Friday, July 31, 2015

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 31 July 2015


Morning high (7.15am): 22C
Forecast high: 31C; UV: 9
Three-day forecast: 1 August - Rain, sun, 29C; 2 August - Sun, 27C; 3 August - Sun, 30C.

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

A sunny morning with only some patchy cloud. Due to cloud over by the evening with showers a high possibility tomorrow before returning to sunny conditions on Sunday.

Evening update (21.45): Now quite cloudy and close, Coastal high of 30.5 and Inland high of 32.4C, with the full works of a storm forecast for tomorrow morning.

No Frills Excursions

Loving English And Summer Holidays

There are some more students at Alcudia's Bellevue hotel complex. They are not like the others. They are younger, some of them very young. They are summer school students. Some wear t-shirts bearing the legend "Love English". The youngest ones play games and sing songs in learning their English. This is how it should be. Not the idiots' guide to idiotically introduce teaching in English to secondary school maths' pupils: those in the Balearics who, as the PISA assessment data reveal, are already lousy at maths.

Summer school camps for learning English are a good idea. Any summer camp probably seems a good idea to Spanish parents. From mid-June to mid-September the long hot summer school holidays last. Idyllic for children. Hell for parents. Nowhere has longer summer holidays than Spain. No schoolchildren enjoy longer summers than those of Spain. How their British counterparts must envy them. All those weeks off and sun as well. It doesn't, in a child's world, get any better. One quarter of the year is devoted to summer holidays. When they're older, they will remember thinking that holidays just went on forever. And they did. Very much more so than an English child from the early 1960s thought the same. At what age do children truly acquire a sense of time, a temporal appreciation? Presumably when they start borrowing phrases from their parents. Doesn't time fly. I can't believe it's nearly Christmas. Where did the summer go?

In Mallorca, as with the rest of Spain, a sense of time is in any event not as it is in other countries. Time is movable, it lacks definition and exactness. Mañana could just as easily be next year as tomorrow, or morning. Mediodía? Who knows where it starts and where it ends. Oh the vagueness of media horita. Time, though, has its importance. It does encroach in a formal manner upon a society generally ill-equipped to understand the rigidities imposed by time. For Mallorcan and Spanish schoolchildren, therefore, it is evaluated in terms of the hours they spend at school, which are not as short as some might believe. Nevertheless, in the Balearics they have spoken about the need for more hours. Perhaps they need the extra hours to compensate for the quarter of the year when hours, in a child's mind, may as well not exist and when time stands still.

Spain, for a country where an acquaintance with the formalities of time can seem distant, does devote a great deal of its time to temporal study. This is surely a consequence of societal ambivalence to its meaning, is it not? Maybe, but more pragmatically there is an ongoing debate regarding the hours of working days, changing from Central European Time, abandoning the siesta, redefining lunch (and so therefore mediodía) and also evening. And when it comes to schooling, in addition to possible extensions to the school day, there is a debate over the summer holidays. Might Mallorca's children soon be cursing their luck as much as British or German children do?

The head of Spain's IMF distance learning business school is just one who has called for there to be shorter holidays. Business in general appears to agree with him, as do some parents' bodies. One consequence of the long holidays is that children, after some thirteen weeks away from the classroom, forget why it was that they were going to school and also forget how it was. How to learn, how to study.

There is of course a good reason for the length of the summer holidays: the heat. It isn't conducive to learning, but there again, with air-conditioned classrooms need this be an issue? But then the heat, albeit of the mornings and with the aid of some shade doesn't seem to deter the summer school attendees of Bellevue.

If there is a concern about the loss of the routine of learning and study over the long holidays, then the summer camps make plenty of sense. And if the kids are learning English, then so much the better. But these are camps, for the most part, for parents who can pay. The disadvantaged remain disadvantaged. It's fanciful to think, even for the current regional government, that funds would be made available for universal language-learning summer camps. That might not be such a bad investment, but there is only so much spare accommodation knocking around.

While there is the great Spanish debate about time, there is the even greater debate about education, exemplified in Mallorca by the row over trilingual teaching and now the provisions of the national LOMCE curriculum for improved educational quality. Part of it should be about the summer holiday. Three months are too long. They create too great an imbalance in the learning routine. They should be shorter.

Index for July 2015

Alcúdia, Bellevue and Spanish students - 4 July 2015
All-inclusives - 25 July 2015
Calvia and cinema tourism - 6 July 2015
Children's entertainment and fiestas - 12 July 2015
Constitutional challenge to Balearic retail legislation - 22 July 2015
Fadrí fiesta, Moscari - 26 July 2015
Fiesta sameyness - 28 July 2015
Flamenco: not loved in Mallorca? - 14 July 2015
Francina Armengol government - 8 July 2015
IB3 broadcaster - 27 July 2015
In-store music - 15 July 2015
Jewel races - 19 July 2015
José Ramón Bauzá senator - 13 July 2015
July fiestas - 7 July 2015
Mallorcan nobility - 24 July 2015
Nepotism allegation: IB-Salut - 10 July 2015
Partido Popular succession - 20 July 2015
Political pacts in Mallorca - 30 July 2015
Politicians' holidays - 29 July 2015
Resort architecture and planning - 21 July 2015
Salvador Hedilla - first flight from Barcelona - 3 July 2015
School summer holidays - 31 July 2015
Summer in Mallorca - 9 July 2015
The Beatles in Spain - 2 July 2015
Too many tourists - 16 July 2015
Torrent de Pareis concert - 5 July 2015
Tourism in government structures - 1 July 2015
Tourism ministry appointments - 18 July 2015
Tourist tax - 11 July 2015, 17 July 2015, 23 July 2015

Thursday, July 30, 2015

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 30 July 2015


Morning high (7.00am): 26C
Forecast high: 29C; UV: 9
Three-day forecast: 31 July - Sun, 30C; 1 August - Cloud, sun, 29C; 2 August - Sun, 29C.

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): Northeast 4 to 5.

Cloudy to begin and probably staying so for a good deal of the day. Due to be cooler, but the humidity is high, as it was yesterday and overnight.

Evening update (21.15): Fairly cloudy through the day. Cooler and breezy at times but not this evening: barely a movement in the trees. Very close. Coastal high, 28.7C; Inland high, 29.7C.

No Frills Excursions

Pact-Out: Reporting on government

The Pact, in case you hadn't noticed, is back. It is now in its third Balearic incarnation, its elements having changed but its moniker having not. Previous pacts had been led, as this one is, by PSOE, aka PSIB, but they had not had a singularity of leftist purpose. Past pact members had come from the not-left-wing Unió Mallorquina. The Pact Mark III comprises PSOEPSIB and Més. But this doesn't paint the full picture, as it is a pact with its vitally important hangers-on: Podemos, not actually a part of the government but a pact member in the background, an anything but sleeping partner.

The Pact of parliament is by no means the only pact. Palma has a pact, Calvia has one. Indeed, mostly all local government - island councils, town halls - is now pact-out. There are pacts within pacts - Més is one, as it was already a coalition of parties - and then there are pacts that were specifically created before the elections. Hence, for instance, there are Junts for this or that. Junt means together, a pact, and these Junts (or whatever else they might be called) have subsequently established wider pacts, über-pacts, through which they can govern town halls.

Reporting on this lot is a nightmare, made more terrifying by the existence of offshoots or derivatives. Podemos is the chief offender. As it barred the use of the Podemos name at municipal level, formations at town halls needed related names: Som Palma, Sí Se Puede Calvia and so on. One is faced with the question of whether, whenever there is mention of a governing unit, there has to be an explanation as to its components. In Calvia, for instance, is it always necessary to amplify the meaning of its Pact and so constantly refer to PSOEPSIB, Si Se Puede Calvia (the local wing of Podemos) and Esquerra Oberta, another damn pact within a pact of which Més, its own pact, is a part?

Explanations are, from time to time, required. But they have the propensity to turn reporting of an already confused situation into one of such convolution that the person doing the reporting, so tangled up by explanatory requirements, loses the plot while the poor recipient of the explanation - the reader - loses the will to live.  

Consequently, one hankers for the days when things were a lot less muddled. With the Partido Popular enjoying majorities in government, at the Council of Mallorca and in many municipalities, life was much more simple. PP it was and nothing more. Except for the fact, and this is especially observable in the Spanish media, of an obsession with explanation. The PP would frequently come with the note that it was "centre-right", a description that some might, in any event, take issue with: "right" would often be more accurate. 

Mission to inform and all that, but does this explanatory obsession betray a  patronising tendency, an assumption of ignorance/lack of knowledge on behalf of the reader? Moreover, within the stylising of ruling groups at different levels of  Mallorca's local government, is there a further tendency to reach for a pejorative, an underlying expression of disparagement? When, for instance, Palma's council is referred to as "the left", does this imply some contempt or is it merely a statement of fact? A different statement of fact would be to describe the ruling body as just this - the ruling body, the administration. This is, after all, what it is. Whether right, left, in-between, pact or no pact, why the need for embellishment?

There was, though, a similar process when the PP was in government. Many were the references to the "centre-right", as though the readership were in any doubt. And there was also a tendency to style the government under the PP initials. The party and government were obviously distinct entities, but reporting was such that the regional administration was often the Partido Popular, as though government itself was indeed something separate.

So now we have the Pact, a convenient shorthand perhaps but one which appears to deny this coalition its rightful title: that of the government. And within this Pact there exist the elements, always seemingly necessitating some explanation: Podemos, the party of Pablo Iglesias, a grouping forever to be cast in the image of its leader; Més, the "ecosoberanistas", eco-sovereigntists, a title that can be construed as being loaded with insinuation as much as it might be deemed necessary as an explanation.

The point is, though, that by now we surely know what these parties are about. Don't we? Perhaps we don't. But whether we do or we don't, is it not adequate and also respectful to merely refer to government or to administration or to ruling group? It would seem not, and so the Pact it will be, with its veiled implications that are somehow remote from government. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 29 July 2015


Morning high (6.15am): 24.5C
Forecast high: 34C; UV: 9
Three-day forecast: 30 July - Cloud, sun, 28C; 31 July - Sun, cloud, 29C; 1 August - Sun, cloud, 28C.

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

A hot day forecast but the next few days might be less so, with tomorrow set to be cloudy and just the possibility of a spot of rain on Saturday.

Evening update (20.45): Some cloud at times and certainly hot: Coastal high, 33.9C; Inland high, 36.2C.

No Frills Excursions

This Is Not Galicia: Politicians' holidays

Mariano Rajoy has suddenly come out as a man of the people: cycling people and people of Galicia at any rate. Despite being on holiday, the prime minister found time to send a telegram to Alejandro Valverde to congratulate the Spanish cyclist on having come third in the Tour de France. Which was very nice of him, but ... . But isn't there something wrong with this? He sent a what? A telegram? Such a thing surely no longer exists. Does it? Perhaps parts of Galicia have been preserved in a manner that a fellow Galician - Franco - would have approved. None of this internet carry-on. Keep the communications infrastructure as it was. In the dark ages.

It is doubly strange because Mariano has recently taken to having selfies done. One fancies that it is not he holding the selfie-stick, but there he has been, grinning inanely for the mobile, surrounded by the likes of the Nuevas Generaciones: Young Conservatives in other words. The Mariano grin, rarely produced in public, does have an unfortunately and inherently inane quality to it. He can't help it, as it is a grin of which he is not entirely certain. Mariano is not comfortable within his own facial muscles.

So, though he has embraced the technology of the modern age, he sticks stubbornly to an ancient one - the telegram. Maybe it's prime ministerial protocol. Or maybe Alejandro had blocked him on Facebook.

But to come back to the holiday, yes, even the prime minister of Spain can find time for a holiday, and in this new age of making Mariano appear vaguely human, there he was, doing what many a human does. He was taking a dip. Not that this was a dip in the sea at a resort (do they have such things in Galicia?), it was in a river: the Umia in a place called Meis. Yes, that's Meis and not Més. Mariano had gone for a refreshing cool down with friends. Locals, it is said, were surprised to find they were sharing their river with the premier. The rest of the country was just surprised. Mariano doesn't do things like that. Or hadn't until the PR people suggested it might work in his electoral favour.

The Spanish political class is, for the most part, a bunch of stiffs, an affliction recognised by the Spanish themselves. When Dave came to Mallorca with the kids and was building sandcastles on the beach in Puerto Pollensa, the Spanish media looked on with amazement. A Spanish political leader wouldn't do such a thing. There is of course a danger with allowing a politician to vacate his comfort zone - or discomfort zone in Mariano's case - and to be seen enjoying a vacation in such a frivolous manner, i.e. a gentle breaststroke in a river. Caption writers can have field days if you are not careful. Hence, Mariano "swimming against the tide" of unpopularity (and I've checked, the Umia is tidal).

Nevertheless, this is the new age: of communications technology and for appearing to be in touch. Therefore, we have also recently had the president of the Balearics, Francina Armengol, laughing and prancing with the demon of the Algaida cossier folk dancers. Careful. careful. "Francina runs with the devil", and the face of Podemos's Alberto Jarabo will be Photoshopped onto the demon's mask by a miscreant media type.

Francina hadn't, according to a recent interview, decided where she would be going on holiday. If she does have a holiday, then it will be somewhere in Mallorca, she said. What are the chances, do you suppose, of this somewhere being the likes of Magalluf? Nil, one would think. There are respectable resorts for the political class, such as Puerto Pollensa with its Cameron seal of approval, but even its comparative tranquility would pose a problem. Let's be honest, there are simply too many damn tourists knocking around, littering the beaches and occupying the terraces. No, if it's Mallorca, then it will be a discreet pueblo in the interior where riotousness will be confined to the noise of a piper and the jumping of the little hops of the ball de bot.

And there Francina might bump into her political chums. The resorts are not for Biel, the tourism minister, or for Alberto either. The touristic new age requires promotion of all things heritage and environmental, but is there not something contradictory with the attitudes of the new left in Mallorca? It would seemingly happily see working men and women banished from the island in favour of the quality class (whatever that is). But wherever in the alternative touristic Mallorca of gastronomy routes and ethnology the island's now-of-the-people political leaders choose for their vacationing, one thing will be missing. Mallorca has no rivers. Of course not. This is not Galicia. This is sun and beach. Sea. The people's politicians would do well to remember this.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 28 July 2015


Morning high (5.45am): 25.5C
Forecast high: 31C; UV: 9
Three-day forecast: 29 July - Sun, 34C; 30 July - Cloud, sun, 27C; 31 July - Sun, cloud, 30C.

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): East 3 to 4 veering South-Southeast during the afternoon.

Cloud that had been forecast for today looks less likely now. Should be quite breezy but with winds coming from the south later on and tomorrow, they could be of the Saharan nature.

Evening update (20.45): It was cloudy - light - for some of the day. Coastal high, 30.2C; Inland high, 32.4C.

No Frills Excursions

Grow Your Own Fiestas

The chances are that your summer fiesta-going will be confined to the fiestas local to you. There may be one of the "biggies" that tempt you to venture further afield - Pollensa's Moors and Christians, to give one example - but generally you'll stick close to home. When planning your day or night out at the local fiesta, you may well consult the programmes that the town halls will have produced (assuming they've got them out on time). You will therefore be aware that the fiestas will be kicking off with an opening address (pregón), which may or may not be given at the local church but will, wherever it is delivered, be followed by pipers piping before giving way to an evening of ball de bot folk dance in the main square (other permutations are available). During the fiestas there will be, among other things, children's parties - both those involving water/foam and an entertainment group - an open-air supper, usually for charity, any amount of Zumba, demons charging around like mad things, and various night parties, aka verbena or berbena, featuring various acts and DJs you will never have heard of.

Because you only go to the local fiesta, you will perhaps be unaware that in the next village its fiestas the following week will have a programme that bears a remarkable similarity. Indeed, were the town halls of Mallorca to get together in order to save money, they could produce one "master" programme and just change the cover and alter the dates: the same pipers, with different names; the same folk dance; the same kiddies' parties; the same Zumba; the same night party acts, most of which aren't different, as the same names appear at fiesta after fiesta.

With the exception of the unusual or rare - and Pollensa's Moors and Christians fall into this category - the fiestas adhere to tried and trusted formulae, albeit that tried and trusted might be considered a euphemism for a lack of innovation and imagination. The longevity of specific events can be ascertained by the insistence on placing Roman numerals before them. Hence, if you can remember how Roman numerals work, there will be the ninth eight-kilometre evening race, the fourteen chess tournament, the eighteenth dwarf-tossing contest (I've made this one up, don't worry).

Such fiesta groundhog-ism does have its plusses. Everyone wants a fireworks display. No fiesta should be without demons, their noise and their spitting tridents. Pipers, big heads, giants: absolutely, as they are integral to local culture. But then there are the night parties and some of the other ents that crack off at fiesta time. Why, from village to village, from fiesta to fiesta, do they all seem to feature the same groups? The answer lies of course with the fiestas' industry: the companies that are contracted to put together a good deal of the programmes.

Town halls all have councillors who have responsibility for fiestas, which means there are staff employed at town hall who are involved in their organisation. Clearly, there is organisation to be done, but by and large town hall personnel aren't directly involved in much of what happens. They may offer some thoughts, but it will be the contracted company which makes selections. This is why the line-ups at the parties are as samey as they are.

For the most part of course, no one minds, but it is undeniable that some fiestas have lost something in recent years. Crisis brought about a change, as did issues of noise, mess and behaviour. Pollensa's Patrona fiestas, for example, are not as they once were, and some would argue that they are for the better. The street drinking, the use of the streets as lavatories had got out of hand. Crisis could have acted as the mother of fiesta invention, but in general, the opposite has happened or, where there is invention, it is copied religiously by the next village. Everywhere now has to have a tapas route, for instance.

There are, though, instances of fiestas which have grown from nowhere and that have been organised not by town halls but by local associations. A good example are the Canamunt fiestas in Palma - fiestas marked by somewhat unusual elements and very much driven by local people.

Town halls should of course act as keepers of the fiestas and ensure that they are maintained, but town halls may not be the best when it comes to determining what is required or what could be innovative. They may also not be best in spreading the fiesta fun. There are parts of resorts, for instance, that are divorced from fiestas and have none of their own: I'm thinking, as an example, of Alcudia's tourism centre. So why not create your own. Fiestas, more than anything, should be for the people and by the people, and not just town halls and the companies they contract.

Monday, July 27, 2015

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 27 July 2015


Morning high (7.15am): 23.5C
Forecast high: 33C; UV: 9
Three-day forecast: 28 July - Sun, cloud, 31C; 29 July - Sun, 33C; 30 July - Sun, cloud, 27C.

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

Humid old morning and a sticky day ahead.

Evening update (20.00): Occasional cloud but mainly sunny. Close. Coastal high, 32.2C; Inland high, 34.3C.

No Frills Excursions

Jeremy Kyle For IB3

It is of course one of the priorities identified in the manual for conducting a coup d'état. "Item 3: Storm the state broadcaster and take over the network. Item 3.1: Announce who you are - The United Freedom People's Liberation Army of (add as applicable). Item 3.2: Incite counter-rebellion by subjecting the proletariat to several days of unrelentingly tedious classical music combined with images of peasants tolling in fields under a baking sun working for the greater glory of the fatherland." Alternatively, if you have lesser ambitions, i.e. coups are not on your agenda but control of the broadcaster is, you simply insist on running it, thus making your governmental partners suspicious and incurring the opprobrium of a discredited opposition.

The Balearic Partido Popular does have some almighty great brass neck at times. Reduced to a parliamentary rabble by all the off-field shenanigans involving finding a temporary leader for the party, it has been left to Marga Prohens to womanfully fly the local PP flag with its seagull with newly clipped wings. Marga hasn't done a wholly bad job - getting the nepotism dig in about the health service, for example - but when it comes to the IB3 broadcaster she has been staggering with all the lack of credibility of a double amputee. She can stand on neither leg as both were long ago cut from under her, all the consequence of how the PP manipulated the broadcaster for its own ends: how it effectively airbrushed the likes of GOB or the Obra Cultural Balear out of Mallorcan political society; how it managed to turn the use of the definite article "the" into a rallying cry for Catalanists both moderate and hardline as well as normally otherwise indifferent; how it arranged for airtime to minimise pre-election exposure of Podemos (and others).

This latter factor does perhaps play a part in Podemos's ambitions for the broadcaster. Not a coup, just control of it. This, at any rate, is how Marga sees things. "The sole objective of Podemos is the control of public communication media," she declared last week. If this is indeed Podemos's heart's desire, then you can hardly say it will be the first time that a local political party has stamped its authority all over IB3. The PP did so with almost totalitarian effectiveness, installing first the vice-president, Antonio "Nipper" Gómez, as its director (albeit in a transitionary capacity when the previous director resigned), then he would have been mayor of Calvia but isn't, José Manuel Ruiz.

As Podemos's Dave Spart, leader Alberto Jarabo, used to have a day job making films, the IB3 takeover may well be all part of a wider plan to reveal Alberto's oeuvre. What might this include? Dull but worthy documentaries charting the struggles of the Bolivian working-class of the nineteenth century? A profile of jolly Nicolás Maduro, the president of Venezuela? Who can say. But Podemos intentions - their proposed director for IB3 - come in the guise of their man in Manacor who is currently combining council duties for citizen service with looking after the town's cemeteries. Carles Grimalt is his name, and Carles, replete with not one but two earrings, and photographed wearing a fetching, flowery shirt, has all the looks of a member of the Bee Gees backing group circa the later "Night Fever" era. Indeed, were he to sport a beard, he would be Barry Gibb.

Not that earrings should bar someone from running a telly and radio station. But if Podemos are serious in wanting someone with suitable credentials, why not broaden the search? There must be all manner of potential candidates knocking around. Keith Chegwin perhaps. Or what about Jeremy Kyle? That'll be it. That's what he's been doing here in Mallorca. There had to have been some good reason. Jeremy's not bad on the old participation thing, getting idiots to make even bigger idiots of themselves and so on. Ideal for the new Podemos participatory era therefore. Kyle it is then.

* Podemos have since discovered that the law doesn't permit the appointment of a member of a political party's executive, so Grimalt cannot be IB3's director.
** And now they have discovered the law does permit it. Or something like that.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 26 July 2015


Morning high (7.00am): 22.5C
Forecast high: 32C; UV: 9
Three-day forecast: 27 July - Sun, 33C; 28 July - Sun, cloud, 30C; 29 July - Sun, 32C.

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

The cloud of yesterday not expected to be a factor today. Hot and with light breezes. Outlook for the week - hot.

Evening update (21.00): Coastal high, 31.9C; Inland high, 33.8C.

No Frills Excursions

Bachelor Boys And Bachelor Girls: Moscari

Some saints acquire saintliness because of miracles, others through martyrdom  and yet more through visions and ecstasies. Generally speaking, being part of the family isn't grounds for saintliness. But when your grandson is the Messiah, a spot of flexibility might be applied to the award, and so it was with Saint Anne, aka Santa Anna. She was Christ's nan on his mother's side: the mother, therefore, of the Virgin Mary.

It is Santa Anna's day today. Though it was once claimed that she was capable of conception by the Holy Spirit, a claim condemned in 1677 as an "error", Anna didn't really engage in traditional saintly pastimes. It is perhaps for this reason that, although she will be granted respectful celebration today, she doesn't generally register on the fiestas' roll call of honour: well, not in Mallorca anyway, with one notable exception - the small village of Moscari.

This is a village within a village, the larger one of Selva. It is a village whose name provokes argument, something not uncommon when it comes to deciding how Mallorcan place names came to be as they are. The three favoured origins are from Latin words for moss, fly or musk. On balance, if you come from Moscari, you would probably opt for the latter. (Fly, you would almost certainly prefer to dismiss.)

Hibiscus, of which there is a good deal in Mallorca, is of a flowering plant order that gives off a musky fragrance, and the hibiscus as well as other flowers play a fairly important part in one of the best-kept fiesta secrets in Mallorca. As maybe befits a somewhat obscure village within a village that has bucked the trend for far more widely celebrated saints and opted instead for Jesus's grandmother when it comes to a spot of fiesta-ing, Moscari has one of the least well-known fiesta traditions of all. Least well-known but arguably one of the most charming of the lot. That's because today, in addition to being Santa Anna's day, is the day of the "Fadrí".

Despite her somewhat questionable credentials for saintliness, Santa Anna nonetheless acquired a collection of causes for which she is the sponsor. One of these entails her being the patron of unmarried women. Not unmarried mothers, because that really wouldn't do, but women not yet married - bachelor girls. It is said, somewhat mistakenly, that she is also patron of bachelor boys, but the list of saintly responsibilities assigns this task to Saint Christopher, he also of the traveller, as opposed to Saint Cliff. But this misinterpretation notwithstanding, Anna's day is, in Moscari, the day of bachelor boys and bachelor girls - "fadrins" and "fadrines": the day of the "Fadrí".

No one seems to know why this day is as it is. Whatever its origins, they have been wiped from the collective hard disc memory of the admittedly small population of Moscari and indeed there wouldn't be the "Fadrí" day if it hadn't been for one Margalida Martorell. A resident of the village, she could recall there having been this day many years in the past, and her memories were such that in 1982 Moscari revived the fiesta, not that Margalida was seemingly able to shed any light on why there had ever been a fiesta.

This morning at nine o'clock, the village will have been woken up by the screeching of the local pipers and then, around ten o'clock, the "Fadrí Major" will appear: the chief bachelor boy. He will carry a reed adorned with ribbons and flowers and will then be joined by "fadrins" and "fadrines", some of them in traditional dress, and by children of the village, either dressed normally or in a traditional farming style. The girls will carry bouquets. Others will carry reeds. There will be a carpet of flowers, an innovation last year. The balconies, doorways and streets will have flowers and ribbons, and among the flowers will be hibiscus with its musky fragrance. The parade ends at the church and there are more flowers - the typical floral offer to the patron saint - and that will pretty much be that.

Why they do it is lost in the mists of time, but they do do it, and it is, in its sheer simplicity, a striking contrast to the raucousness of much of the summer fiesta. Charming is an overused word and too often a cliché, but in Moscari it is entirely appropriate.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 25 July 2015


Morning high (7.00am): 24C
Forecast high: 28C; UV: 9
Three-day forecast: 26 July - Sun, 32C; 27 July - Sun, 31C; 28 July - Sun, cloud, 29C.

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

Some cloud first thing, but the previous forecast which had suggested quite heavy cloud for much of today and perhaps even a shower has given way to one for sun. No real breeze at present but this is due to pick up like it did yesterday.

Evening update (20.30): It was cloudy after all; at times, anyway. Not as hot. Coastal high, 28.7C; Inland high, 29.7C.

No Frills Excursions

Who Shouts Loudest? Magalluf

A previous article - "Rethinking Architecture" on Tuesday - was prompted by a workshop that was to be launched the next day to consider the architectural future of Magalluf. As I said in that article, such a consideration should apply to many other resorts. Magalluf, on architectural grounds, shouldn't be singled out and nor should it be for other reasons. Unfortunately it is, and by unfortunate I don't mean the negative issues the resort faces, I mean the fact that it is Magalluf and seemingly only ever Magalluf.

At an open debate that was staged, architecture was one of the last things to be discussed. Attention turned, as it so often does, to one of the key issues for Mallorca's tourism - the all-inclusive hotel. While there may be specific reasons for this being a hot topic in the resort at present, e.g. the unlimited alcohol fuelling a young tourist market that mayor Rodríguez would like to at least limit if not get rid of altogether, it is no more a key issue in Magalluf than it is in many other parts of the island. Arguably, it is less of an issue there than elsewhere.

Magalluf, and the same can be said for other Calvia resorts, was for years relatively unaffected by all-inclusive. Going back to the time when this type of board first came to Mallorca - the early 1990s - it was a phenomenon in the north and east. Parts of the island that can be conveniently ignored. Just as they are now. Magalluf shouts loudest and everyone shouts loudest about Magalluf.  

You cannot of course fail to understand why there is such a focus on one resort, but it is a focus which does Mallorca no real favours because of the neglect of other resorts. The workshop itself, and the attention afforded to it, is representative of this. Were it to have been held in and to have been about, for example, Alcudia, Can Picafort, Cala Ratjada, Cala Millor, Calas de Mallorca, no one would have paid it any attention. Yet here are resorts just as badly affected by architectural lack of forethought and by all-inclusive: more so in fact.

It is, some will say, all the fault of the media. True, it is. But only up to a point. The media reflects the twin obsessions of politicians and the tourism industry - Magalluf and Playa de Palma - but it will naturally tend to follow who shouts the loudest. In Magalluf, all sorts of groups do this - hoteliers, business associations and so on. Shouting elsewhere is muted. In Alcudia bay hoteliers there are noises from time to time but not consistently loud ones. As for all points south along the east coast from Cala Ratjada? Barely a murmur. 

As for the debate, one of the more revealing points was when the president of the local hoteliers' association was challenged over an observation that you cannot swim against the tide of all-inclusive. Yes you can was the reply. In a nutshell, this summed up what has been the case for far too many years: a resignation in face of tour operator power that, more often than not, coerces hotels into supplying all-inclusive even if they are not well equipped to do so, or to do so to satisfactory levels of quality and service.

The new tourism minister, Biel Barceló, has promised regulation of all-inclusive. Good. It's about time. But this should not mean a ban. Idiotic talk of bans is just that - idiotic. There has to be a compromise, and the route to this lies with standards of quality and service. Apply them correctly and strictly, and much of the current three-star all-inclusive would disappear. Harmful to Mallorca's tourism? Maybe it would be, but if there is a call for regulation, it cannot discriminate between hotels where the youth market gets plastered and others where families enjoy cost-effective holidays. Nor can it discriminate between resorts. Not that it would be able to. When a mayor like Rodríguez himself speaks of all-inclusive regulation, he knows full well that the town hall has no competence in this regard: it can only be effected island-wide by government. Will it happen? It would be good to hear voices from the north and the east of the island making their views known.

Friday, July 24, 2015

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 24 July 2015


Morning high (6.15am): 23.5C
Forecast high: 35C; UV: 9
Three-day forecast: 25 July - Cloud, 29C; 26 July - Sun, 30C; 27 July - Sun, 32C.

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): Variable 2 to 3 increasing Southwest 4 in the eastern region by the afternoon.

Not as warm as it has been overnight and something of a breeze this morning. High temperature warning again for today, though, but then tomorrow ... looks like there might be rain.

Evening update (19.30): Coastal high, 34C; Inland high, 36.5C. Hot but also quite windy, so feeling much more comfortable.

No Frills Excursions

The Oligarchs Of Mallorca

Dave Spart isn't happy. The oligarchic caste has upset him. Not any Russians, just a descendant of the Mallorcan nobility or hidalgo class. The one who has incurred Dave's wrath is one Juan Gual de Torrella. He's the new president of the Balearic Ports Authority. Dave's been mostly happy with what the new Balearic Government has been up to - getting rid of trilingual teaching and what have you - but he is not going to let President Armengol overlook the fact that lurking behind her sweetness and friendliness is the Mallorcan member of the Spartist dynasty, prepared at any moment to harangue her with the dialectic of Pablo Iglesias: Dave is Alberto Jarabo, leader of Podemos in the Balearics, and Dave, though you really should know this, is also the decades-old, comedy left-wing agitator from the pages of "Private Eye".

The Spartist dynasty takes unkindly to hidalgic dynasties such as the one to which Juan Gual de Torrella belongs, and it's all, as you will doubtless guess, the fault of that old conquering sort from Aragon, Jaume I. The oligarchic caste was cast in the stone of Mallorca's dry-stone ways almost 800 years ago. It came, intent not so much on kicking the Muslims out for purely religious reasons but more so in order to control the Mediterranean: Mallorca, it was thought, would be the base for Aragon-Catalan power. As things turned out, Mallorca wasn't to prove to be all that important, but the oligarchs nevertheless had the island carved up and established a cliquish power base that was to endure for centuries.

Among their number were the Torrellas: well, one anyway. He was Ramón de Torrella and he secured for himself a pretty important position. Ten years after Jaume's conquest, Ramón was ordained as the first bishop of Mallorca. It didn't get much better for a mediaeval oligarch making his way in newly acquired land than to also have the ear of the Lord. Ramón's buried next to the Corpus Christi chapel at Palma Cathedral, and though he wasn't to know it, the Torrellas were to be responsible for a pope, and what a pope he was. Though born Roderic Llançol de Borja, Pope Alexander VI was from the Torrella dynasty, a part of which had headed back from Mallorca to mainland Crown of Aragon - Valencia to be precise. Alexander's principal claim to fame, apart from the illegitimate children he somewhat naughtily fathered, lay with the Borja name. In the Italian of the time, this became Borgia. Alexander's time as a pope was characterised by what Borgia came to stand for: nepotism, among other things.

The Borgias didn't necessarily have a great deal to do with Mallorca, albeit there were marriages - when they weren't poisoning one another or committing incest - that involved the odd member of the Aragon clan. Nevertheless, they were a part of the story that began with Bishop Ramón and which has run ever since: a story often characterised by the system of nepotism that they mastered.

There is no question that the descendants of Ramón de Torrella and others from the original Mallorcan noble class flourished and thrived thanks to nepotism and formed a culture which democratic society is only now attempting to tackle. Podemos don't like nepotism, and nor should they. But Juan Gual de Torrella hasn't been made president of the ports authority because of nepotism. He has got the job because he's eminently qualified for it. Nonetheless, Podemos sniff the culture of the oligarchs of yore; hence, the oligarchic caste accusation.

It is an accusation made for no other reason than Gual de Torrella's lineage. It is a weak jibe, as the noble, hidalgo class simply doesn't exert the power it once did. There are plenty of members of these old families knocking around but their influence is not as it was. Indeed, the wealth base of many is not as it was. Another member of the Gual de Torrella family, Margarita Gual de Torrella i Massanet, has said that "for hundreds of years, we (the family) lived in absolute splendour": lived, not live.

Podemos are right to challenge cultures of power, favouritism, nepotism, but they need to be careful and not make themselves appear vindictive. The only justification they have for opposing Gual de Torrella's appointment is the name. It's hardly an argument.

I have a reason, other than Podemos's discontent, to be interested in that name. I live on Gual de Torrella land. Or what was Gual de Torrella land. In 1933, when the Republicans were eyeing up land owned by the aristocracy, they listed this land for expropriation. Over 5000 acres of it. Albufera in Alcudia. It was the property of Joaquín Gual de Torrella. Dave Spart might now be happy to see what they did with it. Tourism for the masses. Not for the oligarchic caste.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 23 July 2015


Morning high (5.15am): 26C
Forecast high: 30C; UV: 9
Three-day forecast: 24 July - Sun, 34C; 25 July - Sun, cloud, 30C; 26 July - Sun, cloud, 31C.

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): East 2 to 3 backing North-Northeast 2 to 4 around midday.

Very still morning and very warm. Due to be less cloud today. General outlook remaining much the same - hot and sunny.

Evening update (20.30): Coastal high, 31.9C; Inland high, 33.2C.

No Frills Excursions

Eco-Tax Crash: Myth or not myth?

As you might expect her to, the national secretary-of-state for tourism, Isabel Borrego, isn't a fan of tourist eco-taxes wherever they might be applied. She is of course affiliated to the Partido Popular - it is widely said she got the job because she was chummy with the ex-president of the Council of Mallorca, Maria Salom - and so she would be bound to oppose tourist taxes. Being Mallorcan, she has a particular interest in the plan for a Balearic tax, and she has been voicing her displeasure.

Borrego says that there are "objective data" which show that the new tax would create a loss in tourist numbers. These data relate to the previous tax. It, she says, led to there being one million fewer tourists in the Balearics during 2002-2003. Her objective data are open to question.

What losses did the Balearics incur because of the previous tax? Any? It is true to say, because the Balearic tourism ministry keep very complete records of these things, that there was a fall in tourism numbers in the first year that the tax was applied (it came into effect in May 2002). This decline, though sharp, was not as great as Borrego says: it was just over 550,000 for the whole of 2002. Nevertheless, and QED, the eco-tax meant more than half a million fewer tourists. Well, not necessarily.

Borrego has been speaking about the tax and how it is or will be perceived by the German market. The 2015/2016 version of this market will see itself as being under attack by the tax, one which implies a rejection of the visitor. In this, she is echoing the narrative from a separate issue that arose around the time of the old eco-tax. It was one to do with remarks from the then tourism minister, Celesti Alomar, and president of the Council of Mallorca, Maria Antonia Munar. They gave an implication that German tourism of the 2002 variety was not wanted: or at least a certain type of tourism was not wanted. This had little or nothing to do with the eco-tax. It had everything to do with wanting a whole new "quality tourism". It was picked up in Germany in particular, though it was a theme that applied to tourism from all markets: just as the eco-tax did.

The German market did require some later PR massaging in order for it to be satisfied that Alomar and Munar had not been waging some sort of campaign against it. But the fall in tourism (and in German tourism in particular) which occurred needs to be seen against this background, as it also needs to be considered in terms of economic conditions.

While tourism in the Balearics in 2002 fell by 7.6%, the German market showed one of the heaviest falls: down 16%. Indeed, most markets were down that year. The British registered a small 1.2% drop. So, was this the result of the eco-tax?

The German economy went into recession at the end of 2001. Slight growth returned six months later, but weak economic performance was still evident enough by the start of 2003 for "The Economist" to feature an article entitled "Germany's Not Working" on 6 January. There were recessionary influences across Europe in 2002. The UK was an exception. Meanwhile, in Spain as a whole German tourism fell in 2002 by over 6%

The point is that the German market, which had roughly the same one-third share of all Balearic tourism as the UK market in 2001, was by far and away the most important reason why there was a fall in tourism in 2002. The 16% represented over 500,000 tourists. Therefore, was it just the eco-tax which contributed to the decline or did recession and those negative comments from politicians have as much impact if not more?

Moving on to 2003, though Germany was still stumbling economically, the German tourism market revived. As so often is the case (or certainly was before the prolonged "crisis"), confidence picked up relatively quickly. In 2003, and the eco-tax was still applicable until October, tourism in the Balearics grew by 6.6%. The German market was up by over 4%, the British by almost 7%. The losses of 2002 were all but regained.

These "objective data" suggest that in the second year of the eco-tax (2003), tourists - especially German tourists - had either accepted the reality of the tax or had shaken off anxieties caused by recession (a further anxiety, 9/11, has been widely accepted to have not been much of a factor in 2002). The growth in 2003 pushed total tourists numbers above those of 2001, when - and this is usually forgotten - there had also been a fall in tourism: before the eco-tax came in.

This isn't to let the eco-tax off completely. In 2002, for the five main sun and beach regions of Spain, the Balearics was the only one apart from the Canaries to experience a fall in tourism, and this fall - 7.6% - was much higher than the Canaries' 1.8%. Catalonia, meanwhile, had romped along with 15.2% growth.

Was the 2002 crash due to the eco-tax or is it a myth? Not totally. It did play a part, but how great a part is impossible to evaluate. One thing's for sure, it wasn't one million.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 22 July 2015


Morning high (5.45am): 28C
Forecast high: 33C; UV: 9
Three-day forecast: 23 July - Sun, cloud, 30C; 24 July - Sun, 31C; 25 July - Sun, cloud, 33C.

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

Exceptionally warm overnight. A lightning flash or two in the far distance and expected to be quite cloudy for much of the day, though there is no actual forecast for rain. Alert in place again for high temperatures.

Evening update (21.00): Some cloud about during the day and now barely any breeze and very heavy. Coastal high, 34.8C; Inland high, 37.1C.

No Frills Excursions

When Shopping Is Unconstitutional

Shopping. It's one of the tourism niches by which governments - national and regional - set considerable store (so to speak). But when they speak of shopping, they have in mind avenues of luxury retailing in Palma, Inca's leather shopping trips or traditional shops selling traditional products and produce, newly to be established on farm land as means of revitalising rural economies.

This latter measure was dreamt up by the last government. It was one of the Partido Popular's better bits of legislation. Of course it was criticised because it appeared to only benefit already wealthy landowners, but then criticism was to have been expected: it was, despite the opposition, a move applauded by many.

The Bauzá government also adopted measures with regards to retail development. They did not satisfy everyone - far from it - because these were seen as charters for vast retail outlets to rise from the Mallorcan land and to undermine smaller retailers in towns' high streets (or what passes for high streets in Mallorcan terms). These outlets were not ones of a tourism character. They were for the island's general commercial development. Hence, the Carrefour retail park - Primark and all - is due to be ready next year. Hence also the arguments over developments such as Ses Fontanelles.

The PP administration was, for the most part, following orders: those of Madrid. One of these orders had to do with the so-called ZGATs, zones of high tourist influx. They allowed for greater opening-hour liberalisation (especially in the off-season) but were perceived as being prejudicial to smaller retailers and beneficial only to large retailers and the multiple chains. One town, Alcudia, initially vetoed the ZGAT, bowing to pressure from the smaller retailers and so meaning that supermarkets had to close on Sundays (raising a question as to why they had been opening). Only a short time later, the veto was reversed: the large stores had won the argument.  

The last government was attacked for being a friend of the large retailers in the same way as it was a friend of the large hoteliers, and there was no better evidence of this than when the government caved in over the introduction of a "green tax" to apply to large retail sites. Legal action was threatened; the government backed down. But though the regional PP went along with much of what powerful retailers wanted and Madrid had ordered, it didn't follow orders completely. It legislated, and the legislation included a check and balance. There had to be two levels of approval - governmental and municipal.

The latter of these was only following a long accepted principle whereby municipalities have - in theory and often in practice - the final say over developments that affect their local urban planning. Madrid has now taken exception to this local legislation. The levels of approval do not accord with state law. The Balearic legislation is deemed unconstitutional in that the primacy of state law has been challenged.

The PP government did occasionally run foul of Madrid with items of other legislation considered to have been unconstitutional. Elements of the tourism law, for example, had to be redrafted following the arbitration of the body which has the ultimate word (short of the Supreme Court) on such matters - the Constitutional Tribunal. So, it is not entirely unusual for Madrid to step in if it finds regional legislation that doesn't satisfy the provisions of regional autonomy and the state-region relationship. Regardless of political complexion, such interventions can and do occur: a PP national government instructed a PP regional government to make legislative amendments.

Madrid's unconstitutional characterisation of Balearic law as it relates to large retail sites has far greater implication than the rewording of comparative legal minutiae. Though legislation drawn up and approved by the regional PP government, Madrid now says it's wrong. It is a rejection which is being nuanced as an "aggression" towards the new administration, whose minister for trade and industry, Iago Negueruela, has countered by declaring the intention for what in effect would be a moratorium on new large-scale retail developments (he hasn't used the word as such, but others have). And for the most part, the retail industry, even the large retailers (albeit with some reservations) supports him.

This is a support not only driven by commercial thinking, it is support for the right to decide what happens with land and with the general economic mix on the islands. Large retailers bring jobs, yes, but they are mostly McJobs. Does Mallorca need ever more large supermarkets when commonly accepted principles of population:store ratios in parts of the island are already well out of balance? Greater competition is good, but at what cost to overall economic welfare? Madrid is being petty. Very petty. It might have constitutional law on its side but it cannot claim moral law. The national PP has made a rod for its general election back. It should think again.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 21 July 2015


Morning high (6.15am): 24C
Forecast high: 32C; UV: 9
Three-day forecast: 22 July - Sun, cloud, 33C; 23 July - Sun, 29C; 24 July - Sun, cloud, 31C.

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

Back on alert for high temperatures today. A forecast from yesterday for quite heavy cloud today has been revised, so should be sunny. General outlook remains unchanged - hot and sunny.

Evening update (21.15): Quite a bit of light cloud through the day. Hot. Coastal high, 33.7C; Inland high, 35.1C.

No Frills Excursions

Rethinking Architecture: Mallorca's resorts

They're holding a workshop tomorrow at the headquarters of the Balearic College of Architects, the professional institute for the islands' architects. Among those taking part will be the president of the Mallorcan hoteliers' federation, Inma de Benito, and the town hall architect from Calvia as well as a number of architectural students. The workshop's theme is Magalluf and its future. There is to be "critical reflection" on the relationship between architecture and urban planning and the living conditions of both tourists and residents in a tourism environment. Because of Magalluf's issues, it has been chosen as a suitable subject for student analysis.

If, as non-architects, you were to be asked for your architectural prescription for Magalluf's future, it might not get much further than calling in the wrecking crews, but this would be unfair in light of changes already undertaken or in progress in the resort. Indeed, because of these changes, one has to ask if Magalluf is a suitable subject. But your response would probably be one based on something other than architecture, i.e. the resort's poor reputation. Architecture and urban planning can and do determine social behaviour, but Magalluf is not so different, in architectural terms, to other resorts: in fact, because of the recent developments, it is somewhat better than many.

Magalluf was the last of Calvia's main tourism centres to receive the green light for development: it wasn't definitively given until 1959. By then Santa Ponsa and Palmanova were already under development, Paguera's plan had been approved, while Illetes had undergone limited hotel construction (or re-construction) from the late 1940s. Illetes is, in this regard, instructive. When the Maricel was originally built, replacing the previous Cas Català, it conformed to an architectural design, conceived by the Mallorcan Francisco Casas, which owed much to the Mallorcan manor house and it was in line with design thinking of the time. It is one of the great ironies of tourism in Mallorca that, as the island attempts a reinvention of resorts, the model of the 1950s prior to the economic necessity of mass tourism was a hotel like the Maricel and a tranquil spot such as Illetes. This style of hotel was itself a successor to the likes of the Formentor and, much earlier, Palma's Gran Hotel. Architecture was, therefore, conceived with a certain social behaviour in mind: that of the wealthy, the more refined and sophisticated.

The tourism boom shattered all this and introduced a tourism that was neither refined nor sophisticated. The resorts and their hotels complemented their guests. Architecturally, this meant a form of touristic Brutalism. Urban layouts, while many adhered to blueprints from the 1930s of a garden-city nature (like in Santa Ponsa), were compromised by the need for construction which overwhelmed design principles for greater environmental and human co-existence harmony. Tourists, innocents abroad and mostly unfamiliar with alternatives, accepted this Brutalism, as did residents, many of them incomers: the resort workers.

It is interesting to note that tourist and resident co-existence is a factor in the workshop's considerations, because little attention was paid to such a thing when the resorts were springing up. Had there been, there might have been alternative urban planning, as was the case with French resorts that were specifically for tourists. These enclaves can be criticised for being tourist ghettoes, removed from the local community, but they have certain advantages in reducing the potential for resident-tourist conflict. Nevertheless, resorts, in an ideal world, should be places where tourist and resident mingle together in cultural interplay, and some do conform to this ideal better than others, as might be said to be the case with Puerto Pollensa, for instance. But then Puerto Pollensa wasn't an artificial resort. It grew organically rather than out of nothing or very little, and its architecture, even today, for the most part reflects this.

The ideal of cultural interplay, the bringing together of peoples from different nations in peace through tourism, was one that tourism visionaries had: Horizon's Vladimir Raitz, for example. But this didn't happen because of the artificial nature of resorts such as Magalluf and because of the demand for the British bar or the German kneipe. Subsequently, this ideal has been made even more untenable thanks to the all-inclusive.

Though Magalluf has experienced its improvements, the negative legacy of architectural and urban planning, exacerbated by Calvia's 1971 general urban plan and expansion which followed, most definitely remains. But so it does in other resorts. As a case study, the architectural students might come up with some solutions, but it is not just Magalluf which needs one. There again, we have been here before. In 2000, the then government embarked upon a three-year cycle of activities to bring forth architectural ideas for Mallorca's future, its image and its tourism reality. Serious names in the architectural world were asked to participate. What happened? Nothing.

Monday, July 20, 2015

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 20 July 2015


Morning high (6.30am): 24C
Forecast high: 32C; UV: 9
Three-day forecast: 21 July - Sun, 32C; 22 July - Sun, cloud, 31C; 23 July - Sun, cloud, 29C.

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

Cloud appearing on the forecast for a couple of days, which will probably mean light cloud that simply adds to sweltering conditions. As for today, another hot one ahead. No surprise there, then.

Evening update (19.45): Coastal high, 32.5C; Inland high, 34.8C.

No Frills Excursions

Gore Vidal And The Stupidity Of The PP

Sadly, given that he's dead, we will never know what Gore Vidal might have made of the bloodletting in the Balearic Partido Popular, an internecine spat of handbags at five yards involving the "unpopulares" (the official Bauzá wing) and the wannabe "populares" (the provisional wing, otherwise dubbed by the Spanish press as the "critics"). It would of course have been unlikely that Vidal would have ever paid any attention to the kindergarten politicking of an obscure island in the middle of the Mediterranean, one which, politically, is of almost complete inconsequence, but it is the propensity for PP politicians, of whom no one had previously ever heard and of whom everyone will quickly forget, to stamp their feet and demand the grown-ups take some notice of them that might have appealed to the veteran contrarian. He once said of the Republican Party in the US that the only difference with the Democrats was that it was "a bit stupider". Stupidity currently flourishes in the Balearic equivalent of the American conservatives.

It would be simple to say it's all Bauzá's doing, but simple isn't the right word. Accurate, more like, egged on by the Rodriguistas, a faction whose moniker resonates with bandit implication. José Ramón and Jose Maria (Rodríguez). Neither of them is willing to go quietly. Instead, shamelessness demands they seek to manipulate until the last drop of blood is shed. Bauzá refused to resign as party leader until a replacement candidate of consensus had been found, meaning one of whom he approved. In the end, Madrid has had to step in and force the issue. Miquel Vidal, the party's secretary-general, who had said he didn't want the leadership - out of "loyalty" to Bauzá - is the chosen one. Gore would surely have approved of the machinations and Machiavellianism that have placed his namesake at the head of a party that is stupid, stupider, stupidest.

It's not even as if this is a permanent arrangement. No, it's only until they can hold a congress and elect someone who isn't interim to preside over the yah-boo-suckers of the "unpopulares" and "populares" shouting insults across the playground at each other. God alone knows what will happen when they get round to trying sort out the real successor. Guns maybe. But even before we get to the election of JR's permanent replacement, there is the small matter of the general election. As much as all this nonsense is about the next leader, it is also about determining who gets on the local list for Congress deputies. The president of the party decides: at least in theory.

Looming, therefore, is the mother of all factional Congress battles between, in all likelihood, the "unpopulares" headed by former Palma number two Alvaro Gijón (a gun slinger with the Rodriguistas) and ex-Palma number one Mateo Isern of the "populares" (aka "critics"). And to make this later battle all the more bloody, the "unpopulares" have been smelling a rat. Firstly, they haven't taken over kindly to Madrid nominating Vidal (the Miquel one) and secondly, they sense that Vidal may be going "populares" native. In other words, he's becoming too chummy with Isern, Biel Company and the supposed leader of the "critics", Sebastià Sagreras (the mayor of Campos).

Jaume Bauça (also spelt Bauza), the puppet head of the Rodriguistas, says he won't go along with Vidal's appointment. Unfortunately for the Bauça with a cedilla, it doesn't matter what he thinks, as he is only the put-up job, just as Sagreras is for the other lot. No PP politician from either faction with long-term ambitions wants to go near the temporary leadership job: it's way too poisonous. Hence, two unknowns - Bauça and Sagreras - are thrown to the wolves. Vidal (Miquel) might actually harbour some long-term ambition. When he rejected the post through "loyalty", what he really meant was that he didn't want to have to deal with all the nutters and to be able to keep his powder dry for a possible run at the permanent job. But it seems he's going to have to accept his lot. Miquel is no Gore Vidal, more a Vidal Sassoon, desperately trying to shape a sensible cut and blow dry out of the many bad hair days left behind in the split ends of the José Ramón wreckage.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 19 July 2015


Morning high (5.45am): 24.5C
Forecast high: 31C; UV: 9
Three-day forecast: 20 July - Sun, 32C; 21 July - Sun, 31C; 22 July - Sun, 32C.

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

May be a touch of light cloud this morning. Otherwise ... that big old yellow thing is just keeping on burning.

Evening update (19.45): Some cloud for most of the day but only light. Coastal high, 32.3C; Inland high, 33.9C.

No Frills Excursions

From Valencia To Mallorca: Jewel races

One of the more peculiar occurrences at a Mallorcan summer fiesta is the insistence by some to indulge in physical exertion of a sort that the meteorological office and the health authorities advise against, especially during the great heat of the day. There is any amount of this activity going on and foremost among it is the fiesta race or races: they come in various guises.

An example of this madness occurred at the start of this month. It was the race to La Victoria in Alcúdia. Anyone with a bit of local knowledge will know that La Victoria is up the side of a mountain. It involves a steep and tortuous climb, and that's just by car. There is a less demanding alternative than running, i.e. the whistle while you walk (itself slightly mad), but neither method is recommended for anyone whose definition of exercise is the stroll to the motor in order to drive to the newsagents.

In Sa Pobla they've come up with a new twist on this summertime torture. It's called "Brutal Running", and the brutality is due to take place this coming Saturday. At a distance of four kilometres, the title seems somewhat exaggerated, but there are always the obstacles, ones for which it is recommended that participants wear clothing of "little value" on account of the potential for said clothing to "deteriorate", which is probably a euphemism for being ripped to shreds. Brutal or not, the only sensible aspect of it is that it doesn't start until six in the evening, when it is likely to have cooled down to 32 degrees: Sa Pobla is typically one of the hottest places on Mallorca.

Such races might be said to have a common fiesta lineage, and it is one that came from across the sea in Valencia and which didn't involve racing on foot but on horseback. Take a look at many a fiesta programme schedule and you will find, assuming the schedule has been translated into English, which it probably won't have been, something known as "jewel races": in Catalan, these are "corregudes de joies".

These jewel races date back to the eighteenth century, and they were typically contests between farmworkers who would challenge each other to see whose horse could go the fastest. The prizes for the victors were jewels, hence the name, though these prizes were subsequently changed - a silk scarf became popular instead, for example. The village of Pinedo can boast having kept this tradition going virtually uninterrupted since the 1700s. Indeed, it is the only village to be able to make this boast. Nowadays, the races, over a distance of 800 metres, take place on the beach and involve some serious sprinting by the horses.

These horse jewel races made their way to Mallorca. There isn't a great deal of historical evidence regarding them, but one town where they were certainly popular until the Civil War was Manacor. The races were both on horseback and on foot, and there is a photo from an unknown year which shows that a large crowd had gathered to watch them. The races used to be staged during the town's celebrations for Sant Jaume, whose day it is this coming Saturday. These fiestas in Manacor were, once upon a time, one of the largest events in Mallorca and had been since the time of King Jaume II (as opposed to the saint), who had established a residence in the town in the early fourteenth century. So popular were they in fact that they have been described as having once been one of the three great fiestas of the Mediterranean: which was all quite a long time ago.

The jewel races that are listed in fiesta programmes are races for which the name has survived rather than the prize. Winners can today expect all sorts of rewards - sweets, typically, for children - and runners, be they young or old, are often egged on by demons or big heads, as is the case in Campos, from where there is a photo from the 1950s which shows the adult male winner of the race homing in on his jewel, which was a hen. They are races which crop up at many a fiesta, and tomorrow in Santa Maria del Camí, just as an example, the town's Santa Margalida fiestas have their jewel races. And at what time? Midday. Yes, midday. Fortunately, the races are only short.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 18 July 2015


Morning high (6.00am): 23.5C
Forecast high: 30C; UV: 9
Three-day forecast: 19 July - Sun, 31C; 20 July - Sun, 31C; 21 July - Sun, 32C.

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

Well, all that met office forecast stuff has proved to be wide of the mark. It was stifling yesterday evening and overnight with barely any breeze, and there is no sign of any break in the weather. As you were, then.

Evening update (19.45): Coastal high, 30.7C; Inland high, 32.5C.

No Frills Excursions

Men And Women Of The Tourism Ministry

New Balearic vice-president and minister for tourism, Biel Barceló, has certainly not lost any time in making statements of intent. He is clearly going to be a highly proactive tourism minister, which might be construed as being both good and bad, but you can't knock him for having placed tourism firmly on the front pages. Of moves he has made, a potentially significant one is his appointment as director-general for tourism. This was the position that Jaime Martínez held in the last government before he was promoted to minister when Carlos Delgado resigned. It is a key role as it is the one which deals with the implementation of policy as much as with its drafting.

Barceló's choice is Pilar Carbonell. The owner of a chain of restaurants, she is the former president of the restaurants association within the broader framework of the Balearic business confederation. The significance of the appointment is clear - she isn't a hotelier - while this appointment comes soon after Inma de Benito was promoted to the presidency of the Mallorcan hoteliers' federation. Here are two high-powered women in whose hands a great deal of Mallorca's tourism destiny lies. It says a lot for equality.

Given their competing backgrounds, there might be potential for the two women to clash. I fancy this won't be the case. Rather, they will be more inclined to work towards accommodation, towards an improved deal for the non-hotel complementary offer with which Carbonell is intimately associated. It's a smart move by Barceló, an astute appointment, the guy is showing promise.

It is an appointment that has to be seen in the wider context of what Barceló has been saying over the past days regarding all-inclusives. Regulation would be designed to help the complementary sector, so Carbonell will be a firm supporter without adopting an antagonistic attitude towards the hoteliers. Indeed, there seems ever less reason why this might be necessary when it comes to all-inclusives. There is a distinct sense of a shift in this regard, with certain hotel chains, regardless of political change, having initiated moves to drop all-inclusive from their portfolios as and when contractual obligations with tour operators permit: Eix Hotels in the bay of Alcúdia is an example; Meliá in Magalluf have already done so.

Barceló hasn't as yet fleshed out what the regulation of all-inclusives would entail, but he has dropped enough hints to be able to understand that it would be regulation aimed at improvements to standards of quality. The previous administration, via its tourism law, alluded to similar improvements without identifying how these would be effected. Barceló now has the opportunity to make them absolutely clear. One simple way would be to remove the all-inclusive offer from any hotel with fewer than four stars. Another way would be to, finally, insist on levels of service that would eliminate the nonsense of, for example, lengthy queuing for inferior quality drinks and monotonous food. Hotels would have to guarantee staff:customer ratios which, at a stroke, would make it nigh on impossible for certain ones to operate all-inclusive. These might be options for Barceló, but he might also then need an army of inspectors to ensure compliance.

If Carbonell's appointment is a significant one that has grabbed headlines because she is a familiar figure in the Balearic tourism industry, just as significant is the introduction of Benjamí Villoslada. And who is he? The co-founder, along with Ricardo Galli from the university in Palma, of the Menéame social network. He is to be the director-general of technological development at the ministry. He is a technology expert. At last, at long last, Balearics and Mallorca could be on the verge of a social media and web-based revolution that has been too long delayed. It is an inspired appointment. Indeed, it is a coup to have attracted someone with such a background who won't necessarily be doing the job because he needs the money. Villoslada has been a fierce critic of the Partido Popular for a variety of reasons. He now has the chance to address the lamentable inaction of the tourism ministry under the PP with regard to the exploitation of social media and new technologies. Excellent news.

Friday, July 17, 2015

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 17 July 2015


Morning high (6.00am): 22.5C
Forecast high: 30C; UV: 9
Three-day forecast: 18 July - Sun, 30C; 19 July - Sun, 30C; 20 July - Sun, 31C.

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): Southeast 3 backing Northeast 3 to 4 during the morning.

Strange. The met office issued a report yesterday saying that the heatwave would be ending today with cold northwest air coming in and storms being possible. The same met office is, however, saying nothing of the sort for the north of Mallorca at present. Sunny and hot through the weekend. Unless the forecast changes its mind.

Evening update (19.30): Coastal high, 31.5C; Inland high, 32.7C.

No Frills Excursions

Making A Virtue Out Of A Tourist Tax

When Catalonia originally drafted provisions for its tourist tax, the tariffs were higher than those which were eventually implemented. The government had initially spoken of revenues in the region of 100 million euros per annum being raised. This was before tariffs were scaled back. It accepted arguments that rates were too high and too universal. Down came the rates and down also came the number of nights for which it would be applied - to a maximum of seven. In addition, out went any charge for under-16s. The total revenues raised in 2013 and 2014 were, therefore, significantly lower than had initially been envisaged: 38.5 million and 41 million, respectively.

Catalonia's volume of annual tourism is roughly 50% greater than the Balearics. Despite this lower volume, some numbers that have been mentioned regarding a new Balearic tax bear similarity to that which was tossed around with the old eco-tax - approximately 80 million euros a year. On this basis, the Balearic tax would need to be at least double that of Catalonia's; more in fact because of the different volumes.

Catalonia's tax caused some discussion but it was never that fierce. Perhaps this was because the government took the view that more modest rates were appropriate and sufficient. Whatever the reason, Catalonia never lost the PR battle because a PR battle never really ensued. And now, despite the tax, tourism performance has improved. More visitors go to Catalonia than ever before. The tax has had no discernible negative impact.

A point I have made previously regarding a Balearic tax is that it involves Mallorca. Well, obviously it does, but Mallorca is a magnet for international media - both wishing to praise and condemn - in a way that Catalonia is not. The Costa Brava was every bit at the front of the mass tourism movement as Mallorca was, it is still every bit as attractive to visitors from the prime markets of the UK and Germany as it was, yet it does not inspire the same interest. Mallorca is Mallorca: in turn, a jewel and victim of its own success where the media is concerned. If Mallorca has a tax, it will be pounced on, slated, ripped apart amidst insinuations of rip-off. And if it is a tax at a higher rate than Catalonia's, which it would have to be in order to achieve the revenue targets that have been mentioned, it would be compared with Catalonia's in order to reinforce the rip-off point: Mallorca is just plain greedy.

In principle I am not against a tourist tax, so long as it is clear why there might be one. Catalonia was always clear why it wanted one - it is a commercial tax, a scheme designed, in essence, to extract money from tourists who pay for Catalonia to try and attract more tourists. This justification is a reason why I do find it surprising that there hasn't been more of a furore. Why should tourists fund tourism promotion? I can think of no moral reason why they should. But where does morality come into the equation either in Catalonia or elsewhere? The strength of an argument that Mallorca would suffer competitively is lessened by the fact that competitors have taxes: Catalonia is one; France, Bulgaria and Croatia are others; Turkey has its tourist visa; various cities across Europe have taxes; Greece will up its accommodation VAT rate significantly, a tourist tax by another name.

Just because other destinations have a tax isn't a justification for Mallorca. Yet this is how it might appear. PSOE have linked the issue of the tax to a redefinition of financing from Madrid, a process that will not fundamentally alter unless there is a change of government. However, there is already an indication that the PP government has agreed to up direct investment funding significantly (a separate issue to the financing through tax redistribution): it would be in the order of what a tourist tax might actually raise. If this comes about, a tourist tax might then take on a punitive appearance.

If there is to be a tourist tax, it should be symbolic as much as fiscal, a means of tourist involvement, a means not of lessening tourist loyalty but of strengthening it. A tax should be a statement of tourist appreciation of what Mallorca offers. It should not be onerous, certainly no higher than Catalonia's, but it should be "sold" through a grand campaign to explain its purpose. In this, I am inclined to agree with the environmentalists GOB that it should be reserved for the environment, as emotionally this is an easier sell than, say, tourism promotion. Harness social media, flood hotels, airports and ports with publicity, invite tourist suggestions as to use, make tourists part of the tax process not simply contributors. Allow them to be participants. The "new politics" is all about participation, so why not extend this to the island's visitors?

Thursday, July 16, 2015

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 16 July 2015


Morning high (6.00am): 22C
Forecast high: 32C; UV: 9
Three-day forecast: 17 July - Sun, 30C; 18 July - Sun, 30C; 19 July - Sun, 31C.

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): East-Southeast 3, locally 4.

And on it goes. No, that met office prediction of a drop in temperature today was wrong.

Evening update (19.45): Coastal high, 32.2C; Inland high, 33.7C. The met office now reckon a cold front is coming from the northwest and that there will be lower temperatures from tomorrow. We'll see.

No Frills Excursions

Too Many Tourists On Tourist Island

When Monty Python discovered that there were too many Whickers on Whicker Island, the principal problem of this Whicker massification was that there were no longer enough people to interview. By contrast, Mallorca doesn't suffer from any shortage of tourists who might be interviewed, if only by the clipboard-wielding surveyors of the Egatur tourist spend statistical gathering, while there are masses of investigators and politicians eager to dissect the consequences of the abundance of human raw material that is processed by a voracious tourism industry.

Mallorca, it is reasonable to suggest, is tourist island: not the only such island but a fairly significant one in the league table of tourist islands in the sun. It lives by tourism. It would not die by tourism - or its absence - but it would be placed under constant attention in intensive care were tourism to flee its shores. Fortunately, for Mallorca and for politicians, there is and will be no need for saline and glucose drips to be attached to the veins of economic lifeblood. Which is why politicians can indulge themselves in experimentation. Too many tourists on tourist island? Let's get rid of some then.

The least one can say about the government of change in the Balearics is that it is willing to engage in debate. In this new era of dialogue, it really couldn't do anything else. But even with such a spirit of interlocution, are there political red lines in the sands of Mallorca over which ever more tourists must not cross? Is there, or should there be, a limit on tourist numbers?

In theory, limits should be self-defining. They are only as great as the ability to move human traffic and to accommodate it, but as airport privatisation demands ever increasing volume to satisfy the investment returns of shareholders and as the collaborative economy revolution makes available a glut of private properties (to say nothing also of new palaces of four star plus or five star variety), limits cease to be self-defining: the boundaries are constantly exceeded.

Tourism on tourist island is not, and we all know this, evenly distributed. Massification is a summer phenomenon and the smoothing of distribution in order to counteract the economically debilitating factor of seasonality is and will remain a pipe dream. Mallorca comes under massive attack, especially in high summer. As is now traditional, towards the end of this year the statistics gatherers will reveal the day on which - during August - Mallorca reached its maximum population level. You can expect that a new record will be set this summer.

Geographically, tourist island benefits from distribution. South, north, east and even parts of the west (in the mountains) accommodate this spread, albeit that Calvia, Palma and the bays of Alcúdia and Cala Millor are where the spread is at its most disproportionate. There has, though, been tourist island creep. Interior tourism and some additional coastal development have gobbled up land previously not registered according to the tourism accommodation quotas (the oddly acronymed POOT). Yes, quotas do exist. Limits are in fact defined, but they are limits which exist to be extended.

Tourism creep should be advantageous, but the "Benidorm Effect" has, counter-intuitively, established that environmental and resource-efficient righteousness comes from density and concentration: it is less expensive and less demanding of resources to have tourism massification in specific areas.

What is the thinking behind the debate sparked off by Biel Barceló, the new tourism minister, with its echoes in Barcelona and the moratorium on licences for hotel development? Is it purely the environment? No, it also has to do with the intangible of quality of life made tangible via a reduction in numbers but an elevation of often elusive and often disrespectful "quality". It has to do with, rightly however, an acknowledgement that there is a significant tourism base which contributes little but extracts much. It also has to do with the quest for the grail of a new economic model, one that will result in improved pay and conditions for those who remain in the tourism industry and from a diversification of the economy. Such a theory might, however, take an inordinately long time to become practice.

This is not new thinking, though. Celesti Alomar, the tourism minister who oversaw the introduction of the original eco-tax, once spoke about bringing an end to mass tourism, or at least reducing mass tourism. The tax was not the means to that end, however. And nor will it now be. Alomar appeared to be on some form of misguided crusade. Barceló isn't. In a strange way, he is a son of Carlos Delgado: the Partido Popular tourism minister also spoke of tourist reduction through a greater concentration on the higher end of the market.

Are there too many tourists? Possibly so. But if there are, you sure as hell need to know how you will replace them.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 15 July 2015


Morning high (6.00am): 23.5C
Forecast high: 31C; UV: 10
Three-day forecast: 16 July - Sun, 32C; 17 July - Sun, 29C; 18 July - Sun, 29C.

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

Though sun prevails, there may be some light cloud at times. Still no sign of the dip in temperature that the met office had forecast for Thursday.

Evening update (20.30): Coastal high, 31.5C; Inland high, 33.7C.

No Frills Excursions

Rise To The Occasion: In-store music

Eroski's a strange old shop. Not just one. They all seem to be at it. I mean, when were they transported back in time to the days of ooh, Gary Davies and converted into 1980s' radio stations circa the era of Gary or Bruno or Simon Bates? What will they do next? Have the shoppers weeping in the aisles not because they've run out of stock but because of "Our Tune"?

There aren't actually any what were once called disc jockeys as such (they're now presenters, a job title with far greater gravitas), but you never know. Wasn't Chris Moyles discovered as the in-house DJ at Top Shop in Leeds or something like that? And look what happened to him. What has happened to him?

There has to be some method to the Eroski 1980s music madness, though I am blowed if I know what it is, why it is and who's responsible. What thought process is applied in order to come up with Climie Fisher's "Rise to the Occasion" while one is helpfully trying to explain the intricacies of weighing your own fruit and veg to a disorientated British tourist, rendered even more disconcerted by straining to recall what the song is and so completely incapable of taking instruction. "Look, see that picture. It's an apple. And its number is?" A complete waste of time.

There is, as with most things shopping, a psychology to all this, but what it is in Eroski's case is anyone's guess. I posed myself this very conundrum the other morning when attempting to figure out the point of Tears for Fears' "Advice for the Young at Heart". A pleasant tune, but was it having any discernible influence? Apart from making me tarry longer, simply because it is a pleasant tune and I wanted to listen to it, then no. The same Gouda slices as usual were launched into the bottom of the new, extra-deep, extra-non-customer-friendly trolley thing they've introduced, bouncing off the familiar iceberg lettuce, bunch of green bananas and bottle of moderately priced vino tinto. Was I inclined to draw on the inspiration of the music of the two largest egos known to the history of popular music - Roland and Curt - and indulge in an impulse purchase? Was this the thinking? Well no. Besides, who actually makes impulse buys in supermarkets? Oh, it's Tears for Fears, I must acquire that toaster or half a ton of mangoes.

There again, tarrying may have something to do with it. Find yourself propelled back to a nostalgic time when men turned themselves into wimpish extras from "Star Wars" (as with, for example, A Flock of Seagulls), and you are motivated to lurk and linger (possibly), and the longer the lingering, the greater the embarrassment that you aren't actually buying anything: only listening to the music. Oh well, might as well get some toilet rolls: you can never have too many anyway.

Yes, there is a great deal of psychology, and some of it which isn't total Horlicks (not that Eroski sells this). For example, it has been found that playing classical music can induce a tendency to spend more (this was from a study in a wine store): all to do with an implication of sophistication. Some of it does make sense. No music at all, and the store is unwelcoming. Hence, you would spend less because you want to get out quicker, though not as quick as if thrash metal was being played at high volume.

But while accepting there is this psychology, I still struggle to understand it in the Eroski context. Why 1980s music? Why all English? It has occurred to me that maybe the music is not for the shoppers but is to make shopworkers' lives more agreeable, but then wouldn't they benefit from selections by Enrique Iglesias and other Spanish hitsters? Probably not, as all Spanish hitsters sound exactly like Enrique and only have one song between them.

No, I don't get it and indeed I'm inclined to believe that it has nothing whatsoever to do with shopper behaviour or making workers' days more pleasant than the constant grind of having to ask for "Tarjeta Eroski" and try to flog you an almond cake or deodorant that's on special offer. It's all to do, I suspect, with DJs. Not Gary Davies or Bruno Brookes, but the DJs down the local fiesta, the ones who insist on putting DJ in front of their names just in case you hadn't realised they were DJs. (No self-respecting "producer" with a USB stick and a Mac armed to the hard-drive gunwales with mixing software would pitch up at, say, Magalluf's BH with DJ in front of his name.) No, the fiesta DJs are in thrall to Climie Fisher and the 1980s. It is from them that Eroski has taken the lead. Or is it the other way round?