Monday, June 26, 2017

A Week Off

I'm afraid you'll have to do without me for a week. A long, long overdue break is in order. No internet, so no being tempted by the quirks and oddities of Mallorca, as I shall be away from the island: for the first time in years.

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 26 June 2017

Morning high (7.58am): 23.9C
Forecast high: 32C; UV: 9
Three-day forecast: 27 June - Sun, cloud, 35C; 28 June - Cloud, sun, 29C; 29 June - Sun, cloud, 28C

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

Forecast now suggesting there may be a shower on Wednesday. Temperature due to decrease midweek, with showers - at present, according to the forecast - also possible on Friday.

Evening update (19.30): There were some spots of rain this morning. Very odd. High of 34.1C.

The Death Of An Architect

Josep Ferragut Pou is one of the more important Mallorcans of the twentieth century. His architectural legacy is still very much with us, even if some of it is crumbling and on the point of demolition. Ferragut was the municipal architect in Alcudia. He worked on the old power station and on the Poblat GESA opposite. The Poblat is to be redeveloped as luxury properties (in all likelihood). Endesa, inheritors of GESA real estate, want the power station to be totally demolished. Purchasers of luxury accommodation don't want such a rusting, abandoned edifice and sight blocking the view. They will probably have to get used to the view of at least part of it.

Ferragut was also involved with the City of Lakes project in Alcudia. It was he who basically mapped out the canals, the lakes and the urban development on which the likes of Bellevue were to rise. Prior to his work in Alcudia, he had worked with another architect, Gabriel Alomar, on the project to redefine the centre of Palma. This involved, for example, the creation of the Jaume III avenue, the Passeig Mallorca and a new municipal market (Mercat de l'Olivar). The Plaça Major was completed as were the steps to connect it to La Rambla.

After the work in Alcudia, Ferragut was responsible for Palma's GESA building and the Església de Nostra Senyora dels Àngels de la Porciúncula, better known as the Glass Church of Playa de Palma. The church was consecrated on 6 October 1968. Ferragut didn't live to experience the moment.

He was active at the time when Mallorca was experiencing its tourism boom. Ferragut is generally characterised as an architect who took issue with uncontrolled development and the corruption that went hand in hand with it. He was also for a time the municipal architect in Pollensa and had fought against high-rise in Puerto Pollensa. His advice was initially heeded, but factors beyond his control were to mean that the recommendation wasn't totally adhered to.

In Alcudia, it might be argued that his work with the City of Lakes contradicted his desire for there to be control. However, it wasn't Ferragut who was responsible for what later emerged, such as the Reinas (now Club Mac). He had been dead for a few years when the Bellvista Urbanisation took shape: what became Bellevue and the Siestas. In fact, Ferragut's vision had been for a development with low population density and abundant green areas.

Another Josep Ferragut - Josep Ferragut Canals - is a nephew. Also an architect, he took over the studio in Palma that his uncle had used. He has said that his relative was a cultured person with one foot firmly in Mallorca's traditions. He had an ethical view of his work. When he was hired by Pollensa town hall, he vowed not to take on any "personal commissions".

The impression formed, therefore, is of an essentially honest man, a rare breed in those days. He recognised the architectural conflicts of modernity and tradition and sought to find ways of reconciling them. But this personal stance was to bring him into conflict with members of the College of Architects, the professional institute, and with the Provincial Deputation's urban planning commission. There was, however, something else that caused conflict. Ferragut was a homosexual.

On 21 February 1968, a body was found along the Bunyola road, a few kilometres from Palma. The press was to refer to his face having been horribly smashed in. Josep Ferragut had been bludgeoned to death with a stone. He was 56 at the time, and according to police he had met two men - one 20, the other 26 - the night before. The two were arrested. In July the following year, they were released due to a lack of evidence. The case was not reopened.

Just after Ferragut's murder, the poet and novelist Jaume Vidal Alcover had been due to give a lecture at what was then the University of Palma. He didn't show up. Instead, he had left Mallorca on the ferry to Barcelona. The historian Damià Ferrà-Ponç has said that Vidal hadn't wanted to appear because of the indiscriminate arrests of Mallorcan homosexuals.

Homophobic paranoia was as rampant as corruption. Ferragut had the misfortune to have been a homosexual in such an atmosphere, while he was adamant in his disapproval of the corruption that had led to uncontrolled development and continued to. It is unlikely that the truth behind his murder will ever be known. The press had portrayed the two who were arrested as "blackmail specialists", but then the press wrote what it was told to or what was wise to report. If there had been a need to silence Ferragut - by then at real loggerheads with the professional body and the government - it would have been simple enough, rather than for him to have been killed, to have blackmailed him. Although he was discreet, enough was known about his homosexuality. However, there were all sorts of interests and a great deal of money at stake.

The version of his murder that was allowed to prevail was that he had been the victim of two male prostitutes, though they were of course never convicted. The other is that he was killed because his ethics frustrated developments. The Ferragut  family hired a private detective. He focused on Pollensa and Alcudia, which were where Ferragut had been at his most outraged. He referred to "barbarities" in Puerto Pollensa and was against the exploitation of unspoiled areas, especially in Alcudia, even if he was partially responsible for what was to transpire. The detective concluded that, although there was no specific evidence, there were enemies who had conspired against Ferragut, angered about his denouncing of corruption.

A work by novelist Guillem Frontera was published two years ago. Its title is Sicília Sense Morts, Sicily Without The Dead (or corpses). Frontera alludes to an epigram that has become distorted: its actual wording is "Mallorca es como Sicilia, pero sin muertos". There is debate as to who originally coined it - either of the journalists Andreu Manresa or Matias Vallés - but it is now mistakenly expressed as Sicily without the guns. Regardless of this, the expression is pertinent. In 1969, Frontera wrote a novel entitled Cada Día Que Calles (roughly Every Day That Remains Silent). It is taken to have been about the murder of Ferragut.

The murder was scandalous, not least because no one was ever convicted and the case was closed. It could well be that Ferragut was killed by the two men and that it was therefore a form of gay scandal that the Francoist regime preferred to hush up. But there was the other possibility. Mallorca is like Sicily and it has the corpses - one at any rate.

* Tomorrow evening at Bellver Castle, there is the premiere showing of the documentary Vida i mort d’un arquitecte. It is the opening gala for the Atlàntida Film Fest and is the work of Miguel Eek. It will be broadcast simultaneously on IB3. It is about the life and death of Josep Ferragut.

** Photo:

Sunday, June 25, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 25 June 2017

Morning high (9.00am): 24.7C
Forecast high: 30C; UV: 10
Three-day forecast: 26 June - Cloud, sun, 34C; 27 June - Sun, 33C; 28 June - Sun, cloud, 33C

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

Supposedly going to be a touch less hot today, but then cranking up again. Tomorrow is forecast to be mainly cloudy but hot, so could well be oppressive. Looking ahead to the end of the week, temperatures are due to fall on Friday, and there may be the odd shower. This could all change though.

Evening update (20.00): Quite oppressive. August-type weather. High of 32.4C.

Selling A Winter Tourism Strategy

Aviba is the Balearic association of travel agencies. It is forty years old. A new image has been created. In the words of its president, Toni Abrines: "We are Mediterranean, which means being sea, sun, infinite sunsets, the horizon, light. Aviba and the Balearics are blue and yellow."

The association is thus banking on an image that has served Mallorca for as long as there has been mass tourism. The image was officially, in promotional terms, once captured in Joan Miró's Sol de Mallorca. Little has therefore changed, except for Abrines adding that there have to be "tourist interests that go beyond sun and beach". He wants there to be a tourism strategic plan which recognises that there are "political ups and downs" but would nevertheless support the tourism industry by sticking to a plan.

Defining a plan that achieves consensus seems like a pipe dream. It would require agreement from political parties of differing complexions, from the numerous business associations, from unions, from society. Just as one example of how difficult it might be is the fact that Podemos (in the form of Laura Camargo) have drawn winter tourism into question by pointing out that the poor workers would have to work for more than eight months a year.

Aviba itself seems unclear what the strategy might be. In opting for a refreshed image that stresses the essential components of Mallorca's tourism (its summer tourism), it is making off-season tourism secondary. There again, that it is exactly what it is. And to suggest otherwise is a nonsense.

In the Canary Islands, they are working on such a plan, and the government there is opening it up to the public. It is inviting opinion. The Canaries, though, are a different proposition to the Balearics. Those islands have genuine all-year tourism. There is little variance in tourist numbers between summer and winter. But this is not the only way that the Canaries differ from the Balearics. Promotion is innovative, whereas in the Balearics it is not. The Disney-style element to the official promotional website says it all. Here is an imaginative means of selling attractions, including the national parks in the Canaries and their winter appeal. In the Balearics, promotion is almost a dirty word, and what word there is tends to be mixed.

The travel agents association does rather sum this up. It wants winter tourism but at the same time presents an image that can seem at odds with this. The Balearic tourism ministry, meanwhile, has simply stopped any promotion of summer. Its strategic plan is the winter. All promotional eggs are in the low-season basket.

This emphasis on the winter is perfectly reasonable. Indeed, Mallorca has been crying out for a concerted and coordinated winter promotional effort for years. Herein lies the rub - coordination. When there used to be the Winter in Mallorca campaign some years ago, it didn't have the necessary support politically or from business. It was eventually and quietly dropped. Indifference and lack of will had won the day.

Having a strategy is one thing. Selling it is quite another. This selling includes the messages and in particular how they are conveyed. I'm unconvinced that the ministry and its tourism agency know how to go about this in an effective way. Let me give an example.

I am to be working on a promotion for the ministry. Basically, this is a translation from Spanish for something which, as I understand it, is to be distributed on planes from the UK (or on arrival at the airport). It's all about the low season - Better In Winter. The first paragraph of this informs the reader that the Balearic archipelago is some two hours' flight time from central European cities. I looked at this and thought - you're kidding. Firstly, what sort of an introduction is that? Secondly, it's aimed at the UK market. Thirdly, if you're on a plane or have arrived, then you know how long the flight is.

My version will relegate this factual intro, but it is indicative of the kind of mindset that dominates the messages. Facts and information come before emotion and inspiration. It's hard enough to differentiate destinations when they are all essentially selling the same things, so you have to go hard on appealing to the heart and on creating a genuine connection in the minds of visitors (both potential and actual).

The same applied towards the end of 2015. The ministry was on a mission to explain the tourist tax to the UK market. I received some copy and binned it. What resulted was much longer and was written in order to tug at the heart strings. And this was from someone who was and remains no great supporter of the tourist tax.

The strategy for winter tourism is there, and it is unlikely to be altered if there is political change in two years time. The PP had assured us back in 2011 and 2012 that the fruits of its winter promotional efforts would have been realised by the time of the 2015 election. They would not be about to put the strategy in reverse. But far more important is what the strategy says. Far more important is getting all parties (and not just political ones) on board. Everyone has to buy into it - Aviba is right in this regard - but the most important party of all is the tourist. Strategies require implementation, and their messages are key.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 24 June 2017

Morning high (7.03am): 20.7C
Forecast high: 31C; UV: 10
Three-day forecast: 25 June - Sun, 30C; 26 June - Sun, 32C; 27 June - Sun, cloud, 31C

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

Happy Sant Joan's Day, John the Baptist's birthday. Also day three of Puerto Alcudia's Sant Pere fiestas - sardine BBQ on the fishermen's pier this evening. Remaining hot.

Evening update (20.00): High of 36.4C.

The 64 Commandments Of Magalluf

And lo it came to pass that Alfonso took miscreant hoteliers, bar owners and the Children of Albion to the Mount of Magalluf (sometimes referred to as the Hill). There was thunder, for Alfonso was in a thunderous mood. Although the Great God of Magalluf was otherwise detained at his majesty's pleasure, facing Lord knows how many charges, other gods (of greater virtue) gathered on the Mount and spake unto the assembled masses. While the hoteliers and bar owners were vaguely afeared (not much in truth), the Children of Albion were not in the least bit afeared. Nor did they hear the words that the gods spake unto them.

Given this lack of attention, Alfonso went into the midst of the cloud atop the Mount, which wasn't a cloud as such but more a sort of peculiar ozone created from the accumulated fumes of strong alcohol. For forty days and forty nights, he disappeared. Meanwhile the Children of Albion wreaked merry hell. They had no shame, naked in front of the gods. They fought and they fell, either through drink or because of a fist. After the full forty days, Alfonso descended from the Mount with a tablet. He was going to share all his images on the town hall's Instagram channel, but his thunderous mood had grown even more thunderous. It came to pass that he returned to witness scenes of the Children of Albion that he had thought had been expressly forbidden by the gods of municipal ordinance.

Lo, Alfonso's anger waxed hot. He cast the tablet out of his hands and did break it beneath the Mount. But before doing so, he did utter the 64 Commandments. Were the Children of Albion (and miscreant hoteliers and bar owners) paying attention? Were they to be advised that they could not covet a resident's ox and drive it along Punta Ballena?

Thou shalt not argue or fight in public places; Thou shalt not utter abusive language; Thou shalt respect others; Thou shalt not damage street furniture; Thou shalt cooperate with the police or officials; Thou shalt respect tourist facilities; Thou shalt not cause any interference to public events; Thou shalt not give false information about thy identity; Thou shalt not carry any sort of prohibited weapon; Thou shalt not disrespect police officers; Thou shalt not shine laser beams; Thou shalt respect any physical barriers put in place by the police; Thou shalt not damage litter bins, statutes, parks, gardens; Thou shalt not rip branches off trees; Thou shalt not carve names or initials into tree bark; Thou shalt not climb trees.

Thou shalt not litter the street; Thou shalt not damage flowers in parks; Thou shalt not cause discomfort to others with skateboards or balls; Thou shalt not defecate, urinate or spit in public places; Thou shalt not throw down chewing gum, cigarette ends, cans, papers or containers; Thou shalt not interfere with street lighting; Thou shalt not do any type of graffiti; Thou shalt not scratch surfaces.

Thou shalt adhere to safety rules on beaches; Thou shalt not swim when a red flag flies; Thou shalt not bathe anywhere that is prohibited; Thou shalt not wash any type of garment under beach showers; Thou shalt not place buckets under them; Thou shalt not drink from showers; Thou shalt not use soap or gel under public showers.

Thou shalt not have sexual relations in a public place or anywhere visible from public places; Thou shalt not beg; Thou shalt not drink alcoholic beverages in public places; Thou shalt respect the right of people to rest, especially between 8pm and 8am; Thou shalt not take drugs in public places; Thou shalt not go naked or semi-naked in the street; Thou shalt not commit balconing.

The remaining Commandments were ones directed at the miscreant hoteliers and bar owners. Meantime, the Children of Albion scratched their heads. Had there been any mention of an ox? Not as such. So the Children did covet oxen, not all of which were oxen, as they couldn't tell the difference to bulls. And these oxen and bulls were driven along Punta Ballena and the streets of Magalluf until the combined bovine squadron did spy females with red tops or red leggings. And they did charge at these women, scattering them and making the Jezebels flee, never to return.

Whereupon Alfonso did look favourably on this and heard the cheers of the people, who had been released from the scourge of the Jezebels. He called to the Children of Albion, who had coveted the oxen (and bulls), prophesying that they would inherit the Earth, or that bit of it that was Punta Ballena. Which is what they did.

Happy hour again, and again and again ... .

* My thanks to The Independent, which listed all the various regulations ("commandments") for behaviour in Magalluf and Calvia.

Friday, June 23, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 23 June 2017

Morning high (7.40am): 20.6C
Forecast high: 32C; UV: 10
Three-day forecast: 24 June - Sun, 33C; 25 June - Sun, cloud, 29C; 26 June - Sun, 31C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): South 2 to 4, temporarily North in the afternoon.

Midsummer's Eve, Sant Joan's Eve, so on some beaches there will be night lights and perhaps even the odd bonfire (not that there's really meant to be). Will still be pretty warm come midnight.

Evening update (24.00): High of 35C.

The Hairy Saint John Without Hair

In Felanitx, Pollensa and Sant Joan he is known as Sant Joan Pelós. In Sant Llorenç he is Sant Joan Pelut. The meaning is the same - Saint John the Hairy. In Felanitx, such is the status of its Sant Joan that the dance has been declared a fiesta in the cultural interest. This means that there is an obligation for the tradition to be maintained and promoted in its traditional format. It also means that there is a degree of kudos attached.

The Felanitx John was responsible for one of the more amusing anecdotes associated with Mallorca's traditions. Or should one say not amusing, because a royal personage - Isabel de Borbón y Borbón, daughter of Queen Isabel II - was singularly unamused by him. So much so that when she visited Felanitx in 1913, she demanded to know who the idiot was who was dancing for her.

The dance is all important, and its origins appear to lie not with midsummer but with Christmastime, specifically the feasts of Saint Stephen, i.e. Boxing Day, and of John the Evangelist (27 December). Scholars point to the fact that at least until the sixteenth century there were rituals in the liturgy at Palma Cathedral in which Saint Stephen would appear on Boxing Day in a long tunic with his face covered. The following day there would be a repetition; this time involving John the Evangelist, who would wear a veil of white silk over his face.

Somehow, John the Baptist was added to this ritual. In contrast to the Evangelist, the Baptist had a mask and wore a hairy cape and sandals. In one hand he would hold a lamb. In the other was a cross on which were the Latin words "Ecce Agnus Dei" (Behold! The Lamb of God). Eventually, the combination of John the Evangelist and John the Baptist was incorporated into the ceremony for Corpus Christi, and the image of John the Baptist was the one which prevailed. Nowadays, if one is being strictly accurate, only Pollensa has maintained the Corpus Christi connection. The other Hairy Johns manifest themselves on Midsummer's Day, the feast of John the Baptist.

There isn't total consistency between the Johns and the celebrations. In the village of Sant Joan for instance, he is accompanied by a giant crow, the Corb Nofre, which emits fire. The crow is an entirely modern invention, introduced to add a touch more colour and mystery to the whole affair. The hairiness is generally shared, though this has passed with time to the head rather than the original cape of the mediaeval ceremony. But in Sant Llorenç there is no hairiness. Sant Joan Pelut sports a short back and sides.

Whereas Pollensa can trace its John back to at least the early seventeenth century, the spread of Hairy Johns across Mallorca, but most notably in its eastern part, wasn't especially evident until the end of the eighteenth century. In Manacor, its John first seems to have appeared in 1750 but disappeared some 150 years later. There were Johns in Son Carrió, Son Servera, Arta and Alcudia, but in the specific case of Sant Llorenç there is no documentary evidence of him until 1945. A bachelor of the village, it was explained, danced "furiously" and was accompanied by two demons.

As with other dancing Johns, the intention was to whip up mirth. A Catalan writer on folklore, Joan Amades, writing about Catalan customs in the 1950s, said that "the mission of the character is to plan the maximum possible humour; the more laughter, the better". Isabel de Borbón y Borbón might not have been amused, but the folk of the villages were.

The Sant Llorenç John is believed to have been based on Manacor's. But from the heady days of the 1940s, he went into decline, as did other Johns. Much has been said and written about the abandonment of traditions, with the onset of tourism and a regime not minded to actively promote Catalan customs chiefly attributed with having caused the decline. It has also been noted, however, that there was indifference. The people had, for a time, been amused, but they gradually stopped bothering, as also did those who arranged the traditional dances.

At the start of the 1980s there was the revival. In Sant Llorenç it was due to musicians and the person who became the Hairy John, Toni Santandreu. Today's John, Biel Nicolau, has the two demons as there were in the mid-1940s. But why, unlike others, doesn't he have the hair? Good question. And another is why he wears what looks like a mortar board. Mallorca's traditions are often highly idiosyncratic, and Sant Joan Pelut is a good example.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 22 June 2017

Morning high (7.35am): 19.4C
Forecast high: 33C; UV: 10
Three-day forecast: 23 June - Sun, 33C; 24 June - Sun, 32C; 25 June - Sun, 33C

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

Evening update (19.30): High of 34.6C.


I would have assumed that picture postcard was just a cliché that someone once came up with. Does a postcard not normally have a picture? Or several pictures? According to the Collins English Dictionary (online version), picture postcard merits its own entry as a noun and is defined thus: It is a postcard with a photograph of a place on it. How useful. So, it's a postcard then.

Rather more to the point, when Collins considers the picture postcard as an adjective, it says that this describes a place that is very attractive. Somewhere can be "very picturesque". By adding picture to the equation, the mundane functionality of a postcard takes on a whole different characteristic. Picture postcard settings are for aspiration and inspiration. They present very much greater stimulus to the wishing you were here sloganising of the postcard of yore. And in contemporary social network speak, these are settings to be liked or loved.

Does anyone send postcards any longer? Actually, they do. I received one from Zanzibar not so long ago. It must have taken about a month, which is partly the issue. As with other communications, the postcard has been booted onto the scrap heap of ancient technology. Why bother with a postcard when there is the immediacy, let's say, of Instagram? And with the additional technological aids available, the sharing of picture postcard scenes are even more picture postcard than they once were. These are virtual art forms revealing virtual destinations. Wish you were here? Oh yes: aspire, inspire, like, love.

The Balearic Tourism Agency, whose familiarity with contemporary technologies has often seemed to be non-existent or stuck in a past of postcards with pictures of donkeys wearing sombreros, has discovered Instagram: Turismoislasbaleares is where you'll find it. And goodness, what finds there are. Gorgeous coves, dramatic mountain scenes, quaint fishermen harbours, strange islets surrounded with deep blues of the Mediterranean, appealing streets with clothes of primary colours hanging outside pretty boutiques. Wish you were here? Heavens, yes. Here is Heaven - #MallorcaLover (or the other islands), #BetterInWinter.

The picture postcard instant gratification of Mallorca-gone-Instagram is a delight to behold. However, there is something missing from mostly all these picture postcard scenes. Their picturesque quality would be clearly lessened. This is a quality of Mallorca from a distant time even if it is still visible. This is tourism promotion not from the days just before the boom, it is from before they even started to formalise attempts at promotion 112 years ago. What is missing? Not what, but who. People.

The idyllic imagery is, one might suggest, slightly at variance with the general narrative of the times, one that the tourism ministry has indulged in or even actively encouraged. Coves, we have learned, are saturated with people, cars, rubbish, illegal chiringuitos, lookies, town hall and other authorities shaking their heads, and police attempting to de-saturate the coves. The mountains are overrun with coaches and cyclists. Appealing streets with their pretty boutiques may indeed be appealing, but no one's buying anything except from the ranks of even more lookies with their blankets on the ground just round the corner from the appealing street. This is Mallorca as the picture postcard would love it to always be. And of course it is; just that the images don't tell the whole picture.

There was a recent survey in which tourists were asked what was good and not so good about Mallorca. A staggering (or was it?) 91% said that the large number of tourists in summer was the island's least positive aspect, i.e. most negative. Yes, tourists believe that there are too many damn tourists. And many of them are blocking the view of what Instagram would have us believe is the wholly unspoiled island that Santiago Rusiñol (in 1912) described as calm.

This said, the Instagram hashtags provide a clue as to what this promotion is in aid of. #BetterInWinter is the tourism agency's passionate promotional cri de coeur. In winter, unless it's blowing a gale or hammering down with rain, the coves are gorgeous, the strange islets are surrounded with deep blues. And there indeed isn't anyone to block the view, at least in part because getting here can be as tortuous a communications process as sending a postcard from Zanzibar.

Still, one shouldn't really quibble too much. The picture postcards are lovely. And the tourism agency is finally catching up with technology: it's taken an awfully long time. But are the 12.3k followers of the Instagram channel seekers of picture postcards of the winter or of the summer? Do their likes and loves stem from existing knowledge? If so, they may be among the 91% - in summer anyway.

Wishing you were here? #BetterInInstagram.

* Balearic Islands Instagram: Turismoislasbaleares
** Photo here (mine): Sa Foradada and sea from Son Marroig, Deià.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 21 June 2017

Morning high (7.10am): 18.5C
Forecast high: 31C; UV: 9
Three-day forecast: 22 June - Sun, 33C; 23 June - Sun, cloud, 32C; 24 June - Sun, 33C

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

Summer has now officially started. And what do you know ...? Sun. Heat.

Evening update (20.15): High of 33.1C.

The Tourism Debate Fifty Years Ago

Fifty years ago this coming Saturday, Maria Steiner, a Swiss citizen, received a pleasant surprise. She and her husband Roger were to be treated to a fortnight's free holiday in Palma. They already were on holiday, or were about to be, so the free fortnight was presumably to be arranged some time in the future. The benefactor was the Fomento del Turismo, the Mallorca Tourist Board. It was represented at Palma airport on 24 June, 1967. Maria was the one millionth tourist to have arrived at the airport that year.

Included in the report of this was a brief mention of the fact that the one million mark had been attained three days earlier than in 1966. There was no comment on it, but it was - one guesses - something in which a certain pride could be taken (probably). It was indicative of the advance of tourism, and one million tourists were worthy of celebrating. 

Some two months later, there was another report. It said that there had been sixty thousand passengers - arrivals and departures - in two days at the airport. This was a "bonita" figure, despite the fact that tourist Mallorca was "invaded". A distinction was drawn between the resorts and the unknown corners of the island, which most certainly had not been invaded.

Today, the numbers are of course vastly greater. A celebration of the multi-millionth tourist arrival is more likely to involve the payment of an airline ticket home, a flight to be taken immediately. Invasion, as we know, is now saturation and "massification". Unknown corners of the island are shared on social media, while environmentalists and politicians get into almighty flaps about the "collapse" of beaches, of roads, of parking areas, of services, of resources.

The invasion of 1967 didn't carry a negative connotation; in the report cited, that is. But fifty years ago, there were already rumblings about the impact of tourism. The press and individuals were not totally cowed by censorship. They were allowed to be critical so long as this didn't cross the line and become an outright assault on the regime. One critic was Josep Alfonso Villanueva. He was to become a member of the Balearic parliament with PSOE when democratic government was created in 1983. In the mid-60s, he pursued a career as an economist and in 1969 wrote a socioeconomic analysis of the hotel and hostelry industries. A conclusion he was drawing at that time was that there should be a limit to the number of tourists.

Another article from fifty years ago began by saying that the tourism revolution was, in spiritual terms, negative. There was a need for there to be a balance or otherwise the new society being created would respond only to materialistic motives. There was a further need for there to be a university, the principal purpose of which should be to consider the sociological impact of this still new industry: the University of the Balearic Islands wasn't to be founded until the end of the 1970s.

The university, it was argued, should assist in guaranteeing social equilibrium, with culture as well as socioeconomics its chief concerns. What is striking about this is that politicians weren't being called on to attend to these matters. That was because, in effect, there weren't any, other than Francoist appointees. Otherwise, there were concerns being voiced about water resources. There was no plan for proper exploitation of water. Moreover, there was criticism of the wholly imbalanced development of tourism. Coming back to the unknown corners, there were any number of them without tourists, without bars, without homes. Tourism was being pressed into confined and specific areas; the economic benefit of tourism was not being distributed. In Palma alone, more than 50% of Majorca's tourism capacity was to be found.

So what you had fifty years ago was something of a divide of opinion. On the one hand there was talk of capping the number of tourists. This was because of the harm being caused to traditional industries - agriculture still accounted for around a quarter of employment but this was falling rapidly - and the harm to the social fabric. Resources were an issue, as was infrastructure: roads in particular. On the other hand there was acknowledgement of tourism's benefits, tempered by economic wealth not being evenly spread.

Lurking behind these acceptable statements in the press was a very much more critical movement. It was concerned primarily with the cultural impact but it found very little public expression because of the Catalan overtones. As for the environment, it was to be six years before GOB was founded. And it was originally concerned only with birdlife.

The way in which issues are nowadays expressed is very different. But the themes aren't. Tourist limits, resources, impact on society, unequal wealth creation from tourism. It was all there half a century ago. They just had to be careful how they spoke about it.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 20 June 2017

Morning high (7.20am): 19C
Forecast high: 31C; UV: 9
Three-day forecast: 21 June - Sun, cloud, 31C; 22 June - Sun, 32C; 23 June - Sun, 33C

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

Bit of a cooler night. All things being relative. Some southerly breeze due to come in later today, which might just add to the heat.

Evening update (20.30): High of 32.7C.

Fifty Years Of The Summer Of Love

At 06.24 tomorrow morning (Spanish time), summer begins. It is a summer fifty years removed from a summer that will always be remembered as the Summer of Love - the original one and so not to be confused with the second, ecstasy-fuelled pretender some twenty years later. It was a summer when the world of Western society appeared to shift on its axis.

In July of that year, the old school closed down. The Edwardian buildings with their collection of prefabs were past their sell-by date. The new school had been built on a council estate some three miles away. On the very last day, something odd happened. The whole school had free time. There were no classes. We could do, more or less, what we liked.

Looking back, that last day was symbolic. The present and future had caught up. The dark corridors of the old school were to be replaced with bright modernity, which was to be the focal point, four years later, of the new equality. Through amalgamation, our school was to become, and remain so for some years, the largest comprehensive in the country. While education was moving into uncharted territory, so was society. A free day to mark the closure of the past hinted at the new freedoms ushered in by the Summer of Love.

The sixth form was given the run of the gramophone player in the music room (music prefab). A group of first formers, myself included, had gathered on the playing field near to the room. Games were played, lemonade was drunk, and music through an open window was listened to. "We skipped the light fandango. Turned cartwheels 'cross the floor."

Procol Harum created just one sound that summer. There were so many more, but A Whiter Shade Of Pale has lodged in my memory for its having blared out from the music room. Even at the time I remember thinking that things weren't making sense. A strict grammar school, where the closest that music got to modernity was the Gilbert and Sullivan performance we had been forced to endure a few months previously, was permitting the playing of a song with distinctly peculiar lyrics. As a twelve-year-old, however, it didn't occur to me that they might have owed something to LSD.

There again, the school wouldn't have been any the wiser. Most of the teachers were firmly of the old school (metaphorically). Like parents, they would have looked upon the societal changes of the 1960s with a mix of perplexity, dismay and horror. Mods, Rockers, Teds and Beatniks couldn't have prepared the parental generation for what 1967 unleashed.

Once the holidays started that summer, we went to Bournemouth. Through the pages of an aghast press, I was to discover that Bournemouth was not unique in having been colonised by strange-looking characters with flowers in their hair. When they moved, bells rang. They all seemed to be very happy. I thought they were funny. My parents thought otherwise.

The remarkable thing was how quickly this had all happened. In January of 1967, the Human Be-In at San Francisco's Golden Gate Park brought Haight-Ashbury to the world's attention. By the summer, San Francisco was far from alone. Hippies had taken over. The axis was shifting, and new attitudes were reflected by legislation - abortion and homosexuality in the UK - by the availability of the Pill, and by technology. Our World was broadcast on 25 June, 1967. The Beatles sang All You Need Is Love. The summer had arrived.

Even Western societies that were trying their utmost to keep modernity and permissiveness at an arm's length were not immune. In Mallorca (as also on the Costas), the Franco regime had, in any event, pretty much lost the battle by 1967. In Ibiza that year, the first hippies arrived. Even before 1967, members of what was to become one of the pre-eminent psychedelic bands, The Soft Machine, had been visiting Robert Graves in Deià.

Local pop groups, quick to imitate imported British and American fashion and trends, looked admiringly in the direction of kaftans. Los Javaloyas, who had carved out a formidable career by, variously, wearing suits like The Beatles or publicising themselves with images of accordion-playing on rocks, covered the hit by The Flowerpot Men: Vamos a San Francisco, they insisted. In Palma's El Terreno district, Sergeant Pepper's opened, replete with psychedelic light show.

At a deeper cultural level, five years before the Summer of Love the English version of Joan Mascaró i Fornés' Bhagavad Gita had been published. His Hindu texts were to inspire George Harrison, with whom the Santa Margalida-born scholar corresponded. Harrison and The Beatles first met the Maharishi in August 1967.

Fifty years on. A whiter shade of pale? No, it still seems as vivid and as vibrant as the posters were.

Monday, June 19, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 19 June 2017

Morning high (7.03am): 22.6C
Forecast high: 32C; UV: 9
Three-day forecast: 20 June - Sun, 31C; 21 June - Sun, 31C; 22 June - Sun, 31C

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

Heading towards Midsummer, and the prediction at present for the weekend is that temperatures will be up to at least 35C.

Evening update (20.15): High of 33.4C.

Madrid's Holiday Rentals' Interference

There was a post on Facebook, someone saying they were thinking of buying an apartment and renting it out. One presumed that this would be for tourist rental, and comments that followed reinforced this. There was reference, for example, to a tourist licence, something which does not exist, except in certain limited cases.

A peculiarity of accommodation classification in Mallorca is that there is the odd apartment block that is licensed. The classification system is such that there is a category of tourist apartments, which normally refer to accommodation which is only for tourists. This category of accommodation is often operated by hotel chains, though not always. The key point is that it is not also residential. However, there is, as I say, the odd exception, which arises principally from the history of the accommodation. In the case of one such block in Alcudia, this goes back more than forty years. It is a mix of residential and tourist, and this mix is perfectly legitimate.

So, the mere fact of there being apparent exceptions serves only to add to the confusion regarding apartment rental. But exceptions or not, overwhelmingly the law should mean that there is no confusion. There is no such thing as a tourist licence for apartments, and there never has been. So, when I read the Facebook post, my reaction was to be very careful, especially in light of the legislation that is about to come on to the statute book.

Personally, I think anyone currently contemplating buying an apartment in order to rent it out to tourists needs their head examining. An almighty headache could ensue, to say nothing of the fines. The main reason for thinking this is the way in which the government intends dealing with the tenancy act loophole. But as previously noted, will the government gets its way on this?

Madrid's intervention the other day, by which the ministry for economic affairs queried certain provisions in the Balearic legislation, was described as political interference by the regional government. Was it? Well, no. The regional government does have a great deal of power to come up with its own tourism legislation (and indeed other legislation), but this cannot countermand national laws. The tenancy act is one such.

While Biel Barceló seems convinced, having taken legal advice, that any let for less than one month will be treated as a tourist let (unless the owner can prove otherwise), Madrid was signalling that he may not be able to apply this. The fact is that there is only direction in which the legislation is heading - and that is to the courts. Madrid might apply an appeal to the Constitutional Court, while one fancies that the likes of Aptur will most certainly want our learned friends to issue rulings. If the courts get involved (not if, when), there will be yet more legal uncertainty that could drag on for months or even years. Meanwhile, there will be people thinking they'll buy an apartment for tourist rental. Crazy.

The courts have already been active in ruling against Canary Islands legislation in respect of zoning, and they may also be asked to intervene in Andalusia. The equivalent of Aptur in Andalusia wants the regional government to amend its legislation, but the government is standing firm. The main aspects it wants amending include the fact that in certain major tourist resorts, such as Marbella, no licences can be issued.

Back in Madrid, the Supreme Court has made a ruling that will be looked upon favourably by the regional government. The court has supported a decision of the High Court in Catalonia which forces websites to only publicise tourist rentals which have a registration number (the Balearic legislation envisages this). HomeAway appealed this decision, but the Supreme Court has found in Catalonia's favour. The precedent could well prove to be very significant. The general secretary of Cehat, the Spanish Hoteliers Confederation, has described it as "very important and the first step in putting an end to the underground economy".

Sunday, June 18, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 18 June 2017

Morning high (7.21am): 25.3C
Forecast high: 30C; UV: 9
Three-day forecast: 19 June - Sun, 31C; 20 June - Sun, 30C; 21 June - Sun, 30C

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

Well, a night and early morning of what Aemet classifies as "tropical" nighttime temperatures. Remaining very much on the warm side during the day.

Evening update (21.00): High of 31.8C.

The Moment Pablo Became President

They were at it again in Congress last week. The coconut heads were popping up from their shies on the voting merry-go-round. Ready to be shot at, aim was taken at one of them. The head belonged to Jorge Moragas. Bang!

Jorge is Super Mariano's chief of staff, his right-hand (it couldn't be left) man. In Jorge, Mariano trusts. Unfortunately, Jorge had a yes-no brain fade moment. And let's be fair, it's not difficult. Fifty-fifty, anyone could make the same mistake. Jorge made that mistake. Invited, as with the other coconut heads, to state "sí" or "no" in response to the motion of no confidence in his boss, Jorge chose "sí". He opted for the wrong half of the 50:50 equation.

Seemingly unaware of his cock-up, Jorge had to be arm-wrestled by Celia Villalobos. You'll remember her; she was the one who had words to say about Podemos's Natty Dreadlock In A Babylon, rasta-ised Alberto Rodríguez. With Celia wrenching his arm from its socket, Jorge screamed "no". Then shouted it several more times, as the tellers hurriedly revised their voting entry and the whole of Congress collapsed in a fit of collective mirth.

At the moment that Jorge uttered his gaffe, it appeared as if Pablo Iglesias was on his way to the presidency (known also as being prime minister). The Podemos vote of no confidence in Super had claimed its victim. Jorge said "no" to Rajoy, albeit he had said yes, when he shouldn't have.

Brushing it all off, a red-faced Jorge later explained (joked) that he had been "building bridges". Is that what they do in Congress, hidden behind the coconut-shy terracing? A Lego kit or some such to pass away the endless hours of having to listen to Iglesias? Here's a bridge I've made. Which, given that it is a Partido Popular bridge, would be one constructed with the aid of a dubious contract and a vastly inflated value.

This, corruption, was essentially why Pablo and Podemos had lodged their no confidence vote. "Spain is a great country. But without you, it would be even greater," opined the patriot Pablo. Super Mariano's riposte: "The PP is not a corrupt party, that's why voters renewed their confidence in us." Actually, that probably wasn't the reason for the highly muted confidence that the citizens had shown in Super and his party. Meanwhile, Mariano suggested, in not so many words, that Podemos had been having a laugh by bringing the no-confidence vote. It failed, as everyone knew it would, despite Jorge's attempt to make it work and indeed give everyone a good laugh. PSOE abstained.

The debate was otherwise noteworthy for its usual Hernando moment. The PP's Congress spokesman, the one-man demolition squad who is Rafael Hernando, having stated that more work was needed and less circus of a Podemos populist variety, then decided to allude to Pablo's romance with fellow Podemos-ite, Irene Montero. Now, usually when there's a Hernando-Podemos moment, the latter walk out. On this occasion they stayed put and confined themselves to booing Rafael in the style of rival football supporters.

Prior to all the fun and games in Congress, Podemos's man-on-the-way-out in the Balearics, Alberto Jarabo, was reminding everyone that he is, for the time being, still in charge. He did this by launching an attack on Rajoy and the PP, who were accused of having an obsession with the Balearics and displaying "persecutory mania" and "Balearicphobia". So, we had a new phobia to add to the list, which includes "tourismphobia", something that Alberto knows all about, except when it comes to subletting a holiday rental in Son Serra de Marina.

Anyway, Alberto was making it perfectly clear that Podemos in the Balearics were squarely behing the Iglesias no-confidence vote, which no doubt didn't cause Rajoy a sleepless night.

Overlooked in the middle of the debate and the vote was the fact that on Thursday there was a fortieth anniversary. On 15 June 1977, Spain held its first general election of the post-Franco, newly democratic era. At that time, Javier Rupérez, chief of staff for foreign affairs, declared that there was immense joy in the streets for having recovered democracy and that Spaniards had "found themselves".

Indeed they had. And they were to find that Spanish democracy came with something of a caveat. The Podemos no-confidence vote because of corruption wasn't a case of having a laugh. After nearly forty years of dictatorship, democracy was restored. Forty years later, they're talking corruption. Over and over.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 17 June 2017

Morning high (7.05am): 21.2C
Forecast high: 31C; UV: 9
Three-day forecast: 18 June - Sun, 29C; 19 June - Sun, 31C; 20 June - Sun, 30C

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

In a word - hot. See whether this is that haze around as there was yesterday. Mid-June's early for that.

Evening update (19.45): High of 32.9C.

Culture v. Hotels: What Matters To Tourists?

Sun, you may not be surprised to know, is the most important thing for a holiday in Mallorca. This is, in order to dispel any possible confusion, sun in the sky as opposed to The Sun. The latter, if it is of any importance at all, may fall into a category "none of these", which was one of seven options offered to online users of The Bulletin in a recent poll.

The sun, the yellow thing, only made it by a whisker - 23.65% ahead of prices on 22.18%. But sun, of which we have had a fair amount of the hot variety just recently, will always rank high up the list for a predominantly northern European user base, which is what the website has. Without sun, whatever some tourism promoters might believe to the contrary, Mallorca wouldn't have one of its main USPs, albeit that I'm not sure how there can be more than one unique selling point.

Sun, for the purposes of the poll, was divorced from its normal partner - beaches. They ranked almost ten percentage points lower. Perhaps the natural alliance of sun and beach isn't quite as strong as it has always been. If so, the regional tourism ministry will feel satisfied. The more it attempts to diversify tourism away from the warmer months, the more that beaches, except for walking on or looking at, become less central to the tourism mix.

The ministry might also be pleased to discover what came third, namely culture. It scooped 16.9% of the poll and was separated from what can be considered a facet of culture - food and drink, which came in with 11.85%. And it is culture that I found to be one of the two most interesting results. The other was hotels. These came last, with 4.42%.

The point has to be made, as ever, that this was hardly scientific. But the sample size, into the thousands, would have been substantially greater than surveys tend to be. No, there was no margin of error or probability element, but nevertheless the results were somewhat intriguing.

Let's take hotels first. When one considers all the constant reminders of how much has been and is being invested into hotel stock in order to upgrade it (and push its prices up), an importance factor of less than 4.5% doesn't sound terribly encouraging for hoteliers wishing to make huge returns on their investments. Not of course that they will be worrying, because they clearly are making returns, what with levels of profit having risen significantly over the past two to three years.

But can one interpret this lowly importance to the existence of rival accommodation? I think you'll know to what I refer, and I also think that there will be many of you in agreement. Rental accommodation, of whatever sort, can offer a better experience. A further poll might seek to determine this. What does the general holidaymaking (or potential holidaymaking) market prefer? Hotel or not hotel?

The comparatively high importance given to culture differs greatly to a survey that I've dug out from 2010. That one, and I don't know who conducted it as I merely cited the results in an article, found that slightly under two per cent of all tourists who came to Mallorca classified themselves as having been cultural tourists. One has to say that there is a difference between how someone self-classifies him or herself and placing an importance on culture. Even so, there does seem to have been a big shift in the cultural direction, and just to reinforce the point, another survey of 2010 placed Mallorca and the Balearics second bottom among Spain's regions when it came to cultural interest for tourists.

The thing with culture is that it can be difficult to define. It can be the culture of the environment and landscape, the culture of music and the arts, the culture of buildings and physical heritage, the culture of history, or the culture of fiestas. It would probably be a worthwhile exercise to ask people to define culture, but as a collective concept, the importance given to it is, I would suggest, rather encouraging. Mallorca has, for so long, battled to create alternative tourist "products". Perhaps it is finally succeeding.

The poll did exclude an option which may well be more important than all others. Had security and safety been included, one fancies that this would have beaten the rest by some distance. And prices, having run the sun so close, may say something about safety. One interprets the rating for prices as being a desire for value for money and for not being excessive. Which maybe brings us back to hotels and their prices. Safety is paramount, but it can mean only so much price.

At least the sun is free, as indeed is much culture.

Friday, June 16, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 16 June 2017

Morning high (7.45am): 23.7C
Forecast high: 30C; UV: 9
Three-day forecast: 17 June - Sun, 30C; 18 June - Sun, 29C; 19 June - Sun, 29C

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

Very warm night. Summer is certainly here, if not officially. A virtual absence of cloud. Hot.

Evening update (20.15): High of 31.5C. No cloud but something of a haze. Typical ozone, one guesses, though there are warnings about bad ozone, meaning health risk.

Demons And The Soul Of Mallorca

Dimonis d'Alaró; Infernets de Maria de la Salut; Dimonis de l'Esquitxafoc de Campos; Dimonis de Son Ganxó de Costitx; Dimonis Bocsifocs d'Esporles; Manafoc de Manacor; Dimonis d'Albopàs de Sa Pobla; Trafoc de Palma; Dimonis a Lloure de Felanitx; Dimonis Ka de Bou Pollença; Dimonis es Cau des Boc Negre de Palma; Enfocats de Palma; Dimonis de Fang de Marratxí; Diables de Sant Joan; Kinfumfà Dimonis de Palma; Dimonis Realment Cremats de Palma; Dimonis Factoria de So de Santa Maria; Sa Fil·loxera de l'Infern de Binissalem; Dimonis de sa Cova des Fossar de Sineu; Dimonis Escarrufaverros de Campanet; Es Drac de Na Coca; Endimoniats de Palma; Espiadimonis de Felanitx; Dimonis Sa Pedrera de Muro; Dimonis Hiachat de Santa Margalida.

Even if you don't know the language, this list conveys something terrifying. This isn't only because of "dimonis" (demons). There is an onomatopoeic quality of mystery and terror inherent to the names. They are all members of the Federació de Dimonis, Diables i Bèsties de Foc de les Illes Balears. This federation was formed in February 2008. Seven "gangs" were the initial signatories. Two of the seven - Esclatabutzes de Sóller and Arrels de la Vall de Mancor - aren't in the above list. I'm not sure why. Maybe it's an oversight. Or maybe there's some demonic politics at play. Whatever the reason, it's by the by.

The final two on the list - Dimonis Sa Pedrera de Muro and Dimonis Hiachat de Santa Margalida - are uniting for a night of terror in Muro tonight. Rival towns, rival gangs of demons, they will take over the bullring for a fire-running spectacular. Demons no longer simply terrorise in the streets, they put on shows. They are an entertainment of dark forces which cuts deep into the soul of Mallorca.

These gangs are mostly all relatively recent creations. Hiachat, for instance, are fifteen years old; Sa Pedrera a mere eleven. But the number of gangs, and there are others, speaks volumes about the ubiquity of cultural demonology. It also says a great deal about the entertainment value of the fire-running demons. Not all demons run with fire - there are different types of demon - but the "correfoc" is what has elevated them to the heights. And the correfoc, as now is, was essentially an import from Catalonia some forty years ago.

There are two grand occasions for fire in Mallorca. One is in January for the fiestas of Sant Antoni, the origin of most things demonic. The other is in midsummer, which coincides with the fiestas of Sant Joan (John the Baptist). They are linked by the solstice. Although Sant Antoni is in mid-January, its roots lie with the winter solstice and the use of fire to symbolise the rebirth of the sun. In midsummer, the primal force is the force of the sun itself. The spectacular in Muro is "Solstici d'Estiu", i.e. the Summer Solstice.

Although the correfoc is a modern invention, the association of demons and fire is ancient. In Mallorca, it was bred after the Catalan occupation of the thirteenth century, and specifically in the January fiestas in Sa Pobla. The early demons did run in that they ran over fire. The leaping over the fire of hell is now a facet of the midsummer fire celebration. It represents, as it always did, fertility, both in sexual terms and of the soil. There has arguably always been more of the former than the latter, its symbolism captured in the "canya fel·la", the phallic cane.

It is said that the demons and their fire rituals are distant echoes of a very much older tradition, that of the shaman, whose fires would bring survival to tribes because of good harvests. Whatever the precise origins, there is no doubting the degree to which demon culture is embedded in Mallorca.

One researcher, Miquel Sbert, says of the figure of the demon. "It is part of our intangible heritage. I don't think you have to say anything more. If you ignore or destroy this heritage, we destroy ourselves." He adds that the "devotion" of the demon, especially among children, is "a guarantee of its continuity, a connection to strengthen and promote the practice of other traditional customs".

The demon, therefore, embodies local culture in a very much broader sense. An appraisal of demon photography by José Juan Luna suggests that the Mallorcan people have a "thorough, iconic and deep knowledge" of the dark side. Unlike other societies which seek to hide these darker forces, the Mallorcans openly acknowledge them. In so doing, they have a "psychological health, which is not only calm (and summed up by the "Island of Calm" description of Mallorca by the painter and poet Santiago Rusiñol) but also gives wisdom and depth of vision."

* Video of the Dimonis Sa Pedrera, Sant Antoni in 2015.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 15 June 2017

Morning high (6.56am): 19.3C
Forecast high: 31C; UV: 9
Three-day forecast: 16 June - Sun, 29C; 17 June - Sun, 30C; 18 June - Sun, 29C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): Variable 1 to 2.

Expect another particularly hot day, especially as the wind forecast shows almost totally becalmed, i.e. little or no breeze.

Evening update (19.30): Inland high of 37.3C, so very nearly reached the 100 mark in old money. On the coasts around the 33C level.

Knowing Your National Parks

How many Spanish national parks can you name? Any? I ask the question because the question was asked of me. Someone doing a survey on behalf of the national parks had picked me at random and phoned me. Put on the spot, I initially went blank before blurting out Cabrera and Doñana. What followed was a bit of guesswork. The lady on the other end of the phone was probably as confused as I was. Salinas, I suggested. The one in Ibiza? What about the Albuferas? I corrected myself. Partially. The Mallorca one is a nature park. But what about Albufera des Grau in Menorca or the Albufera in Valencia?

When the survey was concluded, I had still only managed to accurately recall the two, but then immediately thought, damn, forgot about Teide (Tenerife) and Garajonay (La Gomera). Four out of fifteen might not have been too bad. Two? Pretty poor really, and honestly, how could one have overlooked the Sierra Nevada?

It wasn't of course a test or a competition. There were no prizes for knowing any of the parks or indeed for having been to any. Indeed, not knowing about them was presumably part of the exercise. But was I particularly representative? I think she was able to figure out that I wasn't actually Spanish. By not being Spanish, my knowledge might therefore be somewhat limited. And being where I am might also limit this knowledge, although establishing where I was did create its own difficulty. Palma de Mallorca, she informed me. No, I replied: Alcudia. Palma de Mallorca, she insisted. There are 53 municipalities in Mallorca, I tried to explain before realising it obviously wasn't terribly important and that she hadn't in any event ever heard of Alcudia.

I'm guessing, but many a native of Mallorca might not have got much further than Cabrera. Or even that far. Many a native might have thought that the Mallorca and Menorca Albuferas and the Ibiza Salinas are national parks. They're not. They're all nature parks. So, location may well determine one's knowledge. The only reason, in all honesty, that I knew Doñana is because it was the title of a fabulous track (a long time ago now) by the Fundación Eivissa. I didn't know the reference, so I looked it up, and then became aware that Spanish prime ministers make a habit of having holidays there.

Anyway, knowledge or no knowledge, the survey had various other questions. The lady settled on Cabrera and started asking about the level of protection. Should it be increased? Yes it should, said I, before then informing her - which she didn't want to know (or I don't think she did) - that very many more of the waters around the Balearics should be declared marine reserves. She must have thought that she had found an enviro-fanatic, which I'm not especially; just that I think that marine reserves are a thoroughly good idea.

More tricky was when we got round to employment and tourism. For example, by extending the national park of Cabrera (which is both land and sea), would there be more jobs? Blimey, I've never thought about that, I more or less said. I was required to give a valuation out of ten. I plumped for four, hastily reasoning that there would be more folks to look after the park but that their numbers would be limited. What other job creation would there be? It's not as if you can build five-star hotels or luxury villas, much though hoteliers and property developers might like to. And likewise with tourism. More park or park as it already is, what's the benefit for tourism, she wanted to know. Not huge, I concluded.

There are two points. One is that current efforts seem to wish to deter tourists rather than attract them, especially to an environmentally sensitive park like Cabrera. The other is - just how many people go there as it is or are attracted to Mallorca in order to go there? And as a corollary, to what extent is the specific tourism of Colonia Sant Jordi and its environs influenced by the existence of Cabrera?

One understands that of the fifteen national parks, Cabrera has the least number of visitors. Working on some figures from a few years ago, it attracted 0.6% of the ten million or so who went to all the parks: 60,000, therefore. Within the overall scheme of Mallorca's tourism, that's a drop in the ocean, which is essentially what Cabrera is - dropped off the edge of Mallorca.

By comparison, the most visited park is Teide. It accounts for around 30% of all visitors to the national parks. But Teide has and is a ruddy great mountain. It's Tenerife's natural attraction par excellence. Unlike myself, a lot of survey respondents will have been naming Teide. As for Cabrera, I might represent 0.6% of those who were surveyed.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 14 June 2017

Morning high (6.55am): 18.4C
Forecast high: 32C; UV: 9
Three-day forecast: 15 June - Sun, 31C; 16 June - Sun, 29C; 17 June - Sun, 29C

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

Today may be the hottest day of the sort of heat wave. It isn't that uncommon to be this warm in mid-June and it isn't necessarily the case that it ends in a storm: there's no sign of any real change. In the very hot summer of 2003, for example, the hottest temperatures were in June (up to 40C), and there was hardly a day when the temperature dipped below 30C until there was a storm bang on the end of August.

Evening update (20.45): High of 36.1C.

Nothing Changes: Trouble In Resorts

Oh dear, things aren't going too well, are they. You remember - how are you allowed to forget - all that stuff about tourism heading up-market, about "quality" tourism, about transformations (Magalluf's, if nowhere else), about improvements to image, about eradication of drunken tourism. You do remember, don't you. Do you remember thinking it was all nonsense? If you did, then well done. Have a banana, but don't whatever you do use it for a purpose other than eating.

Shall we put together an inventory of the past few days? Where shall we start? Ah yes, the beaches in Cala Ratjada (and sorry if I offend those who insist that Cala Agulla and Son Moll aren't Cala Ratjada). The dunes being used as a communal toilet. Loud music on the beaches. Drinking, as in alcohol in glass containers (bottles to you and me), which are verboten. German tourists may not know that they are verboten, though normal German common sense (of which there is a great deal in most circumstances) should determine the fact that taking glass onto beaches isn't one of the best ideas in the world.

From Cala Ratjada we move south to Playa de Palma. What did we find there? Among other things, the image of a colossal, pale German youth sort seated at the wall in der Nähe vom Ballermann Sechs (aka Strandlokal, aka Balneario 6), surrounded by all sorts of debris of a drinking nature. My, how the locals lapped that photo up. Elsewhere in Playa de Palma, there was someone defecating in the street (captured on video).

Then we nip over to Palmanova. Normally dwarfed on the antics' front by its rowdy neighbour, it was subjected to the unedifying spectacle of eighteen young British (male) tourists taking a jog in broad daylight across the beach road, while another one was stopping traffic (or attempting to). Just a bit of high jinks? Possibly so, but try telling the locals that, in particular any who might have had kiddies at a nearby playground.

Into Magalluf itself and there were English and Scottish so-called supporters enacting normally nightly battles on the Punta Ballena in broad daylight. It was curious to hear match reports speaking of England fans applauding their Scottish counterparts and everyone having got on famously. In Magalluf, ludicrous enmities were persisting. Bar chairs were substitutes for seats hurled in a stadium. And it was all on video and all over YouTube. Thanks to the video, as was the case with Palmanova, plod were able to identify some of the miscreants.

And plod have definitely taken an interest in the video in the Bierkönig. Yep, we're back in Playa de Palma, where a group of German neo-Nazis caused uproar by shouting "foreigners out" and brandishing the Kaiser's flag. Their fellow countrymen, very much in the majority, responded with "Nazis out". The local police service for hate crimes and intolerance has referred the matter to the prosecution service. The target of these repulsive Nazi foreigners was a "foreigner" with black skin.

So, what do we learn from all of this? We learn that there is nothing new under a burning Mallorcan June sun or within the confines of a beer hall. Nazis? Get them every year. Their targets are always the same. Drunkenness in Cala Ratjada? They've been lamenting that for ages and identifying the same cause - German youth. Streaking naked? Somewhat original perhaps, but largely because it was on video. Fighting in Magalluf? Well, who would have ever have thought?

Calvia town hall, virtuous Calvia town hall, with its transformational bylaws to support transformational Meliaisation, insists that nudists in Palmanova and brawling Scots and English are the fault of some businesses which are not adhering to the model of change. They are continuing with happy hours, with pub crawls, with low-quality all-inclusive. They're just not playing the game.

Maybe Calvia is right. But it seems all too easy to blame problems on certain businesses in-resort and not others. Not everyone travels with tour operators, but a lot do, and tour operators need to start walking the talk of responsibility rather than just filling planes, ferries and rooms with whoever can meet their volume requirements. They really don't care, even if - where British tour operators are concerned - they are starting to care about false compensation claims.

But let's not castigate British and German tour operators. What about some Spanish? Part of Alcudia is about to be laid waste to, courtesy of a Spanish tour operator. Magalluf, Playa de Palma, Cala Ratjada know the same or similar scenario.

The worst aspect of all this is that it neglects something else that hasn't changed and shows no sign of changing. Lads having a bundle, other lads streaking; they divert attention from the mugging prostitutes, the ones about whom virtuous Calvia can seemingly do nothing. Do nothing, and nothing is changing.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 13 June 2017

Morning high (7.09am): 17.5C
Forecast high: 29C; UV: 10
Three-day forecast: 14 June - Sun, 31C; 15 June - Sun, cloud, 31C; 16 June - Sun, 27C

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

Aemet is not declaring a heatwave yet, but on the mainland there have been highs up to 40C and in Mallorca's interior over the next couple of days it's expected to reach 35 or 36. Cooler on the coasts.

Evening update (19.30): High of 34.2C (inland); coastal highs around 31C.

How Safe Is Your Hotel?

Nine summers ago, two bombs exploded at beaches in Cantabria in northern Spain. There was a third bomb, which went off outside a branch of Barclays Bank. The devices had been planted by ETA.

None of these bombs caused any injuries. The Guardia Civil had acted on a call to the emergency services from someone who said they represented ETA. The two beaches were those of Laredo and Noja. The areas where the bombs had been planted were cordoned off. The one in Laredo was in sand next to the promenade. The other at Noja was in the dunes.

The locations were chosen because they are popular summer destinations for the Spanish. Cantabria's coast is not one that attracts a high number of foreign tourists. For ETA, its actions were against Spain. Terrorists they were, but theirs was a terror of an interior kind. They weren't exporters, except to France on a couple of occasions. Where foreigners were concerned, they could be targets, if only incidentally. In the summer of 2001, for instance, an ETA militant accidentally blew himself up in Torrevieja; seven people were injured. Three weeks later, a huge car bomb went off in Salou. There were no casualties.

A year on from the bombs in Cantabria, two officers with the Guardia Civil, Carlos Sáenz and Diego Salva, were killed in Palmanova when a bomb that had been placed in a patrol vehicle exploded. ETA terrorism had come to Mallorca, though to be accurate it had come to the island fourteen years before. On that occasion it had failed. Three ETA terrorists, who were renting an apartment near to the Marivent Palace under a false name, were arrested and found to have three submachine guns, two pistols, a rifle with telescopic sight and explosive devices. Their intended target had been the then king, Juan Carlos. They had arrived with their weaponry on a yacht.

Following the Palmanova bomb, four minor devices went off in parts of Palma. A response to them was to install cameras trained on certain beaches in Mallorca. There was to be a fuss about these. The tourism ministry had organised the installations. It hadn't asked for permission to train cameras on the public way. Later it emerged that there was something slightly dubious about the contract for the work; but that was how the tourism ministry was at that time.

The reason for these cameras was a fear that ETA might bomb beaches in the way that it had the previous summer. The fear was to prove to have been unfounded. But the fear resurfaced last year; at least where parts of the more hysterical British press were concerned. So-called Islamic State were going to bomb beaches.

We have had further hysteria this year. The SAS, for example, will be patrolling resorts. Or this was the conclusion one was supposed to draw. It was as preposterous as it was insulting in its implication that Spain's security forces were in need of assistance. These forces have enormous experience. Cooperation, advice and information sharing with British forces, yes; of course, yes. Special British forces on the streets? Hardly.

Security, it is an obvious thing to state, is a high priority for tourists. Mallorca has been reaping the benefits (some will argue the downsides) of terrorism in other parts of the Med. A great deal of emphasis is placed on the island's safety, but there can be no room for complacency.

Beaches and other public places are one thing; hotels are another. The president of the hoteliers federation, Inma Benito, says that hotel security has improved a great deal, although she adds that she is unaware of some hotels organising anti-terrorism audits. Apparently, there are specialist firms which will be conducting these. They will be looking, for example, at access controls, i.e. who comes and goes, and at exterior protection, such as barriers. There are to be other checks - rubbish containers, the level and type of surveillance and so on.

Hotels differ. Some are more easily protectable than others. Some offer open invitations, and not just to buildings; grounds, pools, restaurants, entertainment sites as well. Without naming them, I can think of any number of hotels which can be entered from the beach without any form of control. One just walks straight in. There's no need to enter via reception because access is available at the rear. One complex has public roads going through it. There is no actual entrance because of the nature of the complex. Security? Well, what security, one may well ask.

Accordingly, there is a great deal of vulnerability. But at least with the hotels, there is some control over who is staying in them. The events of 1995 and the failed terrorist attack highlight issues that we have today. Hiring an apartment. Hotels provide guest identity information to the police. They are obliged to. Holiday rentals? Could be anyone.

Monday, June 12, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 12 June 2017

Morning high (6.57am): 18.2C
Forecast high: 28C; UV: 10
Three-day forecast: 13 June - Sun, 29C; 14 June - Sun, 30C; 15 June - Sun, 29C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): East 2 to 3 occasionally Northeast 4 from midday.

Warm morning. Totally clear sky except for a weakening moon. Sun all the way.

Evening update (20.30): High of 31.9C.

Amancio, Alberto and Lucas: Zara and Podemos

Do you know who Amancio Ortega is? You don't. Well, you should. According to Forbes, he is the world's third richest person. He's worth the small matter of some 75 billion US dollars. And how has he come by this vast fortune? Shops, that's how. Do you know, for example, Zara? Ah yes, you do. That's one of Amancio's chains. Just one that makes up the Inditex empire.

Amancio is therefore a sort of European Bill Gates, who has a few bob more than Amancio - 89.1 billion. When you have that amount stashed beneath the bed, you can afford to be generous. Which Bill is. So is Amancio. Via his foundation, he's handed over five million euros to the Balearic public health system to assist with funding for cancer treatment and research.

Such a gesture, you might think, would receive unanimous support. But if you think this, you haven't taken Podemos into account. Alberto Jarabo didn't say that he was against the donation, but he did describe it as "alms" from a millionaire, that it was of "dubious origin" and that it was linked to cases of "labour exploitation and unfair competition". It is necessary, Alberto suggested to the rest of parliament, to question where these funds come from.

Francina accused Alberto of "demagoguery", which is a fairly standard riposte to almost anything that Alberto comes out with. Everyone else thought he was a bit of a twerp.

Meanwhile, over at the Council of Mallorca, Podemos were in the process of re-enacting the banishments of Xe-Lo and Montse that they had successfully achieved in parliament. Lucas Gálvez is another Podemos sort that no one would otherwise ever have heard of, rather like Montse for instance, were it not for them falling foul of the Podemos apparatus. Actually, it seems that few in Podemos have heard of him either. Or set eyes on him at least.

Iván Sevillano, yet another obscure name from the Podemos ranks, is the party's deputy spokesperson at the Council. He maintains that Lucas has committed some form of fraud against the citizens by not giving up his seat in the Council. This is because Lucas, who apparently has some 25 party disciplinary sanctions hanging over him, has seemingly not been turning up to meetings.

By way of punishment, they stopped paying all his salary and ultimately left him living off his allowances alone. Lucas has been scandalised. They say he's not going to meetings, but what's he supposed to do when he's left with only some 900 euros a months for which he is meant to work eight hours a day and travel back and forth from Felanitx. Well, as far as the travel is concerned, he might like to ask Balti (who also lives in Felanitx) if he can have a lift. There must be room in the parliament president's Kangoo, and the Council is hardly that far from the parliament building.

More to the point, though, is the fact, so Lucas claims, that he was the one who drafted the so-called Manifesto of Sineu. This was the sort of revolutionary movement against Alberto, whose leadership was openly being criticised. Iván says it's got nothing to do with the manifesto. It's all to do with a "lack of involvement" by Lucas over the two years since he was elected.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 11 June 2017

Morning high (7.32am): 18.2C
Forecast high: 27C; UV: 10
Three-day forecast: 12 June - Sun, 27C; 13 June - Sun, 28C; 14 June - Sun, 29C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): Northeast 1 to 3.

If you're in need of health-giving myrtle water, then Selva's "herbes" fair is the place for you today. Alternatively, one suspects that the beach may hold more appeal.

Evening update (20.30): High 31.5C (inland).

Tui Success Against Fraudulent Sickness Claims

Early last week, it was reported that Cehat, the Spanish hoteliers confederation, had sent a stern letter to UK tour operators regarding false holiday compensation claims. Tui, Thomas Cook, Jet2 and Monarch were left in no doubt that Spain's hoteliers were sick and tired both of the claims and of the system by which tour operators deduct claims' amounts from hotelier invoices. The confederation has also suspected that tour operators simply don't do enough. It was therefore warning that "commercial relations" could be damaged if there wasn't firmer action.

The hoteliers, included among them the Mallorca Hoteliers Federation, have to an extent been playing to the gallery for Spanish public consumption. While it is obvious that UK legislation needs to be reformed (and will be eventually), tour operators aren't to blame for a system which makes it so easy for claims to be made. Moreover, although there is contractual small print which allows tour operators to make deductions from invoices, it hasn't been the case that tour operators have just been rolling over and accepting the situation with the claims. Jet2's initiative with private detectives is a case in point.

Nevertheless, the hoteliers are fully justified in being angry, so more is now emerging of how tour operators are reacting. Tui has admitted that the volume of claims has gone up by 1400% over the past two years. Nick Longman, Tui UK and Ireland's managing director, has told Travel Weekly that the claims are "a massive problem for us; a huge problem for the industry". These are not the words of a senior executive lying down and accepting the situation.

Blacklisting customers is nothing new. Tour operators have a long history of doing this, especially if customers have tried it on in making specious compensation claims. Hoteliers have also had blacklists for the very same reason. The blacklisting is now being done in a more thorough fashion, certainly by Tui. In addition, the company is sending letters to those who set out on a claims process and is warning that they will be liable if claims are dismissed. It won't be the claims farming companies which put them up to making the claims who are charged with fraud; it will be their clients.

Longman says that some 50% of the letters have resulted in claims being dropped. Tui is now sending out more letters. Meanwhile, it is understood that police in the UK are becoming active in investigating potential fraud and are working with tour operators. So, far from being as inactive as the hoteliers have been alleging, it is the tour operators who have taken matters into their own hands and appear to be having some success.

The national secretary of state for tourism, Matilde Asián, has been telling hoteliers to be more proactive in denouncing the presence of claims farmers. If they are aware of vehicles or individuals outside their establishments, they are being encouraged to report them to the prosecution service. She says that more is being done to curb their activities but "more should be done". The fraudulent claims, she adds, are "putting Spain's image at risk".

It may or may not have been hotelier proactivity that helped to get the Guardia Civil involved, but they are. Two Britons have been arrested in Alcudia, accused of inciting holidaymakers to lodge false claims. Not so long ago, there were two British women hanging around outside a chemist's shop (as well as Bellevue and Club Mac) approaching holidaymakers.

This is the way to go. Or one way. Conspiracy to incite others to commit a crime. Well done, the Guardia.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 10 June 2017

Morning high (7.30am): 16.5C
Forecast high: 26C; UV: 10
Three-day forecast: 11 June - Sun, 27C; 12 June - Sun, 27C; 13 June - Sun, cloud, 28C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): Northeast 1 to 3.

Sun most of the way today, and a good one for messing about on water. Puerto Alcudia's Marina Day at Alcudiamar - boat rides, kayaking, etc.

Evening update (20.00): High of 29.9C.

The Pointlessness Of Voting For Beaches

Beaches naturally arouse a great deal of interest. There are, it is obvious to say, a great number of them in Mallorca. Where would the island be without them? So, when it comes to working out which is the best beach, there is also naturally a fair degree of rivalry and attention. Or is there?

Niumba is TripAdvisor's holiday rentals arm. Some 20% of all properties it offers (the total worldwide is more than 300,000) are in Spain. Niumba, in keeping with one of TripAdvisor's apparent missions to be "the word" when it comes to determining bests-of, has set up a poll to decide the best beach in Spain. However, unlike the free-for-all that one normally gets, there has been a pre-selection process. There are only 25 beaches to vote for, two of which are in Mallorca. These two are, in a sense, the same beach - Puerto Alcudia and Playa de Muro. The beach on the bay stretches for kilometres and is only interrupted in a minor way by the canal from the Lago Esperanza and in a more major way by the canal from Albufera.

So, Niumba blog users are being asked to distinguish between the two. For what it's worth (and frankly it isn't worth very much), the Puerto Alcudia stretch is not the proud possessor of a Blue Flag, whereas Playa de Muro is. People have until 25 June to cast their votes. As of yesterday morning, there were only two beaches in it. Guess which ones. Playa de Muro had suddenly leapt ahead of Puerto Alcudia with a 41% share against 38%; Puerto Alcudia had, the day before, been well ahead.

There were, up to half seven on Friday morning, 573 votes. Fifteen of the 25 beaches had polled not a single vote. It seems that no one is paying this a great deal of attention, apart from the town halls in Alcudia and Muro plus some of the local media. Facebook has been used to generate votes, which is fair enough, but if nowhere else is particularly bothered, then one is bound to get a distorted view. Which isn't to say that the two beaches don't deserve to be vying for the number one spot. They are both excellent. But the poll, because of its pre-selection, clearly eliminates other beaches on the island and, in truth, is all a bit silly. Still, publicity, one supposes, for Niumba, though even that is questionable. 573 votes?

Friday, June 09, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 9 June 2017

Morning high (6.50am): 15.9C
Forecast high: 26C; UV: 9
Three-day forecast: 10 June - Sun, cloud, 26C; 11 June - Sun, 27C; 12 June - Sun, 27C

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

The day has dawned in Mallorca with some grey cloud to darken the blue. Bit like in the UK. Never mind, the sun will shine later. In Mallorca anyway. Will it go down on PM TM?

Evening update (20.15): High of 30.4C.

Forty Years Of The Federation

There was a family photo the other evening. A sort of family. One, as can be the case with other families, which has divisions. This was the tourist family. Just a small part of it. There was a birthday party. Forty years ago, the Federación Empresarial Hotelera de Mallorca arrived kicking and screaming into this world. The Mallorca Hoteliers Federation has been screaming ever since. The newly born grew to be tall and strong. The tallest and strongest of them all. The most powerful federation of hoteliers in the nation.

In the photo, there in the second row of this frequently fractious family were Inma Benito, the federation's president, and Biel Barceló, the tourism minister. They were shoulder to shoulder, whereas typically they have been face to face in argumentation or back to back in rejection. She wore dark, he wore white but seemingly with a black tie. Was it really a birthday party?

Among those in the front row was Josep Forteza Rey. Over a year ago, he had appeared in another photo. There was a seminar to discuss tourist "saturation". Two to his right was Jaume Garau, Barceló's guru, now excommunicated by Barceló's party. He most certainly didn't attend the birthday party, though in spirit he might have done. The tourist family - the government's politicians and the hoteliers at any rate - have been setting aside their differences in making common cause over holiday rentals.

Forty years on, and the battles that the hoteliers federation has are numerous and varied. Some they go in search of, others are foist upon them. Tourist tax, false compensation claims, the rate of IVA (VAT), regulations on building work, other regulations that can impact negatively on investment, holiday rentals; here are just some. Consider the list of matters in the hoteliers' in-tray. They are to do with tax, with finance, with labour, with housing, with international law in the sense of another country's "bad legislation" (UK law re claims). At a higher level they are concerned with strategy. This is a federation that is a mini-government. Or it can seem as though it is a political party, with representatives shadowing government ministers - Barceló, Pons (housing and transport), Negueruela (employment), Cladera (finance).

Forteza Rey had led the battle forty years ago. Hoteliers in Mallorca were fed up. They needed to be set loose from the Francoist inheritance of tourism organisation. While the politicians and intellectuals drafted the new constitution, while politics and society were struggling with the incipient democracy and with the process of transition, the hoteliers (political to the core) were effecting their own transition. From a meeting in Madrid with the secretary-of-state for tourism, Ignacio Aguirre Borrel, came the means for a pioneering transition. The federation was soon born. Long live the federation.

Its first president was Miguel Codolá. He formed an alliance with the emerging powerful hotelier families - Barceló (nothing to do with the current tourism minister), Escarrer, who have been performing the contemporary transitions of resorts in the name of Meliá, which was not the name in 1977, and subsequently Fluxá, with the stellar quality of Iberostar. But Codolá was egalitarian. There had to be space for the smaller chains. The early federation therefore reflected interests in the different resorts, where less powerful families had established their local business - the likes of Luna in Playa de Muro (the Esperanza complex) or Vilaire in Alcudia, where Narciso Vilaire had founded the Hotel Bahia de Alcudia and was to be a co-founder of the Alcudiamar marina.

Codolá's deftness in drawing together the great and the less great within the framework of the hoteliers' branch of the tourist industry family was to be lost along the way. The great grew greater. By 2014, there was discontent. They were falling out. The small chains felt that the management of the federation, with Iberostar firmly at the controls, was not representing their interests sufficiently, albeit they were diplomatic enough to praise the work of the then president, Aurelio Vázquez of Iberostar. Forteza Rey took up a battle anew. "The small and medium-sized hoteliers have the right to express their opinions within the federation."

One doesn't hear much about such discontent now. Perhaps it's Inma Benito's management. Perhaps it has to do with the various battles that she is fighting on all their behalves. Perhaps it is because of another challenge, one that all the hoteliers share. The more left-wing politicians take aim at the giant hoteliers, at their presidents who appear on the Forbes rich list, at their overseas developments, at their Panama Papers. But all hoteliers are somehow caught in this web of opprobrium, which spills over into a societal condemnation of greed. Outside the broad tourist industry and to an extent within it, the federation's 40th birthday has not been met with a unanimous chorus of "cumpleaños feliz".

Thursday, June 08, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 8 June 2017

Morning high (7.21am): 15.2C
Forecast high: 25C; UV: 9
Three-day forecast: 9 June - Sun, 26C; 10 June - Sun, cloud, 26C; 11 June - Sun, cloud, 27C

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

And a very fine morning in Mallorca for all those of you voting in the UK. Happy polling.

Evening update (21.00): High of 27.3C.

The Drinking Teenagers Of Mallorca

Hidden behind the rose-tinted sunglasses of a foreign observer, let's call him or her British, there is, one suspects, an enduring opinion regarding the youth and teenagers of Mallorca and Spain. Unlike their British counterparts, who will binge until they drop, the local youth are paragons of adolescent virtue who would no more partake of alcohol than they would dare to utter a swear word.

Generalisations are, as we are all aware, only so useful. They fail to provide an accurate view of society and of its component parts, of which the youth is one. Society is too complex for generalisations to suffice, but they are made nevertheless. Hence, there is the impulse to brand British youth in one way and to do so in a negative fashion when compared with other nationalities, notably the Spanish. Raised in an atmosphere and culture of respect for elders and respect for alcohol, the difference is vast. If only it were so.

Recently, I spoke with the councillor for social services in Pollensa. This was in the context of the day against domestic violence that was held in the town. She was quite clear in seeing the link between alcohol (and drugs) and sexual aggression towards women. There is, she explained, a distinction between types of parenting. One type breeds a family culture of drinking. Not a respectful one but an abusive one.

So it is with parenting in other societies, but even the best parenting can be undone by the power of peer pressure. The alarming nature of what goes on in cyberspace has made this pressure even more intense. The "Blue Whale" game is one of the most extreme examples. The ultimate challenge is for a teenager to commit suicide by jumping off a building. What madness has been cultivated?

If peer pressure might be said to be intensifying, then so also are numbers attending fiestas intensifying. And with the increased numbers come increased incidents. The head of the Balearics 112 emergency service says that there has been a "spectacular increase" in the number of people going to parties in the villages and towns of Mallorca. The "incidents", such as those caused by drunkenness, have risen by up to fifteen per cent in the space of a year.

These increases cannot solely be explained by the fact of more teenagers going to them. There are, of course, far more tourists, though how many of these actually venture to night parties in the villages of the island would be open to question. But the participation of teenagers and the concerns this is raising has led the president of the town halls' federation (and also the mayor of Sencelles) to propose placing restrictions on under-16s attending. His proposal is against a background of the most recent finding regarding alcohol consumption by the young: the average age of starting to drink is 13.8 years.

Over many years now, local authorities have been attempting (and failing) to tackle the existence of the "botellón". Street drinking parties affect all parts of Mallorca. The ages vary, but minors are among them. In Alcudia later this month, there is what is in effect a sanctioned botellón. It is in fact a "macro-botellón", the party for the end of the summer term. Hundreds, thousands of kids from parts of the island descend on the resort for one night of partying. Is drink an aspect of this? It most certainly is. And the numbers who attend offer certain hoteliers another little bonanza. Put them up and let them add to the aggravations already experienced by regular tourists because of Spanish youth.

Does this macro-botellón, though, point to a tolerance that might be said to have backfired? Local authorities are now speaking with some alarm about behaviour at fiestas to the extent that they may stop the younger elements attending, whereas they haven't previously. In Alcudia, police tutors from different municipalities advise youngsters beforehand and are themselves present. But police, as always, can only do so much. Controlling access to fiestas makes demands on police, who are stretched enough during the summer. And Alcudia is the latest town hall to admit to not having sufficient police numbers to deal with, for example, illegal selling.

A way of tackling the problem with drinking is to come down more on supermarkets. Some 60% of kids between the ages of 14 and 17 say that they buy booze from supermarkets. The government's director for public health says that there is a "problem" with teenage drinking. The fact is that it is not a new problem. Put away the rose-tinted sunglasses. Mallorca youth is like any other youth.