Sunday, July 31, 2016

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 31 July 2016

Morning high (7.48am): 23.9C
Forecast high: 30C; UV: 10
Three-day forecast: 1 August - Sun, 28C; 2 August - Sun, cloud, 28C; 3 August - Sun, 30C.

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

Not expected to be as hot as yesterday. A cooling-down tomorrow and Tuesday will be followed by another cranking-up by Thursday. All really to do with the ways in which the winds blow.

Evening update (20.00): High of 35C away from the coast. Light cloud in a hazy, sultry way for most of the day.

The Winner Is ... Papa Smurf?

Spanish TV, which manages to justify 24-hour news coverage with greater repetition than even CNN or Sky can inflict (meaning an enormous amount of repetition, or at least from experiences of times before I gave them both up as bad jobs), had this thing the other day in which The Four Great Leaders were shown in split screen over and over and over again. Here was a metaphor for the Spanish nightmare of forever being visited in the dead of night by the ghosts of elections failed, failing and yet to fail. Loop after loop was displayed, as I sipped an Americano (a longish process) and waited for something else to appear. It didn't. And it has been much like this for the past how ever months it has been. In they are wheeled (not actually on wheels, which might make for an interesting diversion) by one bloke in white to await the handshake and to then be wheeled in elsewhere by another bloke in white.

We're talking the Mariano-Pedro-Albert-Pablo Show. And tonight's star guest is the King. Whoop! Whoop! In between the two wheeling processes, there is a pause, as each stands alone, face to camera(s), exposed for all to see. Dec (as in Albert, the little C of the C's) made haste with hands, clasped over his crutch. Were his flies undone? Crikey, what a thing that would have been. And would have been even worse, having to adjust one's seating to avoid the King's subsequent growling glare and frantically attempting to up the flies.

Each of The Four Great Leaders in the solitary moments pre-handshake betray a great deal. It's as though they're about to be ushered into the head's study. "Right, Iglesias, bend over. This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you."

Pablo shuffles in stage left (right as you look at it), open-necked shirt and chinos, a dude from the 'hood with attitude. Albert. Well, we already know about Albert. Maybe he in fact had a slight accident in the royal urinal: God, that would be even worse. Pedro, the head boy, for whom a career in consultancy beckons. And finally Mariano. Senior master Mariano, doing the Mariano grinning thing, something tutored into him once he became premier (president). "Oh do try and smile, Mariano." He attempts it and, as ever, fails, managing in the process to look like Papa Smurf.

When the solitary moment is about to pass, the other bloke in white emerges (stage right, left as you look at it) and is followed in by the King. Out goes the hand, the shake is consecrated. Pause for camera(s), and if you don't get a good shot, you can always use the one you took earlier, i.e. the last time The Four Great Leaders had their rendezvous with monarchical fate.

Pablo doesn't shuffle this time, he slopes. "Hey, King bro', wassup!?" and pulls out his phone. "Hey, Pokémon. I found the Pokémon right here in the palace. Cool."

Albert: oh dear. "Never mind, Rivera, just don't do it again." "Sorry, King."

Pedro: "I believe, Your Majesty, that we are in a quadruple-stasis environment situation, demanding a meta-based impact analytical scenario within a re-engineering chaos theoretical paradigm and framework. I've prepared the PowerPoint. Oh, I did go to business school, you know." "I didn't. I was at Georgetown. Washington. A master's in international relations. The sort of thing politicians are meant to do."

Mariano: "This is a song with a nice refrain. Yes, we will sing it once again. From Smurf Land where we belong. All together now. La, la, la, la, la, la ..." The King, hoping against hope that one of The Four Great Leaders is going to present a viable plan to form the next government, turns and looks at the TV screen. Over and over and over. Again.

Index for July 2016

Alcanada power station - 8 July 2016
Alcudia and port developments - 4 July 2016, 5 July 2016
Amnesia and raids on other clubs - 10 July 2016
Brexit and other matters - 13 July 2016
Catalan policies - 15 July 2016, 20 July 2016
Emser, Pollensa - 11 July 2016
Fiestas and attitudes of the left - 9 July 2016
Hotelbeds - 14 July 2016
Individualism in Mallorca - 29 July 2016
Low Cost Holidays - 23 July 2016
Magalluf crime - 12 July 2016, 26 July 2016
Mancor de la Vall demons - 2 July 2016
Moors and Christians, Pollensa - 31 July 2016
Overbooking, occupancy and statistics - 27 July 2016
Palma police corruption - 3 July 2016
Podemos mistrust of PSOE - 18 July 2016
Pollensa town hall rows - 7 July 2016
Sant Crist, Alcudia - 25 July 2016
Seasonal workers - 28 July 2016
Sources of impatience - 22 July 2016
Spanish government - 24 July 2016, 31 July 2016
Tourist tax commission - 21 July 2016
Tourist tax introduction - 1 July 2016, 30 July 2016
Virgen del Carmen - 17 July 2016
Vueling chaos - 6 July 2016, 16 July 2016
When it rains in Mallorca in summer - 19 July 2016

Saturday, July 30, 2016

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 30 July 2016

Morning high (6.30am): 22.4C
Forecast high: 35C; UV: 9
Three-day forecast: 31 July - Sun, cloud, 31C; 1 August - Sun, cloud, 28C; 2 August - Sun, 28C.

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): South 2 to 3 increasing Southeast 4 around midday.

A big one in store temperature-wise today. Quite strong southerlies shifting African air over the island. Highs may get up to the 100F (38C) mark.

Evening update (23.00): Pretty hot today. High of 38.7C.

Beating The Tourist Tax Deadline

The deadline for registering accommodation for the charging of the tourist tax is this Sunday (31 July). Earlier this week the tax agency reported that there was a total of 3,036 establishments of varying types that had been registered. Among these were 2,022 properties classified as legitimate holiday rentals. This regulated supply is reckoned to amount to some 8,000 properties, to which can be added the estimated 120,000 places (as opposed to actual properties) that are available from the unregulated supply.

The tax agency said that it expected there to be a rush of registrations in order to meet the deadline. If so, then this is going to have to be one hell of a rush. (The total number of establishments had, by yesterday, risen to just over 6,000.) In addition to villas, etc. not on the register, the number of various types of hotel that had been registered is surprisingly low. These are principally interior or rural hotels. If the deadline is not complied with, fines of 400 euros kick in.

The tax agency and the tourism ministry now say that they are willing to extend the deadline in certain instances. The federation of tourist holiday stays in Mallorca (meaning private accommodation for holiday rent) met with the government to seek an extension. It argued, among other things, that many of these properties belong to people from rural areas, such as elderly farmers, who are totally unfamiliar with the internet and for whom digital registration would be complicated if not impossible.

The thing is, though, how does the tax agency (or anyone else) distinguish between individuals who are internet savvy and those who are not? The deadline seems to in any event be too short, but this typifies the rushed way in which the tourist tax has been implemented without all the practicalities and logistics having been clearly thought through and been taken account of. The government seems desperate to ensure that it can exact as much revenue as it can from the third quarter of the year (which started on 1 July, the date of the introduction of the tax), but extending the deadline to, say, the end of August wouldn't necessarily prejudice anticipated revenues. The charging of the tax dates from 1 July, regardless of when a property is actually registered.

For some of these owners, who rent out perfectly legitimately and have been doing so for years, it is said that they are being confronted with embarrassing situations of having to request tax payment from guests who have been renting their properties year after year; they're like old friends. From next year they will simply be able to add the charge with the booking. It might increase the price, but it will be easier and will mean that the embarrassment is avoided. It is evident, though, that owners are preferring not to have to ask for the tax and so are paying for it out of their own pockets. Similarly, there are villa agencies doing the same. This is for a different reason: the sheer awkwardness of the logistics of collection.

The tax should never have been introduced mid-season and at such short notice - remember that there were only three months between final approval by parliament and its introduction. But no, the government was desperate and it has created complications it could easily have avoided.

Coming to all those unregulated properties, as we know (because the government has been telling us) there is a huge supply of mostly apartments slipping under the regulatory radar. There unquestionably is a large supply, owners having been seduced by the promise of riches from short-term tourist tenants. But I understand that something of a re-think is occurring. It's one thing making more out of tourists, it's quite another looking after the properties and maintaining and preparing them for quick turnarounds of occupants.

I know of cases where owners have decided to go back to renting out long-term instead. This may carry with it the rights afforded to tenants under law and it may also mean less total income, but it is also considerably less aggravation. Plus, and even for the unregulated supply, there is the threat of being found out and clobbered for the tourist tax as well as any other tax (and so also fine).

Friday, July 29, 2016

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 29 July 2016

Morning high (7.03am): 22C
Forecast high: 32C; UV: 9
Three-day forecast: 30 July - Sun, 35C; 31 July - Sun, 33C; 1 August - Sun, 28C.

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): Variable 1 to 2 increasing East-Southeast 3 to 4 from midday.

A hot day in store and even hotter ones over the weekend. Alerts for very high temperatures with southerly breezes mainly dominating.

Evening update (20.45): High of 33.1C.

On Individualism: Mallorcan Society

There is a hotel chain which, unless you have been to certain luxury establishments in the Dominican Republic and Mexico, you will probably never have heard of. Its name is the Excellence Group Luxury Hotels & Resorts. Excellence, from a look at its website, is most certainly what one could expect. There again, there are any number of hotel operators aspiring to provide excellence and indeed achieving it. So what makes this chain of interest?

The fact that it is the product of a joint venture involving two Mallorcan hotel groups - Prinsotel and Viva - does make it of interest. But it isn't what it offers that generates the greatest interest; it's the very nature of cooperation that does.

In "Preferente" magazine there is an opinion piece by I'm assuming Javier Mato. He refers to Excellence, using it as a rare example of cooperation, and in the opening sentence of this article he makes a startling observation. I quote: "Mallorcan society in general and tourism society in particular, highly individualist and only rarely united - such as when the water reaches its neck in the form of impositions and adverse political measures - should draw from the example of ... Excellence."

Where to begin with such a statement? It is loaded with implications of the Mallorcan psyche as well as with how business operates and, by extension, how the political culture operates. It is the "highly individualist" that really made me sit up and pay particular attention. Such a characteristic, by definition, runs counter to notions of collectivism, which I don't specifically mean in the political (communist) sense but in a broader one of collective attitudes, behaviours and objectives.

Another recent article - by Bernat Joan i Marí on the "dBalears" website - is simply entitled "Individualism". He decries its advance, though it might more appropriately be styled as selfishness, and makes an allusion to a time past when he would join with others in excursions to gather almonds and carobs. Such a romantic image is contrasted with what he calls "ultra-individualism", a movement of the present day causing "suffering to our islands".

He goes on in considering how there can be "bizarre" alliances of individual and collective interests. Like Mato, if it is indeed Mato, he refers to the tourism industry and the coalescing of business (hotel) interests in seeking to deny rights to others to make "democratic gains" from tourism by renting out their property. Adverse political measures, it might be noted, have yet to make the water rise to the neck of the hotel collective. They might yet do so, if the regional government regulates private accommodation against the wishes of the collective.

But is this any different to other societies? Or might it be that it is more keenly felt and observed in small island societies? The island mentality of Mallorca has been chewed over by many, though is it fair to conclude, as Mato appears to, that this is a mentality dominated by individualism? One can always dredge up the accusation that Mallorcans are only out to satisfy their own individual ends, a generality I don't subscribe to. But if true, is it so surprising?

Rooted in this society is the nature of Mediterranean insularity, an existence down the centuries that variously prompted grand levels of entrepreneurialism, the avaricious and generally negligent attentions of absentee noble landlords and grinding poverty: a survival of the fittest and the rest can go hang, and often were. Yet this doesn't give a complete picture, not if, for instance, one takes into account the collective uprisings, such as the Germanies of the sixteenth century. Yes it was a long time ago but much of what shaped Mallorca, its society and collective memory is from long ago.

The past haunts Mallorca, there's no getting away from the fact. At times it can appear to be overstated, but to underestimate its power would be to perform an injustice. In this context the thoughts of the Sa Pobla author Miquel López Crespí present a very different take to the individualist one. He writes, there's no question, from a socialist perspective and one also imbued with his own romanticism, such as recollections of nights of summer from the early 1950s when the people of his town would sing on what was once Sa Pobla's beach (now Muro's).

But he is scathing of the impact of mass tourism, of the "false modernity" of the middle class, of the "tyranny" of Palma and the assumptions of welfare to be derived from individualism that leads to the alienation of others. Alienation from an alternative version of Mallorcan society, one predicated on collective aims and wishes.

The cooperation of Excellence would be the antithesis of López Crespí's world view. Curious though it might be, however, there is a degree of similarity, but only a degree. Let's not get carried away. Behind joint ventures there are individual interests.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 28 July 2016

Morning high (6.13am): 21.7C
Forecast high: 29C; UV: 9
Three-day forecast: 29 July - Sun, 32C; 30 July - Sun, 33C; 31 July - Sun, 33C.

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

Entering a short phase of higher than usual temperatures lasting through the weekend. As usual, there are alerts in place to signal the fact.

Evening update (20.30): High of 31.4C.

Want Pay, Won't Work

As a collective, seasonal workers don't always enjoy the greatest of reputations. But the seasonal worker comes in different guises. Some are business owners - bars, attractions, excursions, hotels, yacht charters and so on. The owner is every bit as seasonal as the personnel he or she employs, a fact determined by the inherent seasonality of Mallorca's tourism. If there weren't seasonality, there wouldn't be seasonal workers.

Such seasonal employment has always existed. Or at least since the tourism boom of the early 1960s. This said, seasonality was a factor before the industrial revolution of Mallorca's tourism. Agriculture abides by the seasons. Always has done, always will do. For tourism there is the same perpetuation. There always will be seasonality, regardless of the desires and efforts of government and others. Seasonality, as with seasonal workers, shouldn't be decried. There is very little that can truthfully be done to alter the determining factors of weather and daylight hours: climate change and dabbling with the clocks may have an impact but the Earth's voyage around the Sun is likely to remain stubbornly as it is.

The tourism seasonal worker was originally home-bred or from the Spanish mainland: Andalusia especially. The farms saw their workers relocate to the coasts for a new type of seasonal employment. Some would return in winter. Others headed for the building sites. Ultimately there was to be the hurry for the dole queues, with contracts confirming qualification for the "paro".

As Mallorca became cosmopolitan because of its tourism, so it attracted its foreign seasonal workers and seasonal business owners. For some of these workers, principally reps, this was to provide different stepping-stones. Marriage was one. Another was business ownership; a further one was management with hotel chains and various businesses. The reps of yesterday reside in current-day Mallorca. Those still in the tourism industry have amassed enormous experience and knowledge of the industry. Having come from the coal face and often still being at it, there is little or nothing they don't know about tourism and tourists.

These would have been seasonal workers who, yes, had come to enjoy themselves but had sufficient nous and ambition to work with seriousness, to gain excellent references with CVs that were to lead them in directions they probably hadn't planned. But because they were good, they succeeded. Look at them now: you'll know ones as well as I do.

These were the lucky ones. They rose above the less serious, the frivolous and not terribly good workers. But the unevenness of employee attribute fostered the less than good reputation of seasonal workers. Then, and because of cost-cutting and the introduction of technology (often misplaced), came the shedding of workers. Perversely, this led to the more mature worker being sidelined. It was all a question of cost. This cycle is being put into reverse. Tour operators understand the value of knowledge and a cool, experienced head.

There is a vast army of seasonal workers: highly competent and responsible or highly incompetent and irresponsible. Think for a moment of the Spanish waiter or waitress who takes pride in the professionalism of the job. But not all. I recall once having been in the Pollensa office of the owner of a chain of establishments, his desk a mass of CVs and of dismissal documentation. He typically only employed Spaniards. "Want pay, won't work."

Part of this army pulls the rest back, undermining its reputation. Here we find different characters. There is the peripatetic drifter, occupying a rootless existence at the margins of society. He or she may be adept, until the manifestations of the rootlessness appear - drink and/or drugs. Or of delusions, the products of their own make-believe. There is the younger worker for whom work is an inconvenience in the pursuit of pleasure and hedonism, however it may be achieved. 

Want pay, won't work is a mantra, it has been put to me, which is ever more evident this season. Bar owners laying off workers (British most often) almost as soon as they have been taken on: want pay, won't work. There again, this is a reverse variation on the exploitation of seasonal workers: those taken on with dubious or non-existent contractual agreements and suddenly let go, only to be replaced by others who are similarly dismissed.

Now, for one category of seasonal worker - the British - come the uncertainties of Brexit. One bar owner tells me that his gestor (who is advising various other owners) has told him not to take on any British employees next season: not the seasonal arrivals at any rate. This seems unnecessarily pre-emptive. But if so, it'll be a case of want pay, can't work.

Strip away the idle and the useless and you are left with the majority: the hardworking and the committed. Mallorca wouldn't work without seasonal employees. They deserve their pay. And more often than not, more than they get.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 27 July 2016

Morning high (6.32am): 21.6C
Forecast high: 29C; UV: 8
Three-day forecast: 28 July - Sun, 29C; 29 July - Sun, 30C; 30 July - Sun, 33C.

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

Lots of yellow thing today, giving off what yellow things do.

Evening update (20.15): Clouded over somewhat later on. High of 31.6C.

Between Realities And Fictions: Mallorca's tourism

Mallorca's tourism has long offered a battleground of argument between hard realities and apparent fictions. The former, unfortunately, are mostly based on anecdotal evidence. This non-scientific approach confronts the latter's data gathering and report generation. Consider if you will: tourist spending statistics; airport arrival statistics; hotel occupancy statistics. Combine these factual bases and a form of meta-research gives succour to the headlines of bonanza, boom and record. The anecdotes, though, can and do suggest alternative realities.

It has been like this for years but the discrepancies are heightened at times when there are the supposed bonanzas, as at present: ones served on the plates of terrorism and competitor destination insecurities. Take the degree of disbelief regarding warnings of overbooking, which itself is inherent to hotel occupancy stats. There always is overbooking. It's the nature of the beast for the hotel sector. Statistical methodologies are at play here as well. They determine the degree by which hotels can anticipate reservations not being fulfilled. This degree is filled with overbooking in the hope of securing 100% rates of occupancy and is supported by arrangements entered into by hotels to ensure guest transfer to other accommodation. The problem arises if the stats fall down, which may indeed be the case this summer.

The disbelief arises as a consequence of the anecdotal evidence, the sharing of opinion from the touristic coal face which argues that the stats are all to cock: factual fictions, or should it be fictitious facts? Because this is not empirical evidence and only oral, it cannot be substantiated, but its existence breeds suspicion of the data-based "facts". By its very nature, though, it is discriminatory. One resort's anecdotes are not reflected by those of other resorts. Even within resorts where there are differing anecdotes. Some bars in Magalluf reporting a worse-than-ever season is evidence of Magalluf, or a part of it. Such evidence cannot be extrapolated and be used as a conclusion for the entire island. As some never tire in insisting, Mallorca is not Magalluf.

Nevertheless, there is some factual support (if one cares to believe it). Last summer it was said that bars in Magalluf had taken hits of up to 40% lower turnover, the consequence of the drive to root out "drunken tourism" (as well as the influence of all-inclusives). If that was really the case, then why should this summer be any different? By contrast, there is the evidence of boom times this summer for Palma's restaurants: turnover up by 15% and even 20% in the centre. The conclusion one draws is that the 15% applies to Playa de Palma. There will doubtless be those who disagree.

Because there are discrepancies between anecdotal facts and the apparent fictions, the process of dissonance (reconciling competing positions) errs on the side of the fictitious and therefore disbelief. It is easy to satisfy individual prejudices that will always prefer not to accept official claims, those made by the statistics purveyors, government, hoteliers and other employers. Not, it has to be said, that these prejudices are necessarily wrong; simply that they lack substantial and hard evidence.

There are other apparent fictions which have to be contended with. These are the qualitative as opposed to purely quantitative statements. For Mallorca they embrace the evidence of transformations, as with Magalluf, the upgrading of hotels and so the quest for and implementation of greater quality among the island's hotel stock (and indeed other accommodation). They can also refer to levels of service, to improved standards of cuisine, to a broader offer of complementary facilities. 

Market research opinion surveys can never hope to provide a complete picture, but the statisticians with their degrees or error and so on can offer indicators to back up claims of leaps in Mallorca's quality (or not). So it is with the latest annual survey of tourist satisfaction by Gadeso. One doesn't of course know where the tourists surveyed were staying or certain demographic information about these tourists, but if the survey is to be accepted at face value, the claims regarding transformations and improved quality are only that: claims, unsupported by the tools of market research.

Gadeso discovers, inter alia, a slip in the level of satisfaction with accommodation. This is a marginal decline, but it is a decline nevertheless at a time when accommodation is meant to be acquiring greater quality. "Specialised offers" of cuisine and retailing have fallen further than in previous years: both are "deficient". Even beach services have slipped. In fact there is very little which shows greater satisfaction: health care and public safety are notable in that they have. 

Where lies the truth with Mallorca's tourism? Impossible to say. What is certain is that we'll go through all this again next year, and Gadeso may well report a greater blip on the price-quality ratio for hotel satisfaction. Why? Satisfaction or otherwise with the tourist tax.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 26 July 2016

Morning high (6.21am): 21.9C
Forecast high: 29C; UV: 9
Three-day forecast: 27 July - Sun, 29C; 28 July - Sun, 28C; 29 July - Sun, 31C.

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): West-Northwest 2 to 3 temporarily Northeast 3 in the afternoon.

Very settled, you could say. Light breezes, sun and a lot of heat.

Evening update (23.00): High of 33.5C.

Three Years On: Mallorca's Dark Side

Three years ago I wrote an article entitled "Conspiracy of Silence". It was provoked by a report in the German magazine "Stern". On the cover of a mid-summer edition was the headline "Mallorca, the dark side of the holiday island". Germans who I spoke to all knew of the report. It covered a range of issues, summed up in the leader column. Behind the facade of the Mallorcan brand, it read, was a great mass of misery, criminality and despair.

The subjects of the report were varied: corruption, drugs, poverty, the enormous gap between rich and poor and prostitution. Being a German publication, this latter subject was located in Arenal.

Since that report it might be said that little has changed. Yet there have been developments. Let's take one. Prostitution. In Arenal there have been several successful operations by the National Police against human-trafficking gangs controlling prostitutes, whose modus operandi has typically been the same as that of the prostitutes of Magalluf. The prostitution is essentially a front for violent criminality.

I'm not suggesting that the report had anything to do with those subsequent operations, but taken as a body of work with the range of subjects it covered, the report certainly didn't go unnoticed. No major holiday destination worth its salt wishes to see a foreign magazine on racks in resorts highlighting that destination's dark side.

"Stern" did or should have done everyone a favour. This was not a sensationalist report. It was serious as well as accurate. Yet of course there were, as there always are, the noises of the apologists and of those who are swift to condemn negative reporting: those who appear to prefer censorship and to shield their eyes and ears from realities that offend a paradisical sensitivity. Oh, so the narrative can go, this happens elsewhere. So what? We're not talking about elsewhere. We're talking about here. This was a reason why, three years ago, I referred to a conspiracy of silence. The truths that "Stern" spoke of were rarely confronted with honesty, and this is something for which there has been little development in the past three years, except the National Police's actions in Arenal and in the investigations of alleged local police corruption.

Only a couple of weeks ago I wrote another article: "See No Evil". This concluded by addressing what is arguably the single greatest blight not just on Magalluf but also on Mallorca's tourism reputation - the prostitutes and associated criminality. In Arenal there has been some success. In Magalluf ... ?

There are further conspiracies: those of obfuscation and diversion. These are ones designed to conceal (or at least fail to coherently tackle) the dark side, preferring the diversion of actions to eliminate (it is hoped) behaviours which, while unacceptable, principally result in self-harm, the injuries of alcohol-fuelled fist fights and the run-ins with cops. The youth of Great Britain (or indeed from elsewhere) parading along Punta Bellend with its collective arse hanging out of its shorts or taking a tumble from a hotel balcony is not - per se - acting with criminal intent. The response to this, though, is to apply ordinance with fines attached. Communications are then used to demonstrate how change and transformation are to be brought about and are being brought about. Welcome to the "new" Magalluf of Calvia Beach. Fine. But what about the dark side?

These conspiracies - silence, obfuscation and diversion - were displayed at the time of the Stacey Dooley documentary. Whatever one thought about that, it was not fundamentally wrong. Rather, it was fundamentally right, including the part about the prostitutes. Criticised for having been sensationalist, it lacked (an argument went) the seriousness of, say, the "Stern" report. But lo and behold, what was to happen? The mamading video is what happened, and it gave ample excuses to concentrate on anything other than the real dark side.

"The Daily Star", it might be said, also lacks seriousness. Even within the ranks of British red-tops it struggles to be taken seriously. But it has now turned its attention to the prostitutes. One takes it as a compliment that, as part of this, it quoted pretty much word for word from a "Bulletin" report. (I know, I wrote it.)

Because of its sensationalism, assuming it and the Trip Advisor comments the report also referred to, are ever taken any notice of in Calvia village, there will doubtless be the silence, the obfuscation and the diversion. It simply isn't good enough. It is time that Calvia and the national government's delegation to the Balearics (because of its responsibilities for security matters and the security forces) started making clear, totally clear statements about the prostitutes. Started being totally clear as to how there is to be eradication. And if not, why not. People have had enough of the obfuscation. Let there be honesty. In the process, people might then have belief in elected officials.

Monday, July 25, 2016

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 25 July 2016

Morning high (6.03am): 22.9C
Forecast high: 30C; UV: 9
Three-day forecast: 26 July - Sun, 30C; 27 July - Sun, 29C; 28 July - Sun, 29C.

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

In a word - sun. All week.

Evening update (20.30): High of 32.3C.

The Miracle Of Alcudia's Sant Crist

Places of religious and historical significance exist in the most unlikely of locations in Mallorca. One of the oldest, if not the oldest example of human civilisation is surrounded by warehouses and other commercial buildings on the industrial estate in Can Picafort: this is the dolmen burial chamber of Son Baulo.

Not far from Can Picafort is a cave in Alcudia. It's just off the bypass road that goes behind the Bellevue complex. On one side of the road is another industrial estate and the chimney of the Es Murterar power station. On the Bellevue side is the cave, which is no great distance from one of the limits of the distinctly irreligious, predominantly all-inclusive chaotic sprawl of an early 1970s' campus in desperate need of some attention.

The road bisects Bellevue and the mountain (some say hill, others peak) that guards the entrance to Alcudia. It's called Sant Martí. So is the cave. They hold the occasional mass in this cave: just after Easter, for example. It's an important site not least because of what happened (supposedly) 509 years ago. They're celebrating this in Alcudia on Tuesday. Not, however, that the purpose of the celebration actually occurred on 26 July 1507. That, I'm afraid, would be far too simple.

Let's go back, if we really must, to the winter of 1506-1507. If one's being honest, this was not the best time to have been visiting Mallorca. Conditions were not always hospitable. There was general lawlessness, while famine, drought, pestilence and disease were rarely far away. With something of an echo of the winter that passed earlier this year, it didn't rain that winter of 1507. There was a winter drought.

When faced with such a situation, and unable to draw on a conveniently located desalination plant on Alcudia bay (as is nowadays the case), solutions were limited. But there was always one. Pray. And so, on 24 February 1507 there was to be a procession, a pleading and begging procession. Prayers were to be offered for rain, and the object of this great request was a saint: Christ the Saint, Sant Crist.

The story goes that the wooden image of the saint was paraded from the cave at Sant Marti and was then returned there. It was upon this return that the miracle of Sant Crist occurred (allegedly). One does have to take the word of various legal eminences of the time, such as Pere Joan Zaforteza, whose family name is the one of Mallorca's oldest and most noble. There were also, naturally enough, priests and the odd high official. They all maintained that the image of Sant Crist had sweated blood and water.

As can be imagined, when news spread of the miracle, pilgrims and the sick flocked to Alcudia from other parts of Mallorca. Further miracles may or may not have occurred. But what did occur was the harvest that year. Abundant or what. The saint had saved the people of Alcudia.

Subsequently, there was to be the founding of the chapel of Sant Crist at the church of Sant Jaume and a standardising of the celebration of the miracle. What seems to have happened is that all the pilgrims who had been coming along for getting on for two centuries had led to a deterioration in the condition of the image. In 1697, therefore, a commission took a decision. On this commission was another Zaforteza, who was the canon at the Cathedral in Palma. Between its members they concluded that the celebration of Sant Crist should not only be moved to July but also be held only once every three years. In that particular year, the actual celebration was on 28 July: this was because it was a Sunday. But the date for the future would be 26 July, the feast day for Christ's grandmother, Santa Anna, and the day after the feast day for Sant Jaume, the patron of the town and its church.

Why every three years though? Well, this seems to have been because the commission also concluded that staging it every year would a) represent too much of a fiesta opportunity for the locals (given Sant Jaume was the day before) and so too much temptation to not be totally religious and that it would b) cost too much.

The procession for Sant Crist is a very solemn affair. It takes place at midday on Tuesday, when the priests taking part will be praying that it won't be too baking hot. Last time, in 2013, it was; the odd priest keeled over in the heat. But prayers may be met. On the previous occasion, in 2010, guess what? It rained. Now there's a miracle for you.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 24 July 2016

Morning high (6.00am): 20.6C
Forecast high: 29C; UV: 9
Three-day forecast: 25 July - Sun, 29C; 26 July - Sun, 29C; 27 July - Sun, 30C.

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

A sunny Sunday coming as is a sunny week - there's a surprise. The outlook for the week suggests temperatures moving back towards "heatwave" levels by Thursday or Friday.

Evening update (20.30): High of 32.3C.

Francina To The Spanish Governmental Rescue

"Five. Four. Three. Two. One ..." "Cut! Cut!"

Nothing's going. Shot in Supermarianoation, the latest in the fantasy franchise that is "The Government Which Forgot It Was A Government" is undergoing yet further re-scripting. On Tracy Island the lights were flashing on the portraits at Governmental Rescue in the presidential HQ at the Consolat de Mar. "Take Pod 4, Virgil, the Nationalists Mole." "Yes father, er I mean, F.A.B. mother." Francina Tracy, the matriarch founder of Governmental Rescue, had decided that the time had come for all good Pedros to come to the aid of the PSOE party by combining with nationalist parties and Podemos (just like on Tracy Island) in order to stop the evil Super Mariano.

He, Super that is, was oddly enough having similar thoughts. He was emitting evil ones from his bunker in Madrid. "Catalonia, Catalonia," he mysteriously intoned. Would the Catalan half-brothers of the Spanish nation succumb to his evil thoughts? Despite several years of plots and intrigues to deny independence, Super Mariano was now prepared to give houseroom to the CDC in Catalonia in a Congress carve-up designed to secure his investiture as president (prime minister).

Away from all of this, Dec (Albert Rivera of the C's) was revealing what many had suspected: that he is a vacillating and opportunistic little C. The double act with Ant (Pedro Sánchez of PSOE) seemed well and truly to have been annulled. Instead, Dec was being led by the hand of Super Mariano to face the tests of the political jungle. Together they would gain celebrity for governmental rescue. On Tracy Island Francina was having none of that, having trademarked the name.

But then Super Mariano began transmitting those evil nationalist thoughts. Albert, immune from birth to such brain interference and equally immune to any notion of Catalonian independence (or anyone else's for that matter), was scandalised. There will be no investiture, Super. Not if you get into bed with the nationalists. Mariano, meanwhile, merely cackled. Either it's me or no one. And if it's not me, there'll be another election.

In next week's episode of "The Government Which Forgot It Was A Government" the King will have to undergo another round of those excruciating photo opportunity moments, shaking hands with all and sundry Spanish politicians, none of whom will have the slightest possibility of being able to contribute to forming a government. The King will smile politely and benignly while thinking more about arrangements for the family hols on Tracy Island. At Governmental Rescue, meanwhile, Brains Jarabo of Podemos will be imploring Francina to blow all the tourist tax revenue on an eco-friendly agrarian heritage sun-and-beach tourism alternative spacecraft to orbit the Earth.

Fantasy franchise? Oh yes.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 23 July 2016

Morning high (6.03am): 22.7C
Forecast high: 28C; UV: 8
Three-day forecast: 24 July - Sun, cloud, 29C; 25 July - Sun, cloud, 29C; 25 July - Sun, cloud, 29C.

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): North 5 to 6 easing East 3 this morning.

Some cloud over the moon before sunrise and due to persist this morning and expected to clear later. A similar patter tomorrow. Low risks of a spot of rain both today and tomorrow.

Evening update (21.00): The cloud much quicker than expected. A fine day. High of 30.3C.

Low Cost Holidays - Questions Needing Answers

The collapse of Low Cost Holidays will go beyond the distress caused to holidaymakers, employees and certain businesses here in Majorca. The collapse leaves behind it a series of questions, the first one of which is: where is Paul Evans?

The founder of Low Cost has not been heard of since last Friday's announcement. Locally, there has been comment, none of it complimentary, about how he didn't face up to any of the stakeholders affected by the collapse. Here is someone who has been feted by the travel industry. A holiday guru no less. Perhaps the greatest lesson to be learned is to never trust someone portrayed as a guru or wishing to be portrayed as a guru.

But plenty of trust was placed in him, or at least in his businesses. The trust extended to the fact that in terms of consumer protection here was a business built on sandy foundations - Majorcan sand, Spanish sand. Why did Low Cost make the move to Majorca? One reason would have been the lower cost of protection. When it moved away from the UK, Low Cost would have been into Atol alone for some 2.5 million pounds. There were savings to be made by switching to a jurisdiction that is less rigorous in regulation and in governance requirements, such as accounts.

Moving the operation made a good deal of business sense, though. The ever-increasing costs associated with regulation in the UK was one reason, as probably also was how IVA (VAT) is accounted for and allocated in the sale of packages: there were savings to be made with this as well.

The trust ran so deep that the move, and so the loss of Atol and Abta coverage, had only initial marginal impact on sales. If the consumer senses a deal, he or she will snap it up, protection logos or no protection logos. Moreover, travellers had been promised benefits in terms of financial and consumer protection from the move. The 1.24 million bond that the Balearic government is sitting on is presumably the sum of these benefits.

Biel Barceló, the tourism minister, has attacked the fact that sales were still being made shortly before trading ceased. While some have drawn conclusions that are unsubstantiated, any revenue being brought in may have been to try and buy time by paying off whatever liabilities could be paid off.

There has to be an investigation of Low Cost. The questions are of what and by whom; questions made more complicated by the fact that the administrators are UK-based. There are also questions to be asked of the Balearic government and of national government regarding regulatory controls. The Balearic government's handling of the affair has been embarrassing, made more so by an announcement from the consumer affairs branch suggesting that hotels shouldn't be demanding payments from holidaymakers, which is what has been happening. So, do those tourists who have paid now have to file further claims to get their money back?

And there is more embarrassment for the government. The names at the ministries and at the presidency have changed since 2013, but the sentiments would still be the same as they were when former tourism minister Carlos Delgado and the then president Bauzá were proud to speak of the investment that was to be made in jobs and technology. Barceló, Negueruela, Armengol - none would have said any different. But they may now be minded to be more cautious when welcoming businesses bearing gifts of innovative and employment-rich gold. The combination of technological innovation and tourism is a government dream. It shouldn't be shackled by burdensome regulation but it should come with some understanding by those who are in effect the regulator. Did the government then or does the government now fully understand the nature of the business?

On top of this was the fact that the rapidly changing business model didn't guarantee loyalty to Majorca. In September last year, with redundancies in the offing, Low Cost explained that there was to be greater concentration on its operation in Krakow, a university town with, as was said, graduate students seeking a career in tourism. Unlike Palma, therefore.

There is another question to be asked of the government. As it has emerged that the industry locally had its suspicions about Low Cost's situation, as it is known that some hotel chains had stopped dealing with Low Cost, as pretty much anyone will say that blaming things on Brexit is a smokescreen, was the government aware of any difficulties? It's hard to believe that it wasn't.

Friday, July 22, 2016

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 22 July 2016

Morning high (5.45am): 22.1C
Forecast high: 28C; UV: 9
Three-day forecast: 23 July - Sun, cloud, 28C; 24 July - Sun, cloud, 28C; 25 July - Sun, cloud, 29C.

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): Southeast 2 to 4 backing North around midday and increasing 5 locally by the evening.

Another warm early morning. Lower temperatures expected today as the breezes turn northerly and which may just bring a spot of rain tomorrow.

Evening update (19.45): Got quite windy and rather grey in the afternoon, then the sun returned. High of 31.8C.

Growing Old Impatiently

I don't recall which friend it was, but it was said many a long year ago: one of those expressions that has remained with me ever since. "You can grow old waiting ... (insert as applicable)."

I firstly need to offer a qualification. Generally speaking, I am not impatient, but the potential for growing old is great. I thus attribute a good deal of the ageing process to the causes of likely impatience. These are, in no particular order, the bank, the supermarket, the chemist, the newsagent. There are others: the pedestrian crossing, for instance.

One refers to the phenomena that are each of these especially in the summer, though each has its moments at other times of the year as well. The bank can be dispensed with in comparatively short order. There is one key thing to be aware of: under no circumstances whatsoever attempt to get served in a bank on a Monday. If you have tried this forlorn task, you will be familiar with the multitudes who descend on every available bank branch in order to deposit the weekend's takings - mostly all of it in small coins and brought to the bank in a supermarket plastic bag.

Which brings one conveniently to supermarkets and indeed to plastic bags. While other supermarkets are naturally available, Eroski will be delighted to learn that, despite what's coming, they have managed to secure my loyalty for longer than I care to think about. Grown old? You bet.

Perhaps the first thing to take into account is that if you live in a multi-Eroski environment, which is the case in Alcudia, you need to figure out which one is the least bad, as in least likely to leave you queuing at a checkout for sufficient length of time to require the undertaker being called. It isn't, to be fair, entirely their fault. There are only so many notices that can be put up, reminding customers to weigh their fruit and veg and stick the sticky thing on. However, even if customers achieve this, there is always the sticky thing which has been stuck on in sufficiently awkward fashion to make the bar code unscannable.

We then have the service "encounter" moments, none of which is individually that long but which when combined can make the entire encounter last a short lifetime. For example, "do you want a plastic bag?" This presumably comes from the English manual issued to all staff: the only English it contains. Unfortunately, not all non-Spaniards (and even some Spaniards who are asked the very question) understand English. The bafflement conspires to prolong the "encounter", as do, for instance, the dozens of slips of paper disgorged by the till offering the lucky customer ten per cent off his or her next purchase of toilet duck.

Now we move on to the chemist. Oh dear, where to start? Maybe with the resident and so user of the island's health service whose card reveals that he or she is entitled to receive mostly all pharmaceuticals in stock. Hundreds of them are piled high on the counter, awaiting the removal-by-scalpel procedure of the bit of cardboard packaging. Or maybe with the different nationalities and their individual chemist-going foibles. A Mallorcan pharmacist acquaintance once offered his own national characteristic classification. The most difficult, surprisingly enough, aren't the Germans. Yes, they can be difficult and made more so by the mixed blessing of a pharmacist being able to speak German.

A point to remember with the Germans is that they have such an impressive health system that many of them choose to use it even if they have no particular complaint. It's something of ritual, like having coffee and cake at four in the afternoon, and if they don't go to one of the numerous types of clinic available in even the smallest of towns at least once a week, there must be something wrong with them. Allied to an in any event attention to the minutest of detail, this all leads to an intimate knowledge of every conceivable pharmaceutical, its components and side-effects and so therefore an in-depth and longwinded discussion. For brevity's sake, it is best if the chemist feigns ignorance of the German language.

In fact, the lengthiest encounters, according to my source, are with the locals. There is always the far from small talk of how well is your aunt's third cousin and numerous other relatives, but this is nothing compared with the need to explain at least three times to the more elderly of Mallorcans what it is they are actually being given, of which there is of course the equivalent of a truckload.

Finally, we come to the newsagent. Not because of the newspaper but because of the tobacco. Any doubt about tourist spending is quickly (slowly) dispelled in the newsagent. Grown old? I have passed away and been re-born.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 21 July 2016

Morning high (5.47am): 23.7C
Forecast high: 33C; UV: 9
Three-day forecast: 22 July - Sun, 28C; 23 July - Sun, cloud, 28C; 24 July - Sun, cloud, 29C.

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): South-Southeast 2 to 4, temporarily East 3 to 4 around midday.

A warm night and warm early morning. A repeat of yesterday expected today - very high temperatures and hazy sun. Fresher breezes from the north seem due to come in tomorrow and push away the southerly air that's dominating at present.

Evening update (20.15): High of 36C.

A Camel To Design A Camel: Tourist tax

How many government departments, local authorities, business associations, unions and others does it take to change the cash collected from the tourist tax into meaningful projects? In order to change the light bulb switched on by the flash of governmental genius behind its introduction into hard-and-fast attempts at saving the environment requires mostly the whole of the Balearic public, private and voluntary sectors. Or this is how it appears.

The grandly titled Commission for the Promotion of Sustainable Tourism (aka the commission which decides how the cash is spent) has met for the first time. What a shame that Palma's Palacio de Congresos is yet to admit participants. There must surely be a need for somewhere as vast in order to accommodate all the tax-spending decision-makers.

For the record, the commission consists of: Biel Barceló, its president and the minister for tourism, innovation and research; Catalina Cladera, the finance minister; Pilar Costa, the minister for the presidency, as in being the spokesperson for the Balearic government and running the mysterious ministry of the presidency (Armengol's that is); Iago Negueruela, the minister for employment, trade and industry; Vicenç Vidal, the minister for the environment, agriculture and fisheries. Any more ministers? Erm, no, though why they haven't just chucked the whole cabinet at the commission is a mystery. Education, transport, social services, health and the bizarre participation, transparency, linguistic normalisation, culture and sport mini-mega ministry must presumably want their say as well. Everyone else does.

It doesn't stop with ministers. Oh no, that would be far too non-participative and consensual. There are also representatives from: each of the four island councils; Palma town hall; the Felib group of local authorities; the CCOO and UGT unions; the Confederation of Balearic Business Associations and the Pimem association of smaller businesses; the inter-island agricultural council; the University of the Balearic Islands; GOB, the environmentalists; Amics de la Terra (Friends of the Earth), also environmentalists; Arca, the association for the preservation and recuperation of old urban centres. Any more? Probably. 

Following its first encounter, this camel of a commission, which will design the camel that is to be the way the tax is spent, is to be subject to an evaluation by the government as to how the meeting went. Is the government to form a commission to evaluate the commission? Which parts of government will be conducting the evaluation? All of it or only those parts represented? We must know. Everything is in the name of participation and consensus after all. Oh, and talking of which, let's not forget that the commission (the one for the tax and not the one doing the evaluation) is to be helped by the citizens. They will be making proposals as to how the tax is spent. How many of them will there be? Who are they? Am I living next door to one? We must be told.

Let's just get this into perspective. We are talking about a tax that will raise some 40 million euros this year, a figure that may or may not double in 2017. In the scheme of tax-raising and revenue-spending it isn't chicken feed but nor is it exactly gargantuan. Give or take several million, it equates to less than one per cent of the total annual budget of the Balearics. What other tax and its spending is subject to such involvement? None, unless one counts the fact that 59 parliamentary deputies typically oversee decisions regarding the islands' tax spending, most of them - oddly enough - not actually on the commission.

Why, therefore, does the tourist tax require its commission and its vast membership? An answer is that its spending affects (as in being designed to benefit) all members of society. Really? Is not spending on, let's say health, intended to have a similar benefit? Ah but, this is the Balearics' very own tax, not a state tax such as income tax or VAT. Our own, our very own tax, directed at all of we citizens, from wherever we may come, with our participation but minus any input from those who are actually paying it.

How transparent will all this be? Highly, because transparency is a current mantra: one to be walked as well as talked. Beneficiaries will be transparent, because they are all on the commission. The university? Because of Barceló's undefined desires for innovation and research as they combine with tourism. GOB? It's the environment, stupid, to which most of the spending in one way or another will go. Arca? Heritage preservation. The inter-island agricultural council? To ensure that the not-so chicken feed of the tax is spent on chickens and related matters. The employment ministry? Because of the spending to improve training and quality of employment in the tourism industry. On and on it goes.

You never know, they might actually spend the revenue wisely.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 20 July 2016

Morning high (6.00am): 19.4C
Forecast high: 32C; UV: 10
Three-day forecast: 21 July - Sun, cloud, 33C; 22 July - Sun, cloud, 29C; 23 July - Sun, cloud, 28C.

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

Quite breezy yesterday later on and still fairly breezy early on. May not be later. A suffocating day could be ahead, with maximums likely to be up to 36C. Staying very hot tomorrow and cooling down on Friday.

Evening update (20.30): High of 36.1C (inland). Hazy sort of sun all day. 

The One Eye Of Catalan

Last week I considered the latest ride in the Mallorcan language merry-go-round. Up and down go Catalan or Castellano, round and round goes the carousel, accompanied by whichever political tune is being played. The latest has a strong Catalan beat, so strong that it will drown out any alternative sounds - those of Castellano - in companies' offices, at sports fields as well as in all the seemingly millions of departments, divisions and directorates of the Balearic public sector.

Or will it drown them all out? President Armengol has been given some earache by members of her own PSOE party on the matter. These members may not be opposed to wider use of Catalan but they are concerned about legalities. Making Catalan a requisite for granting a business licence, insisting that employees in private companies join the ranks of Catalan-speaking linguistic armies marching through the squares of every town and village unleashing Catalan on non-speakers does not sound very legal to some parts of PSOE. Not only not legal but deeply troubling. What sort of authoritarianism is this? Imposition by language.

The problem as always is the past. To speak of authoritarianism and language in the same breath is to speak of Franco and of Felipe V and the impositions, deprivations and destructions of the Nueva Planta. I am fully aware of them. It's not as though I don't have great sympathy for Catalan development. But to do so via a new form of authoritarianism, one nuanced in the new-age name of the citizen?

There is also of course the immediate past. Bauzá. His idiotic trilingual scheme for teaching was not only educationally subnormal it was a naked attempt at giving Catalan a booting. TIL would not have obliterated Catalan or anything like it (despite what the "Green Tide" of the t-shirt-wearing teachers might have had some believe), but its political goal was clear. Or should have been clear to those capable of understanding that an imposition of teaching in English was a convenient and impractical smokescreen.

The use of English or another foreign language as a medium for teaching is now voluntary. If the circumstances of schools are such, then there are potential benefits from foreign-language instruction. This may seem incoherent in terms of total educational policy but it is a form of compromise by PSOE, who hold the education portfolio in the current administration. PSOE are not and have not been one-eyed in matters of language policy. It has been the dogmas of government partners that have driven it in the past to appear to be, as was the case with the Antich 2007-2011 administration.

And it is the partners who are now adopting dogmatic postures regarding language away from just the classroom. It is Més who have the citizen participation and culture portofolios, wherein lies the policy of linguistic "normalisation". This normalisation is better translated as standardisation. Catalan as standard. While Armengol and PSOE prefer a persuasive system for Catalan development, Més (and Podemos) wish for a coercive system, one driven by a reforming, fundamentalist zeal.

The culture element of this standardisation is a culture of the victim. The right has accused those on the left like Més of wallowing in a victim culture, strewn with the bodies of the past - those of Nationalism and the Bourbon impositions from the early eighteenth century. To an extent the right has a point, which is not, however, to excuse its role. Both camps are equally culpable in permitting this victim culture to survive and indeed flourish.

Into all of this, however, enters the chaos of the Partido Popular hierarchy in the Balearics. Bauzáism has mostly been consigned to the immediate past. The citing of José Maria Rodríguez as part of the Palma police corruption affair has led to the removal of so-called "Rodriguistas", more identifiable with the right-wing former Bauzá administration than with the regionalist tendency which now looks certain to resume its hold over the party. This tendency has always been more Catalanist, and now the PP at the Council of Mallorca has abstained in a vote on Catalan requirements for public-sector employees.

The chief opposition to the Més-driven government policy is at present Ciudadanos, a party that wants no truck with notions of Catalan nationalism and which is led in the Balearics by a language scholar - Xavier Pericay. He has spoken of the defence of "individual freedoms", and his scope for opposition will be great. In addition to linguistic standardisation, the Més portfolio under the minister Ruth Mateu also includes sport. Every type of sporting event is to be regulated in ensuring that Catalan is the dominant language, even ones for which English is the norm, such as international regattas. One can be sympathetic to Catalan development but one can also be troubled at myopic insistence.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 19 July 2016

Morning high (6.37am): 18.7C
Forecast high: 31C; UV: 10
Three-day forecast: 20 July - Sun, 34C; 21 July - Sun, 32C; 22 July - Sun, cloud, 29C.

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

The temperature is due to be ratcheted up today and even more so tomorrow, for which there is an alert for high temperatures, as is also the case for Thursday.

Evening update (20.15): High of 35.3C inland; around three degrees lower on the coasts.

When It Rains, It's Colapso

The weather was a bit iffy last Thursday. Highs only around 23 degrees, some rain about, mostly cloudy all day. What to do, if you're a tourist? Head to the nearest hire-car agency. Look at all those cars that have been brought over from the mainland. Look at them all, many of them from agencies paying nothing in taxes. That's a story in itself. Part of the story means that these immigrant vehicles add to the "colapso", taking advantage of roads and car parks for which there are no contributions. 

They love a good colapso in Mallorca. Love talking about it anyway. It has nothing to do with vino, and thank God it doesn't. All those hire cars with all those tourist drivers with little clue where they're going and their task is made more difficult by having had a glass or several. Mind you, it's enough to drive you to drink: driving when everything's colapso, as in the traffic. Logjam, standstill, collapsed: there's your colapso.

It happens all the time when there's dodgy weather. This is what you get from alternatives to sun and beach. When the sun doesn't shine, when the beaches are empty, when the poolsides have not been attacked from the earliest hour by the race to lay the towels, what is there to do? Yep, let's all go to Palma. All those with a hire car, that is; those who are prepared to splash out for one. Pity the poor economy-class all-inclusive vacationer, wandering lonely as a cloud, several clouds, thick clouds and wondering what on Earth to do. Or maybe you shouldn't pity them. That's up to you.

Of course it isn't only the all-inclusive guest who does the in-resort wandering. There are the other hotel occupants. The hire-car drivers are all in holiday rentals, the thousands upon thousands of those. That's what the regional government seems to think at any rate. Whatever accommodation the drivers have, it's always the same: head for Palma.

Someone has suggested - Javier Mato, writing in "Preferente" - that there should be information available for tourists, advising them what to do on an iffy day, warning them that if they go to Palma, they'd wish they hadn't bothered. Jam after jam, nowhere to park. It sounds a good idea, until Javier mentions that this would be information in hotels. Eh? In hotels? It would need to be in holiday rentals - legal or not - because the government says that colapso occurs because of the rentals.

Why aren't there park and ride schemes? Like with the car park that was created for just this purpose but which has since become unused, unloved and unmanaged. Why not? Because local authorities, let's them call them Palma's town hall, are useless. Too busy mucking around with closing roads in the city centre than doing something sensible like providing park and ride. There again, the turning into Antoni Maura off the Paseo Marítimo was bad enough as it was, what with being one lane, there being pedestrian crossings, buses (public and excursion) blocking the way and traffic lights that gave no more than thirty seconds of green.

What would make things really ducky would be for an iffy day to coincide with twenty odd thousand cruise passengers traipsing around the city. Colapso? You bet it would and would include the loos. The system couldn't take all the bar bogs being flushed at one go by the cruise passengers and the hire-car occupants, stuck in jams for hours, haring to the nearest bar to relieve themselves.

Why not take a bus instead? Or the train? Are you kidding? Ever tried getting on a bus to Palma on a good day let alone a bad one? You might succeed, but then there's the getting back as well. The train? What train, if you are in Pollensa, Alcudia, Cala Ratjada, Cala Millor, Cala d'Or, Colonia Sant Jordi, Magalluf, Andratx?

Why go to Palma at all? What about other parts of the paradise island? Fancy Soller? Not by car you shouldn't. The train? A good alternative, if there were space. Large (largish) towns like Inca? Why would anyone want to go to Inca? Actually, there are some interesting parts and it has what seems to be the main reason to want to go to Palma - shopping, though not on anything like the same scale admittedly.

How about mooching around the small towns and villages? Petra, Sant Joan, Lloret and many others? Well, how about it? Does it cross anyone's mind to do this? It should do. You never know, you might be surprised by what you find. Mallorca.

Overwhelmingly though, the choice will be Palma, which will be overwhelmed to a greater degree than it constantly appears to be. Mallorca is geared to two things - sun and beach. Take them away, if only temporarily, and there's colapso.

Monday, July 18, 2016

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 18 July 2016

Morning high (6.08am): 18.6C
Forecast high: 28C; UV: 10
Three-day forecast: 19 July - Sun, 31C; 20 July - Sun, 32C; 21 July - Sun, 32C.

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

Sunny and quite hot today, the heatwave - if it proves to be one - should see hotter weather from tomorrow until Friday. Actual highs of 36C being suggested until the breezes shift northerly and away from an easterly and southerly direction.

Evening update (20.00): High of 30.1C.

The Mistrust In The Balearic Government

President Armengol is, you feel, clinging on to her post by her fingertips. She's been one of those haranguing Pedro Sánchez into not making any sort of agreement with Rajoy and the PP: it would surely be the end for her, if he were to. Her claims for there to be stable government in the Balearics have long sounded like whistling in the dark to keep up spirits, but with PSOE so wounded, with Sánchez seemingly not knowing which way to turn, the knives are being sharpened.

Alberto Jarabo of Podemos said last week that the "mistrust" of PSOE in the Balearic government remains. What a telling statement, and it has always been there. It was this mistrust that led Podemos to not formally join the government. Podemos has been doing very nicely thank you by being outside government: electorally at any rate, if, that is, one subscribes to the view - which I do - that the alliance with Més at the June election resulted in the total destruction of the Més vote.

Never slow to look for a weak president who can be manipulated, Jarabo hopes that one day Biel Barceló of Més will take over from Armengol. Of course he hopes this, given that Més has seen its support disappear. They're a crafty lot, Podemos.

How is it, though, that there can be an administration built on a lack of trust? Easily, it seems, so long as you are Podemos and willing to pull strings without assuming direct accountability and therefore being contrary to your own political philosophy. Mistrust. Jarabo has said it. We've known all along.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 17 July 2016

Morning high (6.02am): 18.4C
Forecast high: 27C; UV: 10
Three-day forecast: 18 July - Sun, 28C; 19 July - Sun, 30C; 20 July - Sun, 33C.

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): North 2 to 3 veering East 3 to 4 by midday.

Sunny day to come. Or should be. Temperatures climbing through the week. The Aemet agency says there is a mini-heatwave coming but that cooler conditions will arrive by Thursday. The forecast isn't as yet reflecting that, as it's showing Friday to be hotter.

Evening update (20.15): High of 30.2C.

Star Of The Sea: Virgen del Carmen

Mount Carmel and the Spanish Navy would, on the face of it, have little in common. One is a mountain range in northern Israel and the other isn't. But such are the ways of religious developments that Carmel and the navy have a great deal in common: Our Lady of Carmel, the Virgen del Carmen, whose day was yesterday and for whom today there will be fireworks and flotillas transporting her image.

The Carmelite Order was founded some time in the twelfth century. No one knows for sure by whom or when exactly. What is generally accepted is that this founding was on Mount Carmel. (If it weren't, then explaining the name of the order becomes rather tricky.) Given the uncertainties surrounding the order's background, it is somewhat surprising that 16 July can so definitively be identified as the day when the Carmelite Simon Stock had his vision of the Virgin and the brown scapular and was thus to be responsible for a summer fiesta. There again, dates for feast days are rarely hard and fast: take Christmas as just one example.

Making the leap from Mount Carmel to the navy is equally uncertain. How did she become patron of the sea and also the patron of the navy? Well, Mount Carmel is a coastal mountain range, but then so is the Tramuntana, which has its own version of the Virgin, the one of Lluc. Mere proximity to the sea doesn't necessarily seem to have anything to do with the choice of patron. Maybe it all stems from the prayer to the Blessed Mother of Mount Carmel. One line goes: "O star of the sea, help me and show me you are my mother." As the Virgin is also patron of protecting people from harm and from dangerous situations, including those at sea, perhaps here are further reasons why the navy co-opted her as patron.

But how did she come to be looked upon as a protector from danger for those at sea? That line in the prayer unlocks the clue, as also in fact does the proximity of the sea. For the Carmelites, she was, among other things, their Stella Maris. "Ave Maris Stella" are Latin words in the hymn for fiestas devoted to seafaring. In the Old Testament, the title of Star of the Sea (or Estrella del Mar in Spanish) and its application to the Virgin stems from the prophet Elijah, conveniently on Mount Carmel, conjuring up a small cloud over the sea. As you might guess, it rained and drought came to an end. From such biblical legends are saints made, patronage created and fiestas organised.

This all helps to explain why the dedication is made to Our Lady of Carmel by the Spanish Navy every 16 July, though it has only officially been made since 1901. This was a time when the navy and the whole Spanish military apparatus were still reeling from the losses at the hands of the Americans three years before. The navy probably needed all the protection it could get.

The hymn that will be sung at naval ceremonies is not the same as the one quoted above. The naval version comes from a work written and composed in 1870. "Hail, the star of the seas. Of the iris seas, of eternal bliss. Hail, O Phoenix of beauty. Mother of Divine love."

Coming to the fiesta flotillas bearing the image of the Virgin, they are in a way the most important of the flotillas, given the Latin words of the hymn for such events: more so than those for Sant Pere (Saint Peter), even with his patronage of fishermen. In Puerto Pollensa, though, the two are combined - Peter and Our Lady. Both will appear this evening, as the resort's fiestas reach their climax of procession, flotilla, demons on the loose and fireworks.

Most of the flotillas took place yesterday - the day of Virgen del Carmen - but Puerto Pollensa opts for the Sunday of the fiestas to have its flotilla, as also does Sa Rapita.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 16 July 2016

Morning high (7.36am): 19.9C
Forecast high: 27C; UV: 9
Three-day forecast: 17 July - Sun, 27C; 18 July - Sun, 28C; 19 July - Sun, 30C.

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

Bright and sunny morning. The cloudy conditions of the past couple of days are now past. The week ahead is forecast to be sun all the way and getting hotter from midweek.

Evening update (19.45): High of 29.6C. The bright start turned cloudy, and there was cloud at times during the day. Good enough though.

More On Vueling And The Chaotic Spanish Air Industry

This has been a wretched week for the Spanish air industry. The problems at Vueling have been well chronicled, but they have also been overplayed by the media being fed a diet of political machismo. This is one version of events. Another has it that Vueling's problems are symptomatic of an industry that is run by power-mad executives, seeking to extract every last euro and caring little or nothing for customer service. Comparisons with the levels and types of service in the US and Asia have been made in pointing to an industry that obeys only one rule: profit.

The politicians have been having a field day, not least the national ministry for development, the one with responsibilities for air transport. Its threat to withdraw Vueling's operating licence was looked upon with shock by other airlines. The minister, Ana Pastor, generally considered to be a "serious" politician, has lately been caught up in the machismo tendency, presenting the government as some form of saviour of the air industry.

On Monday, Pastor called a meeting. The presence of all airlines operating in Spain was required, such as Air Europa, Air Nostrum, Binter Canarias, Iberia and of course Vueling. Most sent deputy executives rather than top bosses. They were to be read the riot act. About what exactly? Air Europa's pilots are planning on striking, this we knew, but apart from Vueling what grounds were there for hauling managers up before the ministry? The airlines believed it was all a political show, a demonstration of the ministry being on top of a situation that isn't necessarily the case.

The airline industry berates the government for different reasons, among them being the issuing of licensing demands that exceed accepted levels of safety and firing off threats of fines and other punishments. The past is littered with failure, such as the ghost airports like Ciudad Real. There is now also the potential disaster of Madrid airport having to close one runway because of noise. Such has been government aviation policy that Spain is left with only one home-grown player of any note, Air Europa. The rest have been swallowed up or operate as a franchisee, as is the case with Air Nostrum.

The government has failed to implant a satisfactory and swift mechanism for compensating passengers who are the victims of airline failures. Instead it calls airlines in, reads the riot act and lets the media know that it is doing so, thus demonstrating its credentials to the public while at the same time doing little or nothing about consumer protection. The ministry for development is not the only branch of government playing the media for what it's worth. The Balearic government has joined the showboating, insisting that it will be taking proceedings against Vueling and demanding compensation. Where will that lead? Either nowhere or to the courts. And that's because there isn't a satisfactory, consumer-oriented system. The one saving grace, institutionally, in all this may be the European Commission: Vueling should be made to abide by consumer rights.  

The fact is that the problems at Vueling are not being overplayed. It can be argued, as it has been, that French industrial action has been a principal cause of delays and cancellations, but the controllers have not been walking out at weekends. Vueling has had to issue a statement that there won't be cancellations this weekend because there have been on previous weekends.

This is the third successive summer that Vueling has had issues, and they point, therefore, to management failure. The airline is stretched beyond its limit, now hoping that the drafting in of more aircraft will solve the problem, assuming there is personnel to fly them. It was this, an inability to satisfy demand, which lay behind Pastor's meeting. Might other airlines be unable to meet demand at the height of summer?

There is one airline, Norwegian, that has been sending out emails to staff asking them to "sell" days off. "We are having difficulties in covering sectors at the moment," the emails have read.

Against this background, one notes latest figures for passenger growth at Spanish airports. Vueling is one airline to have experienced more than ten per cent growth up to June - 15% up in fact and crossing the ten million passengers barrier for the first time. Norwegian was up by over 21%. There's demand, but can they meet it?

Friday, July 15, 2016

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 15 July 2016

Morning high (6.32am): 19C
Forecast high: 27C; UV: 9
Three-day forecast: 16 July - Sun, 27C; 17 July - Sun, 28C; 18 July - Sun, 29C.

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): North-Northeast 3 to 5. Swells to two metres.

Another cloudy start, but the forecast leads us to believe that it will be sunny all day. An alert for rough coastal conditions and wind is likely to apply more to the morning. Things seem to ease as the day goes on. Weekend's outlook is very good.

Evening update (19.30): Once the cloud went away it was a very pleasant day. Not too hot. High of 27.4C.

The Wheel Of Linguistic Fortune

Life in Mallorca can seem to be in a constant state of wheel reinvention. No, not seem to be. Is. The wheel is given new spokes and tyre, the latter being pumped up in one particular way, only for someone to come along, take it apart and then reassemble it in an entirely different fashion. The wheel, as a result, never runs smoothly. The ride is uncomfortable. Control is scarcely possible. Off you head, therefore, in a direction totally opposite to the one you were previously on.

Some twenty-four hours prior to writing this article I had been honouring Hotelbeds. I wonder what they think about the wheel in its latest reinvented incarnation. They probably give it scarcely a thought. International company, acclaimed by the Balearic government, the last thing on the corporate mind will be this particular wheel. But how would it fit with this international business, if the regional government were true to the absolute letter of the rules for wheel reinvention?

In days of not so yore, I was engaged in regular consideration of how the wheel was being moulded. This was 2008. The circumstances involved the last "pact" of government. Ostensibly led by PSOE, it had as its mutually exclusive other partners the former (now dead) Unió Mallorquina (UM) and the PSM Mallorcan socialists, the major part of what is now Més. Clash though they did because of varying positions on the left-right spectrum and also because of competing claims to be the main advocates of Mallorcan nationalism, there was some common ground. It was the wheel: the wheel of linguistic fortune. Turn it one way and you head to Castile and the birthplace of the Spanish nation and language. Turn it another and you are bound (possibly) for Barcelona and the heartland of Catalan.

I place possibly in parentheses due to the fact that most Mallorcans I ever encounter want nothing to do with Catalonia or with Catalan. They are Mallorcans and they speak Mallorquín. But let's not confuse things too much, especially when there's a good wheel to be reinvented. Yes, the wheel of linguistic fortune is pointing straight towards the Catalan heartland. Again.

The current "pact" has basically substituted the UM with Podemos, a description of replacement that would most definitely not sit well with Alberto Jarabo and his chums. That would be because of the C-word, one that ran right through the UM as though it were a stick of rock. Yet Podemos is every bit as much an advocate of Catalan as the UM were. More so it can appear. Like a reformed smoker who rails against the merest whiff of a cigarette, Jarabo, not a native Catalan speaker but a reformed Castellano speaker, rails as loud if not louder than others against the language of the Bourbons.

Under the previous pact, everything - more or less everything - was to be Catalan. Then along came Bauzá and the PP. The wheel was reinvented. It pointed once more to Castile and was shaped in the image of Carlos Delgado and Jorge Campos of the Círculo Balear. Bauzá no more, the PP no more, and we're heading back to square one: wheels aren't much use if they're square, but never mind.

Amidst all the Catalanisation of the previous pact, there was the amusing spat involving Air Berlin. The German airline had been "invited" by the regional government to use Catalan as its first business language. The former president, Antich, was to later suggest that this "invitation" had been "misinterpreted". Perhaps they were speaking different languages. One had the impression that Air Berlin had quietly told the government where they could stick their invitation. A stick of rock would have come in handy.

I mention this particular episode because of what the reinvention that is now upon us intends to bring about. It won't stop at the public sector, it will delve into the private sector too. There won't be an invitation more a requirement for businesses. For instance, there would be "linguistic vetoes" of licences to open a business. Catalan speakers would have to be recruited. On the streets, in the bars, in businesses, everywhere it seems, Catalan speakers will be encouraged (?) to speak only Catalan to non-speakers. Businesses, everyday life, leisure activities, sporting events. Catalan and only Catalan. The fervour would put some religious fundamentalists to shame.

So, what has all this got to do with Hotelbeds? Quite a lot in fact. There is this acclaimed business, bringing in foreign talent, likewise acclaimed by the government, conducting its affairs multi-lingually. It would seemingly be told that Catalan speakers have to speak only Catalan. Working on a tricky bit of software code? That's ok, I'll explain things in Catalan, even if you don't understand it.

Oh well, they'll probably ignore the command and wait for the PP to come along and reinvent the wheel of linguistic fortune.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 14 July 2016

Morning high (6.30am): 19.2C
Forecast high: 25C; UV: 8
Three-day forecast: 15 July - Sun, cloud, wind, 27C; 16 July - Sun, 28C; 17 July - Sun, 29C.

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

Heavy cloud this morning, so there remains the possibility of the odd shower. Improving later in the day. Tomorrow expected to be sunnier but quite windy. The weekend outlook is good with temperatures going up again.

Evening update (19.45): There was some rain, only ever light. Cloud hung around all day, sun peeping out later on. High of 22.8C.

Hotelbeds: The best of Mallorca

Hotelbeds is unquestionably a successful business. "The world's bedbank", as it calls itself, is a world player. From having once offered only one destination market - Spain - for one traveller-providing market (the UK), it now has (fifteen years after it was founded) 180 country destination markets offering more than 75,000 hotels and 120 supplier markets. That's impressive stuff, and the all more impressive for being "made in Mallorca".

The business came into being following the purchase of Viajes Barceló (part of the Barceló hotel group and now B the Travel Brand) by First Choice. The travel agency was to be sold back to Barceló, but what was the international event and destination services division, which included Hotelbeds, was kept hold of. When First Choice was formally absorbed by Tui in 2007, Tui Travel Accommodation & Destination was established: its director was the founder and president of Hotelbeds, Joan Vilà.

Because of a strategic restructuring, Tui sought a purchaser for Hotelbeds. It found one in the form of fund managers Cinven and CPPIB, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, the Canadian government pension fund managers. There was more to be impressed with. The price. Hotelbeds went for a total of 1,165 million euros; the deal was sealed this spring.

Vilà has said that the business was founded right at the time that the travel industry was about to undergo massive transformation. Hotelbeds caught the initial wave, therefore, of the technologically-driven new age of travel. Value in the business obviously resides in the numbers it can generate. Tui revealed that the price paid to buy the business (almost 50% greater than had originally been hoped for) equated to 1.2 times the 2015 revenue with an underlying operating profit of 69 million euros.

But major acquisitions aren't made solely because of the numbers. Among other factors that attracted Cinven and CPPIB were the quality of senior management (with Vilà at the helm), a strong record of year-on-year growth and the technologies. Cinven understood the value of the latter very clearly. It has been a significant investor in Amadeus, a global leader in IT solutions for the travel industry and a company that is based in Madrid.

One might in fact argue that the greatest value lies with the systems. It is revealing to note that a couple of years ago, Hotelbeds identified another Spanish company, Transhotel, as a main competitor in the domestic market. Transhotel hit the rocks in 2014, and a reason for its problems was the fact that its technologies were said to have been outdated. The travel industry, never slow to change and adapt, has been moving at increasingly rapid speeds for the past fifteen years. Businesses which are slow end up in liquidation.

The combination of travel, tourism and technology is something that the Balearic government is keen to explore as a means of economic diversification, reputation enhancement and job creation. It is totally fitting, therefore, that the government should look upon Hotelbeds as precisely the type of business that it wishes to promote. Totally fitting also that within the government there is a combination of tourism and technology in the portfolios of its vice-president, Biel Barceló.

Since he adopted these responsibilities, we have heard a great deal about the tourism portfolio and very much less about innovation and research. Earlier this week, though, Barceló and President Armengol went to Hotelbeds at the invitation of Joan Vilà. Barceló observed that the company "fits perfectly" with the government's economic plans.

It does so in a variety of ways. It attracts talent to come and live in Mallorca (the purchase is not going to change the location). They add to the sum of knowledge locally, which is in any event already high: around a half of the 1,600 staff at the Palma HQ (there are over 6,000 worldwide) are products of the University of the Balearic Islands. They represent also the government's desire for quality employment. This said, and acknowledging that one review is hardly representative, a current employee reports that while the work atmosphere is good as are opportunities, the salaries are low and there is a high level of employee turnover. This might rather depend on the nature of the job though: call centre jobs (by no means all the employment on offer) are known for their high turnover, while in general this is a company operating in a fast-moving environment with highly competitive demands.

This caveat aside, and the employee who supplied the review does nevertheless give Hotelbeds a four out of five star rating, here is a business which does indeed fit with the government's vision. Moreover, its dedication to technological advances in Mallorca was reinforced last year by the creation and funding of the Hotelbeds Group Chair of Tourism Innovation at the university.

An impressive business, and a model worthy of the government's attention and interest.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 13 July 2016

Morning high (6.40am): 21.2C
Forecast high: 26C; UV: 9
Three-day forecast: 14 July - Cloud, 25C; 15 July - Sun, cloud, wind, 26C; 16 July - Sun, cloud, 28C.

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): Northeast 4 to 5. Swells to one metre or more.

Some light cloud early on and may be cloudy for much of the day. Should be notably cooler. The risk of a possible shower tomorrow has not gone away.

Evening update (19.45): Well, it was cloudy for much of the time and cooler - a high of 26.2C. Still the chance of rain overnight or tomorrow morning.

Pipers At The Gates Of Doom

I was on holiday for a fortnight. Sort of. So long had it been that I had quite forgotten what it meant. Not having to do things? Impossible. Not having to take note of great events? Likewise inconceivable.

I had been around for Brexit, much though I attempted to ignore the referendum, as I had for the many months leading up to it. When it happened, it was like a bereavement. However much you tried to shut it out, it would come back, constantly nagging away. Mind you, that only lasted a day. The replacement feeling was a mixture of anger and great amusement. The UK had taken a momentous decision courtesy of the naked ambitions of two Conservative politicians, the Murdoch and Desmond press, the unremitting ranting and racism of social media, and a whole bunch of lunatics who, having voted one way, then said sorry we were only having a laugh, can we do it again.

Johnson was gone, his inner buffoon laid bare for all to despise. Gove stepped up, his two brains cancelling themselves out. A man for change? No one believed him. Opportunistic did not do justice to his motives. A plague on both his and Johnson's houses, of which there are doubtless more than one apiece. Then there was Farage, Falstaffian Farage - vain, boastful, drunken and ultimately the architect of his own repudiation, having led the Prince Hal of the nation astray: a pied piper of distant Huguenotism, the piper at the gates of dawn of some new and ill-defined era.

Dave went as Dave had to go, falling on the sword of a trap that Falstaff had set for him. Dave's Europeanism will now extend merely to his holidays in the Balearics. No more, though, will we see the photo opps of him and Sam in relaxed holiday mode, sipping a cortado, Dave forever in that absurd blue sensible shirt he has reserved for holidaying in hot climes. Instead, we may catch a glimpse of Theresa's kitten heels. Theresa with an "h". What does it represent? A more drunken, all but dissolute-appearing Ken Clarke was caught by Sky saying she had spent too long at the Home Office. "Knows nothing about foreign affairs." God forbid.

"The Sun"
had previously boiled it down to a two-horse race: one between a stallion heading for the knacker's yard and a sprightly filly coming up on the rails. "It's bonking Boris versus kitten-heeled Theresa," it announced, neglecting the eggheadedness of gruesome Gove. How long in the planning had been the Boris denouement? A useful idiot used to foster a personal end. Boris was not for bonking. Boris was bonked. Zap! Pow! Only Gove can save the Gotham City of post-Brexit Britain. How wrong he was to be.

Amidst this carnage came Chilcot. The Blair Witch Project was finally revealed for what it was. His desert adventuring with George W and the irrelevant "little friend" Aznar was an exercise of dubious legitimacy, imbued with the machismo of Bush's insane tendency to go running in the Arizona desert when the mercury struck 100F. How analogous it was. Politicians lead and take decisions predicated on dissembling; even lying. Momentous moves are made with nary a clue as to the outcome. Plan B? What Plan B? More tellingly, Plan A. What Plan A? Still, that's democracy for you.

Ah yes, democracy. Remember that? The Spanish were exercising their democratic rights once more. Yet again they failed to announce a winner. Not for one moment that this was the fault of the electorate. A four-way split. Spain split four ways, not knowing which way to turn. By default ending up where it had been in all likelihood, with Mariano determined to go on and on for all time.

Within this unpalatable smörgasbord of rejection were the little local battles: those of Balearic, small-islands' politicians. And what did the buffet offer? If one looks closely, one discovers that the eco-nationalists Més were annihilated. Bonked. Their vote disappeared, evaporated by a power-grabbing Podemos whim of electoral alliance. Its main face, Biel Barceló, the man with the old light-blue suit that seemed to have frayed even more overnight, was chastened. Or should have been. There again, he had matters of import to attend to. The tourist tax arrived and in the scheme of things was a minor sideshow, glossed over by Barceló's ridiculous mantras of 1.4% and others. Mere pennies as the pound slid. He hadn't seen that coming. More fool the politician who fails to plan for the worst-case scenario.

Through all this were the connections and threads. They make Brexit the more unconscionable. Brexit impacts tourists and trade, impacts the introduction of a petty local tax. And for Spain, there is the thread from Aznar's siding with Blair. It begat the Madrid bombs and his electoral defenestration in 2004. No one saw that coming either.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 12 July 2016

Morning high (7.25am): 22.5C
Forecast high: 29C; UV: 10
Three-day forecast: 13 July - Cloud, sun, 26C; 14 July - Cloud, 25C; 15 July - Cloud, sun, 26C.

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): East-Southeast 2 to 3 increasing 4 in the afternoon.

Should be cooler today, followed by a short spell of fairly cloudy conditions, with showers on Thursday a possibility.

Evening update (20.15): High of 33.8C. Not that much cooler then. Tomorrow probably.

See No Evil: Magalluf crime

The July-August 1989 issue of a publication devoted to Palmanova and Magalluf offered its thoughts about Magalluf. The publication was "Entre Tots". The main article had to do with "everything being in a mess". There was building work going on in the middle of summer. The then deputy mayor was quoted as saying that the town hall (Calvia) was wanting to "beautify" Magalluf. The plan was for a transformation into green areas with a boulevard of fountains, new street lighting, more trees, more benches within three years. That would have meant 1992.

It may not have escaped your attention that there has been a transformation in Magalluf. It started to take place nineteen years after the previous one was meant to have been completed. You surely have to know about this transformation, because it is constantly referred to. The town hall and hoteliers, a mix of public and private sector, have brought into being the "new" Magalluf.

That same edition in 1989 also featured an interview with the local police. There was a reference to there being a "restructuring of the force". Sounds familiar? Yes, because there's now another one. This restructuring, as with the current one, was in response to specific needs. In 1989, these were identified, inter alia, as illegal street selling, the activities of PRs ("tiqueteros"), night-time noise and public order and security on the beaches. The police would not be engaging in "repressive" action, it was said, but with "preventive" action.

Twenty-seven years on, and what has changed? Well, as part of the transformation into "new" Magalluf, bylaws and commands are issued with regularity. Together with police restructuring, these will deal with anti-social behaviour and the sort of petty illegality, such as street selling, that had existed well before "Entre Tots" was talking about it in 1989. Bylaws are made. Enforcing compliance is another issue.

There have been big changes since the late 1980s. Back then in what was still a pre-internet era, there were no videos of sexual activities to be disseminated via YouTube and other social networks. There was no specific talk of the phenomenon of "balconing". If there was prostitution, then it was prostitution as it was described on the tin: selling sex and that was all.

If you consider these three aspects, you get a clear impression of how the "new" Magalluf is working, or isn't working, and of what the main messages from the town hall (and others) have focused on and are focusing on. One of the latest attempts is "#Magalive". How to be responsible (young) tourists, how to have fun without getting totally bladdered or totally off the head on drugs or both. Well intentioned enough, but there will have been those not knowing whether to laugh or cry.

The petty illegality is as it was in 1989, but since then something very much more sinister has emerged. Everyone knows what it is, and yet the town hall (and others) bang on endlessly about anything but. Behind the campaigns to stop the use of laughing gas or people falling off balconies, there is the very much darker side - the muggings, the violence, the drugs.

I once wrote that there was a situation of the three wise monkeys' see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil in Magalluf: a situation of heads in sand, hoping that no one pays any heed to people being assaulted by violent prostitutes and others. Amidst all the campaigns and notices that have emanated from the town hall in recent months, where have been ones addressing the prostitutes and the other attendant sinister aspects of the resort? Three wise monkeys. The question is: who are they?

There is a new Facebook page (see how things have changed since 1989). It is called Calvia Crimewatch. Essentially, it is Magalluf with some Santa Ponsa thrown into the mix. Since being launched last Friday, it has at time of writing (Sunday lunchtime) almost 500 group members.

It would be easy for me to simply quote from this page, but to do so would not do justice to the overwhelming sense of outrage and to the numerous anecdotes related to violence, theft and more, or to some of the photos that are appearing and the threats targeted at those who attempt to photograph acts of criminality. No, it would be far too simple. You can see for yourselves anyway. So can the town hall, were it of a mind to. So can foreign media. So can police, so can the national government's delegation to the Balearics. So can anyone who might want to actually gain an appreciation as to realities in "new" Magalluf.

We've heard the excuses, we've heard the announcements of action to be taken which seem rarely or ever to materialise. Excuses, reasons are no longer acceptable. What does it take? People to get killed?