxed attitude will prove to be more appropriate than Sr. Piñero's anxiety. It is certainly the case that the industry would love there to be a coalition tie-up between the Partido Popular and PSOE (and if Més were so insistent about having its man as president might this even yet happen?), but in the absence of such an alliance, the industry was alert to the proposals from Més and others, which is why discussions were taking place before the election - typified by the hoteliers' federation meeting with all the parties.

Perhaps the greatest uncertainty lies with the somewhat vague references to a "new model" of tourism. Més and Podemos have alluded to a tourism which affords greater benefits to all and not just a limited sector of society, primarily the hoteliers, and it will be with they - the hoteliers - who a left-leaning administration will have its greatest battles. But were there to be restrictions on new hotel building and on all-inclusives as well as a system that permits more tourism commercialisation of private accommodation (and maybe an airline for Mallorca), would these measures prove to be widely unpopular? And, much though the possibility of an eco-tax has been criticised, it might come as a surprise to discover that the principle of such a tax is one that does also have a good deal of support - assuming one believes opinion surveys, that is.

Friday, May 29, 2015

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 29 May 2015


Morning high (7.15am): 15C.
Forecast high: 27C; UV: 8
Three-day forecast: 30 May - Sun, 26C; 31 May - Sun, cloud, 26C; 1 June - Sun, 25C.

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): East 2 to 4.

Fine morning. Weekend outlook is good. Occasional cloud, otherwise sunny and quite warm with moderate breezes.

Evening update (23.00): Hazy by the afternoon. A high of 28.2C.

No Frills Excursions

Connections: A day in the mountains

There is a scene from the famous episodes of "Coronation Street" when its ladies came to Mallorca in 1974 which has always struck me as slightly odd. Emily was writing a postcard but couldn't remember the exact spelling of Valldemossa. It was Hilda who was able to tell her: the same Hilda of the plaster flying ducks and the "muriel". Perhaps there was a hidden depth to Hilda after all. Odd it was that she should be the one to know the spelling, but might it have been because Hilda had been captivated by something she hadn't expected, that she had acquired a knowledge of attentiveness to the rare and rather marvellous? Pure speculation of course.

Forty years later, there will still be those who misspell Valldemossa as there will also be those who go nowhere near the place, who, though they can see there are mountains, never venture into them and discover the secrets of their peaks, slopes and hidden valley. Mallorca is sun and beach and yet it isn't sun and beach. The first "tourists" came not for the beach but for the mountains, inspired to do so by the likes of the Archduke Louis Salvador. When the masses arrived, the beach was more accommodating. Much of it artificial, its breadth and fineness of sand were the magnet that drew the masses to the sea. They saw it at sea level. In the mountains as you travel to or from Deià, you can look down on a very different sea: expansive and lit by the sun, yet alien and remote, two Mallorcas separated millions of years ago by Alpine formation.

I am in the mountains because of a film documentary. The script, to which I have contributed, has undergone iterations. To my words have been added those of the one who is to be the presenter; they need to be his words, after all, and he is, after all, someone with intimate knowledge of these mountains: William Graves, son of Robert.

There is a word which is used a couple of times in this script. It is "shaped". The references are both specific and general. Dry-stone walling and paving have been shaped through the craft of the stone technique, but the mountains themselves have been shaped. How can this be? Man can intervene, as he has, by blasting holes through mountains, by deforestation and forestation, by building and by fire and carelessness, but can man "shape" mountains?

Man can. The dry-stone paths are just one example, so also is the planting of trees and their cultivation, notably the olive trees. They shape the mountains because they commandeer part of its landscape. They were not there originally. They are immigrants and they have assisted, over the many centuries, in transforming that landscape. And there is another way, that of the dry-stone terracing. It is something which, though one might have been aware of it previously, is seen as more fundamental when the eyes one is looking through are those of someone who has grown up in the mountains and has been there all his life. William's reference to man's shaping through dry-stone terracing gives it an importance which had previously eluded me.

When one spends time with William, a connection with Mallorca is rekindled, a connection with its past and its development. For most of the time, I, and mostly everyone else I daresay, takes for granted what surrounds us, but there are moments when I pause. I have done so on the rustic beach of Playa de Muro and sought to try and imagine it as it was: backed as it is by dunes, forest and the wetlands of Albufera, with the mountains of Artà in the distance descending to the cape at the eastern limit of Alcúdia bay. Not very different in truth, apart from the people and the wooden tracks through the dunes that are designed to protect the eco-system. But this is a humbling realisation, of a connection to times so distant they are impossible to imagine.

Then, one can move much more closely to the present. At the Graves house, now the museum, this more recent past is preserved, and I find myself on the terrace with the ghosts of Robert Graves himself and of those familiar names who visited Deià: Ava Gardner, Orson Welles, Gabriel Garcia Márquez. On this very spot, of what would they have spoken? What connections would they have made, for they would not have been influenced by the onset of mass tourism, by the influx of people, even those tramping through the mountains, of whom, as I discover, there is a surprisingly large number?

The connection is one of perpetuation, of continuity. While Mallorca changes, it doesn't change. It stays immovable because, as yet, man has not learned how to move a mountain.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 28 May 2015


Morning high (6.45am): 14.5C
Forecast high: 26C; UV: 8
Three-day forecast: 29 May - Sun, 27C; 30 May - Sun, cloud, 22C; 31 May - Sun, cloud, 24C.

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): West to Northwest 3 to 4 veering Northeast 3 around midday.

Sunny morning, sunny day to come. Not a lot more to be said really.

Evening update (20.15): Nice. A high of 27.5C.

No Frills Excursions

Fear And Loathing: The PP

Well, can you just put it all down to a natural cycle? The right wins at one election and at the next one it loses. We'll have to wait four years to know if this was some form of cyclical occurrence or something more permanent. What cards might get stacked up against the victors of 2015 come 2019? Might these cards consign them to electoral massacre?

Let's be in no doubt, the Partido Popular has suffered a massacre. For all the brave words about economic recovery, time had run out, as had patience: austerity, corruption and no small amount of mean-spiritedness all played a part. As had miscalculation. The PP is a party too consumed with the past and with a wish to make it the future. Abortion, Catholic conservatism, the "gagging" law: they all crept in to the mix and were rejected. They will also be rejected at the general election. Rajoy will gain the most votes but he will lose. Time for him has all but run out; the regions of Spain allied against him, he is a dead politician limping.

Rajoy will hope that there will be some screwball carryings-on that the PP can latch onto between now and the general election; it really is his only hope. But it is likely to be a forlorn one. Mallorca, the Balearics, Spain haven't so much lurched to the left as been shifted there by a colossal movement of political tectonic plates. Yet, this is not a left in a traditional sense. PSOE cannot look to the future with any great optimism and nor can it rejoice in its performance on 24 May. The Balearics was not untypical. PSOE loses seats but may still manage to head an administration. It will be a position of weakness not of strength. PSOE has to recognise, if it hadn't already, that the rules have changed. But the question it will ask itself is - does this represent only a temporary remoulding of left-leaning politics and indeed of Spain's politics overall? No one can properly or adequately answer this.

Rajoy might also draw some perverse comfort from Greece. As that country stumbles along, closing in on default, avoiding it, seeking another negotiation, he can raise the Syriza flag as a warning of what might be. But even this is too late, and he has contributed to this. He has made the economy too good. A coalition that will replace him may find room for Podemos, but only room. Austerity might be lifted but Podemos would only be one of the architects. The regional elections offer this proof. Podemos will not be a Syriza, and even were it to be, it no longer follows that Podemos would be reckless. It could not back track on anti-austerity, but its chameleon nature affords it an inherent restraint that once appeared not to be evident.

But any plan to demonise Podemos - demonise it further - could backfire. It would be the demonisation of newness, coming from a party with its roots in the past. The PP, Rajoy are left flailing around, unloved, as grey and uncharismatic as Rajoy himself is, screaming growth above all the shouts of corruption and the echoes of the past. People aren't listening. They have grown tired of the Rajoys. They gave them one more go, but by default rather than desire. They never loved the PP, even when they were sending them to the landslides in 2011.

Yes, it is the economy, stupid, and it was this which undid Zapatero and Antich in the Balearics, but screaming the economy goes only so far. The miscalculation, the mean-spiritedness were assaults on what PSOE had brought about in social and cultural terms. The people didn't want to lose these. They were willing to accept that an unpleasant dose to cure the economy was to come, but they were not willing to turn their backs on modernity or on cultural gains. Rajoy's miscalculation was also Bauzá's: he was simply wrong to have done what he did with Catalan. The divisions in society were predicted before he became president. They were right. And when Podemos and the progenitors of Guanyem in Barcelona ran with the baton of the indignados and 15-M and exposed the hideous realities of the sufferings of the evicted, comdemned for all time to a debt that they would never be able to pay off, the mean spirit of the reaction was greater than the small scraps of sympathy. Loathing. No party can survive that. Fear for and within the PP has taken over.

And loathing has put paid to Bauzá. Loathing from within his party and from without. He will go with his head held low, the leader who led his party to its worst-ever electoral performance, the consequence of several factors, one of which was him.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 27 May 2015


Morning high (6.45am): 16C
Forecast high: 25C; UV: 8
Three-day forecast: 28 May - Sun, 26C; 29 May - Sun, cloud, 24C; 30 May - Sun, cloud, 23C.

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

Rather cloudy to start with, as it was yesterday when there was a bit of rain. Should clear later to give good sun and a warm day with a fresh northerly. General outlook is stable - mostly sunny and temperatures in the mid-20s.

Evening update (23.00): High of 23.9C. Cloud took a while to go, then there was good sun, only for the cloud (light) to return.

No Frills Excursions

At The MOT Centre

There were no posts yesterday because of a very early start on account of having had to go with a documentary film crew into the Tramuntana mountains and an equally late return.

In bygone years in Ealing, West London, there was a garage just round the corner. It was run by a bloke who looked like Jack Dee. His name wasn't Jack and I can't for the life of me now remember what it was, but no matter. Jack, let's call him this, was a bit of a wide boy. He was always snappily dressed, which seemed out of place with the grime of a garage, but there were the secondhand motors to sell as well. You half expected Alexei Sayle to pop his head around an old Cortina and, in a Liverpool-Cockney accent, enquire if you had got a new motor. Not that I ever acquired a new motor from Jack. Mine was a maintenance acquaintance.

When the day would come for the MOT, the journey was short to Jack's garage. I say it was round the corner; it was more like a hundred metres away. Jack, resplendent in suit and colourful tie, would take the key and in the time it took to walk back the hundred metres, the mechanic had probably finished whatever it was he was supposed to do. I mean, you were never quite aware as to how a garage functioned, and you certainly weren't required to be present when the MOT was being conducted.

Despite his boyish width, Jack and his men never found an engine that needed replacing as a condition of passing the MOT. He was an honest broker in a garage world of scoundrels, and I presumed that the folding notes he was handed in exchange for the MOT all-clear were scrupulously earned. The MOT was a stress-free and trouble-free exercise, and it was just round the corner, to boot.

Recently, I came across an article which highlighted the stress of the local MOT test (otherwise known as the ITV test). Of things that one might compare between here and back there, the MOT test is one of the few that might be said to be more pleasurable back there. Hand over the car and the keys, and leave them to it, and, remembering with fondness Jack and his wide but strangely honest ways, I am inclined to agree.

Not, I would like to make clear, that there is anything dishonest about the Mallorcan ITV/MOT. Thoroughness may not be one of its greater virtues, certainly not by comparison with the MOT of the new-age Jacks since testing procedures were tightened up, but anything a touch dodgy is a tad difficult when you, often the car owner unless you have had the good sense to get someone else to go through the rigmarole, are part of the process.

Maybe it is a rare desire for transparency that has determined the nature of the ITV test. In a land not usually noted for its participatory ways - democratically at least, if we are to believe mostly any political party which hasn't recently been in power - the ITV positively discriminates in favour of participation. You, the driver-owner, remaining at the wheel throughout, are the star of the show. Well, almost.

Maybe there is a certain stress involved. Perhaps it stems from the regimental method of organisation: cars and their drivers in a line waiting to be called to meet the inquisitors of ignition, the examiners of emissions. Or perhaps it is as a result of a sudden hankering for Jack and for his proximity and so not for having had to drive some twenty kilometres in order to undergo this vehicular interrogation.

The inquisitor asks if I speak Spanish. Yes. Perhaps it would be advisable to play the old soldier and say no because, despite a familiarity and it being pretty obvious what is required, the nerve can desert you. Was it like this for Jonathan Trott facing Mitchell Johnson? Why would you indicate left when he has clearly said right? (This seems a fairly unnecessary check given that no one typically uses indicators.) Why, when it's the emissions bit, are you pressing the brake pedal and not the throttle? (Mitigation, it is an automatic, and instinct - for starting the engine - does rather take over.) And what's all this business with being thrown around like you were in a roller-coaster chair and not a car?

When the inquisition is over, the chain at the end of the testing lane is unchained. Why do they have one? Do they think you are going to make a bolt for it? But a sigh of relief can be expelled and then a further one when the lad in the booth does his stamping and hands over the little sticker. See you in two years time, he didn't say. Not if I can help it. What's the best advice for handling the ITV? Buy a brand new motor at least every four years.

Monday, May 25, 2015

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 25 May 2015


Morning high (8.15am): 20C
Forecast high: 25C; UV: 7
Three-day forecast: 26 May - Sun, cloud, 25C; 27 May - Sun, cloud, 20C; 28 May - Sun, 23C.

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): North 2 to 4.

Bright morning, some light cloud around, and a mix of sun with cloudy intervals in store for today and the next couple of days.

Evening update (20.45): Pretty good. Nice breeze, good sun, high of 24.7C.

No Frills Excursions

Waiting For A Festival

In 2001 a series of concerts was created under the title "Waiting For Waits". The promoters wanted to be able to close the series with a performance by the American singer Tom Waits. They invited him but he didn't come. They waited and waited. In 2008 it looked as though they might be lucky. Waits was coming to Spain. He never made it as far as Mallorca though. In 2010 the final series took place. The last concert was staged at Palma's Teatre Principal on 14 November. As the main promoter, Tomeu Gomila, has remarked: "Unfortunately, Tom Waits didn't come. It was a bit like Waiting For Godot".

There is now something of a revival. It's called "Folk You". The description of it as a festival suggests more than it will deliver. Festivals, generally speaking, imply more than concerts over two consecutive evenings. That the highly regarded English folk singer Martin Simpson will be performing cannot disguise the fact that this is not a festival.

In the UK and in music terms, the festival has acquired a specific meaning. It is one of spending entire weekends in a field getting wet and muddy but also of listening to and seeing artists at the height of their popularity, others which are seeking popularity and others still whose popularity may not be as it once was. The music festival is nowadays very much more sophisticated, organised and sanitised compared to the time when the Isle of Wight was converted into something not much better than a living hell, but its roots are those of the British heirs to Woodstock.

Mallorca doesn't have a festival. Or rather, it has a whole load of them, typically seasons spread across several weeks that are devoted principally to classical music: Deya, Pollensa, Santanyi, Valldemossa and its Chopin Festival. The festival, in terms of being a more compact event and of having a packed line-up, doesn't exist, though at least Sa Pobla has had the good sense to change the organisation of its jazz festival. No longer are the concerts spread over three to four weeks; they take place on consecutive evenings. If there ever was a philosophy of tourist attraction behind the festival, then it makes greater sense for it to be confined to one week and not several.

Mallorca has also had its festivals, not that these conformed to the in-the-country festival principle. There was the bizarre international song contest in Playa de Palma in the 1960s - Eurovision minus almost the whole of Europe. It was revived for a time in the 70s, but there was a different, more of-the-moment attempt. It was made by the Barbarela disco in Palma, though it was also a contest. Over 140 acts performed for up to fifteen minutes in a competition which was eventually won by Los Bravos. The line-up, though, had included groups of a very different style - Focus, the Dutch prog rock band was one; Daevid Allen's Gong was another. Getting Gong to compress anything into a mere fifteen minutes must have taken some doing.

There was another so-called festival: Selva Rock. It was in fact only a one-night affair and its original incarnation folded after its August 1983 edition because the rock being played did not reflect the new generation of Spanish rock music that was coming out of Madrid's La Movida movement. Then along came Palma Pop-Rock, eighteen hours of music in the Sa Feixina park, but still a contest, confined to a maximum of three songs per group.

Mention of Barbarela is probably important in this festival context. It was a disco that became famous outside Mallorca. It was one of Europe's premier clubs and it was Mallorca's first mega-disco. But this club scene was to be eclipsed by Ibiza's clubs. In popular and youthful musical terms, Mallorca has been playing catch-up ever since the 1980s.

Nowadays, it's not as if there aren't events which are identifiable as festivals in Spain. Benicassim's line up over four days in July includes Blur, Bastille, The Prodigy, Florence and The Machine and Mark Ronson. So why can Valencia have one and Mallorca cannot? Maybe it's more a case of doesn't want rather than cannot. But is the emphasis on classical music entirely appropriate? Podemos in Palma have called for that city to be one of rock 'n' roll and heavy metal: an expression of greater musical democracy. Or maybe it has to do with logistics and the environment. Find a suitable place in the country and you can probably anticipate that the enviro-lobby would, so to speak, have a field day. Then there are Mallorca's restrictive attitudes towards camping; not that these cannot and are not occasionally got round.

Like Waits, there will be a lot of waiting. Waiting for a festival that is unlikely to ever happen.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 24 May 2015


Morning high (7.30am): 17C
Forecast high: 23C; UV: 7
Three-day forecast: 25 May - Sun, cloud, 25C; 26 May - Cloud, sun, 21C; 27 May - Cloud, sun, 20C.

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): Northeast 2 to 4 occasionally Variable.

Light cloud this morning should mostly lift to give a sunny and warm day. The week ahead - up and down with temperatures but generally sunny with moderate breezes.

No Frills Excursions

Chaos And Comedy

If the past few days in Mallorca have been a confusion of pre-electoral jockeying-for-position, then just wait until after today. What chaos may yet await us, unless Bauzá has his "Cameron moment" and sweeps into re-elected power with the sounds of teachers booing and braying in the background.

As things turned out, the strike arranged for the green tide of educational activists was a bit of a damp squib, albeit that the dampness of a squib has to be measured - as always in Mallorcan statistical terms - by a percentage. The Balearics education ministry stated "definitively" that 23.4% of the islands' 11,800 teachers went on strike last week, protesting - inevitably - against the Bauzá regime's educational policies and the introduction of the new national curriculum through LOMCE, the law on the quality of education.

The main thing that the green tide was objecting to, LOMCE-wise, was the test for nine-year-olds. Again, the education ministry was on hand to give some indication as to the "chaos" caused by this test. 6.84% of schools were reported as having "incidents" which prevented the test being taken. The association of primary school heads said that there was "chaos" on account of conflicting instructions that had emanated from the regional education ministry. It, the ministry, was unable for once to place a percentage on the level of its conflicting instruction.

But what was this test? Well, part of it required a spot of English. So, there was, for example, a multiple choice question. Fill in the missing word. "Where (blank) you going? I'm going to the park." What an opportunity was missed. When JR and Frankie Armengol went head to head for their debate on local TV, this should have been the question. How good is your trilingualism? José Ramón? "Erm, erm. Where do you going?" Wrong. Frankie? "I refuse to answer this on the grounds that I believe that TIL has produced chaos in the classrooms of the Balearics - at least 63.7% of them, that is." (Her percentage of course having been plucked entirely at random.)

JR might have been helped in getting the answer right had the presenter of the debate been one Miguel Angel Ariza, who caused a storm on his radio show for IB3 by announcing that listeners should vote for the PP. It was "unfortunate", he was to later admit, but insisted that it had been said as part of a "comedy" programme. Vota PP, the party of comedians. Perhaps. Journalist groups were not having his excuse, though. Impartiality, they screamed, those who had not been demonstrating their partiality in the lead-up to the election. A problem for Miguel, in trying to defend his humour, was that, as one example, on his blog of 19 December he wrote that "Bauzá is, has been and will be a good president", going on to praise a reduction in unemployment and greater wealth. Or maybe that had all been in the name of comedy as well.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 23 May 2015


Morning high (7.00am): 13C
Forecast high: 22C; UV: 7
Three-day forecast: 24 May - Sun, cloud, 24C; 25 May - Sun, cloud, 21C; 26 May - Cloud, sun, 21C.

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): Variable 2 to 4, mainly Northeast during the afternoon.

Bright morning and a bit nippy. Sun expected to dominate today. Moderate temperatures. General outlook favourable.

Evening update (21.00): More cloud at times than had been forecast. Nice enough for much of the afternoon though. A high of 24.5C.

No Frills Excursions

As Beaches Were: The chiringuito

Once upon a time, no one really worried about what you might put on a beach. Even if there were regulations, which generally there were not, there were unlikely to be too many officials around to ensure that regulations were being adhered to, while any who might have been would probably have been only too happy to have accepted an invitation of some folding pesetas and looked the other way.

So it was, for instance, with the tents that were put up on the French beach in Puerto Alcúdia. The beach came to be known by this name, though it was actually a Belgian who was responsible. He was Gerard Blitz, and the tents were those of Club Méditerranée. How Blitz came to choose Alcúdia for the original Club Med, how he was able to get permission to put the tents up, I have no idea, though it is not for want of trying to find out: Club Med themselves don't really seem to know. But tents there were in 1950. The story of Club Med in Alcúdia is blurry to say the least. It would seem that it only lasted two summers, and in 1951, rather than tents, there were more solid structures. They were referred to as "stone", but they had roofs of the style that was to become associated with Club Med - a thatch. And reed for a thatch is abundant in the Albufera wetlands, of which there was a great deal more in 1951 than there is now.

It wasn't officialdom that did for Club Med in those early years, it was the clergy. They weren't bothered about what was being put on the beach, but they were bothered about the lack of clothing of those who were inhabiting the beach accommodation. It was to be some years before Club Med were to get a permanent base in Porto Petro. 

It is the thatch, though, which is central to today's story. As also is putting things on beaches. In the days when no one took much notice, a temporary structure could appear: right on the sand. The beach bar was born, and it had its own name - the chiringuito.

As with the uncertain history of Club Med, so the chiringuito's history in Mallorca is one of competing versions. It is claimed that the first one appeared on the eastern coast in S'Illot at a time, around 1953, when there was virtually nothing else there. But whenever or wherever it was, the chiringuito was to become established, as was its image - the one with the thatch for a roof. In the collective consciousness and memory of the beach holiday, the thatch - be it for a sunshade or a chiringuito - is as symbolic as the sand, the sea and the palm tree.

The first ever chiringuito in Spain, so legend has it, was in Sitges, and it appeared as long ago as 1913. There were to be later ones, such as in Torremolinos. These were apparently upside-down fishing boats with presumably some thatch affair, and from these improvised structures, the wives of fishermen would sell fish dishes and beers to tourists of the 1940s. There may be something in this story, as chiringuitos did tend to have a shape that was reminiscent of a boat.

The word itself comes from the Caribbean. A "chiringo" was a measure of coffee that was served to workers on the sugar plantations of Cuba, and so the bars where the coffee was to be had was named a chiringuito. There is a less specific theory that "chiringo" was a generally used colloquial word in Cuba and Puerto Rico to refer to something short or small and that it was applied to various drinks, not only a small coffee but also a shot of rum. But for the use of chiringuito, as in meaning a beach bar, one has to go back to Sitges. The bar that had emerged in 1913 wasn't called a chiringuito. Rather, it was known as "El kiosket" and remarkably it survived numerous batterings by the sea (and reconstructions) until 1949 when it was renamed "El chiringuito". So popular was this bar that - and bear in mind the times - it would attract journalists and intellectuals who would come for a coffee and to chew the fat (such as they could in those days).

Nowadays in Mallorca, there are all sorts of chiringuitos, not all of them by any means by the sea. Of those which are, if they are actually on a beach then all sorts of hoops will have been gone through to allow them: these are days quite unlike those of the 1950s. And there is one chiringuito in particular which stands out from all others. It is partly because of where it is: right by the remarkable beach of Es Trenc. It is also because it has a reputation for being what you would like a beach bar to be: a place of music but with a laid-back aura and something of the hippy. It is S'Embat. And tomorrow at 4pm, it re-opens for its tenth anniversary season.

Photo: From the S'Embat Facebook page.

Friday, May 22, 2015

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 22 May 2015


Morning high (8.45am): 16C
Forecast high: 24C; UV: 7
Three-day forecast: 23 May - Sun, cloud, 24C; 24 May - Sun, cloud, 21C; 25 May - Sun, cloud, 21C.

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): Variable 2 to 3, locally Northeast 4 during the afternoon.

Brightening up now and a decent sort of day in store: sunny and quite warm. The weekend seems reasonable, though meant to get cooler on Sunday.

Evening update (20.45): Sun, cloud, sun, cloud - high of 22.4C.

No Frills Excursions

Tackling Seasonality

Unsurprisingly, there has been a fair amount of politics dominating the tourism scene over the past few days, but it hasn't all been local politics. Consultants Grant Thornton have issued a report which has found that businesses in Spain are, after those in Ireland, the most concerned about the possibility that the UK might exit the European Union. The concern stems largely from the fact that of the 65 million tourists who come to Spain, 15 million of them are from the UK. It's not clear why the UK being in or out of the EU should make any real difference to tourism, but the uncertainty that an exit might provoke is probably at the heart of these concerns and, as ever, business does not like uncertainty.

Back here in Mallorca, the politics of a possible eco-tax was high on the agenda of a meeting of representatives of the hotel industry in Palma. It would be "detrimental" and especially to ambitions to tackle Mallorca's seasonality. This observation came from Bernat Vicens of Fergus Hotels who also had things to say about hoteliers' abilities to adapt what they have to offer to an out-of-season tourist client: he appeared to be unconvinced that they possessed such abilities or the self-analysis that might bring about some adaptation. Fergus is following in the footsteps of Cursach in seeking to introduce a different and better class of younger tourism to Magalluf, and Vicens, while admitting that Magalluf has its hooligan element, argued that the resort was not dangerous and that it had a bright future, thanks to investments like those by Fergus and Meliá. Meanwhile, there were reports from Magalluf about how bars are trying to attract more business by making happy hour offers of drink as much as you like for only five euros. The bars might be criticised for doing so, but then they are, after all, in competition with all-inclusives.

Others at the Palma meeting stressed the need for there to be greater imagination in hotel marketing in order to attract a winter tourist to Mallorca, while the leadership of Palma as an all-year destination was seen as a model through which it could spread winter tourism elsewhere, though the elsewhere was only as far as Playa de Palma and Calvia: at least it might be a spread though. The Palacio de Congresos was cited as an example of how off-season tourism could be increased, but the Palacio, yet again, was in the news for all the wrong reasons. Because of the need to revalue the hotel, the adjudication of the complex's management in favour of Barceló will now have to be revisited once a new administration is in situ at Palma City Council, but the whole future for the Palacio was once more brought into question by the Més spokesperson at the council who suggested that there should be a feasibility study, one which might lead to the Palacio's demolition. It seems extraordinary that there would even be mention of feasibility at this stage of the Palacio's development, but then such has been the less than ordinary history of the complex.

While there was uncertainty surrounding the Palacio, the International Congress and Convention Association was issuing its annual report into conference destinations. Spain remains third in terms of the total number of meetings behind the US and Germany, with Madrid and Barcelona in, respectively, third and fifth positions when it comes to cities. What is noticeable about this listing is that all the top-twenty cities are those which are served by significant levels of direct air traffic: Palma is in no position to compete in this regard.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 21 May 2015


Morning high (7.15am): 12C
Forecast high: 23C; UV: 7
Three-day forecast: 22 May - Sun, cloud, 24C; 23 May - Sun, cloud, 20C; 24 May - Sun, cloud, 21C.

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): Northeast 4 to 6 backing and easing North 3 to 4 during the morning and Northwest during the afternoon.

Grey and damp first thing, due to get better and sunny later. General forecast for the next few days has improved: not especially warm but more settled than it had seemed.

No Frills Excursions

The Modals Of Voting

Who should I vote for? I guess I take it as a compliment that I would be asked the question. If I give an answer, it is not couched in terms of "should". That implies a command. I would no more tell a foreign resident who he or she "should" vote for than tell him or her that he or she "should" be voting in the first place. Some people are too ready to command something of others. Who am I (or anyone) to issue such a command? If others do vote, they are interested in doing so. If others do not vote, they are not interested in doing so. That is their prerogative. 

I am in a way surprised at the level of interest, but only because it is said that foreign residents fail to heed the "should" modal, or rather the "will" modal. Being asked the question is an indication of this interest. But it isn't the only indication. Local politics, local politicians: in my experience there is an interest. There is a lack as well, but it was and will be ever thus regardless of where a vote might be cast. People's prerogative. There's no should, and in Spain the possibility of "should" - or rather "must" - appearing in the democratic lexicon was dismissed by the fathers of the Constitution. Post-Franco, there were to be no commands. Choice, even if it is abstention or lack of interest: so be it.

But to return to the question and perhaps modify the modal verb. Who might I vote for? You "might" vote for them, or them, or them, but what is that I would be voting for? This is perhaps a reason for not. The unknown. But the unknown is partly a function of lack of interest, of not seeking to know, but then why "should" anyone put him or herself out in pursuit of this knowledge? Each to their own.

In the absence of any other known, there is one: that of equating a political party here to a political party from somewhere else. This creates an assumption. Where someone is from will determine political sympathy or sympathies. It is an assumption which is perhaps made more by foreign residents of fellow foreigners than one made by local politicians. Of the latter, some do make assumptions and some do even try and exploit them for all their worth, provoking torrents of propaganda; well, I can think of one place where it does. This might be dubbed cynical, as in a sudden awareness of a latent electorate ready to propel a politician into office; an awareness that otherwise lies dormant or which is more one of theory than practice. Politicians will do anything to get elected - everyone knows this - and will then promptly offer little by way of thanks: your vote, when you get to the nub of the issue, that's all I'm interested in.

One thing you can't do when voting, unless you happen to be a citizen of Spain, is vote for the regional parliament and so for candidates of the eight parties represented in Mallorca. All you can do is vote in the election in whichever municipality you reside. Palma and its parliamentary and Council of Mallorca elections are not the same as the municipal elections. Sure, there can be the same parties, but for most of Mallorca, the municipalities are their own worlds, away from the pure and naked politics of regional government and the sharp definitions between right and left or points in between.

Political parties, political associations in the towns and villages can be as much social entities as they are actually political. They have supporters because of families, because of mates, because of business, because of favours past or favours future. Where these parties stand locally can be almost incidental to how they present themselves for the regional parliament. There can be and will be philosophies which bind them but they are philosophies manipulable because of local circumstances or just sheer distance from the seat of governmental power in Palma. I give an example from Alcúdia. I once asked the former mayor, Miquel Llompart, how all the corruption of his then party, the Unió Mallorquina (UM), affected things in Alcúdia. It didn't, was his answer. It was a Palma affair. And the fact is that he was right.

I can give another - from Pollensa - and a mass of foreign resident support for the Alternativa, a party with a distinctly left flavour. That bucked the assumption, you would think, and it did so because the Alternativa stood up for things important to a good number of foreign residents.

Right, left, in between, assumptions aren't always right. Who "might" you vote for? Who might genuinely want to work best for the interests of everyone? It's tricky to know, I accept, but assumption, a default assumption based on experience elsewhere, might just not give you the answer.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 20 May 2015


Morning high (7.00am): 15C
Forecast high: 22C; UV: 8
Three-day forecast: 21 May - Cloud, sun, 23C; 22 May - Sun, cloud, 19C; 23 May - Cloud, sun, 20C.

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): Northeast 5 to 6 easing 2 to 3 by the evening.

Grey morning, there having been some rain overnight but nothing heavy. A chance of rain today and also tomorrow. The general outlook is rather unsettled into the start of next week.

No Frills Excursions

The Population Principle: Municipalities

There are 67 municipalities in the Balearics - 53 in Mallorca, eight in Menorca, five in Ibiza and the one of Formentera. There are 59 deputies in the Balearic parliament. There is a mismatch between the two figures because there isn't meant to be a match between the two. Deputies are not elected according to municipality; their number is the consequence of some strange logic which determines that there needs to be one deputy for roughly every 17,000 people on the islands. The population-deputy ratio differs from region to region in Spain. There is no hard-and-fast rule other than a principle of arriving at the number of deputies based on population and size of territory, but this does give rise to huge variations.

Part of the backdrop to the elections on Sunday has been discussion of both the number of parliamentary deputies and the number of municipalities. President Bauzá tried to get the former reduced but his proposal was defeated. Certain parties have spoken of cutting the number of municipalities or merging them. The rationale behind both has been cost and the anticipation of greater efficiencies that would accrue, and it is a rationale which, in purely pragmatic terms, is difficult to take issue with. But the stubbornness in resisting either fewer deputies or fewer municipalities takes little account of cost. There is history to consider as well, and the municipalities are where it resides.

It can seem daft that almost half the total number of municipalities across Spain - 8,122 in all - have populations of under 500 people. (Mallorca might be said to be positively sensible in this regard as it only has two - Escorca and Estellencs.) It might seem crackers that despite the desire of national government to reduce the cost of public administration, and indeed a 2013 law aimed at doing so, seven new municipalities of small size have emerged in Spain since the last local elections in 2011. Why? It all has to do with old law under which a petition for "independence" could be granted before the 2013 law came in which established that there had to be 5,000 people resident before "independence" was attainable.

Mallorca, over the years, has seen its municipalities grow in number, thanks to this principle of independence. Once upon a time, and just as one example, Son Servera wasn't independent but part of Arta. An 1820 law decreed that once there were 1,000 residents, villages could become independent, which is what happened to Son Servera. The population principle is what, despite the mismatch between municipalities and parliamentary deputies in the Balearics and the loose way in which the number of deputies was arrived at (the population was significantly lower when it was), goes to the heart of representation in Spain and it has done for centuries.

But more than this is the political role of the municipalities. Spain today is highly decentralised. While the Franco regime operated according to far more centralised criteria, decentralisation of a type existed. There were still municipalities with their town halls and their mayors (albeit they were appointed by the government). Spain has long been decentralised, and it has been a decentralisation found in the power but also the political freedoms of the municipalities.

Today's electoral system, with all it implies for numbers of deputies, can be traced back to one municipality - Cadiz. It was here in 1812 that the Liberal Constitution was drawn up and a national parliament created. It was a declaration of resistance against Napoleon and to be a further one against the odd ways of King Ferdinand VII, but it was one which partly took as its inspiration the quasi-democratic traditions of other Spanish municipalities that had existed for years.

The municipality is, therefore, something ingrained into the national consciousness. Because of the historical association, it is an institution which means far more than simply an administrative area. Ally this to sentiment and to a social desire for identity, and the forces against reform of the system of municipalities are immense. (In Mallorca an expression of this identity is the way in which residents of a particular town are known by it - Alcudia "alcudiencs", Calvia "calvianers" and so on.) And then on top of all this are the needs of current-day politics. Sweep away municipalities or merge them and political parties would eliminate positions for members. They would also lose power bases, those which help them to be represented among the 59 parliamentary deputies. The Rajoy government might have seemed as though it would reform local government but how much was it aware what it might have lost were it to have done so seriously and drastically? There is self-interest and self-preservation in having so many municipalities. And on Sunday, votes will be cast for councillors of the 67 and for deputies to make up the 59. Logic doesn't really come into it.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 19 May 2015


Morning high (7.15am): 15.5C
Forecast high: 25C; UV: 8
Three-day forecast: 20 May - Rain, wind, 21C; 21 May - Cloud, sun, 18C; 22 May - Cloud, sun, 19C.

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): South 2 to 4 backing East and Northeast 4 to 5 around midday.

Pleasant morning but cloud due to build up later with rain a strong possibility by later afternoon. Tomorrow also due to be rainy as well as windy. Improving on Thursday but temperatures remaining cool into the weekend.

Evening update (20.15): As expected, something of a change during the day. Now very cloudy, there has been a spot of rain and there may well be more. High of 23.3C.

No Frills Excursions

A Day Without Music

On the website - - there is a thing to click on and play. So I did, and out of the speakers came the unmistakable orchestral introduction to The Verve's "Bitter Sweet Symphony". It wasn't the video, but had it been it would have shown Richard Ashcroft stomping along that street in Hackney with his determined and angry face, brushing everyone aside.

The choice seemed somewhat apt. For the music industry in Spain and Mallorca, these are times which are both bitter and sweet. Popular music has never been more popular, the opportunities to make it, thanks to technology, have never been so readily available, yet there are obstacles, and one of them is tax. This is why the musicians have their angry faces and are making gestures of placing their hands over their mouths. Tomorrow is "Un día sin música", a day without music. (Just out of curiosity, I'll check the website and see if there is anything to click on.)

The complaint that musicians and promoters have is against the 21% rate of IVA (VAT) that is applied to live performance. This is one of many areas of cultural activity which used to benefit from a reduced level of tax. When the Spanish Government, under firm instruction from Brussels, eyed up IVA as a means of making inroads into the national debt, it did so dramatically: live performance was one of various activities, not all of them cultural, which was clobbered by an IVA increase of 13%.

The anger that the IVA rises caused has been spread across all sorts of sectors. The tourist industry, which still has a reduced rate for many of its activities (hotels, restaurants, for example), had been under the impression that not only would it have escaped a rise in IVA but would have been granted a "super-reduced" rate. The Partido Popular had more or less promised this before the last election. Instead, the tourist rate went up from 8% to 10%, not down to the 4% super-reduced level. Though the hotel sector is generally supportive of the PP, it has felt let down and consistently refers to a broken promise and consistently demands that the super-reduced rate is applied. The Rajoy administration won't budge; it has ruled out any reduction.

The government has, pretty much since it introduced IVA increases in September 2012, dropped hints about possible reductions, but for the most part it has equivocated. One area of activity which has benefited has been the buying and selling of works of art: the rate was cut from 21% to 10%. As has been pointed out, however, the two principal "collectors" of art are banks and ... the government. To the disgust of many, the government has also been looking at giving preferential tax treatment to bullfighting (it also wants to make bullfighting something in the national interest and so protect it). As with other activities branded as "entertainment" by the finance ministry, IVA on bullfighting went up to 21% in 2012.

The day without music has been organised by nineteen associations which represent more than 800 businesses involved in Spain's music industry, and tomorrow a petition with over 500,000 signatures will be handed into Congress. The demand is for live music events to be treated in the same way as, for example, newspapers: to have a 4% super-reduced rate applied. Without such a reduction, it is claimed, there will be destruction or at least a less than bright future for live music performance. The slogan for the day is "reasonable and fair IVA for music", the organisers adding that the current rate is affecting international artists: they are holding fewer concerts in Spain or none at all on account of the increased cost of tickets.

One further cause of anger and annoyance is that clubs where live music is offered are obliged to charge the higher 21% rate of IVA on drinks than the 10% rate which applies to a bar where the entertainment might stretch to no more than a television being on in the corner. (I have to say that I wasn't aware that this was the case; I wonder how widely it is in fact applied.) But as the organisers of the day without music say, it is absurd to pay double (the IVA) for having a beer while listening to, say, a jazz group.

So, will there be any music tomorrow in Mallorca? Well, yes, of course there will be, but some of the major theatres will be quiet or not presenting live music. The Es Gremi centre in Palma, for example, has cancelled a Wednesday "night of legends" and will be showing a documentary instead. Trui won't he holding anything at its theatre and it has been prominent in lending its support to the campaign, as have some leading names in the Mallorcan music world, such as the rock singer Jaume Anglada.

Monday, May 18, 2015

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 18 May 2015


Morning high (7.45am): 16C
Forecast high: 25C; UV: 8
Three-day forecast: 19 May - Cloud, sun, 25C; 20 May - Cloud, sun, 17C; 21 May - Cloud, sun, 18C.

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): Northwest 3 to 4 veering Northeast by the afternoon.

Another fine morning, but after today things not looking brilliant for much of the week, with the chance of rain up till Thursday and temperatures down.

Evening update (21.30): Very pleasant. High of 28.4C.

No Frills Excursions

Do They Take Us For Fools?

The word had been that it was going to be more insane than ever. The word may well have been right. How many do you, do we, do they want dead? It's only just begun and yet the emergency services are equating it to high summer. Two dead in Magalluf. One in Santa Ponsa. Another badly injured in Palmanova. Half a dozen have fallen from balconies, two of them put into a body bag. The British media have a video of a dwarf whipping a groom-to-be during some warped S&M session in a bar. The local media have been highlighting gangs of chanting, drunken Germans blocking the main road in Arenal. They are following events in the notorious resorts like never before. It was going to be more insane than ever. Wasn't it?

Civic ordinance in Palma, civic ordinance to be introduced in Calvia. More resources. More powers for the authorities. Greater co-operation between businesses. Greater willingness of businesses to assist in a clean-up. Promises of this. Promises of that. It is more insane than ever. The so-called prostitutes more aggressive than ever. More driven by their criminal gang organisers than ever. The National Police taking measures to identify sources of criminal supply to the lookies who wander the streets of Palma with groundsheets and who lay them down on steps, on squares: Saharan bazaars in the centre of the Balearic capital. Pickpockets, daylight robbers, drug sellers. More of these, or at least they are the more that social media, with its wildfire spread of news, suggest. Who is to say there isn't more? 

Reports of a trial into corruption among police, officials from the local authority and businesspeople. Reports replete with orgies and Russian prostitutes, the latter being afforded protection in order to give witness statements. Reports which follow last year - Magalluf and police arrests - and the year before, when Playa de Palma's police first came under investigation.

Write all the above, and there are those who hammer you for negativity, for exaggeration, for choosing only the blackspots. Avoid saying the above, and others lay into you for turning a blind eye and for complicity. Damned if you do, damned if you don't. But avoidance has been part of the problem, as - for so many years - was a form of self-censorship or persuasion to play things down. You can't or shouldn't say that; it would be bad for tourism.

One person's bad is another person's good for tourism. If nothing else, Magalluf has taught us this. But this one-time reticence is no longer possible, not when there are videos of sex acts all over the internet, not when there is sensationalism on the pages of the British and German press, willing accomplices in generating ever more insanity. Too much past reticence and too many apologists, of whom there are still many. Maga, Arenal (and you can add one or two other places): they are what they are, tourists are coming for fun, to party. They are what they are, what they have been and what they will be.

To party, to have fun. Absolutely. Essences of holiday. For thousands upon thousands. For families, for older people, for younger people, none of whom can be blamed, and none of whom wish to be implicated in all the above or have any reason to be. Responsible tourism, a convenience of marketing with its environmental eco-righteousness that cannot disguise the business ambitions of hoteliers, of tour operators, of bar owners. Volume, they need volume, as do the planes. Responsible tourism is a two-way street and not only that of Punta Ballena. Whoever decreed that it was acceptable for foreigners (and Spaniards) to treat parts of Mallorca with such irresponsibility? Who the hell do they think they are?

But the blame game will say it's the fault of others. It is. But the fault stems from that old reticence, that old "persuasion". Bad for tourism. The heads were in the sand for years and years before some tourists - so hacked off with the persistent pestering - started to stick flags in the same sand bearing the legends: "no sunglasses, no massage". Complacency and a complicity of a different type. We all know who to blame.

It will be better, though, not more insane. Just wait for the ordinances to really kick in. For the end to drinking in the street. For the end to balconing because of the fines. Do they take us for fools? Hopefully, they will be right. Hopefully, it will improve. But who's doing the caring? Onieva? Isern? Martínez? All gone at the election. Maybe their replacements will, however, discover the legal wherewithal to deal with the greatest of the insanities - the mugging prostitutes of the streets - and not instead introduce fines for supposed clients. That beggars belief. The equivocation of victimary. Taken for fools.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 17 May 2015


Morning high (7.00am): 18C
Forecast high: 26C; UV: 8
Three-day forecast: 18 May - Sun, 27C; 19 May - Sun, cloud, 21C; 20 May - Rain, sun, 18C.

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): Northwest 3 to 4 occasionally North 5.

Much brighter morning than yesterday and sun expected all day. Outlook for the week seems a bit unsettled around midweek with the risk of showers and lower temperatures.

Evening update (22.15): A high of 24.8C. Good enough day.

No Frills Excursions

The Duke Of Swing

Fred Astaire, Benny Goodman, Django Reinhardt. Three names which evoke memories of dance and jazz from times which, while distant, can still seem modern, and this is because each was an innovator as well as an icon of popular entertainment. They were to attain global fame between the two world wars and each had a profound influence on a waiter in the San Pedro (Puig de Sant Pere) area of Palma. His name was Pedro (or Pere) Bonet.

He was born in 1917 and at the start of the 1930s he began to be exposed to this music and entertainment. There were the films of Fred Astaire, the unusual guitar style of Django Reinhardt, which, some twenty or so years later, he was to hear live when Tito's night club opened in Palma and, above all, the jazz of Benny Goodman, the "King of Swing". Bonet de San Pedro was to eventually join this unofficial royalty: he became the "Duke of Swing".

Though his musical affinity was strongest with Goodman, there was a certain similarity in his background to that of Django Reinhardt. The Belgian guitarist's family wasn't necessarily poor but it was not one which enabled him to gain much by way of education. Though he understood music, he was illiterate when he seriously started performing in his twenties. Bonet's early years were more difficult. At the age of seven, his father, who he barely ever saw, was drowned at sea off the north African coast: he had been a ship's captain, and the ship (or boat) was struck by a fierce storm. With his father dead, he was sent to work. Like Reinhardt, his education was to be found in music, not in books.

In his teens he became a waiter at the Bar Español in the San Pedro neighbourhood. When the owner sought to drum up some more business, he asked Bonet if he would sing. He did and very quickly he gained a reputation. People would come especially to hear Bonet de San Pedro, and using the rudimentary English that he learned from the likes of Fred Astaire, he would sometimes sing in English: something that was to stand him in good stead.

With other musical styles influencing him, notably flamenco, he formed a group: Los Trashumantes. He had no musical training, couldn't write or read a note, but he had "swing" and when an orchestra from Barcelona came to Palma, he was signed up, partly because of the English, which was to prove even more valuable. It is said that the first song ever recorded in Spain in English was his. It was in Barcelona that he was to form another group, his first proper orchestra. Its name was Bonet de San Pedro y los 7 de Palma. I am not aware of an association and it may be a pure coincidence, but both the style and the title of a Madness song seem not a million miles away: "The Return of the Los Palmas 7".

Fame and success were to follow. One of his best-known songs was "Raska-yú", which despite being banned by the Franco regime (it came out in 1943) was a success. The regime thought there were references to El Caudillo in a song the origins of which have been debated. Was it really so original or had it been copied from Louis Armstrong in a Betty Boop cartoon film? Well, even if it had been, this isn't terribly important now. Other songs came out. "Bajo el Cielo de Palma": "Mallorca has beautiful scenes and beautiful beaches to listen, to the sounds of my guitar, songs worthy of remembering, ay, ay, ay, ay, ay". "Canción a Mallorca": "In the bay of Palma, the first thing you see, the Cathedral, La Lonja and Bellver Castle, the first thing you see, arriving in Mallorca". 

In later years, Bonet de San Pedro became linked to a camp and kitsch music of a Eurovision style, but he still clung to his jazz and swing roots, forming the Swing Group Balear. He was a regular on national television, a genuine star of Spanish music. He was honoured at tribute concerts in Palma where he performed with the likes of Tete Montoliu, the great Barcelona-born jazz pianist whose association with Mallorca was strong. He died on 18 May 2002. And in celebrating the anniversary of his death and his contribution to Mallorca and Spain's popular music, an exhibition dedicated to him opened on Friday at La Misericordia in Palma which will run until 10 July. Its title: "Bonet de Sant Pere, el Duc del Swing".

Saturday, May 16, 2015

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 16 May 2015


Morning high (7.00am): 17C
Forecast high: 26C; UV: 8
Three-day forecast: 17 May - Sun, wind, 26C; 18 May - Sun, 23C; 19 May - Sun, cloud, 25C.

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): North 5 to 6, locally 7.

Fairly grey start to the day, though a grey day is not forecast. Meant to be sunny but also quite windy. With northerlies dominating, should feel quite fresh.

Evening update (19.45): Took some time for the cloud to go away, though there was still some around at times during the afternoon. A fresh old breeze this morning calmed down later. Nice in the sun: a high of 23.1C.

No Frills Excursions

Piling On The Agony

What on earth has it come to when the prime minister of Spain can be found wandering around with a selfie stick? Mariano has suddenly got the camera bug. There he was, not so long ago, beaming close up and personal with the boy Nadal and last week he was waving the wand about in the company of some Young Conservatives. This is not the sort of behaviour we expect of him. Anyone would think he was a man of the people, more at home cowering behind a sofa rather than being snapped alongside the kids. And then, blow me, he was in Palma for a sort of dress-down Thursday on the streets of the city with his new found (renewed found) best friend José Ramón. Sans tie may be a de rigueur fashion statement by Mallorcan politicians, but really ... Rajoy? Mind you, as it was about 100 in the shade, he could have been forgiven for having donned flip flops and a Real Madrid t-shirt (so long as he kept the shirt on, because otherwise he would have contravened the city's civic ordinance). As it was, he stuck to the Armani-style suit trousers, while JR was in his best jeans. (Which are the favoured jeans brands of Mallorca's politicos, do you suppose?)

Then it was off to the Son Moix for a blue-flag-waving rally. "One Mariano, there's only one Mariano," they didn't chant as Mariano reeled off the good news of the previous 72 hours, the rabbits that had been plucked from the magician's hat, such as growth outstripping even that of Germany. JR announced there would be 40,000 new jobs. A tenth of that number - somewhat fewer than for a typical home match against a Second Division side no one has ever heard of - cheered and cheered. "Who are yer? Who are yer? Who are yer?" they didn't taunt PSOE or Podemos.

A Bauzá bounce had suddenly bound on to the pre-election scene, if only in JR's estimation. According to PP internal polls, there would be 26 seats in parliament and not the 20 that other polls had been predicting (who can trust polls these days?). "Boing, boing, boing," the blue-flag-wavers should have been belting out in a Baggies fans way. Or will it be a Zebedee boing come next Sunday? Time for bed.

While all this rallying of the troops was going on, someone with nothing better to do had been taking a look at the Balearics PP's election website. And what did they find? An advert for hemorrhoids. Or rather, the image of a model (female) who had appeared on a British website in 2013 which had been promoting its "detox for hemorrhoids". What was happening? Was this a case of JR bringing his family business to the party again? As the owner of a pharmacy, were the PP promising to rid the whole of the Balearic population of piles? What an electoral gambit that would be. But alas, no. The agency had cocked up. As it had also done by posting an image that Santander bank had previously used. The people in the photo didn't look Mallorcan, said the political scientist who had made the discovery but who really ought to get out more. Sadly, therefore, the PP's message of "per un futur bon" was not one of a bon future of relief from piles.

But back at the Son Moix, Mariano was going on about tourism. It is "indestructible in the islands," he announced (and for once didn't refer to Mallorca as the island of Palma). This was by way of an attack on ideas the left might have of reintroducing an eco-tax, but then there are other ways in which tourism can be destructible. Poor image, for instance, and so, naturally enough, Magalluf and its peculiarities were being laid bare by the British red tops once more. This time it was "The Mirror" and a video of some bloke dressed as a woman being given a thrashing by a dwarf during an S&M stag-party do in an - as yet - unnamed Maga bar. "The Mirror" conveniently posted a photo of a dwarf with a bike on its website and quoted "a source close to the Magalluf bar scene" who said that nothing had changed, despite the vow to clean the place up. Yep, the red tops will do anything they can to drag Maga's name down further, will ensure they have their slime-ball moles in place in order to try and dish some dirt and will also manage to misunderstand. Politicians had told local media last year, the paper said, that Magalluf would be a "mature tourist zone", thus totally failing to understand (or perhaps deliberately so) that this is not a reference to behaviour. Idiots.

Friday, May 15, 2015

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 15 May 2015


Morning high (7.45am): 17C
Forecast high: 25C; UV: 8
Three-day forecast: 16 May - Sun, cloud, wind, 26C; 17 May - Sun, 21C; 18 May - Sun, 24C.

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): Variable 2 to 3.

Cloudy and rather dull this morning. The change which had been forecast has occurred. There were storms overnight but not locally. The wind seems to have eased considerably but is forecast to remain a factor today and into the weekend.

Evening update (20.15): Very much cooler. Indeed it felt distinctly chilly this morning when there was also a brief shower. Cleared up, got sunny and was pleasant - a high of 23.3C.

No Frills Excursions

Bauzá - World Tourism Leader

A good deal of publicity was given to the visit of Taleb Rifai, the secretary-general of the World Tourism Organization (WTO), to Palma the other day. While a headlining aspect of his visit was his declaration of opposition to taxes levied on tourists (and not solely a possible tourist tax), he also took the opportunity to praise the efforts of the Balearic Government. Its "model" of tourism was along the lines of that promoted by the WTO. Jordanian Rifai is presumably not barred from political statements, but his comments in favour of the government had a barely disguised political element. As head of a United Nations organisation, should he, though, be quite so open?

The WTO, it should be noted, has its headquarters in Madrid. Is it a body that has become too close, therefore, to the Spanish political set-up and so to the Partido Popular in particular? Perhaps, given its location, this is inevitable, but the politicised nature of his comments in Palma was transparent, especially when he said - words to this effect - that Bauzá should be considered to be a world leader in tourism. With elections only a couple of weeks away, his praise seemed disproportionately effusive.

This is not, however, to disparage some of the good work that the government has done, but how much credit should Bauzá take for it? Disliked though he was by many, the architect of this tourism leadership was that of one of the forgotten men of the current legislature, Carlos Delgado.

Meanwhile, and with the elections now almost upon us, business associations in Mallorca and the Balearics have been setting out their "manifestos" for the next government. The hoteliers' federation in Mallorca has three principal objectives: guaranteeing legal certainty for businesses, investors and destinations; boosting competitiveness through cost reduction; and ensuring the participation of tourism business in decision-making. In other words, it is telling parties other than the PP to not reverse measures that have enabled investment, to not crank up taxes and to not exclude its wishes from any future legislation.

The hoteliers' groups from the different islands are united in their opposition to a tourist tax, but not all the associations are dead against it. Pepe Tirado for Acotur, the tourist businesses' association, said that a tax of between one and two euros a day would be reasonable, a "good formula" for raising revenues to be directed towards natural resources and tourism infrastructure.

Will there be a tax? Much will depend on how the elections go. But for some, a Mallorcan president, be he (or she) Bauzá or someone else, will no longer be a world leader if there is a tax.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 14 May 2015


Morning high (7.15am): 19C
Forecast high: 31C; UV: 9
Three-day forecast: 15 May - Sun, cloud, wind, 25C; 16 May - Sun, cloud, 22C; 17 May - Sun, 21C.

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): Southwest 3 to 4 increasing 5 at intervals.

Somewhat hazy and may continue to be during the day. Very high temperatures for this time of the year, cooling off tomorrow and over the weekend.

Evening update (21.00): High of 35.3C. Middle of May? You have to be kidding. All down to the southerly winds. Actually, though it was like a sauna, a hazy sun and a strong breeze made things pretty bearable.

No Frills Excursions

The Revolving School Gate

Here are some figures for you. In the Balearics for the school year 2012-2013 there were 40,615 children registered with the public education system for infant schooling, 66,123 for primary schools and 40,728 for obligatory secondary schooling. The numbers, by comparison with some other regions of Spain, are not huge. Catalonia, for instance, had over 450,000 primary school children during the same school year, but then Catalonia is a much bigger place and has a much larger total population. The numbers, though, are not really what matters, it is quality of education that does.

The Balearics underperforms in the PISA measures of student assessment - maths, reading comprehension and sciences. PISA, the programme for international student assessment of fifteen-year-olds, consistently ranks the Balearics among the worst-performing regions of Spain along with other regular underachievers at the bottom of the class - Andalusia, Extremadura and Murcia. Not all regions participate in this assessment; the Canaries, for example. But were that region to be included, one wonders if it might not show similar underperformance to that of the Balearics.

A peculiar aspect of this performance is that the Balearics is one of Spain's wealthier regions in terms of contribution to GDP. The implication of comparative affluence should mean, by a typically assigned equation between wealth and education, that performance would be stronger. In poorer regions, such as Andalusia and Extremadura, educational underperformance is perhaps more understandable, but Andalusia (and so the Costa del Sol and other tourism regions) also faces an issue in common with the Balearics - the transitory nature of some of its school student population.

Thus far during the school year 2014-2015, almost 2,400 pupils have been removed from primary schools in the Balearics. It is lower than the figure for the previous school year - 7,000 - but it is still a substantial number. The pupils have abandoned the Balearic public education system because their families have either moved to a different part of Spain or abroad. These include Spanish (Mallorcan) families and those from other countries, who have gone in search of better employment prospects or have simply decided to go back home. At the same time, however, the Balearics is one of only two regions to show a slight increase in total population - workers and their families continue to come to the island for tourism employment or in the hope of a better life.

Before the economic crisis hit, inward population movement was of such a level that the school population rose substantially. This created all manner of difficulties: finding space for the pupils and also being able to deliver an adequate standard of education. Despite the slowdown that crisis brought about, the Balearics still has an inordinately high number of foreign pupils. The national average is 9%. In the Balearics it is 19%. This percentage, though, is regularly shifting in terms of its components. There is, if you like, a constantly revolving school gate of pupils coming in and going out, mostly all of them originally from elsewhere in Spain or from abroad.

The strains and difficulties that this turnover create should not be underestimated. Generally, and although the teaching profession in the Balearics does not seek to use it as an excuse or as meaning that school "failure" is inevitable, researchers at the university in Palma question whether the public education system is capable of compensating for the disadvantages that can be faced by foreign pupils and whether indeed the system is "truly inclusive and promotes educational equality". Though it is not always wise to take anecdotal evidence as proof, I have heard from parents of foreign pupils who imply that their children are not discriminated against by teachers so much as not treated with adequate respect and seriousness and so not granted sufficient attention to their needs. These anecdotes may, though, lend support to what the university researchers are saying. (By way of balance, it should be noted that there are anecdotes which suggest the opposite.)

When one weighs all the factors up, it isn't perhaps surprising that overall educational performance is as low as it is. What isn't revealed by the researchers' studies is the contribution that foreign pupils make to a lowering of general performance (though statistics on repeating might well give a clue), but regardless of this, there are still 81% of pupils who find themselves in a system that underperforms. The shifting school population is surely a factor in this underperformance but only one.

Balearic governments do not help the situation by their movement of linguistic goalposts, but then nor - some of the time - do the teachers. LOMCE, the national law for improving educational qualities, has its many critics, but if its fundamental objective is improvement, why are teachers in the Balearics going on strike on 19 May in opposition to testing that is being introduced for third-grade primary schoolchildren?

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 13 May 2015


Morning high (6.45am): 16C
Forecast high: 29C; UV: 10
Three-day forecast: 14 May - Sun, 30C; 15 May - Cloud, sun, wind, 21C; 16 May - Cloud, sun, 21C.

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): South 2 to 4, locally Northeast during the afternoon.

Splendid morning as the mini-heatwave reaches its climax with an advice for high temperatures tomorrow, when the 30C forecast level will probably be exceeded by two to three degrees. Then a brief change as the temperatures fall on Friday.

Evening update (20.00): A high of 33C. Hot then, all thanks to the wind coming from the Sahara.

No Frills Excursions

The Good Cops Of The Resorts

German tourists in Playa de Palma have started to take things into their hands. They have been making posters which can be stuck into the sand which declare "no sunglasses", "no massage". There are also t-shirts bearing the same messages. The targets of these messages should be obvious. Other German tourists have been behaving in a somewhat less responsible fashion. On more than one occasion, great hordes of them have taken to the main road, chanting and blocking traffic.

There is a common thread to these two separate examples of how tourists behave. The local police. Here is a resort which is subject to a city ordinance that was designed to bring an end to (or at least reduce) anti-social behaviour and illegal trades. Yet, there are tourists who are so fed up with the pestering they receive from the lookies and the massage girls that they have sought to deter them, while there are others who appear to be able to brazenly take to the streets (a main road no less) and conduct themselves in a wholly inappropriate manner. Where are the police?

Well, one factor is that the reinforcement of local police numbers isn't due to take effect until 1 June. Why? The tourism season, in a sort of official sense, starts on 1 May; in truth, it does of course start earlier. Is a 1 June commencement for the reinforcement a reflection of the laments that the season has become ever shorter? It shouldn't be. The security forces should not be bound by notions of seasonality.

Local police numbers can of course only ever be finite. Resources dictate this. Police numbers are dwarfed by the sheer volume of visitors - both welcome and unwelcome. There is mitigation, therefore. They, the finite numbers which exist, can't be everywhere. Nevertheless, these examples from Playa de Palma highlight a problem - not just one of police numbers but of image.

Last summer, the public prosecutor started the second phase of an investigation into the local police force that had been opened the previous September. Various police officers were being looked into. Allegations included trafficking of influence and bribery. The Guardia Civil had been called in and had raided a police station in 2013.

Earlier this year, a well-known businessman (unnamed) with interests in nightlife in Playa de Palma was arrested. This investigation is now in court. Witnesses have been giving evidence of payments to one officer for "turning a blind eye", who was apparently prone to visiting one particular club owner in seeking ever more payment. These witnesses have also spoken of orgies involving prostitutes which were attended by public officials, including one mayor from the "part forana" of Mallorca, i.e. away from Palma. Police officers did not, according to witnesses, attend these orgies, but there were alleged "arrangements" for alcohol and sex, though never payments.

This investigation and the complaints about an absence of police in the resort are not linked, except in one way: image. They might also be said to be linked through an issue of morale. The good cops are operating against a background of an ongoing investigation into allegedly bad cops. While lookies and massage girls patrol the beaches and German tourists maraud across the main road and can all do so with apparent impunity, a link - however false - might be made. The good cops are damned, and unreasonably so, by association.

There is of course a similarity between events in Playa de Palma and those in Magalluf. Police corruption allegations arose there last summer, and with the new season upon us, the good cops - and the Guardia - appear to still have their hands tied by regulations that do not allow them to tackle the resort's principal problem of the mugging prostitutes, while, for reasons that baffle many, they cannot yet enforce local ordinance designed to tackle anti-social behaviour.

Whether this ordinance, once it is in place, achieves what it is designed to is questioned by many, just as it is in Playa de Palma. And if it fails, then the image of the police (and of politicians) will be dented further. Some bad cops may have brought this negative image upon themselves and, by association, their forces, but the good cops have to be given the means.

There is this vast gap between developments of resort embellishment and improvement and the lights of the more seedy infrastructure which attracts the moths of poor behaviour and criminality. Tourism will always attract these, but they don't have to be a given or to be to the extent that they are, and until such a time as the greater excesses are truly stamped on and stamped out, the investments of embellishment will be undermined, their returns limited by this at present unreconcilable discrepancy. Give the cops what they need - the good ones, that is - but, by God, make sure they are the good ones.